30 May 2009


it never rains in may. but this may it's just been raining like mad. for the last several weeks, with surprising regularity, it's rained nearly every afternoon... good, long soakers too, for the most part, different in that way from the booming summer monsoons. the flowers and grasses, convinced that this odd season is for real, are beginning to really go off. and the trails! they're in pristine, never-before-seen-in-may condition: no dust, no sand, nothing but traction through every turn. i've been in riding in flagstaff for nearly 20 years now, and i've never seen it like this this time of the year. may and june are typically dust season; this year they're shred season!

i headed out in the rain again today, as has become the norm. today, however, i had a little company, which sadly isn't the norm. noting the big drops that were beginning to change the color of his pinkish driveway a darker shade of red, ken and i put our rain-gear on before we left his house late this morning. i don't really like to ride in rain-gear, but i don't like being wet and cold either; who does? and this latest sequence of afternoon storms seems to have taught me to prep to ride more-or-less like it's the monsoons, meaning: a) be sure you've got your rain-gear; and b) if you don't have your rain-gear on when you leave home, you can be pretty sure you're going to have it on at some point, sooner rather than later, during the ride.

from ken's we rode across wake-up trail, which, being uniformly made of basalt rock and basalt clay, was already getting slick, and out past the welcoming 'no trespassing' signs into lockett trust. a steady parade of wet, jacketless, smiling riders riding back in the direction of town met us as we headed toward the parking lot at the bottom of shultz creek. but, after riding through the parking area, alight with tail-lights and alive with cars backing out of their respective spots, we headed up the trail, just the pair of us, and saw no one else, save one other pair of riders on moto, the entire afternoon.

the rain was intermittent as we climbed through the fort valley trails and both lower and upper moto, but the rocks were slick and wet, making upper moto more than a little extra challenging. after cresting moto, we dove back down to newham, across the new trail that i guess we're calling new orion springs, and then back down what has to have been easily the best, most-rippin' totally perfect ride down a totally empty shultz creek trail at full-mach on a saturday on ideal conditions in recent memory!

it would be great if this cycle of storms was a harbinger of a prolonged and much-needed early monsoon, but i get the impression from the weather folks out in bellemont that it's not, that it's just some fluky very-wet may. perhaps. nevertheless, it's been a great month for riding here in northern arizona. and i'm enough of a native arizonan to know: we must never begrudge the rain for raining on us. in fact, i really do hope it continues. it's a drag to carry/wear rain-gear. but, heck, we always need the rain.


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey