From Phoenix to Sedona – Riding the BCT and back roads of Arizona

After spending a few days taking in the big city of Phoenix and mountain biking in the South Mountain area, I headed north out of town with the plan to ride the Black Canyon Trail. With a late start and some confusion linking the various bike paths and urban trails, I made it to the Care Free Highway and found a great highway underpass camping spot

and a beautiful sunset.

Carefree Sunset

The next day I headed out on the BCT.

I had expected difficult route finding, but in fact the trail is well marked and easy to follow without a GPS. The terrain varied from well packed and fast soil, to copper laden gravel, to baby head rocks, but most all of it was rideable even with my loaded bike. Towering Saguaro cactus dominated the landscape

and as the afternoon wore on, so did the sound of gunfire. This was no ordinary gunfire, whatever was making this noise was full auto and a large caliber. After about an hour of riding I came upon the source, a few families enjoying some time in the desert and the thing I was looking for – a full auto, belt fed, M60 machine gun. I would love to have been able to read their minds as I, a  hippie looking guy on a bicycle, came riding up. Regardless of what they may have thought, they were as nice as can be and after offering me water and food, I received the offer I was hoping for – the opportunity to shoot a few rounds. First up was a suppressed .223 AR,

and then the star of the show, the M60.

This is not something you can go down to your local sporting goods store and purchase, it requires a federal license and if you can find one, goes for about $40,000 (yes, 4 zeros). It was a real privilege and a true Arizona experience to get behind the stock of this.  I don’t believe most of the negative stereotypes about firearms owners, but after seeing the massive amount of spent shotgun shells and shot up trash as I traveled through the desert, I do understand where some of the negative opinions come from. Just to be clear, when I refer to the trash in the desert, I’m not referring to to what is seen in these photos. These folks cleaned up after themselves and those that shot here before them.

The next day I continued north on the Black Canyon Trail, but after meeting a Forest Ranger who gave me some great maps of the Arizona dirt roads I headed off the trail and through the tiny desert towns

I actually prefer the dirt roads over singletrack much of the time and with sweeping mountain views, these roads were great.

Mountain View

I rode through the tiny town of Cordes and with it’s Americana history,

Cordes General Store

felt like I was 50 years back in time.

Standard Gasoline

Photo opportunities abounded


and after a frosty night of desert camping

I arrived in Sedona, an ……… interesting town.

Sedona Moonrise

I believe an open mind is important, but some of these people seem to have opened their minds so much the contents have spilled out. I’ve ridden through some high traffic, crazy driver areas, but it wasn’t until I came to Sedona that I was hit by a car. The driver, possibly blinded by the earths energy or the crystals hanging from her rear view mirror, merged into me while I was riding in the marked bike lane. Fortunately I didn’t go down so both my bike and I are fine.

Even the cyclists are an interesting breed and I was actually told by one I met on the trail as to where in town I could rent a “real bike”. Up until this point I thought I had a real bike, but it appears I just bought into Surly’s marketing hype.

All this aside, I’ve spent a few days here and the trails, the views, and the camping are great,

but if you love Moab and come here expecting a similar experience with the people, you may be disappointed. I’ve been told Jerome is a great town and Prescott seems to have some great biking, so that is where I’m off to next.

Camping Info:

The best legal camping I found was recommended to me by the folks at Over The Edge Sports, the local bike shop. Take Dry Creek Rd.north out of town, Left on Boynton Pass Rd., another Left at the stop sign to stay on Boynton Pass Rd, continue on the road as it turns into a dirt road. There is a trailhead on the left just before the pavement to dirt switch with a bathroom and heading down the old road at the pull off on the left just after the road turns to dirt has some great spots with early sun. This is the closest camping to town with red rock views, and close to some awesome trails.


4 thoughts on “From Phoenix to Sedona – Riding the BCT and back roads of Arizona

  1. Well John, I cannot say I was surprised that you not only stumbled upon an M60, but then got a chance to fire it. Missing, however, was the experience of shooting. Details man! The images are stunning, as usual. Thank of you back here in the 802. Ride safe!


  2. Excellent post … both images and narrative. I live in Phoenix and frequently make the trek to Sedona, but NOT by bike. I admire your determination and skill (I secretly wish I could do what you are doing). You seem like an interesting person and I look forward to reading about and seeing more of your adventures. Good luck in your travels.

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