Still on the AZT theme, here’s some pictures from the ride between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. I didn’t have time to meet up with the AZT crew in time to travel this section with them, so I set off to ride it solo as soon as I got back. The distance? Around 110 miles, a heady blend of sweet singletrack and easy going jeep trails. I split them up into two short days on either side of a longer one, to allow for scarce water points along the way. And, because I love to camp out…
There’s no riders to add a sense of scale to the surroundings, but hopefully the beauty of the fall colours, the open meadows, the solitude of the desert and the phenomenal Grand Canyon vistas go some way to lending a feel for what proved to be a highlight of the AZT.
Camping out on the Snowbowl, at over 9000 feet.
Afternoon views from my tent. Later that evening, James, who’d joined me on the climb, returned with a feast of baguettes, cheese, salami and red wine… Amazing! In a coincidental twist, I discovered James's best friend lives at Silver City's Bike House - home to bikers, chickens and giant puppets - where I spent a fantastic week last year on the journey south through New Mexico.
Mellow singletrack through the aspens.
Done that bit…
The advantage of riding the AZT so late is the blanket of fall colours.
More whispering, shimmering aspen groves.
Sublime singletrack across the grassy meadows, before the massive, swooping descent off Snowbowl. One of the best stretches of trail on the whole ride.
Then forest gives way to desert, and the trail opens out into some fast jeep track…
… across a vast, clear sky.
Th AZT wound on past a couple of ranches. Cattle troughs provided dubious water possibilities, so I waited until Russel Tank, a marshy body of water 30 miles out of the Grand Canyon.
The place to myself… And not a hike n' bike in sight!
So many camping possibilites… Just be sure to carry enough water.
A happy rider.
Not so happy feet. All our hike ‘n biking antics had chewed up my toes over the last couple of weeks.
A ponderosa pine early in the morning. Soon after, I met Rose and Jon, a mountain biking couple from Anchorage, Alaska. Another coincidence ensued. Incredibly, Alan, in whose yard I'd camped nearly 15 months ago at the very beginning of my journey, was the best man at their wedding!
The Grand Canyon. It just appears, as if from nowhere… A massive, gaping hole between two lands.
A palette of auburn colours, ever shifting with each change in light.
Surreal in its size and depth…
Thanks to Kyle at Bright Angel bike rentals for giving me a lift back to Flagstaff.