Looking for a spring getaway? Look no further than the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival in Sedona, Arizona. Between now and next Wednesday, February 3rd at 11:59 p.m. you can enter to win two passes (a $100 value each), two camping passes (a $125 value each) and one $50 gift certificate for Over the Edge Sports in Sedona. Total prize pack is a $500 value.
Fill out the survey below by Wednesday, February 3rd at 11:59 p.m. to be entered in the contest. If the survey below is not visible to you, please click this link to fill out the survey. View the complete terms and conditions of this sweepstakes here.
By Justin Steiner and Emily Wally. Photos by Jeff Swigart, Michael Raney, Emily Walley and Justin Steiner.
Though we’re far from reaching gender equality in the mountain bike world, the percentage of female mountain bikers rises steadily every year. Despite this increase in participation, the industry’s adoption of the women’s market has occurred in fits and starts with a multitude of approaches—some successful and others not so much. For 2015, Kona introduced the 134 SE as a new model in its Process lineup with a laudable and refreshing approach.
Instead of pigeonholing the SE as a women’s bike, they’re marketing it as a bike for anyone of smaller stature. Small and medium frames are shared across the Process models, but Kona has added an extra-small SE to accommodate riders just under five feet tall. Standover height is a low 25.6 inches across the extra-small, small and medium SE sizes.
The SE model’s parts spec was specifically chosen to cater to smaller, lighter riders. Lighter wheels decrease rotational weight, and a handlebar with just 10 mm of rise keeps bar height low. Both the RockShox fork and rear shock utilize the Solo Air system with a self-balancing negative spring, allowing for perfectly balanced positive and negative springs for lighter riders.
It’s also worth noting the 134 SE is currently the high end of the 134 lineup, ringing in $400 more expensive than the DL. A base-model 134 is available for $2,799. Rumors of carbon Process models abound, but we’ve yet to hear any official word from Kona.
For those unfamiliar, Kona introduced the Process line in 2014 to cater to the burgeoning enduro market with the 29-inch-wheeled Process 111 DL and two 27.5-inch bikes: the Process 134 and Process 153. For 2015, Kona added the Process 167, with good ol’ 26-inch wheels, in addition to the 134 SE. Throughout the range, model names refer to the bike’s rear-suspension travel in millimeters. As the mountain bike market continues to evolve, geometry has marched steadily forward with longer front centers, slacker head-tube angles, lower bottom brackets and shorter chainstays. With the new Pro- cess line, Kona has pushed this approach even further by substantially lengthening top tubes and employing ultra-short 40 mm stems across all frame sizes. This lengthens the bike’s front center, which adds stability in steep terrain and at higher speeds. To balance the added front-center length, Kona kept chainstays as short as possible—just 16.7 inches on our test bikes.
By tucking the rear wheel under the rider and moving the front wheel farther forward, Kona purports to have added stability and confidence where desired while increasing the bike’s playfulness via the short rear end.
All of the Process bikes utilize Kona’s Rocker Independent Suspension system, which is fundamentally a linkage-driven single-pivot design. According to Kona, this design is tuned to balance climbing and descending by providing a stable pedaling platform and predictable ride quality through end of stroke.
On the trail
Kona set us up with a pair of Process 134s for our recent visit to Sedona, Arizona, for the Sedona MTB Fest For the most part, Sedona’s trails are tight and technical, requiring frequent lofting of the front wheel to navigate up rock ledges and down drops. In this terrain we both felt instantly comfortable on the Process and were thrilled to be on bikes with such short chainstays. Justin found the 134’s front end absolutely effortless to loft.
As you might expect, climbing on a bike with such short chainstays requires more effort to keep the front wheel down. But with a dedicated forward shift on the saddle and a boobs-on-bars approach, you can scramble up just about anything you have the power to conquer.
In steep terrain and at higher speeds, the long front center offers more stability than the 68-degree head-tube angle might suggest. Despite Justin’s pre-ride apprehension about the head tube being perhaps a little on the steeper side of the enduro spectrum, he found it to be stable at speed.
Both of our test bikes were spec’d with RockShox Revelation RL forks and Monarch RT rear shocks. Despite our weight difference, setting up proper sag and rebound damping was a piece of cake.
