Day 8: Cottonwood to Flagstaff, AZ

47 miiles, 4849 feet climbed

I knew about today’s climbing because Melanie and I drove both up and down it about 10 years ago on a trip to Sedona. My memory of it was steeper than it turned out to be, though. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a significant effort as we were gradually ascending the whole day with a few brief descents along the way. And once we reached the top of the last climb, it was essentially flat into Flagstaff.

It is views like those when you come into the Sedona area that make rides like this worthwhile. We stopped at a coffee shop just to the north of the intersection of Highways 89A and 179. Then it was up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. There was no shoulder to speak of for the gradual first part of the climb until we reached the switchbacks where the real climbing happens; they had wider lanes and two traffic light controlled alternating direction sections. The first was short over a bridge improvement project, the second much longer.

For the bridge section, I took my place among the cars and pulled over as soon as I could to let them pass, leaving me with the lane to myself until the light let the next wave through. On the second, Dana went through while the light was red as there was plenty of room between the cones delineating the single lane and the shoulder and, being a Saturday, no actual construction going on. I stopped twice to let a wave of cars pass and plowed my way to the top.

SAG was at the overlook at the top of the climb. I refreshed and took some photos of what we’d just climbed.

On the roughly 12 miles up to Flagstaff, a local rider who had ridden down to the overlook caught up with me. She asked me about our trip and told me about a trip to ride in Portugal that she was training for.

The climbing begins
A little further along
The view from Sedona’s west side
From the coffee shop’s deck looking to the south
From Oak Creek Canyon
Stats from the Ranger’s office at the overlook
The switchbacks we climbed