The San Rafael Valley (SRV) is a 90,000 acre expanse to the east of Patagonia, Arizona. It borders Sonora, Mexico and is home to one of North America’s most diverse ecological ecosystems. The region has begun to see a large increase in visitors who have come to explore the areas incredible bounty of gravel cycling.
Since 2015, The Cyclist’s Menu has been hosting Arizona Gravel Camp based out of Patagonia, AZ. 3 miles from Harshaw Creek Road (the entry point to the SRV) Patagonia is the regions launch pad for all day gravel adventure through the Canelo Hills and Patagonia, Santa Rita, and Huachuca Mountains. Over the course of the past 6 years, we’ve covered just about every road, building the framework for what is now a detailed map for our seasonal gravel camp experiences and multi distance course routes for Patagonia’s Spirit World 100.
How many miles in total, we’re not exactly sure. What we do know is every minute spent in the SRV is incredible. You learn something about yourself, those you're riding with and your chosen gear. The tools that allow us to do this type of exploring is incredibly important. It can make or break an experience. However, this very same gear can carry you through what may otherwise be a physically challenging and mentally tough day on your bike, resulting in an emotionally high moment of personal success.
We’d like to highlight the moments that you remember as the best, or the toughest and how our gear choices help bring us there or get us through. We’re calling our platform for review, ‘San Rafael Tested’ & we’re proud to share our first product, ENVE’s G23 wheel set.
Excuse our lack of knowledge with the fine details. Rim width, internal spoke design, and other things like that. We’re a little too ADD to remember all that information. However, there’s more to these wheels than the specs. The G23’s are super lightweight (lightest on the market!), fast rolling and damn sturdy! We can attest to this precisely, after riding them up, over, through and down everything the SRV has to offer. With ease, the G23’s have performed incredibly well across every surface encountered.
Right out of the gate, the width of these rims place more of your tire tread right on the surface you’re riding on. This creates a superior connection between your bike and the earth, allowing you more confidence in descending, handling in tricky terrain and bridging the gap between you and your pals on that last climb of the day. More importantly, trying to hang on to your lady’s wheels as she rips off your legs in the waning light of day.
“My wife waits all day for the final climb, just digging in to crush me. The G23’s are a game changer for female Gravel Heads.” Zander Ault
“I’m so stoked to be riding these wheels in the San Rafael Valley” said Heidi Rentz Ault after her first ride on the Apache Loop, 13 miles from Patagonia, Arizona.
“There isn’t a descent I can’t conquer anymore. These wheels are the sh*t. Having raced professionally on the cross country mountain bike circuit for 7 years, I know what it feels like to have a larger rim, equalling more tire contact on the ground. This combination is incredible for lighter weight women and I’m very happy to be riding the G23’s now, as a professional guide.” Heidi Rentz Ault
If you’ve visited the San Rafael Valley, then you know that many descents here aren’t a smooth breeze. They’re packed with rocks, ruts and washboards that might encourage you to bring a mouth guard along for the day. Haha! Believe us, we’ve joked about it many times.
These are old ranch roads. Each telling a story of the 200 year old ranching history across this landscape. Until more recently, these roads were the only way in and out for ranching families who’ve called the SRV home for generations. It’s honestly some of the toughest riding conditions we’ve found in the US. Exactly why we’ve begun to list certain products now as being ‘San Rafael Tested.’
The Borderlands offer an incredible blend of what can be found across many environments and/or geographical regions. Making this area an incredible place to test what a wheel, bike, or handlebar for instance, is made of.
Here's our list of criteria we discussed for ENVE's G23 Wheel set to be listed: San Rafael Tested
Will Freihofer captured these photos as we tossed ideas around for our first ‘San Rafael Tested’ story during an overnight camping trip near Mowry, Arizona, in the Patagonia Mountains. We departed our gravel HQ, The Gravel House, for a sunset arrival on the rim of the San Rafael Valley. The SRV is most definitely a proving ground, but it’s also a place to escape and truly leave reality behind. As you ride through its massive network of dirt roads, Mexico is in full view the entire time. It’s as if the high desert grasslands go on forever. We look forward to the many stories we have ahead of us, testing the industries best. We promise we’ll send it all back super clean, with just the right amount of SRV dirt to lure you back for more. Cheers, Gravel Heads!