Our experiences with the fork were very parallel. We found the 140 mm Revelation to be a solid and predictable performer, but occasionally wished for more plushness in rough terrain; once you’ve ridden a Pike, it’s easy to nitpick other forks. On the plus side, the Revelation rides high in its travel and offers a well-supported mid-stroke. Ridden hard on slick-rock, the Revelation can exhibit some flex, but that’s to be expected of 32 mm chassis forks. Emily appreciated having the multi-setting compression damping and found that adding a few clicks of damping controlled fork motion on technical climbs, helping her maintain momentum.
Both bikes utilize the same rear kinematics and shock tuning, and we had slightly different experiences with rear-suspension performance. Being lighter, Emily found the Rocker suspension to pedal pretty well in the Open setting, where Justin was often tempted to flip the switch to the Pedal setting to stabilize the pedal-induced motion and some mid-stroke wallow. Fortunately the Pedal setting worked pretty well on the trail, providing more initial and mid-stroke control while maintaining climbing traction. Kona incorporated a healthy ramp-up to end of stroke in the Rocker design. Neither of us came close to utilizing full travel in most trail-riding situations, but Justin eventually used full travel on a pretty good-sized drop. Moral of the story: Though there’s “just” 134 mm of travel here, it’s tuned to be pushed aggressively, more so than most trail bikes in this travel range.
In the spirit of being pushed hard, Kona has constructed a very burly aluminum frame with oversized tubes and big bearings in the suspension pivots. As a result, the rear end of the bike is precise and confidence inspiring in high-load situations. The frame is certainly stiff enough to warrant aggressive riders upgrading to an oversize-chassis fork. Of course, there’s a weight penalty for this burly construction. With the DL model specifically, 31 pounds is pretty hefty for a trail bike. Due to smaller frame size and lighter parts selection, the SE comes in a full two pounds lighter, though it still isn’t light considering the price, travel and frame size. Fortunately, the 134’s manual-happy personality and low-slung weight distribution make it ride lighter than it is.
At their respective price points, we felt both the DL and SE offer solid parts spec, including nice touches like Shimano SLX hubs on the DL and Novatec hubs on the SE. Of course the star of the SE’s show is the SRAM X1 11-speed drivetrain. This was Emily’s first experience with 1×11 and she was hooked. With the 30-tooth chainring, she found the X1 setup to offer ample gearing range. She also appreciated the simplicity of having only one shifter, freeing her left hand to manage the dropper post.
Speaking of dropper posts, we both fell in love with the KS remote lever. It’s small, unobtrusive and very easy to use. Both KS posts, a Super Natural Remote on the DL and Lev DX on the SE, impressed us with their performance as well. In this case the nod goes to the Lev DX for its fixed-position cable attachment on the bottom of the seatpost.
The SLX/XT/X7 drivetrain on the DL also performed flawlessly. The performance of the SLX-level parts is so good these days it’s becoming in- creasingly difficult to justify the expense of going upmarket to XT-level bits.
Kona’s somewhat radical approach to the Process line has created a unique and noteworthy line of bikes because they haven’t attempted to cater to everyone. Kona has built a series of bikes that like to rally first and foremost, with weight and efficiency being slightly less of a priority. With the 134, you’ve got trail-bike suspension travel with all-mountain weight, meaning this wouldn’t be a good bike for chasing Spandex-clad, cross-country bike-riding friends around, even though you’d certainly have a ton of fun catching them on the downhills. In this regard, we have a lot of respect for Kona building bikes the company’s employees want to ride.
Do you prioritize lively handling, endless manuals and a “hit it harder, bro” attitude over weight and outright efficiency? If so, you can’t go wrong here, unless you’d like these same short chainstays packaged with more travel and more-aggressive geometry—in which case the Process 153 just might be your huckleberry. Justin found the DL to be an excellent candidate for an all-around trail bike for the gravity-minded.
For the SE, the buying decision is just as easy. Emily felt instantly at home on this bike, as it’s the only one she’s ridden without needing to swap parts for proper fit or suspension setup. If you’re a rider of smaller stature who likes to get your wheels off the ground, the SE is a stellar choice. If, however, you prefer a wheels-on-the-ground approach and prioritize a lightweight bike, there might be better options.
