Monday, March 12, 2007

Sedona Full Moon Rides - Part One

Sedona Full Moon Rides - Part One
with Rama Jon

Full Moon Riding in Sedona: no lights allowed…or needed!

Full moon rides have been a tradition at Sedona’s Mountain Bike Heaven for over fifteen years. The faces have changed and the sizes of the groups vary dramatically, but one thing stays constant, no lights allowed.

After completing yet another evening adventure lit solely by the moon, our chief mechanic Wheelie-Todd commented, " you guys are crazy!" This from a guy who has no problems strapping lights on his bike and pedaling into darkness. It takes a special synergy of environmental, social, and spiritual conditions to inspire even mountain bikers to venture out on trails lit only by the rays of the moon.

Over the years the size of the groups have varied from a couple of hearty or fool-hearty riders to whole herds of mountain bikers who have partied hearty with a BBQ and festivities prior to embarking into the moonlight. One thing for certain, it takes the right combination to enjoy a full moon ride, and that combination happens in Sedona year round.

On this particular full moon in February we did one of the secret Sedona classics. A combination of known and lesser-known trails with a bit of dirt road riding tossed in to keep things under control. There were eight of us who set out on this moon lit adventure, one novice and seven seasoned riders. We kept to a mellow pace so as not to harsh on our novice, and to tell you the truth, it’s hard to go fast when your not sure what’s under your wheels. Riding in and out of shadows turns even an easy everyday trail into a challenging experience.

The dirt road provided for lots of laughs as we floated through large pockets of deep sand, sometimes sideways. And then there was the coasting race that transformed us into mountain bike maniacs going exceptionally fast. One rider provided additional entertainment when he coasted way too fast inside on a turn and went rolling, rolling, rolling, but not hurt.

Next up was the climb, a slow steady rock strewn menage of eirie shadows reflecting off of tall trees and red rocks. Our tires rolling over the rocks was the only sound other than our novice’s heavy breathing as the more skilled riders dropped him. We all waited at the top, overlooking the lights of Sedona and reveling in the silence.

As we began our descent back into town, the coyotes gave us a goodbye chorus. The silence was now broken by our squealing brakes and the rocks rolling under our wheels as we rode the sketchy descent home.

Perhaps the hardest part of this particular ride on this particular night was having the right clothes on at the right time, for even in Sedona, February evenings are a chilly time.

Over the last decade there are many memorable full moon rides. In the early days we rode the easier trails at Broken Arrow and Soldier’s Pass. I think with the largest group ever we challenged the climb at House Mountain. This is a gnarly climb even in the daylight and as I recall, several of us pretty nearly aced the climb.

My personal favorite types of full moon adventures are truly adventures. I prefer to start at 2:30 in the morning and catch the transition between night and day.

Full moon is the perfect time for a brutal or boring climb. Sometimes not being able to see what’s ahead has its advantages. Then, as the day dawns, I’m ready for the gnarly descent. In many cases we are done and on our way back for breakfast before the rest of the town is up.

On one occasion we left at 2:30 on a yet untested route and reached our destination ten minutes before a pre-arranged second ride, only to find that the other riders were still out at breakfast and this was at ten in the morning.

If I had to pick one particular ride that stands out above all others it would have to be the full moon ride when it was snowing. Snow rides in Sedona are spectacular to begin with, and to ride in the snow with the snow flakes playing hide and seek with the moon, well that’s a once in a blue moon experience.

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