I first got a chance to ride in Sedona 2 years ago during the Topeak-Ergon Team Basecamp. That gave me a taste of what amazing dirt and rock Sedona has to offer. I’ve been trying to get back there, and recently got the opportunity to stop through on a quick rode trip on my way out to Santa Fe, NM. After riding Gooseberry Mesa the day before, I decided to tackle the “Sedona Big Friggin Loop”. I only had one day to ride, so might as well make the best of it, right? The ride is exactly as the name entails – and it’s no joke. As I’m putting together the final details on the “Mammoth Big Friggin Loop”, I figured this would be a good chance to see how it’ll compare… I’ll save that for another blog…
Anyhoo, the guys at the Arizona Endurance Series designed the SBFL a few years ago and have modified it each year, slowly improving it as new trails are open, etc. It’s offered up as a self-supported race each year. Unfortunately this year’s race was cancelled due to horrific weather on race weekend. I happened to be traveling through the week after the race was to take place, and had epic weather for riding. So I downloaded the GPX file from the AES website, and voila- I had a bible to one of the most epic one-day rides of my life.
According to my garmin, the SBFL is approximately 55 miles with 6k of climbing. The climbing is mostly singletrack techy fun climbing – with just a little bit of road riding to combine different trail networks. I decided to ride counter-clockwise (the way the 2013 race was to be run) although I’m sure it’s just as fun clockwise (maybe next time :)). It starts and ends in the Village of Oak Creek (technically at the Bike and Bean), although I started a few hundred yards away at the motel I was staying at (The Wildflower Inn).
It’s such a crazy, epic ride with so many trail segments – that it’s too boring (and I’m too lazy) to discuss it all in detail. You’re better off just downloading the GPX and going and riding it yourself!! It’s worth it!! Amazing views around every turn, and a huge taste of the best Sedona has to offer. My personal highlight was the Aerie Trail. I’d never heard of it before, and was pretty fatigued when I made it to that section… pleasantly surprised by the flowy, fast trail. Sweet!!
Here’s the gist of the route with a few of my comments:
Bellrock Pathway (good warm-up) > Llama (always a crowd pleaser in either direction) > Chicken Point (starting to gain some elevation, good views) > Broken Arrow (amazing views, slickrock happiness) > Morgan Rd (blah connector pavement) > 179 (blah road climb to North Sedona) > Jordan Rd (blah road connector, almost back to dirt) > 2nd Coming (nothing special) > Jordan Trail (pretty fun) > Teacup (good stuff- runs right under Coffee Pot Rock) > Thunder Mountain (as the name sounds) > Chimney Rock (flowy and fun) > Dry Creek Rd (connector pavement) > Gunslinger (fast and furious) > Mescal (super fun!) > Deadman’s Pass (crowded with hikers) > Aerie (superb singletrack!) > Western Civilization (ass-kicker) > New Frontier (ass-kicker) > Under the Radar (ass-kicker) > Old Post (fast fireroad) > Red Rock Loop Rd (pavement takes you into the park) > Baldwin (Southside – high quality riding) > Highline (the climbing is hike-a-bike steeps for large portions, but fun once you get around to the other side and start going down) > Made in the Shade (you’re ecstatic because the end is near, and you’re bobbing and weaving your way to the end!)
Stoked that this one is crossed off my list – definitely makes me want to hit the “Santa Fe Big Friggin Loop” and the “Salida Big Friggin Loop”. Can’t wait to finalized the route for the “Mammoth Big Friggin Loop” – stay tuned …