- Price: $3,999
- Sizes: XS, S (tested), M
- Wheelbase: 44.2″
- Top Tube: 22.9″
- Head Angle: 68º
- Seat-Tube Angle: 74º
- Bottom Bracket: 13.3″
- Rear Center: 16.7″
- Weight: 29 lbs.
- specs based on size tested
- Price: $3,599
- Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
- Wheelbase: 44.92″
- Top Tube: 23.6″
- Head Angle: 68º
- Seat-Tube Angle: 74º
- Bottom Bracket: 13.3″
- Rear Center: 16.7″
- Weight: 31 lbs.
- specs based on size tested
Photos by Emily Walley and Justin Steiner.
The VIDA MTB Series is a multi-city women’s clinic tour spearheaded by Sarah Rawley and Elena Forchielli that evolved out of the Beti Bike Clinics of 2013 and 2014. The Sedona MTB Festival was the debut of the VIDA MTB Series and the first of five stops for 2015. Participants had the option to sign up for a one- or two-day clinic for $180 and $310 respectively. Clinic registration also included entry to the Sedona MTB Fest’s bike demos, shuttles, bands, and beer tickets.
In addition to professional mountain bike skills instruction, VIDA clinics promote cycling as an holistic lifestyle activity. Each of the coaches and ambassadors shared their successes within the sport and they were unified in their passion and excitement about expanding women’s mountain biking. Listening to the tales of coaches, ambassadors and participants, one quickly realizes cycling can have a ton of positive influence in women’s lives in terms of community, relationships, environment, emotional and physical fitness and fun.
The VIDA clinics are supported by Yeti, and VIDA aims to reflect the signature Yeti “tribe” mentality at its events. One way that they’re achieving this goal is by building a network of ambassadors throughout the country. VIDA ambassadors connect with the women in their area, growing the mountain bike community.
“These are the women getting people stoked and motivated to get after it, organizing trail days, advocating for bikers, and volunteering in their communities.” according to the VIDA website. Ambassadors also play supporting roles at VIDA Clinics by demonstrating skills, sweeping rides, and more. Think you’d make a great VIDA ambassador? Apply here.
A total of 6 coaches, 14 ambassadors, and 35 participants from Maine to California gathered at the Sedona Posse Grounds Park. In pre-clinic surveys each individual detailed her riding history, perceived skill level and what she hoped to learn. We then split into groups of six that varied from novice to advanced. The small group size allowed time for the coaches to critique each individual rider and hone in on areas to improve, while still large enough to provide some necessary peer pressure. VIDA VP and Marketing Director Elena Forchielli emphasized that the groups would remain small even as the clinic scaled up; it would simply mean employing more coaches.
Basic bike/body separation, body position, cornering, looking ahead, lifting the front and rear wheel independently, and drops were all on the agenda. The coaches demonstrated each skill and then we practiced several times while critiqued. For me, skills out of context will forever feel awkward, but I think that’s what makes it so important; when it’s the only thing I have to think about it I’m aware of what I’m doing wrong.
After the morning skills session, lunch was provided at the Posse Grounds Park and then we set out for on-trail instruction. My coach was downhill-slalom-enduro-extraordinaire Wendy Palmer of Moab. Wendy has coached me in the past and I admire her expert instruction and welcoming personality. She has the unique ability to connect with each rider on a personal level, evaluate her skills and push her in a constructive manner. We spent much of the afternoon on Sedona’s Jordan and Anthill Trails, stopping at locations en route to work on line selection, steep descents and drops. After the on-trail instruction ride, there was an optional yoga session in the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, the MTB festival’s home base.
Saturday closed with tech talk from FOX. Even the guys gathered ’round for this informative information session where Jeff Menown, of Outside Technical Services, disassembled a fork, explained the inner workings, and detailed proper suspension setup.
On Sunday we grabbed prepared lunches at the VIDA tent and went straight to the Mystic trailhead to ride Pigtail, Hogwash, and Broken Arrow up to the view at Chicken Point for more on-trail instruction. All of these trails were challenging, offering excellent opportunities to challenge the skills we had practiced the day prior. We rode Pigtail a few times which offered technical descents into switchbacks, drops, and a jump.
