Desert Mountain Biking

Mountain biking the Arizona Trail. Photo by Scott Morris.

The Denver Post published a good article about mountain biking in the area around El Paso, TX that got me thinking: desert mountain biking could definitely be fun this time of year. While riders in the northeast and midwest are stuck inside, trails covered in snow, riders in places like southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are enjoying some of the best riding weather of the year. Just thinking about it makes me fell all warm inside…

Desert mountain biking isn’t all grins and giggles though, even if the weather is perfect – thorns and cacti generally dot the desert landscape leading to flat tires and potentially nasty falls. The author of the El Paso mountain biking article says “Any deviation from the trail, and spiny clusters of ocotillo, prickly pear and agave plants threatened to skewer me like a voodoo doll.” Those same plants also threaten to skewer tires as well making it all the more important to say on the trail and to seal tires with Stans before heading out.

This article also got me thinking that mountain bikers who start out riding desert terrain probably develop above-average bike handling and falling skills. If you know that even drifting off the side of the trail by an inch could lead to a nasty flat you’ll probably be more precise in your cornering. Learning to fall “safely” is an important part of mountain biking and desert riders are some of the best at controlled falls to avoid prickly and sharp landing spots. Sometimes a handfull of thorns is unavoidable though and after a few falls most riders work hard to stop falling 🙂

Desert riding can be surprisingly accessible from western cities with trails like Bootleg Canyon outside Las Vegas and dozens of trails in the Phoenix metro area. Give desert mountain biking a try next time you’re out west – just watch out for those cacti!