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  1. #1
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    AZ in January - where to ride?

    Thinking about an extended 4 day weekend in AZ in January to escape the rain in Seattle and get some dry rides in. Fly in Wed night, ride Thurs, Fri, and Saturday but I have to be in downtown Phoenix Saturday evening.

    With consideration to logistics such as drive time,bike rental and return, variety of trails, etc., and given the time of the year, where do locals recommend me to stay in order to maximize riding time and quality? My BF and I are mainly interested in high quality XC singletrack riding. Would love to ride Flagstaff, but January is probably not the right time.

    Are Sedona trails accessible during winter? Prescott? Any other recommendation? Availability of quality bike rentals nearby is also a huge plus.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

  2. #2
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    Sedona, generally yes. You might get a cold snap and a few inches of snow, but it goes quickly. Rare for Sedona, but possible.

    Presecott, except that riding above 6500' will have some snow and ice. May or may not be ridable above that level, most likely above 7000 will be out of the question (Spruce Mtn, upper Thumb Butte, etc.). That said, there's a LOT of riding from 5000' to 6500' that can be ridden, not to mention the slickrock/skills/technical rock area The Dells, which is good just about all the time. Prescott gets more snow than Sedona, but again it leaves very fast (sublimates due to altitude and temp). Your timing could coincide with a foot-dumping of snow though, which won't be gone the next day.

    Prescott can be in the high 50s in the daytime in January, even hitting 60s (while Phoenix is 80!) with ample sunshine to wear shorts, but if a cold front comes through it can start in the teens or 20s and stay below freezing. No matter what, the mornings will start off below freezing. You're more likely to have good weather in Prescott/Arizona than most parts of the country, so that's a consideration.

    Flagstaff? Forget about it. Not in the winter. It's all above 7000', there's a ski-resort though

    Phoenix riding is great in the winter-time, South Mountain, Goat Camp, Hawes, Black Canyon Trail, and then there's Tucson riding.

    I want to get out there sometime like January for some riding too, but this stupid shutdown is going to affect my funds.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  3. #3
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    Scottsdale area... Here you go...

    Scottsdale

    January SHOULD be ok but just be aware that it can rain and be cold here that time of year. More than likely it will be 60 +/- 5 degrees and sunny every day though.

  4. #4
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    plenty of great single track in the Phoenix metro area. Weather will be just about ideal then.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  5. #5
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    Where to stay:
    Arizona Grand (next to South Mountain and not far from Downtown)
    Bike rental:
    Cactus Bikes (near Arizona Grand)
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  6. #6
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    Tucson low trails will be primo and it's not a beast of a city.

    Tucson has more variety. Quite a mix of trails to ride. There's a real mountain here, complete with HUGE pines at the top, and there are trails all the way from the top to the desert floor. It'll be far too cold at the top, but lower trails, probably from Prison Camp through Milagrosa will be fantastic. And the stuff by 50-year, as well as the Tortalitas and Tucson Mountains will be sweet. And there's more than what I just mentioned.
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  7. #7
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    How about some low desert recommendations in the SW part of the state. Kofa ? Yuma ?
    fat old man ... fueled by Mexican pastries....

  8. #8
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    Black Canyon Trail is awesome. Check out Welcome to the Black Canyon Trail - Sonoran Expeditions for multi-day rides on the BCT. Cheers!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    How about some low desert recommendations in the SW part of the state. Kofa ? Yuma ?
    I've never heard of any singletrack in the Kofa but about 10 miles outside of Yuma there is a really cool trail system around Sugarloaf Peak.

    Ride Where?!? Yuma, AZ – Laguna Mountains (Sugarloaf Peak)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Patrick View Post
    Tucson low trails will be primo and it's not a beast of a city.

    Tucson has more variety. Quite a mix of trails to ride. There's a real mountain here, complete with HUGE pines at the top, and there are trails all the way from the top to the desert floor. It'll be far too cold at the top, but lower trails, probably from Prison Camp through Milagrosa will be fantastic. And the stuff by 50-year, as well as the Tortalitas and Tucson Mountains will be sweet. And there's more than what I just mentioned.
    So it's got more variety, but you can't ride there because it's too cold and snowy? I'm confused.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  11. #11
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    what is you skill and endurance level, do you like buff or tech riding? All the rides around here have plenty of vert, but not 3k multi-climate-zones.

    Get a hotel near a highway, and plan on it being a base but not riding to your destinations -- will make flexibility easier.

  12. #12
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    Rather than start a really similar new thread, thought I'd seek advice here as well (probably relevant for the OP as well). I am considering a 4-5 day biking trip in AZ in early December, and wondering what the best area(s) would be. Intermediate skill but a lot of experience, moderate-good fitness, and a real preference for buff or flowing singletrack over tech. Thanks!

  13. #13
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    If I had 4 days to ride in PHX, and favored XC I would ride (in priority order)

    -BCT - rock springs through little pan loop and back is 20 to 25 miles, if you want more you can make it as long as you want. You may want to spend multiple days on BCT.
    -Gold Canon - all of it (15 to 20 miles)
    -Picked post - out and back (as long as you want it to be.)
    -Last day - Haws or Desert classic. either will have you back in your hotel by 2. (20 to 25 miles)

  14. #14
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    nerd- please define "intermediate skill" and "moderate-good fitness". these definitions vary greatly if you come from a CO bike town, or some big city in the mid west.