Personally, our discussions about downhill brake modulation on technical descents and proper body position in switchbacks were invaluable lessons for me; from Friday to Monday my confidence descending increased dramatically and I think this speaks volumes about the instruction.
I wasn’t the only one that pedaled away with a success story, here’s what some other participants had to say.
“I rode things that I would instinctually avoid if I were riding by myself. I learned to be confident and smart in my riding. I learned how to do a jump. I learned that riding with a group of girls is super fun and inspiring. Having already ridden back on my home trails, I feel like they are brand new and I tried a couple new lines today that I’ve never done before.” – Taylor of Tucson, Arizona.
“I found out with the clinic that I have a lot of bad habits but now I know the correct way to do things and also that I am very capable of doing things that I didn’t think I could previously do. I cannot wait to practice more and get rid of the bad habits. I really wish that I had taken this clinic years ago and I will definitely go next year to continue learning new things.” – Becky of Guaymas, Mexico.
“The day after I got home, I met up with a girl I met at the clinic and we rode one of my favorite trails in Phoenix. When we came up to my usual “I’ll just walk this” section, I felt equipped to try it, analyze my approach and conquer the former obstacle. Overall I left the experience empowered and more confident in riding a bike. A success story for me!” – Heather of Phoenix, Arizona.
Prior to the clinic I’d found myself idling as an intermediate rider; feeling like I’d hit a physical and mental plateau. But after a couple days out of my element with VIDA instruction I experienced noticeable growth as a rider, and I realized that I hadn’t been pushing myself to improve. After the clinic I had visions of conquering specific sections on my home trails that I’ve never ridden in the past.
The VIDA MTB Series really is for ALL skill levels; even the most skilled rider has a place with VIDA. The advanced group tackled one of Sedona’s most challenging trails, Hangover. This steep and exposed trail lives up to its name and is not for the faint of heart.
There are five VIDA Clinics on the roster for 2015! Next up is the Core one-day Clinic in Boulder, CO. Start planning your weekend to better riding and new friends!
Read a full report of the Sedona MTB Festival here.Tweet Print
Photos by Jeff Swigart, Michael Raney, Emily Walley and the author.
There’s no denying the pull of Sedona’s aura for mountain bikers. Aside from being on nearly every “top 10” list of mountain biking destinations in North America, we all recognize the mystique of the city’s gorgeous red rock landscape and copious singletrack. As such, many of us are simply looking for a good excuse to visit this bucket list destination. Fortunately, the Sedona MTB Fest was just the motivation for more than 700 attendees to make the journey to Sedona this past weekend.
We spoke with riders from Canada, Washington, D.C., Nebraska, Montana, California, Maine and everywhere in between. Some folks had previously visited Sedona’s red rock country and others found the Festival to be the perfect opportunity for a first-time visit.
In 2012 and 2013 the Verde Valley Cycling Coalition (VVCC) hosted smaller, regional versions of the Sedona MTB Festival. This year Michael Raney and Jason First, co-owners of Over the Edge Sports Sedona, partnered with Matt McFee of Hermosa Tours to promote the event. Together they brought on Tenesha Milucky as Event Coordinator and pushed the event to a national level. “The festival grew out of the idea that we wanted to have fun in Sedona, and I think we met that goal,” said Raney. “We wanted to invite people to come ride with us and have an awesome time.”
Participants were able to buy one-, two- or three-day passes for $50, $80 and $100 respectively. These festival passes included unlimited shuttle access, bike demos, a couple of free beers, a souvenir pint glass and live bands nightly—we really dug The Invincible Grins. Folks interested in camping were able to purchase a $250 pass that included everything above plus camping at the Chavez Crossing Group Camp Friday and Saturday nights. Hermosa Tours provided coffee and breakfast each morning for campers, which was a very nice touch. Chavez Group camp offers running water and pit toilets.
We found the Chavez Campground to be a great option for its beautiful location with the soothing Oak Creek to lull you to sleep at night and its centralized location. The expo area and shuttle pickup was just a short 1.6-mile ride away. Perhaps the best part of camping here is the proximity of the incredible Hogs trails just across the street.
