Mountain Biking in Sedona: the First Chapter of the #OmniTen Team's Journey to Arizona

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The Havasu Falls backpacking crew at Hualapai Hilltop midway through the Columbia 2013 Preview Event.
It's over, and I'm home, and I can't believe it. With five days of adventure behind me, I'm still pinching myself. Did it really happen? Of all the lessons I learned over the course of the trip, and over the past few months, the most important is that dreams really do come true. The toughest part since landing at at home has been trying to figure out where to start now that life's back to normal. My routine isn't scheduled by the rhythms of camp deep in the Arizona desert and I'm no longer surrounded by the dozens of smiling new friends.

Between the industry events, the incredible team at Columbia, the rest of the #OmniTen, and the eclectic group of writers and editors, it was an educational and exciting two days in Sedona to kick off the trip. The first day included a shuttle ride from Phoenix, complete with a stop at a hidden rest area for Columbia-exclusive ice cream, and a giant pile of Columbia gear to test ("Best of" post coming soon!). That evening, we spent several hours getting to know the rest of the folks there for the events while listening to Columbia executive leadership in a thought-provoking presentation. Less than half of the group would attend the optional three day backpacking trip to Havasu Falls. (Trip report and videos coming soon!)

The moderate ride crew setting out on Bell Rock Pathway.
Prior to the event, attendees were given the option of previewing Columbia's new gear by participating in one of three activities - mountain biking, hiking, or vortex yoga. After much debate, I chose to go with Columbia's tagline and opted for "trying stuff" I wasn't super comfortable with. We all took off from Bike and Bean, (you can caffeinate and get a tune-up in the same place!), splitting into moderate and advanced level groups at the trail head.

The moderate ride began with a four mile trip along the Bell Rock Pathway just up the street from the shop. The trail is wide enough to allow for two way traffic and for cyclists to pass each other. With frequent rocky parts and rolling hills, there's just enough to keep a moderate-level rider on their toes. The entire trip provided us with panoramic views of Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, both of which showcase Sedona's infamous red rock landscape. The presence of hematite, better known as iron oxide or rust, gives the Schnebly Hill Formation its unique hue. The Formation itself is the major component of Sedona's red rocks.

Our route near Bell Rock in Sedona, an out-and-back with
a few loops. Huge thanks to Bike and Bean for the map!
The first leg of the trip involved the occasional run-in with two models wearing Columbia clothes and armed with spray bottles to provide maximum activation of our Omni-Freeze ZERO apparel. After meeting them for the second time, we turned around and headed back down the Pathway. The ride back to the parking lot involved two singletrack sections with some serious rocks and hills to tackle. The Big Park Loop was particularly challenging, and I had to keep reminding myself that there was no shame in walking some of the steeper, gnarlier sections as long as I gave them an honest-to-goodness try.

I walked my bike up a few steep sections after not quite making it over all of the obstacles, but didn't bring to life any of my previous visions of bruises and hematite-dust-filled wounds by falling off entirely. Though no one bit it in the Arizona desert, we did deal with 90-95º temperatures. With the sun continuing to beat down on us, threatening to thwart attempts to protect exposed skin with SPF 70 sunscreen, we made our way back to Bike and Bean to conclude the ride.

Columbia's Social Media Manager Adam Buchanan, a.k.a. #OmniPrime, near Bell Rock.
Overall, I'm so glad I chose an activity that would test my limits a bit and give me a chance to see as much of the Sedona area as possible while we were there. If you're planning to be in the area and are looking for a moderate ride, the 11-mile route we took is a great one. There are a number of singletrack side trails to take as well for those with more experience as well as a wealth of other options. And of course, take much much more water than you think you're going to need.

Though I've heard Moab is the true mountain biking mecca of the west, Sedona certainly wasn't shabby! Have you mountain biked there? Where did you go? Leave a comment! Also, stay tuned for a GoPro video of the ride.

Amy Jurries of The Gearcaster all decked out!
Gear Tested:

5 comments :

Nathan Handberry said...

Looks like a lot of fun, anything that helps fight the heat would be welcome I'm sure.  Glad you played it safe on the gnarlier rocks a friend of ours just broke her jaw in two places in Moab.

k8tlevy said...

I've never had that much fun mountain biking, to be honest. It was the perfect route for my skill level and so beautiful! Our guide told us he broke his jaw on a trail too...I'm more than happy to play it safe. Hope your friend heals quickly!

Heather@Just a Colorado Gal said...

We're doing a Moab trip in September/October....just throwing it out there in case you have nothing going on then! :)

Katie Boué said...

Great read lady! I am going to spend the next few weeks holding on to every memory of the OmniTen adventure I can get my hands on. This post totally has me wishing I had be gutsy enough to go for the mountain biking activity - oh well, there's always next time! 

k8tlevy said...

I think you made a fine choice with yoga! I was considering it knowing how I'd benefit from some bending after sitting on a plane :) There'll be plenty of time for MTB in your future!