I like long weekends.

I am writing this blog post on Memorial Day, which is the unofficial start of summer in the US. I feel that the Memorial Day long weekend is highly anticipated by many people because of the lack of long weekends in the first part of the year. What do I mean? Well, in the US, the calendar year begins with New Year’s weekend, which comes right after Christmas. The holiday festivities are winding down and people start thinking about all of those noble New Year’s resolutions they are going to break in the first 2 days after starting those resolutions. Martin Luther King, Jr. day is the third Monday in January, which seems rather soon to have another long weekend (or federal holiday, to be more precise). But hey, I am not going to complain about having another long weekend in January! The third Monday in February is President’s Day and is usually a good time to get some great deals on bedding, for some reason.

Then….nothing. It’s a long haul from President’s Day to Memorial Day. Three months. It’s no wonder, then, that everyone seems to anticipate Memorial Day weekend. The parties, the camping trips, the barbecues, the start of nicer weather….

This Memorial Day weekend, we spent a couple of days in Prescott, AZ with some friends. We camped, ate great food, and mountain biked. There are a ton of great trails in and around Prescott, with the biggest and most challenging being the Prescott Circle Trail. As the name implies, the Circle Trail circumnavigates the town of Prescott and is about 54 miles long with about 5500 feet of elevation gain. All you road cyclists who are scoffing at the low mileage of the Circle Trail: this is a mountain bike trail! So, biking it is more challenging. How do I know how challenging the Circle Trail is? Because my SAT rode it yesterday. (For all of you who thought I was going to describe my Circle Trail ride….thank you for thinking I could do that!!) He was gone by 6am and rode the entire Circle Trail (and a few extra bonus miles for “fun”); click on this link to his Circle Trail statistics.

While my SAT was torturing himself, I rode a few trails with our friends and got to practice my burgeoning mountain bike skills. Riding a bike on forest trails is very different from riding desert trails; I found the forest trails generally smoother than the desert ones I’m used to riding, except for the huge tree roots and occasional boulders. A number of turns were rather narrow, which made me use my brakes a lot (they work well). And Prescott itself is at a higher altitude than Phoenix, which affected my breathing. (Prescott sits at about 5400 feet and Phoenix is about 1100 feet high). I did not take a lot of pictures, since I was busy trying to stay upright on my bike, but my friend Lifan took a lot and once I get some photos from her, I’ll upload some of those photos to my blog.

One good mountain bike lesson I learned this weekend: when you start riding, try to start with either a climb or flat section. Starting a ride with a downhill section doesn’t get you “warmed up” and “used to your bike.” When we started our first ride yesterday morning, that trail began with a descent. I ended up falling, only because I wasn’t warmed up and wasn’t used to the steepness of the descent. The fall was as gentle a fall could be, i.e. I didn’t incur any injuries, I just got a little dusty. After a half hour or so, I felt more confident and was able to navigate the trail better.

I’m looking forward to my next visit to Prescott, if not for the mountain biking, then for the cooler temperatures!

(Clockwise from top left: view of Prescott’s valley; our camp; the food one can enjoy when exercising all day…burger and (sweet potato) fries and mac ‘n cheese!)