Sedona’s centrally located Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village hosted an exhibitor area with 29 venders and hundreds of demo bikes from brands large and small, along with regional vendors and a beer garden.
The newly formed VIDA MTB Series offered one- and two-day women’s clinics as part of the festival as well. The $310 registration included all festival activities and professional coaching Saturday and Sunday. Stay tuned for a full report on the VIDA clinic in coming days.
Though many of Sedona’s best trails are just a short ride out of town, the Festival’s shuttles expedited getting to the trailhead, allowing visitors to ride more trails than they otherwise might. These shuttles served the Dry Creek Trailhead (Chuck Wagon and Mescal trails) to the west of town, Schnebly Hill Rd (the infamous Hangover and Munds Wagon trails) to the east of town and the Village of Oak Creek (Slim Shady and Highline trails) to the south.
In addition to the riding areas mentioned above, the newly adopted Hogs network is a must-ride. This system is a mix of new and old school trails with a ton of flow. If you’re game for black diamond and double-black diamond trails, be sure to ride High On the Hog, Hog Heaven, Hog Wash and Pig Tail trails.
One piece of advice for anyone visiting Sedona; mind the trail rating system. Trails rated black diamond and double black diamond are very technical and will have exposure. Be honest with your skill level and start off on the green and blue trails to get a feel for the terrain.
In terms of trail infrastructure, the biggest news is the Forest Service’s recent adoption of Sedona’s most famous illegal trails into the official system. For years, rogue individuals built some of Sedona’s most iconic but illegitimate trails, stressing both the local mountain bike community and the Forest Service. The community was divided; rogue builders believed the Forest Service would never adopt these trails, while VVCC President Lars Romig felt the best path forward was to work in cooperation with the Forest Service. “To move forward in a sustainable path I felt success was needed in getting these iconic trails into the system,” said Romig.
Romig and the VVCC found allies in the Forest Service. “This group has strong community ties throughout the Verde Valley and was able to help with public involvement, give critical feedback on the route proposals, participate in field trips, keep local bikers informed and offer volunteer trail work,” said Jennifer Burns, a recreational staff officer at the Red Rock Ranger District.
“As far as Hogs, Highline and Hangover, the Forest Service had a lot of informal feedback from the public (hikers and bikers) that they really liked these routes,” Burns said. “So, we chose to ‘decide’ through National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) if we should remove the routes (and naturalize them) or add them into the system.”
Thanks to the Forest Service’s decision to incorporate them visitors are now able to enjoy these world-class trails because they’re signed and mapped. Festivalgoers flocked to Highline, Hogs and Hangover trails this weekend and they sure were stoked. For perspective, during my last visit to Sedona in 2012 none of those trails were part of the official system.
Everyone we spoke with this weekend was thrilled with his or her festival experience. “Great venue, great trails and great people!,” said Simon Pinto of Calgary, Alberta. Like Pinto, nearly everyone we spoke with said they’d be back next year and will be recommending the festival to friends. It quickly became apparent this festival is a top-notch way to make your first trip to Sedona. The extensive demo bike opportunities and the shuttles alone are worth way more than the cost of entry. Best of all, the festival is an unparalleled way to plug into the Sedona community in a way that you simply wouldn’t be able to do on your own in one weekend.
We had an incredible weekend at the Sedona MTB Fest and I’m sure you will too. Stay tuned to the Sedona MTB Fest website for the announcement of next year’s dates and don’t dally on booking your accommodations. Hope to see you here next year.
With much of the country blanketed in snow and cold temperatures, it’s only natural our collective cabin fever has us dreaming of sunshine, warm temps and dry singletrack.
Fortunately for all of us, the Sedona MTB Festival looks to be just the excuse to make the journey to the southwest for a long weekend of red rock riding March 6-8, 2015.
Over the Edge Sports Sedona and Hermosa Tours, two well-established players in the Sedona area, are jointly promoting the Sedona MTB Festival. The three-day festival will include an expo area with bike demos, shuttled rides, a beer garden and live bands Friday and Saturday evenings. Additionally, the Festival has partnered with the VIDA MTB Series to offer two days of women’s instruction over the course of the weekend. Women who sign up for the $310 Signature Clinic receive free admission to the Sedona MTB Festival.
