Monday, August 9, 2021

Worst Mountain Biker In Flagstaff

Even though I complained about there being too many mountain bikers on the Aspen Loop last Saturday, of course I am also a bicyclist. The thing is that I'm not very good. I'm neither fast nor skilled on a mountain bike.

The wildflowers are perfect right now in Flagstaff! I went out into the meadow to take this photo and realized I was standing in the middle of a prairie dog colony. They started making a racket. They carry bubonic plague around here but I don't think I got any flea bites.


For me, the problem with single track is that I get scared to hit rough areas and tricky spots with enough speed due to fear. If I ride single track frequently, then my confidence increases and I find I can ride over the average rock garden reasonably well and without anxiety. Since I focused for several weeks on my ascent of Snowbowl Road, I haven't been riding single track, but I've been feeling the urge.

On Sunday I went over to the easiest trail in town (not counting dirt roads or gravel bike paths, which are also suitable for mountain biking) - the Campbell Mesa trail system. It's technically Coconino National Forest but it kind of has a suburban feel to it since it's literally on the edge of a neighborhood with a big pond surrounded by a manicured lawn. Once you get away from the trail head you are riding through grassy meadows and sparse pines and dwarf oaks (Gambel oak). There aren't many mountain views but sometimes you can see deer and right now the wildflowers are blooming everywhere.

Campbell Mesa features mostly smooth, easy single track. Much of it is heavily trafficked and wider than average trail. The trail system consists of nested loops of different lengths, though the technical difficulty is mostly easy and consistent across the loops. Nonetheless, as I said, I haven't been riding much lately and found myself scootering over a couple of rock gardens, and pushing my way up a couple of the short rocky areas covered with fist-sized rocks.

It's a little embarrassing to walk things at Campbell Mesa, but it was as much a result of indecision and lack of speed as fear. Loose rock is difficult to ride uphill unless you carry speed. One of the walks happened due to the presence of hikers - c'est la vie. It's easy for cyclists to alienate hikers so I choose courtesy.

Nonetheless, I've been living in Flagstaff several years now and still got a PR, even though I was riding nearly as casual as possible. Some of my previous rides on that segment were done when I was not acclimated to the elevation.


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