Road Trip: Pinkbike's Southwest Adventure

Dec 4, 2012
by Mike Kazimer  
Photos by Ian Hylands
Words by Mike Kazimer

Departure morning arrived grey and gloomy, dark clouds scudding across the horizon and stacking up against the foothills of the North Cascades. Tech Editor Mike Levy, his friend Wayne, and photographer Ian Hylands drove down from Pinkbike headquarters to pick me up in Bellingham, Washingon. The four of us piled into the van to begin the trip south towards the sunshine and singletrack of Sedona, Arizona. Two weeks of bike testing and Vitamin D absorption lay ahead, but first there was a twenty six hour drive to dispatch with.

Rain accompanied us all the way to Salt Lake City, fat drops splatting against the windshield as a constant reminder of why we were leaving the Pacific Northwest. The scenery outside the van's windows slowly changed, lush greens and tall cedars gradually giving way to rolling hills dotted with sagebrush and scrub oak. As the miles rolled by, we began to find the rhythm of the drive. Settling into this rhythm requires altering one's perception of distance and time. It's best to ignore the clock completely – knowing it's two in the morning isn't much help when eight hours of driving remain. Focus turns to the gas gauge instead. Drive until the needle reaches a pre-determined level, pull into the closest truck stop or gas station, stumble over to the passenger seat, and repeat until the drive is complete.

  Who'll stop the rain? Driving south in search of dry trails and sunshine.

  The sun drops behind the horizon, beginning the nighttime portion of the drive. Time to pound some energy drinks.

  We drove through four states before reaching Arizona. The sun went down when we were somewhere between Idaho and Utah.

We reached Arizona by sunrise, stopping just south of the Grand Canyon to take in the red rock vistas. The sun's rays spread across the land in front of us and began climbing the towering red sandstone walls that bordered the valley. To the west, the waning moon began to sink towards the skyline.

  We're not in the Northwest anymore. Red rocks catch the sun's early rays.

After a couple more hours of driving, including a bit of confusion when Ian Hyland's smartphone navigated us twenty miles off course, we finally arrived in Sedona. We had shipped some of our test bikes and gear ahead of time, so we stopped at Over the Edge Bikes to visit with Jason First and Matt Sherwood and pick up the test products. Over the Edge Bikes is truly a full service shop - with a pump track out back and an espresso machine inside, plus a knowledgeable, friendly staff that shreds, they're a must-visit shop on any Sedona trip.

  Jason Firsty, Over the Edge Bikes' co-owner, pulls a shot guaranteed to cure sleep deprivation.

  Home sweet home. A quiver of test bikes and a forecast of sunshine and perfect temperatures guarantees that good times lay ahead. The hot tub in the backyard doesn't hurt either.

Back at the rental house, our home base for the next two weeks, we began unloading the bikes and organizing the garage. We opened all the doors of the van in an effort to air out the fragrant potpourri that can only be created with a diet of gas station food and energy drinks. As we began unpacking, Eric Porter, Jon Kennedy and James Weigand rolled up with the Diamondback Sprinter van. They had brought a Mason 29 for us to test, and would be joining us for the next two days of riding. Richard Cunningham, the final member of our test crew, arrived a few hours later, his Volvo wagon filled to the brim with more test bikes and gear.

  Apparently, the owners of our rental house are movie fans. Garage wallpaper courtesy of Blockbuster Video.

The next morning we woke up still groggy from the sleep deprivation brought on by the drive, but ready to shake off the cobwebs by laying down tracks in the red dirt. Singletrack spiderwebs off in all directions from Sedona, so we picked a trail with a good mix of technical climbing and descending to get us reacquainted with riding in the desert. Temperatures were perfect, especially compared to the dreary cold we had left behind. Riding on undulating slickrock with magnificent views in all directions began to erase the memories of how long it took to reach this destination. Conversation on the ride up centered on biking (of course), with everyone discussing the past summer's adventures, and plans for next season.

  Eric Porter making it look easy aboard his Diamondback Mason 29.

We reached the top of the trail, a wide cleft between two towering sandstone walls. After a quick snack and photo break we began the descent, twisting and turning with the trail as it bobbed and weaved under rock outcroppings and around gnarled juniper trees. The sharp, square edges of the sandstone kept us alert, doling out pinch flats as punishment for misjudged landings and over-zealous air time. The sun was beginning to turn the sky pink when we arrived back at the trailhead, tired from the ride, but excited for the days of bike testing and trail exploring that lay ahead.

  Mike Levy does his best to keep Eric Porter in his sights, but Porter lays down a red dust smokescreen.

  Downtown Sedona is filled with New Age healers peddling aura readings, crystals, and vortex maps. We might stop by to see if they sell talismans to ward off pinch flats and protect us from cactus spikes.

Stay tuned for more reports from the road as the Pinkbike crew continues their desert adventure.


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45 Comments

  • 14 0
 Rough job. Btw, damage deposit be damned, I'm taking down that Diane Keaton poster. Couldn't stand 2 weeks of her looking at me.
  • 4 1
 Sharpie eye patch and devil horns should suffice!
  • 5 0
 Aw, I thought these guys looked somewhat familiar, at least a group of guys doing photo sessions on the trail, figured they must be of something. I ran into the Pinkbike guys on Slim Shady today. Awesome day to be out...72 degrees, pretty much empty trails until I ran into them..haha. I had an awesome day riding, looked like they all were as well....though I did see R.C. changing a flat..doh! Enjoy Sedona guys!
  • 4 0
 Stopped in Sedona last year on my road trip, headed into the bike shop and they helped me map out a route to do most of the trails in one loop. Got my 20+ miles in over the course of a few hours, great scenery out there, definitely a nice place to ride and enjoy, I'd recommend riding there to anyone who is passing by! If you get a chance to, ride the "white line"
  • 3 0
 Sedona is the best place to ride in AZ- (imo- i live in AZ). find a local to take you to the "HANG-OVER" trail. Stay away from and do not ride "THE WHITE LINE"- scariest thing i have ever done and doubt i'll do it again. happy trails........
  • 1 0
 Ha! The White Line, its cool to see that thing getting some exposure on the internet. Vid: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYlI1hLDBbY&feature=endscreen Jayson and Mike are great! Stop by their shop for all the trail beta if you are in Sedona, those dudes know how to GET RAD!
  • 2 0
 nice write up Mike.. I stumbled into that shop last year around new years and they hooked us up with the goods on what trails to ride and where to eat! I felt obligated to spend money so I bought some shorts I didn't really need...
  • 2 0
 I will be heading to Sedona and Phoenix for a week of shredding in exactly 1 month! This article could not have come at a better time. Stoked!
  • 1 0
 Also check out South Mountain when you're down here if you have the time..I feel spoiled to have a place like that 20minutes away
  • 2 0
 I am planning on it. What are some other must rides in the Phoenix area? The more technical the better.
  • 1 0
 Prescott is also a great place to ride! Do not underestimate it
  • 1 0
 Shoot me a PM, and I can show you some of the goods.
  • 1 1
 Dont get shot on your way to the trails, south moutain area is the worst area in the city.. haha JK ...but really. Prescott really I was born there and grew up in Flagstaff and have not once have ever thought of riding there... Outside of Pheonix there is a town called Wickenburg the mountains outside of Wickenburg are great if you know were to go. Hope you enjoy AZ!!
  • 1 0
 Amazing trails i lived their with my dad for 6 months and rode everyday and loved every minute of it. To bad I'm back in school in Kansas...
  • 1 1
 Haha for sure. Prescott is interesting no doubt. I live In Salt Lake now and the trails here are simply awesome!!!!!
Where do you recomend riding in Prescott?
  • 1 0
 Granite Basin and White Spar are my favorite in town I ride them constantly
  • 1 1
 What bike shop do you recomend?
  • 1 0
 Ironclad is my favorite but it can be hard to find but high gear is just as good
  • 2 0
 Depends on the type of riding you want to do. There's xc, am, & dh at south mountain. Dh Shuttles Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun with gnar gnar tours...look them up. If you only had one place to choose, it would be there. If your all about xc, Sedona is cool but there's not much of a dh scene to speak of. Flag will be full of snow.until May. I would recommend national, Geronimo, 24th st., and holbert (depending on your skill level) as soumou's must-rides...
  • 1 0
 South Mountain is plenty technical..it's a huge area and covers the hole spectrum..^^This guy knows, and if you're rocking a DH bike, look up gnar gnar tours. If your not used to desert riding stuff like the waterfall will wet your whistle fer sure
  • 2 0
 I live just on the southern edge of the mountain, and everyone forgets the southwest edge of it. So much stuff that's rarely ridden... I've posted a couple videos of some of the trails, but Bees Knees, Pyramid, are great fun and always deserted. 601 and 603 are the steepest trails on the hill, with a ton of exposure, and sketchy lines at best... It's a great place to have so close to home... On the same token, Sedona does have it's highlights, and is a nice getaway from the redundancy of the valley... You can find gnar gnar tours on FB.
  • 1 0
 I'm flying in to Phoenix the 3rd week of December for two weeks of riding. Couldn't be more stoked. So thanks for the pointers. Definitely going to shoot for Sedona and Prescott as well.
  • 1 1
 I ride more DH than anything I like big features and technical terrian. Im from there and had no idea those places exsisted. But I raced BMX when i lived there so I went out to Speed World and Black Mountain alot. I got into DH when I moved to Salt Lake. Little Cottonwood in SLC, Draper DH, Bountiful Bomber, The Canyons Bike Park, Bobsled are all awesome. Little Cottonwood is proabably my favorite the jumps arent that huge but it can be gnarly and is a blast!! If your ever up this way hit me up!! Thanks for awesome portfolio of trails. I have a reason to see me mum now hah!! Sedona has its views granted , it just really seems more xc oriented at least thats what ive gatherd so far?
  • 1 0
 Thanks everyone for the info! Sounds like I will have to ride day and night in order to ride everything that was recommended. Smile I will probably just be bringing my Remedy and possibly a DJ bike. Since my DH bike will stay in Michigan collecting dust, I probably wont be doing any shuttling. Should I be worried about throwing a bit of slime in my tubeless setup to prevent flats from cactus spines? Or does Stan's work just fine? Couldn't be more excited to pop my desert riding cherry!
  • 1 0
 I use stans. I've had no issues, unless it's a torn sidewall...
  • 1 1
 Tire liners always help..However im not sure if you can use those with a tubless setup.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the tips!
  • 1 0
 I don't think he's riding a mason in the third to last picture.
The mason doesn't have rear suspension.
maybe i'm wrong? :o




