Arizona Mountain Biking … Got Oxygen?

I’ve climbed mountains to 19,000 feet and expected to be winded, but I wasn’t ready for the altitude and the rocks on uphill climbs during my mountain biking in Flagstaff, Arizona’s 7,000 -9,000 foot elevation! But with perseverance and determination, I busted on through 12 miles one day and 15 miles on another, then ate and drank well at the end of each ride! I must really remember to strengthen my quad leg muscles before any mountain biking here. Those muscles are different from muscles needed for walking and road cycling. I always appreciate my bicycle’s gear-shifting capabilities as long as I am in the best gear for uphills! Then I am also not gasping for air on these uphills … ahhhh!

Spending time in northern Arizona, away from the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona, is a wonderful change of scenery and temperature. The wind, cooler temperatures and green color and freshness of pinyon pines, ponderosa pines and juniper trees are a welcomed sight. I can imagine hiking the 800 mile Arizona Trail from Mexico to Utah, USA and would love this section of northern Arizona to hike or mountain bike! I noticed one cache of water trailside and know the individual will appreciate the precious water! I have hiked sections of the Arizona Trail and water is not easily available so having caches set out is wonderful for a thru-hiker. Kudos to all thru-hikers: an accomplishment to complete the distance whether hiking or mountain biking the distance!

Water, thru-hikers appreciate this resource!

The trail varies from rocky uphills to smooth rides through gates and intersections with other trails. Wildflowers are beginning to bloom and I saw pronghorns romping through the forest. Deer, elk, squirrels and birds are seen here too during various seasons. Do take time to notice the natural beauty around you. It may be best to do that when you take a break from your bike ride, since most of your energy and sight will be looking at the upcoming trail and not necessarily the world around you! I’ve been known to look at something a bit to long and find myself falling off a trail. Would not recommend that action!

One of 4 pronghorn checking out the mountain biker.

A good portion of the land where we are bicycling also provides a grazing area for cattle. As a result we often need to open and close gates depending on the season and if the cattle are here. Often you’ll see more cow chips on the trail than cattle. Even if you come upon wildlife, they usually scoot away and want nothing of you. Those are healthy wild creatures not looking for human hand-outs or interaction. That is the way it should be! 

When you plan your next mountain biking adventure, remember: bring filled water bottles, wear a bicycle helmet and eye protection, bring a snack, bicycle tools, repair kit, tire pump, and use your shock pump before the ride so your front and back suspension points are ready for your bumpy ride. Know the trail and/ or carry a map or phone with a downloaded map. If possible, especially when riding solo, always a good idea for another person to know where you are in the forest. Enjoy your ride, be safe, have fun and consider Edmund Hillary’s quote, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” So true!

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