We’ll will be making the trip out to the Sedona MTB Festival and we certainly hope to see you there!
Of course, all this talk of Sedona reminds me of the Dirt Rag Spring Break trip back in 2012. Here’s the excerpt from issue #169 of Dirt Rag to whet your appetite.
– Justin Steiner
There’s Something Strange About Sedona: Chasing Sweet Singletrack Aura and UFOs
By Shannon Mominee. Photos by Justin Steiner and Jon Pratt.
Driving across the desert with Sedona on the horizon, it’s obvious this area is special. Red rock formations jutting from the arid landscape are set against a deep blue that fills the sky as far as the eye can see. Suddenly, the world seems dreamy and enormous, and I’m near a state of bliss thinking of the singletrack to come.
Along the road, signs offer UFO sightseeing and vortex tours, aura photography, psy- chic readings and past-life regressions, while New Age believers descend into shops selling crystals, trinkets, spiritual music, and books.
We were tired from traveling and relieved that we would soon be riding on solid terrain as our own muddy home trails repaired themselves from the rainy season. Marveling and laughing, we pulled into the Red Agave Resort; a bike and pet-friendly establishment consisting of nine chalets, a handful of studio rooms, and a spacious courtyard which delivers a panoramic view of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock.
This was Dirt Rag’s spring break, and we were ready to ride, drink, sleep, repeat.
According to the Verde Valley Archaeology Center, hunter-gatherers likely were active in the area from 11,500 B.C. to 9,000 B.C. The Sinagua moved into the area around A.D. 650 and lived there until about A.D. 1400. They built cliff houses and pueblos and farmed the land. Later, the Yavapai and Apache hunted and had seasonal settlements in the area, until the U.S. Army forcibly removed them. As in across the rest of the United States, white set- tlers plowed through, first on horseback, and then with trains. These days, pink jeeps drive tourists across the revered terrain and the golden arches of McDonald’s are colored teal to better blend into the native backdrop.
Four million visitors, earthlings or otherwise, are drawn to Sedona annually. Situated 4,500 feet above sea level in the high desert of central Arizona, the city is believed by some to be built on top of a mythical Lemurian crystal city, hence the New Age convergence. With a population of about 10,000 people and an area of 19 square miles, the geography and topography of Sedona are a mountain biker’s dream. Fifty-one percent of the city area is privately owned; the remaining parcel is part of the Coconino National Forest.
Driving in from the south, Bell Rock beacons like the North Star, and State Route 179 heads straight for it, pulling drivers to the epicenter. The equally impressive Castle Rock looms to the east, and Cathedral Rock to the west. Not much of a surprise, Bell Rock actually resembles a bell; some believe the top houses a spaceship. Dates have come and gone where the faithful have climbed up and held on to Bell Rock waiting for it to break open and reveal an intergalactic ship so they can hitch a ride on its shiny metallic side toward the cosmos. More patient believers following the Mayan calendar were ready to leap from the rock into a porthole this past December. Other believers have purchased advanced tickets for an expected ride through the galaxy or will leap into the abyss with no set time of guaranteed departure.
Sedona has an abundance of clear blue skies and sunshine with plenty of fairly mild days. Winter temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees. Snowfall rarely sticks to the roads and sidewalks in town but can add a dusting of beautiful white contrast to the upper ridges and red rock. Summer usually is a comfort- able 75 to 85 degrees, though it can average in the mid-90s from June through August and days over 100° are not unheard of. Despite the chance for a summer or early fall monsoon there really isn’t a bad time to ride the area, but peak tour- ist season is March through May and September through October, so if you visit during peak season, avoid the crowded lower trails when possible.
Most of Sedona caters to the average tourist, and there are plenty of kitschy shops cashing in on crystals, aliens, artifacts, jewelry and Indian art. Oak Creek Brewery and Grill straddles the touristy line but offers excellent microbrews. Seven were on tap when we visited, and the food was good and affordable. It’s also one of the few places open later than 7 p.m. Nightlife is nearly nonexistent in Sedona, and almost everything closes early, so be prepared to entertain yourself. Sundowner, the only neighborhood dive bar we found, is open late and the beer is cheap. Don’t expect much excitement beyond the shuffleboard table and the hundreds of corny bumper stickers and photos plastered to the walls. I spotted an autographed Mr. Mister photograph but surely missed other treasures competing for my attention.
