First Trip to the Sedona MTB Festival

Sedona is a mountain biking paradise, view from the top of Hog Heaven trail.
Sedona is a mountain biking paradise, view from the top of Hog Heaven trail.

There was already a line when I got there at 8:45 a.m. on that Saturday morning. Everyone was excited to ride the red. Then people started throwing free giveaways as soon as they opened the gate at 9:00 a.m. and I caught a cool hat. The day was off to a nice start!

I attended my first mountain bike festival, The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival held in Sedona, Arizona, on March 3-5, 2017. I didn’t know what to really expect—all I knew was I’d hit up the trails and maybe meet some cool people. I paid for two days, Saturday and Sunday, and it included a sweet-looking pair of socks, beer glass, t-shirt (because I signed up in advance), and some other swag and free shuttles.

Even though they were included, I didn’t get a chance to take advantage of the free shuttles. My friends had the day before and they didn’t like the waiting around, so they suggested we pedal to the trailhead. We headed to the Teacup Trailhead, which wasn’t too far from the festival. It was a good warm-up ride to the trailhead.

Having a great time with friends and enjoying the views from the top of Teacup trail.
Ray – the man behind Derby rims.

I knew I was in for an epic adventure when a few yards in from the trailhead, I was already walking my bike up! I must say, though, I was not in good shape coming to Sedona. I was battling a bad fever a few days before the event. I thought of canceling the trip, but I already paid for the registration and booked a hotel. So I kind of just forced myself in. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I had a lot of hike-a-bike moments getting up the hill. Those short punchy climbs mixed with technical features were killers. We finished the ride off with a nice flowy descent on Javelina trail. It dished out some big grins on our faces.

We went back to the fest to grab lunch and swap my friends’ demos for their personal bikes. There I met the man behind a small bike company called Derby Rims. My friend from Los Angeles who laced up my wheelset with a pair of Derby hoops gave Ray, better known as Derby, a heads up that one of his customers, me, would be at the event. After we chatted for a bit it made me think how I just met one of the most innovative men in the industry with a very down to earth personality. How cool is that? That’s what’s great about mountain bike festivals, you can meet real people behind the sport and share stories.

After lunch, we went back to hit more trails. This time we rode the Broken Arrow loop that included Hog Heaven / High on the Hog / Hog Wash / Pigtail. There were much more “hike-a-bike” and more “big grins on our faces” moments. It’s a short loop but very technical, which in other words, !@#$ yeah! Good stuffs! My legs were like noodles after the ride.

Sunday morning, we hit up the same trails we did on Saturday morning but this time we decided to do our own shuttle with two cars to save time and save our already tired legs. We left town around noon to make the drive back home. I’m sure we haven’t really scratched the surface of the many other great trails Sedona has to offer. I’m planning to head to Sedona next weekend for more!

Don’t stay on the boring I-40 West. Take exit 123 and explore this little historic town.
Delgadillo's Snow Cap near Sedona

My main takeaway of the festival was, aside from the cool atmosphere, I think it’s a perfect event especially if you’re in the market for a new bike/gear because you can demo almost anything you want. There were at least 20-25 bike companies that offered demo bikes plus apparel and protective gear brands. Getting the chance to ride the Sedona trails alone is worth the trip if you haven’t been there. The hype is real!

As a side note, if you find yourself driving on I-40 West going to California or Nevada, don’t just stay on that boring highway. Take exit 123 going towards the small town called Seligman and buy yourself one of the best milkshakes at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap. I got a chance to chat for a bit with the cashier who said they first opened in 1953, back in the glory days of Route 66! It’s a nice way to end the weekend with a little trip back in time while thinking about the next time you can come back to Shredona.

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When Randy was 10 years old, he'd wake up at 4 a.m., hop on his bicycle and sell fresh baked breads from his aunt’s bakery to neighbors in rural parts of the Philippines. He enjoys solo mountain bike night rides whenever possible after working all day at the office. He thinks the best rides are the unplanned rides; the adventure rides, the ones where you don’t know what to expect. Randy's favorite trail is Gridley in Ojai, CA.


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