edit:
i guess they came out with a new one with rear suspension o.O
  • 3 0
 It's the 2014 Mason FS. You'll be able to read a review in the New Year.
  • 1 0
 Oooo, I'd hate to have your job and have to see all of the year after next year's models Wink
  • 2 0
 Passed through Sedona a couple years back, bikeless. Now i'm tempted to go back.
  • 1 0
 Definitely head down to Phoenix for a day and hit up south mountain.. Even link up with Gnar Gnar Tours for shuttle rides to the top of the mountain... You won't regret it!!
  • 1 0
 Not gonna lie, I honeymooned in Sedona and totally took my bike with us. Even went to the shop and got some gloves! I regret nothing....
  • 1 0
 Looks like good times ahead! I have a place just down the road from where you guys are. It would be cool to say hello
  • 1 0
 Nice Rancilio Silvia! I've had mine since '06. Still pulling beautiful shots every day!
  • 1 0
 as always...stunning shots!
  • 1 0
 Prescott Arizona is also a amazing place to ride, a beautiful town also!
  • 1 0
 Burrito and Southwest food pictures demanded! Thanks for the sun hit
  • 1 0
 It's funny cuz I saw the exact same mural when I was down there
  • 1 0
 We spent 3 days riding in Sedona last year, now I want to go back !
  • 1 0
 Watch out for the agave, it kills!
  • 1 0
 Don't forget 32nd St on somo.Thats the best DH type trail IMHO.
  • 1 0
 I live in Phoenix. Nice to see Sedona is a popular destination.
  • 1 1
 new age??
thet fuking religion shit evrewhere!!
  • 1 1
 Have fun guys!

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