Natural beauty is where Sedona shines, and the night sky is a perfect example. Light-pollution laws keep the area dark, so stargazing is a must. The evenings are usually clear, and picking out planets and constellations with the naked eye is simple. Take it a step further and embark on a UFO tour. Some supply night-vision goggles to make spotting easier, so do a little research before heading into the night. According to Melinda Leslie, an ufologist (UFO+logy) and tour guide with more than 23 years of research and investigation experience, “Castle Rock is a UFO and vortex hot spot where Native Americans had continuous contact with star people.” Her shiny, unpainted aluminum trailer parked next to the creek behind the Center for the New Age is worth a visit. It’s right on State Route 179 and can’t be missed: just look for the purple sign with bold yellow letters.
Relationships and Riding
While some regions are struggling with land mangers for trail access, Sedona trail builders find themselves in a unique position. Rather than limiting land use and closing illegally built trails, the Forest Service is willing to incorporate illegally built trails into the network, providing they meet certain criteria. This brings its own set of problems as illegal-trail builders create more and more trails, but one such trail, Hangover, has been officially adopted into the network.
Hangover was built years ago by mountain bikers and is an iconic trail known for its exposed traverses, slickrock steps, and breathtaking views. Each time I’ve visited Sedona I’ve ridden it, guided by riders who know the way. Apparently, thousands of other riders have as well. It’s well-worn in most places as lines disappear across great expanses of slickrock. With its acceptance came signage and trail markers, which will help visitors navigate across and down the slickrock. Trail markings also make it possible for bike shops to send vacationers to this grand trail without fear that they will become lost.
Because of the cooperation between the Forest Service and mountain bikers, the trail network is impressive and growing steadily as more trails are adopted into the system. “The Red Rock Ranger District recognizes mountain biking as a legitimate trail use and is working to expand trail opportunities for mountain biking along with other trail uses,” said Jennifer Burns, District Recreation Manager.
Trailheads exist all over the city, but it’s best to stop by a bike shop to plan a route that meets your skill level and avoids the stream of tourists using the lower trails; you’ll have a more enjoyable ride, and their walk will be more pleasant. Over the Edge Sports, Bike and Bean, and Absolute Bikes all have current model-year rental fleets and offer maps and trail knowledge.
With access points surrounding the city, it’s easy to pedal from a trailhead and in a short time be on some of the most dangerous trails you can physically and mentally handle, yet remain relatively close to the city in case a ride turns bad. If you are looking to get the most mileage out of your trip, plan it around the Big Friggin’ Loop, part of the annual 60-plus-mile race that takes place in March.
Many of Sedona’s trails are challenging, but there are also wide-open routes along slickrock with nothing but epic views. These usually become steep in sections or have rock stairways and drop-in connectors. No matter where you ride, talk to the shops and get a map so you don’t end up stuck on the side of a cliff looking across slickrock for the line down. When the trail does seem to disappear, look for stacked piles of rocks. Those are usually trail markers. Tire rubber embedded into the rock face is also a good compass.
When you need a pedaling break, head for the ChocolaTree, a vegetarian eatery on West Highway 89A. They have a great display case of sweet goodies and serve wholesome organic soup and sandwiches. If your needs are otherworldly, there are ample opportunities for mind and body healing. Discover your animal totem and symbol or venture on a personal vortex tour. UFO spotting, crystal power enlightenment, palm reading and spiritual healing are a turn off the highway. So is beer, and the grocery stores are loaded with appealing microbrews. If your off-bike needs are simpler, just go outside and stare at the sky. The amount of stars that can be seen during the night is mind-awakening. Start a fire, have some s’mores and enjoy the cool nights before riding under the sun again.
Hermosa Tours – Tours throughout Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Utah.
Guided Tours: Hermosa Tours offers guided ride packages ranging from day tours, to the deluxe, all-inclusive experience of our trip, which included all meals and ground transportation. They cater to all rider levels, schedules, group sizes and dietary needs. A similar Sedona, Arizona guide package would cost $700-800 per person for four days.
