Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cracking The Secret Code to Mountain Biking In Arizona

American Indians consider the Red Rock Country of Northern Arizona sacred. For others, it's a meditation Mecca. To mountain bikers, it's a hypnotic and dangerous Wonderland full of killer trails, otherworldly plants, and strange animals.
"If it doesn't prick, stick, or sting you, then you're not in the desert," a local mountain biker told me.
Northern Arizona is a Mars-like landscape scored with ancient canyons, arches, hoodoos, and enormous slide rocks. Like the Sinagua (without water) Indians, the animals in this high desert are designed to live on little liquid while the plants seem to sprout out of a Dr. Seuss book. 
This is traveling by bike in Arizona. But don't be deceived by the strangeness of everything, lest it distract you.

Darwin would have loved this place
The undeniable law here is Darwinian. Flora and fauna struggle to survive and the unfit are eliminated, especially the mountain bikers.
Most mountain bike trails in Northern Arizona are single track, which makes for fast free riding. However, a fine red dust powders the desert floor, adding an element of scary to the trail. When you include the fact that cacti of all kinds border most trails, your single-track mountain bike ride quickly moves into the dangerous category.
At the base of the Mogollon Rim, in the heart of Red Rock Country lies the Secret Mountain Wilderness. The mountain bike trails here follow multi-colored strata deep into box canyons. The rock formations and weird plants have a strange way of luring you further than you should ever go.
On the way to Devil's Oven, the Spanish dagger agave plants guard the trail like conquistadors, as if they were protecting a secret. Fall into a cluster of agave and it's certain death, not from poison, but blood loss.
This metaphysical playground draws nearly 4 million people each year and several hundred thousand mountain bikers. It's also home to some sinister varmints: scorpion, black widow, tarantula, and, of course, the rattlesnake.
The main outpost for mountain bike riding in Northern Arizona is Sedona, a tourist town sitting halfway between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. The village is better known for its new-age vortexes and high-priced real estate than its biking trails.

Arizona's Mountain Biking Heaven
Yet the Red Rock Country around Sedona has 48 mountain biking trails, covering over 400 miles. Utility easements and jeep trails offer a wide swath of unlimited riding. (FYI, cars parked on Forest Service land must display a pass). There are toilets at some trailheads and gas, food, and lodging in Sedona.

On the trails, just remember that if it doesn't prick, stick, or sting you...

Thanks to Will Geurts at Sedona Destination Adventures for the picture and for keeping us alive on those trails! Visit him here at Sedona Destination Adventures  and check out their beautiful gallery of unbelievable pictures.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are you making this mistake with your money?

This is another money topic that I wanted to share with all of you. Take it for what it's worth. Hope it helps.

I've been reading (and listening to) Tony Robbins's new book, Money: Master the Game. I am a huge fan of Tony Robbins and I strongly recommend this new book simply because he boils down what you need to do NOW with your money so that you have some LATER in life. 

And so we can all have some fun, too. :)

Three of the biggest take-aways from the book:

1. Save money. You'll need it later. Not saving any money? Start now.

2. The most important money decision is asset allocation. 

What does this mean? Where are you putting your money? Is it safe? Diversified? Risk averse? Maybe like some you're out of whack.

In Tony speak: "DIversify or Die." :) 

There are several very good chapters on this topic and even actual examples from some of the biggest money managers in the world whose allocations you can copy for free. FOR FREE. There is also a link to Stronghold Financial where you can have any savings/investments/retirement account analyzed, again for free.

3. You are probably paying WAY TOO much in fees. 


Mostly from hidden mutual fund fees. In your 401K, IRA, 529s, Etc

Tony will scare you into action as he tells several stories to illustrate his point. One from John Bogle (founder of Vanguard) spells it out perfectly. 

It goes like this:

With a $10K investment at age 20 with annual growth of 7% you would have $574K at age 80. But, if you paid 2.5% in fees you'd end up with $140K.

There are tons of examples like this. The basic solution: asset allocation using index funds from Vanguard. (I'm a huge fan of these).

I welcome your comments below or feel free to contact me at 

I study money math a lot. The antagonist in my kid book series, Crime Travelers, is the CEO of the Good Company (Yes, they're not good! :)