I awoke at 7am to find Taylor’s dog jumping into bed with me. I pushed him off, escorted him out of the room and then rolled back over. The rest of the morning was spent at an almost equally relaxed pace. Having only spent a day in the Grand Canyon I had time to relax as instead of having to ride all the way to Prescott, I would be stopping around half way in a town called Cornville. It was 3,500 feet lower and there was a fair amount of descending on the way. It was a combination of that, and it being 8f (-13c) at 7am, that meant it took until around noon to say my goodbyes and roll out.
The skies were clear and so I could get a brief glimpse of the quite majestic San Francisco Peaks, which I had ridden through in the snowstorm the day before. The road out of Flagstaff took me very briefly along Route 66, an iconic road that goes from LA to Chicago. It was one of the original major highways in the US and until I get to New Orleans and get on Highway 61, the most famous road I’ll have been on.
Heading out of Flagstaff towards Sedona, the majority of traffic took I-17, whereas I took US-89A which at least at first ran parallel. It wound it’s way through pine-filled snow fields for a few miles and then began a spectacular sharp descent down a series of switchbacks to drop into Oak Creek Canyon. I had heard that it was a famous road for motorbikers, and I could understand why. I wished I had a way of attaching my camera to my handlebars or something like a GoPro to capture the ride.
The next 20 miles took me along the canyon floor through an area known as Red Rock Country. If I hadn’t come through southern Utah, I would have been even more impressed with the rock formations on either side of the road and stopped frequently. As it was, I passed a variety of state parks and found myself in Sedona. Upon entering my first thought was “This is like Wall, but with different colour buildings” and being thoroughly unimpressed rode straight through. It seemed Disneyesque and I had no desire to stop at any of the huge number of kitschy shops that the town had to offer.
Just outside of Sedona, the road widened and the traffic volume increased massively. I’m not sure where all the traffic came from, but I wasn’t too happy to see it considering the lack of a shoulder. Thankfully, I only had 3-4 miles to go before turning off to Crescent Moon Ranch, home of Cathedral Rock and a place on my to-do list from before the trip.
Dropping down to Crescent Moon Ranch I may have swore a little bit that Alix or Fred put it on my list. The road dropped down very sharply and then my target, Cathedral Rock, came into view. A bit more rolling down and I came to the entrance of Crescent Moon Ranch. I got out my America the Beautiful pass, showed it to the guy and was told that it wasn’t valid because it was a state park not a national one. He wanted $2 from me to get in as a cyclist, but I was reluctant to pay so I explained what I was doing and how I was only going to be a few minutes to get a picture and head out. He said that letting me in would be unfair on others, but after a bit more persuasion he relented and let me in without paying.
I rode to the end of the path and then wandered down a trail and with a bit of guidance found my way crossing a stream over a log to the viewpoint I was looking for. The water wasn’t completely still, but the reflection looked pretty wonderful and it was mission accomplished. I headed back through the car park quickly to get to Geni & Peter’s place before the sun went down.
The road I had dropped down on was called Upper Red Rock Loop Road so logically it had to continue back to the road further along. My GPS seemed to think that the best idea was back up Upper Red Rock but I hoped it was wrong so pulled over and asked a guy whose house had a view of Cathedral Rock. I explained what I was doing and he assured me that if I kept going it would turn into Lower Red Rock and, although I’d have to go over a bit of dirt road, it wasn’t too far and most importantly had much less climbing. He said that if I was feeling tired that I could stay at his place for the night and he would feed me. I thanked him and told him that I was hoping to get to Cornville.
The dirt road was no more than half a mile long and being so dry wasn’t too bad. Getting off it there was a small climb and I was back on 89A which I followed for the 10-15 miles to Geni & Peter’s place. When I arrived Peter was standing in the drive and welcomed me in. I was directed to the shower and while I was cleaning up dinner was made and I had a relaxing evening learning about their cycling exploits. When Peter & Geni tour they decide before they go to bed where they want to go the next day. It’s an attitude that has seen them going on days as a short as half a mile and as long as 160 miles. It’s the kind of freedom that I love and the way I aspire to travel.
Wandering round Crescent Moon Ranch