Self-Guided Tours: Hermosa’s self-guided tours provide on- the-ground and behind-the-scenes logistics, while allowing day-to-day ride navigation up to the rider. While you’re out riding point-to-point during the day, a Hermosa guide will transfer your camp from one location to the next along the way. Be sure to check out all seven epics tours available.
Contact: Matt McFee, [email protected] or 877-765-5682 www.hermosatours.net
Stay the Night
The Red Agave Resort
Owned by Bike and Bean, Red Agave offers two-story chalets and studio-style rooms with trail access right outside the door. There’s an awesome view of Bell Rock, nightly gatherings around a fire pit with s’mores, hot tubs, pool. It’s mountain bike and pet-friendly.
120 Canyon Circle Drive Sedona, AZ 86351 877-284-9237
Pitch a Tent
The Coconino National Forest is loaded with campgrounds, each offering unique attractions, picturesque backdrops, and a spot to lay your head. Here are a few that are easy to find: Manzanita Campground, Pine Flat Campground, Bootlegger Campground, Cave Springs Campground.
In addition to knowledgeable and friendly staff, Absolute Bikes’ rental fleet covers full- suspension rigs, hardtails, tandems, kids bikes, road bikes, and trailers; enough options to get the whole family on two-wheels. Bicycle sales and service, parts and gear, they have it all. Open everyday.
6101 hwy 179, Suite D Sedona, AZ 86351 877-284-1242
Bike and Bean
Whether you need a rental bike, a repair, a pint of beer, or a cappuccino, Bike and Bean has you covered. They offer tours for casual and aggressive riders, maps, local knowledge, and trail advice for optimum adventure. If you’ve been to Sedona before you’ve likely stopped in, but take note that the shop has moved one block south. Open seven days a week.
75 Bell Rock Plaza Sedona, aZ. 86351 928-284-0210
Over The edge Sports
A knowledgeable staff will help you find areas just right for your skill level. Their self printed OTE Sedona map shows legit and not-so-legit trails to keep you from getting lost so you can focus on maximizing your experience. Over The Edge Sports offers a complete rental fleet of current hardtail and full suspension mountain bikes along with road bikes, maps, gear, repairs, and a little dog named Juno. Open daily.
1695 West State Route 89a Sedona, AZ 86336 928.282-1106
Eats and Treats
Authentic Mexican cuisine prepared using local products, wine, and cheese, with recipes reflecting the chef’s travels through Mexico. Elote Café serves four types of Tequila and a Mezcal to help you relax after a long ride.
771 State Route 179 Sedona, AZ 86336 928-203-0105
ChocolaTree serves 100 percent organic meals that are free of gluten and processed sugar. Wheatgrass shots, ginger lemonade, fantastic teas, but most impressive is the chocolate and dessert counter. Get some sweets to go, you won’t regret it.
1595 West hwy 89a Sedona, AZ 86336 928-282-2997
Oak Creek Brewery
Micro brews. What more needs to be said? Oak Creek Brewery also has food ranging from gourmet burgers and pizza to cedar plank salmon and salads.
336 Route 179 Sedona, AZ 86336 928-204-1300
Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen
Organic pizzas and a plethora of pastas, gluten-free dishes and salads await your post ride arrival. Picazzo’s has locations in and around Sedona.
Winter has barely made its presence known but we’re already looking forward to the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival in March. Scheduled from March 6-8 at the Talaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, it promises a great way to enjoy the sunshine, red-rock trails and power of the Vortex.
Hosted by Over the Edge Sports, the event will feature a three-day exhibition with vendors and bike companies offering the latest bikes to demo and products to examine in person. In addition there will be shuttles offered by Hermosa Tours to popular riding areas and beer vendors to enjoy post-ride. Hermosa Tours will also be offering a catered camping experience at the Chavez Crossing Campground, which is just minutes from the festival.
Sedona’s average temperature in March is 65 degrees and with more than 200 miles of singletrack trails, it’s looking like a great way to start the 2015 riding season.
Stay tuned for pricing details, but if you want to reserve a space or your interested in grabbing an exhibitor spot, send an email to [email protected].