Sometime amid the 2020 pandemic, one of our crew mates declared “I’m going to Sedona, be there or be square!”. Naturally, I was quite interested and immediately started to pencil in some plans.

We started our journey from Denver just before the front range was expected to get up to 4 feet of snow the following day. It could not have been better timing, as most of it was melted out by the time we returned home.

Leaving after work on Thursday, we headed through the mountains and boondocked in Rifle for the night.

Moab: The Prelude

After waking up to a beautiful snowy desert in Rifle, we stopped by Moab on the way (because Moab) and ran around the Bar-M trail system right off highway 191. They proved to be an excellent warm-up for the days ahead and got us into the desert spirit.

Pushing our luck, we narrowly dodged some rain coming in from Canyonlands. On our way down to Mexican Hat, UT we would roll through some pretty wild snowstorms.

Sedona: The Main Event

Over 6 days we tackled as much trail as we could, limited only by our food intake, pain thresholds, mechanical durability, and a brief intermission due to weather.

Day 1: Dry Creek Trails starting on Girdner and looping up and around Chuck Wagon.

While we were excited to get at it, we were not prepared for how slippery the trails (and rocks) can be when wet. After our first blue-black descent we were a tad demoralized about our fitness and skill level and had to do a bit of self-reflection and gather our spirits for the days ahead.

Day 2, Part 1: Llama

After licking our wounds and fueling up with some breakfast pizza, we made a strong comeback to tackle another blue-black. There are very few trails in Sedona that are easier than blue-black. This is not a beginner’s area.

Llama is a fast and flowy chunk trail that will make you work for your speed. If you can keep the power on the pedals it will reward you with some super fun features and challenging obstacles.

Day 2, Part 2: Mystic, Hogback, Little Horse, Llama

The crew was being guided by some retired friends that ride almost year-round. They had selected a series of trails that skirt around some incredible geological features with amazing views.

These trails were tough and I walked a lot (hike-a-bike is a skill, too). Ultimately they were well worth it and I was able to get comfortable with the trails that I would add in to my Mega Tour.

Day 3: Granite Mountain Hike

Enough snow fell that night that we felt it wise to give the trails some time to dry the next day. Being a trail adopter for the Colorado Trail Foundation, I am particularly sensitive to trail damage from the overuse of wet trails.

We put together a last minute plan to meet up in Prescott for a hike up Granite Mountain, a pretty tame 8-mile tromp through some fresh snow.

Day 4: South Sedona Mega Tour

This was my personal main event for the whole trip. I had 2 goals for the entire week:

  1. Hit at least 1000 TSS between all activities
  2. Ride at least 8 hours in a single day

I was able to hit both goals. Ignore Strava, it probably didn’t count my ultra-slow technical bits. It took me nearly 9 hours to complete the whole thing.

Day 5: Mega Ride Aftermath

Legs fried and undernourished, I hopped in with the Dino Ladies ride thinking that they would pace me a bit slower and prevent me from burning out early in the ride.

Fact: Dino Ladies are fast and I did indeed bail out early to tend to some mechanical issues that cropped up during the ride.

Day 6: Devil’s Bridge Hike

As my bike was fatiguing and we were rolling back to Denver, we decided to try to do the super-tourist-influencer hike up to Devil’s Bridge. The hike itself was nice to get the blood moving before a long drive, however the bridge itself was horribly underwhelming and we spent the whole hike back discussing all of the way-cooler places that we have been in Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Zion.

Gear

The End

Overall it was an amazing adventure and we maximized every bit of time that we had away from home. This ended up being the longest trip that we’ve ever taken (9 days on the road) and we fully intend to continue to PR that metric in the future.