Carmen’s Trip report: Sedona, May 2016
Going into any trip, you never know what will make it special or what you’ll love about the place you’re going. I had heard about the mountain biking in Sedona and Mike had ridden there, so we knew we’d love it. And it looked to be quite beautiful with the red sandstone cliffs and the lovely meandering river , so that would be cool. But when I reflect on the trip, the most memorable aspect of it was how completely open and giving the people were, and how fun and enlightening it was to spend time with them.
“… when I reflect on the trip, the most memorable aspect of it was how completely open and giving the people were, and how fun and enlightening it was to spend time with them.”
The other thing about traveling is that you never know what a trip will teach you, but it will invariably teach you something (if you’re paying attention). Sedona taught us that when you live at sea level and arrive with a case of mild bronchitis, you might not feel that great on your first few climbs. Then it taught us the joy of riding at daybreak through terrain bursting with an utterly unique colour palate. And we learned again and again that openness to people and experiences is rewarding.
On our third or fourth day there, we had a long ride planned. Early on that day, we encountered a lone cyclist with a flat. He’d brought air cartridges but had used them up, and now asked to borrow our pump. We happily provided it and off he went. Less than 20 minutes later, we encountered him again. It seemed it was a slow leak… The pump was again provided. As he rode off a second time and then a third, we started to grumble about how this was going to slow us down. We were approaching the top of Hangover Trail and he would probably flat again, causing us to stop and wait for multiple pump assists and throwing off our timing for the whole day.
“I liked connecting with these people, and I liked that the connections went beyond simply having fun together.”
As it happened, there were no more flats and, when we got to the end of the trail, there he was with a 4 gallon jug of fresh jug of water in the trunk of his car… the perfect thing in the heat of the desert. He kindly let us fill our bottles and we kept on riding, now able to cut off the ride back to town we’d planned to refresh our water supply, which was a long ride that might’ve realistically destroyed our ambition to finish the ride. But we had a great ride that day, complete with grueling technical climbs, crazy you-fall-you-die sidehill, technical yet flowy descents on the magic sticky sandstone and gorgeous views in every direction all day. Good thing we helped that guy as he ended up helping us ultimately making our great day possible.
Another thing about that guy: at the top of the descent, he did something that I’ve never witnessed on a bike ride in Canada (or anywhere). He said, “Mind if I raise one up to the Lord before we head down?” Ignoring our stunned expressions, he proceeded to offer up a conversational prayer (actually not a bad idea given the trail we were about to ride). It seemed unusual to us, and we were surprised, but it was also refreshing, and he was a genuinely cool guy. He even had a Tesla!
We noticed this about the people in Sedona. They aren’t afraid to talk about real stuff. And they’re still really, really cool. The manager at our hotel sat down with us one morning over breakfast and told us all sorts of very personal and meaningful things, asking nothing in return and offering some amazing insights on life. This was in the context of a conversation that was actually about how incredible biking is in terms of what it brings to life, but it was so much more interesting and real than a typical conversation about that. And then he took us mountain biking at 5:45 am the next day, tore our legs off and showed us an incredible loop right from the door of the hotel (Sedona Real Inn and Suites).
I liked connecting with these people, and I liked that the connections went beyond simply having fun together. This was true of virtually everyone we met in Sedona. Most mornings we’d go to the bike shop for ride beta and almost every day we talked to someone different. Everyone we talked to was equally stoked and equally happy to take time to help us put together a ride plan. These people didn’t know we were working on a website; they just knew we’d come to Sedona to ride and wanted us to love it as much as they did.
Sedona is a spiritual centre and has been regarded as a sacred place by Aboriginal people for centuries. It’s also home to vortex energy centres that people travel from all over to experience. We didn’t delve into this side of Sedona much, but it was interesting to reflect on how much more we got out of our trip because people connected with us on a deeper level than would be typical where we come from. Maybe the vortexes got to us after all….
And the riding was amazing, and Sedona is mind blowingly beautiful!
Check out the Sedona page on RideSpots.com here: http://ridespots.com/destination/sedona/