A place to share words and pics. Mostly bikes, but my photog eye does wander.

Bikes let the good times roll. In solitude or with friends. For a half hour or 8 hours. Pedals become the gears that turn the earth as the sun seems to track their motion, day after day. Miles become food, and you're hungry. The bike stops being a vehicle, or toy, or transportation and becomes an extension of will, allowing you to journey beyond the pain of self into the realm of almighty, joyous nature, she that feeds our souls. Pedal yourself into the maw of creation. Pedal yourself silly.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

AES Sedona Big Friggin' Loop

March means time for the AES Big Friggin' Loop around Sedona. I've ridden in Sedona a little bit, but not enough to be familiar with the system. I know where Bell and Cathedral Rocks are, Chicken Point, and where Casner is. That's about it. I was rather excited to get a tour of a whole ton of red dirt this day, in the same manner as the Prescott Monstercross - ride a circle around the city!

We set off from the Bike-N-Bean up Made in the Shade to Highline. First time I've been on both trails and they were pretty damn nice. Once on Highline the views start to open up.

Been riding for about 25 minutes, but a break was necessary at this point, just for the view. I guess I'll have to do each AES event at least once or twice just to get the wandering eyes  saturated with the views before I'm going to hammer one of these out. I like the challenge, but damn, the scenery pays dividends! Thanks to Shillingsworth for the snap.
Picture time already? Sure. Bike-N-Bean is just behind us and that is Bell Rock to John's right.

Coming down the west side of Highline. Fun trail. Photo cred to Schillingsworth.
Our next traverse would take us over all that red slick-rock type geology below.

A few riders, as in all of them, were out ahead of us. Typical. The descent down towards the Red Rock State Park was bike loads of fun, even with a tight loose dive to at one point for some slip-sliding pucker factor. I'm sure many know the place.

We were making pretty good time for us. We'd climb a bit, then rail some dirt for a bit, then climb some more. The route hardly has any climbs over about 400ft, so everything was manageable. It's not like diving into the Tortolitas, with it's 2k ft ascent. Sedona keeps dishing the trail types out in doses, and you get to have some fun over and over gain. Here we're somewhere around Cockscomb, but I'm not too sure.
I'm smiling on the inside, really. I was quite enjoying my self out there. Perfect weather. Perfect dirt. Great company. No rush. Nature's sounds abounding......Peace on rolling wheels.

By now we were pretty far form Bell Rock, which is in the far background now. We might be 5 hours in and we were approaching the Mescal/Aerie section of the ride.
There were some cool slickrock type areas to traverse through. With knowledge of this coming up, one could carry some speed and make a little wall ride out of it. I did my best. Photo cred to John.

The Voodoo was performing well for the day. My rubbing tire had settle down a bit, but seemed a bit squirrelly at times. I still had gremlins in my head I tried to ignore. Do I need to get a new hub already?

After riding in the red dirt all day, it's all you can see after a while!

We were hitting Aerie at this point, and what nice trail it was. It had lots of flow, rolled smooth and was over way too soon, for me anyway. As I approached the end I hit a G-out spot and hear a very distinctive metal snap. Oh, my. That sounded like an important part. Frame-like. Necessary-like. I gave the bike a long once over and eventually found the culprit - a snapped pivot bolt. It seemed that it had worked itself loose, and was now so loose that the torsional stress on it had snapped the head off. Crap. Maintenance error. I knew it had been doing that, but hadn't thought about it for ......  a few months? The bolt still held the rocker and chainstays in place, so I could ride, it was just even more squirrelly now. If I only would have  remembered to check it now and then! Damn! This is what has been making my rear squirrelly - not a hub or spokes! Damn! Self-inflicted wounds are the worst..... Oh, and that is what partially worked my head at the 24HTOP...... Maintenance would have kept me confident....seven laps.....damn.....

While this was what was next on our scenery list - Mescal Mountain, I was thinking of what else I found on my bike while searching for the now snapped pivot bolt - a rather large crack in my chainstay. I'm pretty confident that I can finish the ride, as I figured I've probabably been riding  on that crack for over a year, since I bought the bike. I never would have seen it if the pivot bolt didn't crack, which wouldn't have cracked if I hadn't overlooked my maintenance. Damn! Then again, I caught it now before I was 30 miles into some other AES route when it would undoubtedly snap. However, as I pedaled on and enjoyed, a little thought bounced around my head - the Voodoo is done for now! It shouldn't be too hard to fix, as I know you can buy replacement swing arms for the Canzo through BTI. Bingo.

Nothing better than some Ice Cube to go with your Coke. This was just before the Thunder Mountain section, and that Coke and pizza was pretty damn good. You know you're not racing when you stop for pizza.

I'll coming around Thunder Mountain when I come!
Thunder Mountain took us eventually to Chicken Point after some pavement. We made the climb a bit before sunset, and I started the bomb down Llama trail. Lights were on. I look back. No lights. Schillingsworth! Oh, flat tire. Less than ten miles to go and flats rear their ugly heads! Seems like the Torts all over again!
Nothing can really fry your onions like having to constantly put air in your tire at the end of a nice long day in the saddle. Ask this fella above. Put in a new tube?! But we're so close!  We're pushing 12 hours! The psychology of just wanting to be done can make you suffer small leaks.....We were ready to put the bikes up and get some tasty calories.
So we eventually made it down, but not before we collected Dave, a fellow last-placer that was now caught out with us, but without a light! John and I put him between us, in a little cocoon of light, and we made it out easy enough. It turns out he's from New Mexico as I remember and makes bike frames. Check out Dab Cycles for his stuff.
Here's the whole 55 mile route. It's really a great tour of Sedona, but I know there is still tons of stuff I haven't seen yet. I think a camping adventure and exploration would do well there. Although, we did get a ton of new-to-me-trails in that day such as Made in the Shade, Highline, Under the Radar, Western Civilization, Aerie, Deadman's Pass, Teapot, Chimney Rock, Broken Arrow, Llama.......and a few others. No better way to see a system than an AES ride!