    As for buff or flowing single track in AZ, locals would use this to define a trail that has rocks spaced more than 5 ft apart.

  15. #15
    How much further ???
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    I would say stay in the east valley (Mesa/Gilbert) off of the 60. 15 min to the west is South Moutnain with Desert Classic being fast and flowy when its not super busy. You would have Hawes within 15 min to the east which is know for its fast and flowy trails. Gold Canyon is anothrer 10 min east give or take and has great flow. A 30 min drive would get you to McDowell Mtn park which has a competitive mountain bike track plus many miles of trails in and around the Pemberton loop. 40 min you have the AZT trail at Picketpost.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  16. #16
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    To the OP, depending on which weekend in January, check out the AZT Jamboree (40 miler) SE of Tucson or join in on the Arizona Endurance Series Antelope Peak Challenge (65 miler) if you want some longer mileage rides. You really need to put Picketpost on your to-do list, head south from the trailhead on the Arizona Trail, go as far as you feel comfortable. It's generally uphill heading south. If you have the fitness I highly recommend going out 14.5 miles to a superb saddle overlook, beyond that you're committing to a 6+ mile, 2000' descent to the Gila River. It's a tough, but extremely scenic desert ride with nice overlooks at miles 5.5, 10, 12.5 & 14.5, they get better the farther you go.

    This is what awaits you at 14.5 miles out:


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2wheelsarefun View Post
    nerd- please define "intermediate skill" and "moderate-good fitness". these definitions vary greatly if you come from a CO bike town, or some big city in the mid west.

    As for buff or flowing single track in AZ, locals would use this to define a trail that has rocks spaced more than 5 ft apart.
    I've been riding for ~12 years, up and down the east coast (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania - so plenty of rocks, and now Ontario - fewer rocks). Fitness wise, I can ride all day if it's not a race, but that's at sea level... Skill level and trail preference go together - I can handle rocks and roots just fine, but am not a fan of North shore style woodwork, especially riding solo, and prefer to avoid big drops and really technical downhills (although with the rise of 'all-mountain' and enduro races this puts me in a minority). Flowing just means not being bogged down in technical sections the whole time, not that I want to ride a smooth dirt path.

  18. #18
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    That pretty much describes most of the trails around here. 90% of the trails are rocky and you really have go look for crazy stuff.


    BCT is a great trail for for some long XC rides. There is enough features on the trail to always may you work, but nothing in the way of crazy drops where you need 6" of travel. I do alot of riding on a hardtail around here so very little terrain requires long suspension travel. Some love FS for comfort and some love long travel bikes for certain specific trails, but there are hundreds of miles of trails where good skilled rider will do just fine an HT or short travel FS bike.
    Joe
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    So it's got more variety, but you can't ride there because it's too cold and snowy? I'm confused.
    You seem to get easily confused quite often. Let me clear it up for you:

    @9100 ft, it will be too cold. There are trails that extend from that altitude, descending all the way to the desert floor, where it's more like 2500 ft of elevation. At some elevation, as determined by the weather, the riding is great from that point down.

    I enjoyed your "flip" on your stance that Prescott is "year round rideable". Don't worry. I'm certainly not the only one that found that amusing.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Patrick View Post
    I'm certainly not the only one that found that amusing.
    Dammit Pat, I'm forced to agree with you as much as it pains me .

    ....and Prescott as a destination over other, actual, destinations in AZ? GTFO with that boring weaksauce!
    Nice KOM, sorry about your penis.

  21. #21
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    I am headed to Prescott this weekend for camping and a good ride. Should be fun. However I don't think so in January. Too cold for me.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikingnerd View Post
    I've been riding for ~12 years, up and down the east coast (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania - so plenty of rocks, and now Ontario - fewer rocks).
    No offense, but people always say that before riding AZ trails...and a little into the ride they realize how much of a different level it can be.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Patrick View Post
    I enjoyed your "flip" on your stance that Prescott is "year round rideable". Don't worry. I'm certainly not the only one that found that amusing.
    Prescitt surely is year round riding. Please show me where I indicated otherwise.

    I'm still trying to understand how there's "more variety" in Tucson in the winter? You didn't answer that part.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post

    I'm still trying to understand how there's "more variety" in Tucson in the winter? You didn't answer that part.
    Bug Spring, which doesn't often get snowed in, starts in Bear Canyon, which is full of huge pines. It descends through a canyon of oaks. It runs on down through hoo doos and snakes through high desert mesquite. It connects to Prison Camp, which connects to Molino for some super chunk. The back side of Molino is a ripping BD descent that connects to Milagrosa, which is a real challenge at speed that dodges saguaros. Just a sample of the variety not available in Prescott.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Patrick View Post
    Bug Spring, which doesn't often get snowed in,
    Bug Springs is one of the most fun trails Mt. Lemmon has to offer, and has been officially “adopted” by the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists. No matter what kind of mountain biking you like, Bug Springs delivers and will put a smile on anyone’s face. Fast and smooth with a few choice technical areas, this is one of our favorites. As with all Mt. Lemmon trails, Bugs is fantastic for riding when the summer heat is upon us. Be aware, however, that during the winter the upper levels of Bugs and any trail higher in elevation (Green Mountain, Aspen Draw, Sunset, 1918, etc) will most likely be buried in snow.
    Bug Springs ? Mt. Lemmon | Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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