Abby Chan, the talented yogi/dancer/entrepreneur I photographed on the roof of the Hotel Monte Vista, connected me with Alex Pavon. Alex is a professional Enduro mountain biker who lives in Flagstaff and was kind enough to give up her New Years Day to shoot with me. She took me to a beautiful section of trail on Mount Elden overlooking Flagstaff, a trail called Sunset.
We had a couple hours to shoot up high before we drove further from Flagstaff, past Arizona Snowbowl (Flagstaff’s ski area), to some double-track trails in rolling hills with aspen tree groves. Alex switched kits and got out her gravel bike for something different.
I really enjoyed Flagstaff. Everyone I met was awesome, and the city had some pretty great reasons to come back – more climbing and mountain biking!
After seven days in Flagstaff, I headed north, through Monument Valley, Indian Creek, Fruita, and back home to Boulder, rounding out an amazing trip around the South West. I need to take more roadtrips like this!
On Christmas day I took off in my Passat wagon, filled with camera, climbing, and mountain biking gear towards New Mexico and Arizona. I didn’t have a set plan, but I was going to meet a friend in Sante Fe, NM and we would make our way to Flagstaff, AZ where a friend had just moved. I met up with Marie Sullivan, and we decided we wouldn’t wait around Sante Fe but head straight to Flagstaff the next day. She had to get back to SF to work the next Saturday and decided to drive separate, meaning I didn’t have to come back to Sante Fe on my way home. We met up with Alex Vidal and went to explore some trails around Flagstaff. Alex’s girlfriend’s sister’s husband showed us a great 14-mile trail that took us to Fisher Point.
Of course, Alex had to pop a tire – a hole even the magic of tubeless couldn’t fix.
I got to ride the next day in Sedona, but was too busy having fun to take photos. Over the next few days I did several photoshoots with a yogi/dancer, pro mountain biker, and a trail runner. Hope to get these up soon!
Sunrise on Mt Silverheels
A couple weekends ago I woke up well before sunrise and drove my friend Vincent into the mountains. We were supposed to meet up with some other friends in Crested Butte, but when we got to Buena Vista, the other side of the mountains looked completely socked in. We checked the weather and CB was supposed to have rain and snow all day. BV had a better outlook so we looked for some mountain bike trails nearby. We found the Monarch Crest Trail was the highest rated ride in the area so we decided to check it out. We met the Valley High Shuttle in Poncha Springs and were delivered to Monarch Pass. The pass was covered in an inch or so of snow, with no breaks in the clouds in sight. We started up the trail, leap frogging with most of the group from the shuttle all the way to Marshall Pass, 8 miles of uphill. Once the downhill starts the group fans out and we’re mostly on our own. The snow definitely added a bit to the riding, making me stay on my disk brakes a little too much.
But, it was beyond beautiful.
Once we dropped into the trees, the snow went away and the leaves littered the trail.
The trail continues for 30 miles, joining the Colorado Trail for portions of it. You climb for close to 2,000 feet for 8 miles from the pass, then get to descend 6,000 feet over the next 22 miles. The trail varies quite a bit, from flowing single track to incredible rock gardens. There are several cut offs if you need to bail, they take you down forest service roads back to the highway. We stuck it out and took the last bit of trail, Rainbow Trail, my favorite part. Most of the people turned off before this section, but it’s not to be missed. After you descend the steep last 1/2 mile down to the road you get to cruise 5 miles down US285, which brings you right back to your car.
Beautiful spot on the Arkansas River next to our campsite north of Buena Vista
I just started mountain biking last summer. It’s been fun learning a new sport, but it also a steep learning curve. The Monarch Crest Trail is definitely my favorite trail that I’ve done. Can’t wait to explore more of the trails around the central Colorado mountains.