It has now become abundantly clear that Strava has passed from fad to tradition in our budding mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona. What once was a customary climb to a peak or ridge now attracts a growing history of published footprints and battles fought against ethereal ghosts. From national champions to world champions, from trail 100-mile victors to Olympians, from seekers to destroyers, the Flagstaff Strava overall segment leaderboards are a veritable who's who of the talented and accomplished.
Strava segments are user-created and user-edited. Segments are designated portion(s) of a route where Strava users can compete against themselves (past efforts) or other users for time. Segments can be listed publicly or privately depending on the creator's preferences. Strava is a tool that isn't for everyone, however, it can certainly come in handy if you're looking for incentive to push harder on the trails and roads or looking to connect with other runners. Public segments can be explored thus sparking inspiration to seek out new trail adventures. The drive to be atop the leaderboard also breeds lively, local rivalries.
Flagstaff and its surrounding mountains are covered with Strava segments. Here are my top ten (and a few added bonuses) based on nothing more than my own opinion.
1) Buffalo Park Loop (counter clock-wise)
2) Poo Pond Climb
Sewage treatment ponds in Flagstaff's Rio de Flag. The setting for this segment.
3) Woody Mountain Road Climb
Woody Mountain Road
4) Heart Trail
5) Schultz Creek Trail Ascent ("Y" to Lincoln Logs)
Schultz Creek Trail
Invented to encourage time trialing, these ONB (out and back) smooth single-track segments were split in two to provide rest for those wishing to run each 4-mile segment in "full beast mode." adiUltra athlete Brian Tinder holds the CRs in both directions. "I live two miles from the Schultz Creek/Schultz Pass 'Y,'" says Tinder. "I can bop up here on a whim and lay down tracks. Most runners must drive to the start, I get a good warm-up before diving in."
6) Sunset Climb
Views from the top of Sunset Trail
7) Kendrick Peak climb trail #22
Kendrick in winter
8) Snowbowl Base to Mt. Humphrey's
Arizona's high point
9) Brookbank Mile Climb
Signage on Brookbank
Brookbank Baby Bobbleheads is the aptly-named descent of the climb. If you like dancing on rolling rocks then this segment is for you. Side note: Rumor has it that this trail may soon become extinct. The US Forest Service may soon realign the trail to eliminate erosion problems and the formation of said baby heads. Better get on it quick as this CR may stand forever once the trail is decommissioned.
10) Mt Elden LO Rd Climb (Gate to East Towers)
The start of the uphill segment.
"I've stared at these gates many times. Now a little throw up gathers in my gullet when I see 'em." - Jacob Puzey
The awesome sweeping views from the top of Mt. Elden. The segment ends at the towers seen here.
Bonus #1a & 1b - The "trail-less" segments: Bootleg trails are a part of any mountain town. Some are accepted, others are not. Flagstaff is in the process of reviewing bootleg trails that should become incorporated into the official trail system. Here are two segments that won't show up on any official map, but may on a Strava segment search.
a) Private Reserve
Yes, you'll run up that cliff.
b) Slay the Ginger - This segment is part of the growing-in-popularity loop named Afternoon Delight. After today's ascent, CR holder Chris Vargo was heard muttering, "This climb gets worse each time I do it."
Bonus #2 - The Oldham Steps
An aspen growing along the volcanic boulders that cast their shadows on the Oldham Steps route.
Bonus #3 - The under-appreciated and unknown. If there were ever a climb that was overlooked, it's O'Leary: O'Leary all the way
The start and end of the O'Leary segments.
After roughly a half-mile you can see where you must go.
So there you have it. Do you have a favorite segment? Share it in the comments section below.