Sports Stories

One semi-retired Village of Oak Creek bicycle mechanic owes his continued health to those very machines he rides from his shop every day.

Although weather forced Mike Harris, 64, to cancel his three-hour Sunday trail ride, he and almost 30 other bikers were right back at it Monday, Aug. 8, pedaling up and down Coconino, Eazy Breezy, Hermit, Slim Shady and Templeton trails.

“We had one of our best days,” said Harris, a former director of business development for radar systems who retired full-time to Sedona from San Diego in 2006. “We have so much word of mouth and lots of people coming up from Phoenix who don’t care about the temperatures.”

Just three to 12 riders typically accompany Harris and fellow National Mountain Bike Patrol volunteers Martin Glinsky and Bonnie Miller on their treks — which usually total more than 10 miles, round-trip.

“We usually limit those riders to five to 10, to keep from being so oppressive to hikers,” said Harris, secretary for the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition. “I hike almost as much as I bike, and as a hiker, if you see a group of 50 people, it can be kind of intimidating.”

But since Sunday rides are intermediate and divide across skill levels, that is how many riders often show up in the Yavapai Point parking lot during high season in the middle of the fall and early spring, Harris said.

“That’s when the weather’s so good you can ride literally dusk to dawn,” added Harris, also an author of three published books. “It’s a lead-from-behind scenario, so basically we ride at the level of the slowest person — 5 mph. If we stop, which we do quite often, it can be three hours.”

When Harris first arrived in Sedona as a part-time resident in 2003, he weighed 265 pounds.

He has lost 80 pounds since, adding that he can hike 10 miles without breaking a sweat.

“I notice an increase in my hiking capability that’s primarily due to that,” he said. “I have a friend who couldn’t even make it three miles. That would’ve been me 13 years ago.”

Five years before that, Harris began his road to fitness with his purchase of his first bicycle. It became a habit, as Harris owned as many as seven bikes at one time.

“Now I have one road bike and one mountain bike,” he said. “I tend to sell them off as I go.”

For more information about Village of Oak Creek trail rides from Absolute Bikes, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 10, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.