Tuesday - a late start to the day so we could get a map and find the trail head we wanted. The goal was Baldwin, Templeton and HiLine. The parking lot was already crazy, filled with hikers and tourists. Since everyone had suggested HiLine, that was where we headed, clockwise on Baldwin. We didn't realize that HiLine was one way for bikes and had to pause to consult the map. Revamp the plan - and that meant dealing with the hikers. Amazingly, most of them were super polite and eager to watch us ride up some of the tight rocky switchbacks. Then we were traversing the edge of a slick rock mesa. Easy riding at that point, but very cool with huge views of the red rocks and formations. We climbed up Slim Shady, looking at the lines for coming down. Luckily, there weren't many riders and we had a clear run for the climb. And then we were at the junction point with HiLine. A large sign warned that it was an experts only trail with cliffs and technical riding. Nick immediately got excited. But we did have more climbing to do, on a narrow trail high above the valley. In places, the trail felt like it was painted on the cliff, winding between the trees and rocks. We reached a lookout and the trail tipped downhill. Time for some fun! A faint white line led the way down the red rocks, with some big drops and high cliffs. And then... I rode down one drop and saw Nick off his bike scouting the next line. He got back on and rode it all, but I decided to walk it. I rode the next few things, but quickly found myself walking again. Too steep and big consequences for that early in the trip. But it was still fun - just a little big for me. Nick rode all but one chunk and had a big grin when we rejoined Baldwin. Our first taste of Sedona riding was awesome. We debated staying a little longer and riding more, but decided to head south to Phoenix. More exploring to do!
After our time in Phoenix, we decided that more time in Sedona would be an ideal way to spend the weekend. We got there early enough Friday for Nick to head out for a solo mission while I played porch monkey on the very comfortable porch of Sedona Bike and Bean. Amazing how quickly time passes with a nice beverage and awesome company. Becky and Eszter (in town for the Sedona Big Frigging Loop) were already occupying the porch when when I walked in (walked right past them without noticing!) and I joined them and the parade of people to chat with. Before long, Nick reappeared. He joined us on the porch and we all hung out for a bit longer. Then it was time to retire to the campsite. Becky's directions got us there in time for dinner and more bike talk. Trails, bikes and the beauty of planning for no plans.
Becky and Eszter got up early for the race. We got to the Bike and Bean early enough to see them off and then get some coffee. For us, it was a piggy day. High on the Hog, Hog Heaven and Hog Wash... I have never ridden trails that were so much fun. Even the well traveled Little Horse was fun - both up and down. Another "experts only, expect cliffs" sign greeted us at the junction of High on the Hog. And this time, they meant it with the cliffs! The trail was a narrow, two foot at the most in places, ribbon on the red rocks. Nick loved High on the Hog and Hog Heaven - we actually did a mini loop to be able to ride Hog Heaven twice. He wanted to do High on the Hog a second time, but I vetoed that - getting tired. I loved Hog Wash - a little lower on the cliff but just a much fun. My favorite part was when the trail zigged and zagged down a series of waterfalls and washes. There were a few chunks where the trail fell away into air, but I handled it well. And then I got to chick a bunch of guys on Little Horse... Nick rolled through the group standing around as they sessioned one of the rock sections. They ignored him and kept talking. And then I came around, riding the rocks with confidence. A sudden silence and I could feel all eyes watching me.
Sunday presented a choice - stay and do an easier ride or move on. I voted to stay - ride some of the lower trails like Slim Shady and Easy Breezy and Llama. Didn't take much convincing for Nick to agree. I could tell it was getting close to rest day time, but the loop we did was perfect. Not highly technical, but not ridiculously easy. Just right. We headed out on Slim Shady and took Templeton around to Easy Breezy. Completely different riding then the other days - meandering along and across a wash below the main highway. We did climb up Little Horse again, but just to Llama. Lots of armored ups and downs on Llama - chunky but all rideable if you were ready for them. Nick gave me a bailout of just taking Slim Shady back, but I wanted to try Made in the Shade. Happy I did. Yes, it was hard riding up and down but nothing I couldn't handle.
I wish we'd taken more photos during the weekend, but the emphasis was on riding bikes. Not much time to stop and take photos. But I am pretty sure we will be back - we might even try the SBFL next year!