After the Interbike Show in Las Vegas Tom Ritchey and Thomas Frischknecht went on another adventurous trip. Their good friend NOD (gNarly Old Dude), prepared and guided them on a very special trip. He is an Apache Indian with a very interesting history in his life. In the sixties he was a professional musician, now turned painter - who is doing some amazing native art.
"Dream Catcher" by NOD
Along with painting he has a passion for mountain biking. He's constantly exploring the deserts of Arizona and Utah on his bike. Along with Tom, Frischi and NOD, the group was joined by Dave; a Sedona based bike guide and well-known mountain bike developer.
They spent their first day driving from Las Vegas to Hurricane where they set up camp on the mesa of Little Creek.
After a night under a clear sky Dave lead a great ride over the slick rock of Little Creek. A while back, Dave created and built an incredibly fun trail network on this mesa. On their way out to the slick rock trails, they stumbled upon some very old petroglyphs that date back to somewhere between 1,000 to 4,000 years. Amazing carved symbols that portray the Anasazi period of Indian culture. In the Utah-Colorado-Arizona area, the Anasazi were the original tribe of the Indians. The Hopi- Navajo and Apache Indians came later on, a direct spin off tribe from the Anasazi. Besides the petroglyphs they also found pieces of pottery and arrowheads.
After a short visit in beautiful Zion National Park they set up their next camp at Black Mesa, in the middle of the Navajo Indian reserve. Here, Nod introduced them to another Indian mountain biker, Lionel. Lionel's family lives a half modern, half native culture. They communicate in their native language which is called “D’ina hi” and still use their Hogan’s (hut made out of clay and wood) for ceremonies.
Lionel’s Navajo clan has no electricity or running water, trucking in all the water they need. The group borrowed this truck and drove about an hour to Long Canyon. This was a very desolate place and likely had never been explored by mountain bikes. There were no roads or human signs, the only visible tracks were from elk, horses and mountain lions. The idea was to ride around the canyon on slick rock and end up at the ruins. Lionel, who had never been out there on his bike, was their leader and they found themselves slightly lost during the expedition. More than half of the day was spent walking and climbing through smaller canyons they had not anticiapted. After about 3 ½ hours, they hadn't even covered a quarter of what was planned, so they had to bail on the plan and turn around in order to make it back by daylight. Still, the day qualified as epic; they got to see wild horses and were impressed by the untouched nature of this beautiful place. They guys all reported it was one of their most memorable adventures on the mountain bike and they hope the Indian culture will continue to survive. They were very thankful they had the chance to meet these wonderful people.
The road trip ended with a day of riding in Sedona (which is always worth a stay) and Flagstaff, which has an amazingly fun single trail network.
Here are some random shots from the trip: