Cycling the FUTS and Arizona Trail to Fisher Point

I’ve been planning to bikepack a passage of the Arizona Trail specifically Passage 31 Walnut Canyon which goes from Marshall Lake to Interstate 40 just east of Flagstaff. Last week I picked up a Surly Fat Bike called the Pugsley. A fat bike is a mountain bike with massive tires, these tires can be up to six inches wide. Fat bikes were first built as a way to ride through the winter in snowy climates.  People soon found out that these bikes were great for regular mountain biking as well. The huge tires act as suspension but need no maintenance, they make short work of rocky sections and float over deep sand.

We first saw fatbikes when we were hiking the White Rim Trail in Moab, Utah. We were at the crest of a hill and a guy comes puffing up the hill on a crazy mountain bike. The tires were massive, he had 2 liter soda bottles full of water strapped all over the bike. There were bags strapped to the handle bars, the seat post, and a bag made to fit into the diamond shape of the frame. He was pulling a BOB trailer with a baby in it. The baby was  giggling in the trailer while sitting on a pile of blankets and shaded from the sun. The man, the bike, and the trailer were all covered in red dust from the road. They were the same color as the desert that they were riding through. A minute later the mom puffed up the steep hill. She had a similar bike and was loaded down with bags but was not towing a trailer. She was also covered with dust and a similar hue as the surrounding desert. They seemed exhausted and hot. I asked the dad a few questions, then we headed down the hill. I never took any pictures and I still kick myself for that. They looked like something out of Mad Max. They looked wild and adventurous. The bikes looked utilitarian and indestructible. It made such an impression on me, I started checking out fatbikes and backpacking when we finished our RV trip. A few months later I found the bikepacking family on Instagram. You can check out their adventures on Instagram @f.b.j_and_family

Fast forward a few months and I found a fatbike and have begun exploring our local trails as well as checking out passages of the Arizona Trail which runs right through Flagstaff. The Arizona Trail stretches from the AZ/ Mexico border to the AZ/Utah border. Fisher Point is a scenic area that happens to be on the Arizona Trail, close to Flagstaff, and it’s on the passage of the Arizona Trail that I’d like to bikepack.

This afternoon we headed out to explore the area. I was riding the Pugsley for the first time and Sandra was on her trusty Surly Disc Trucker. The Pugsley handled the rocky trail well, Sandra’s Disc Trucker is a great bike but a little underbiked for such a rocky trail. She went about half way then headed back to the trailhead. The trail was rocky double track then turned into single track as it worked its was downhill into the canyon. I made it to my turn around at Fisher Point and snapped some pics. Fisher Point is a large, red rock outcropping that seems to burst out of the Ponderosa forest. The ride back was a fun uphill to the trailhead. Hopefully this week I’ll bikepack the entire passage and have more pics and a fresh blog post to publish.

Here is a good diagram that I pulled off the web of a typical bikepacking setup. Unlike traditonal bicycle touring, panniers are not usually used and most of the gear is strapped to the bike instead of attached to racks. This set up is usually lighter and better for offroading.
Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 6.46.06 PM
Our Route from Lone Tree road to Fisher Point and back.
Fisher point (2 of 6)
All Surly bikes on this ride, Sandra’s Disc Trucker that she used on our bike tour and my Pugsley Fat bike that I just got from a guy in Phoenix.
Fisher point (5 of 6)
We took the Flagstaff Urban Trail System or FUTS to the trail head.
Fisher point (3 of 6)
Sandra heading up the slight uphill to the Fisher Point trailhead.
Fisher point (4 of 6)
She’s pumped, while dodging elk poop!
Fisher point (6 of 6)
Made it to Fisher Point. Sandra turned back as the trail was a bit much for her road tires. The light was nice and the valley was smoky from the Perkins and Platypus fire that are burning down the hill in Sedona.
Fisher point (1 of 6)
Sharp looking bike.

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