A trip to escape the 100F forecasted for Tucson? Mountain biking in Flagstaff with a lot of single track? The AZE mountain biking series provided that with Aspen Asphyxiation last weekend. The trails were beautiful with lots of new single track that looked like only a year or 2 old, and a big climb almost up to the Snow Bowl ski area. The Arizona Trail provided smooth rolling switchbacks amongst Aspen groves on the way down.
With a bit of an eye towards possible future AZT trips, I wanted to explore the availability of water along the route, of which there are a few listed on the AZT guide.
My legs were not feeling terribly fresh after only 30 miles and with a few breaks, I ended up at returning to the starting point after 8:30 hours. Everyone from the AZE group had already left by then, so there was nothing to do but to find a camp place for the night. The area near Marshal Lake / Lake Mary allows open camping in the national forest. After setting up my tent, the last rays of sunlight illuminated another section of the Arizona Trail in glorious colors.
The next day I had to ride a bit more of the Aspen trail, and then went on for another 10 miles rolling down north on the AZT. At some point, my rear tire felt funny and sure enough it was going flat. Luckily Stan’s tire sealant fixed the sidewall puncture once I put my bike flat on the ground.
On a technical note, switching to a much shorter 6 cm stem (from 11 cm) made a huge positive difference in handling. My bike’s been feeling slow and unwieldy since I bought it and I thought it were the big 29er wheels that I still hadn’t gotten used to. But, after riding Scott’s Lenz Behemoth full-suspension bike last weekend (thanks, Scott!), I knew it weren’t the big wheels, as his bike was super fun on the technical stuff. So, with just a small tweak to the stem length, I was now throwing my bike into corners and climbing over technical sections. Perfect!