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Black Canyon in Arizona

Day One of the Winter 2007 Arizona Trip

So the general plan for Day One of our Winter 2007 Arizona trip was to beat feet out of SoCal and make our way out to Sedona with a pit-stop ride near or in Phoenix with our friend Gary. Armed with Gary's address and my Google Maps enabled phone we proceeded to be "Googled" into the wrong part of town that added a little bit of time and a whole lot of cultural diversity to the drive.  Gary is a coffee connoisseur in a big way and when we turned onto his street we could smell freshly roasted coffee beans wafting through his neighborhood.   After some gripping and grinning, Gary showed off his barista skills and we were soon discussing trail options over the best freaking cup of coffee I have ever had.   We were soon jazzed up on java and headed north out of town to ride a portion of the Black Canyon Trail system that Gary and many others have recently had a hand in building.  The Black Canyon Trail system will eventually encompass over 62 miles of single track that will add even more truly epic riding to Arizona. 

Getting There:  This stuff is too fresh to be in the guide books yet.   We did the Little Pan Loop and parked at the Table Mesa trail head. Information on how to get there  as well as the most recent additions and information can be found on the Black Canyon Trail Coalition's Website.

images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-02.jpgimages/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-01.jpgThis was a good shake the cobwebs out of the legs ride as it was not particularly technical.  Although it did have some sections that raised the pucker factor.   The folks who laid out this trail knew what they were doing as there are some exceptional contour lines and superb use of the terrain.  The trail still has a bit of that "new" feel to it that I really like, but it will not take long to bed down nicely.  We were pushing against daylight when we started and it was overcast for the most part.  It did not take long on this trail to realize how much out of shape I had become.   Stuff that I would have zipped along with my single speed a few months ago now was laborious.   Being a slug aside, the mostly undulating nature of the trail combined with the weaving around Saguaro cacti here and there made for a very cool ride.

images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-10.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-07.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-08.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-09.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-11.jpg

I had my longer travel bike sans computer so I'm guessing the loop was maybe around 8 miles or so long.

Cottonwood Gulch
Here is a shot taken on what I believe is Cottonwood Gulch near the apex of the loop.  

images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-03.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-04.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-05.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-06.jpg

We finished the ride pretty much just after it got dark and quickly broke into the stash of SoCal local brews.  Over the course enjoying lavations we played with the long exposure settings on our cameras.  Don't ask me how it happened, it just did.

images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-12.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-13.jpg    images/Trails/AZ07/AZ07-BlackCanyon-10JAN07-14.jpg

So after completing our post-ride lubrication, we went just a few miles up I-17 to Rock Springs were we had dinner at the Rock Springs Cafe.   The food and conversation was great and before long Gary headed back to Phoenix and we continued on our way to Sedona.   In just a little over an hour we were in Sedona and found our way to the casa we would be at for the next couple of nights courtesy of the Over The Edge Sports crew out for their annual winter escape from snow.   Saying this place was a kick ass luxury house would be a gross under statement.   Most of the crew had already hit the streets so after unloading the truck we went downtown and met up with them.   Jerry is old friends with nearly all of the crowd, while I had only met a couple of them previously.   We spent the rest of the evening swapping SoCal and Colorado riding tales while playing pool and talking a little trash.  I always get jazzed at places when passionate mountain bikers are gathered and swapping stories. There was even an interesting conversation about the center of gravity characteristics of certain types of SUVs, but that is another story.

On to Day Two - Sedona Riding