A while back, I was holding down the bar with everybody’s favorite Gnome and he was telling me about all the riding he has been getting to do lately. I was a little more than jealous. Although I’m having my fair share of fun, my tires have not been hitting the dirt very much lately. In the past three weeks I have been surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, and even went on a couple road rides. But it just wasn’t mountain biking.
As long as I can remember I have hunted for singletrack. That line of dirt, carved in a place where it really doesn’t belong yet somehow makes the journey better. It doesn’t matter if it is .25 miles or 25 miles long, I’ve got it bad. When I was a kid it was those shortcuts through empty lots, with their little jumps that were so much better than the sidewalk. As I got older I realized the power of the shovel and started making my own any place I could. Always anonymous, and always open to everybody. If it’s worth making, it’s worth sharing.
My approach to singletrack seems to have shifted yet again since I have moved to Arizona. I spend a considerable amount of time seeking out trails that I have never ridden. Pouring over google earth, obsessing over ways to link up trail systems, and making note of every bit of shit talk I hear at the bike shop. I have even gone so far as to befriend a group of elk hunters at the office to maybe hear a snippet about trails that are “so damn tight I can’t even fit my quad through there”.
I awoke this morning in Flagstaff with rain and lighting already over the peaks. I discussed trail options over breakfast with the boys and they informed me of a random parking area and trail marker out west of town. They had never rode it, but they had to go to work and it was my duty to go explore. I geared up at the trailhead with thunder rolling in the distance and clouds darkening overhead. The only proper thing to do was throw the camera in a dry bag, grab a raincoat, and start riding. After passing a couple official looking trail markers I finally came to a sign that informed me this is the Arizona Overland Trail. A badass little piece of pioneer history right underneath my tires. most of the “trail” was overgrown and looked like this:
It was tough going but I rode on through meadows, down dirt roads, and back to the forest again. I even passed some cool old homesteads:
After a while I finally stumbled upon a nice piece of worn in singletrack. It was short but oh so sweet. I managed to grab this self portrait right before the rains came:
Three hours of grinding, going over the bars, hail, rain and mud for maybe only 2 miles of singletrack. Yup, it was totally worth it. Keep exploring. Keep it dirty…by