Update: now with click-able big-able pictures!
I’m in Santa Fe again, back after a few replenishing days of Arizonan bikepacking with James.
In brief, our ride took us from a snowy and decidedly frigid Flagstaff to a more enticingly summery, red rock Sedona. There, we paused to meet up with Electric Bike Report Pete, explore some local trails, and sample a couple of the bikes he’s been testing. (tinkering with electric assist motors has got me thinking about converting the Troll for cargo/baby hauling duties around town…)
Then, it was onwards and upwards, over mighty Mingus Mountain, veering off towards the diminutive settlement of Mayer (think Circle K, library, motel and not much else). After camping out outside the fire station, we picked up the saguaro-themed Black Canyon Trail – 78 miles of parched desert singletrack that hugs the steep canyon side, wending its way south towards the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix.
All in all, five fabulous days of riding, linking some of the finest singletrack in the state. Forging on and connecting the BCT with the Arizona Trail would have been the icing on the cake, and make for a truly epic bout of singletrack touring. Next time…
Logistics-wise, I used Ridejoy to share a ride from New Mexico to Arizona. As luck would have it, I hitched a lift all the way back to Santa Fe from a windswept roadside gas station, listening to cool music like this – thanks to a DJ who was not only kind enough to stop, but also completely rearrange the contents of his car to accomodate me, my dusty bags and the goliath Krampus. Cheers Emile!
James rode his trusty Long Haul Trucker, down in the drops, valiantly defying a barrage of rocks, snow and ice. I feel a new bike may be in his future… Salsa’s Fargo looks to be a strong contender. As for me, it was the first time I spent a few consecutive touring days on the Surly Krampus. Without doubt, its balloon tyres did much to smooth out the often rugged and rutted terrain, flattered my bike handling skills in the process – not that a rigid 26in bike seems to hold back these riders too much… As heavy as they are, the 1200g, 29x3in Knards didn’t prove to be as much of an issue as I was anticipating for distance riding – though given the sandpaperyness of desert rock, their eventual $90 replacement cost might well be… All good on the tubeless front too – the recent conversion held up great. But note to self: time to expand the Krampus’s gear range from a 1×9 to a more generous choice, if other bikepacking forays are on the cards. More on those thoughts later.
Many pictures were duly snapped; here’s a little taster for now. I’ll be writing up a more thorough and expansive report when the new website is ready, complete with full size images. Incidentally, this new blog format isn’t it… just something for the interim. (If you’ve posted a comment recently, it may have got lost in the transition – feel free to re-post.)
Thanks are due to James for his picture-taking patience, and to Tim and Topofusion Scott for sending us a gpx file of the route – which made navigation a breeze. For this kind of backcountry, singletrack touring, a GPS really maintains the flow of the ride. Thanks too to the folks at Over the Edge, Sedona, for helping James resuscitate his bike back life after a nasty fall on the Old Munds Wagon Trail. To the firemen who invited us in from the cold. And to those who reacted to our outstretched thumbs and gave us a lift.