Realty Executives of Flagstaff

Serving Flagstaff, Arizona since 1977

Realty Executives of Flagstaff


New Adventures in Bikepacking, and Update from a Local Mortgage Office

(Published on - 3/21/2022 5:55:12 PM)

Have you ever walked into a store, and when you were approached by a sales rep who asked, “Can I help you find your size?” you had to explain, “Oh, I’m just looking”?

Maybe you even felt a little guilty that you were not intending to buy anything.

Well, the same thing can happen in real estate. For example, you might happen to drive through a neighborhood, find that you like the area, see a couple of For Sale signs, and think, “I wonder how much it would cost to get into this neighborhood?”

That happens all the time, even to those who aren’t thinking about moving.

If you get curious about a neighborhood, please don’t hesitate to ask us about it. We'd be happy to answer your questions about the area and give you a ballpark of what a typical home costs there.

When it comes to real estate, it’s smart to have a sense of what the market is doing and what homes are selling for in areas you like. That way, if you ever do decide to move, you’ll have a head start!

How to Stomach the Interest Rate Roller Coaster

By Chris Hallows | Sr. Mortgage Advisor at Wallick & Volk Mortgage

Just like the twist and turns of your favorite theme park thrill, the mortgage interest rate market is giving plenty of folks a lot to stomach right now!


Inflation is the big player pushing rates up and as the FED works to raise their funds rate that could help mortgage rates stabilize as inflation reduces but this is easier said than done. The Fed just finished their March meeting this week and though the .25% rate hike on the funds rate should be a positive thing for mortgage rates, mortgage markets are nervous about the statement that they will be talking about ‘balance sheet reduction’ in the coming months.

Oversimplified, interest rates reached historic 50-70 year lows due to billions of dollars of FED subsidy via the COVID relief act as part of economic stimulus and that is sitting on the FED balance sheet – slowing, stopping or reversing that subsidy are all things that make mortgage rates push upwards. These factors coupled with geopolitical conflicts and economic concerns certainly set the stage for high mortgage rate volatility this year. Will this year be the best time to buy a home - no but is it a terrible time? I would argue absolutely not.

We have to remember the average interest rate from 2000-2010 National on a 30 yr fixed was 6.29% and the average rate from 2010-2020 was 4.09%. That makes the current national average of 4.375% not look as terrible as some may think. If you or someone you know got a rate in the 2’s or even 3’s in the last two years you basically won the mortgage lottery as a global pandemic and billions of dollars of subsidy created a one time event where you could lock up a 15-30 yr fixed debt at what folks used to do 5 year car loans for!

The hopeful take away is see the big picture through this roller coaster, let it scare off other buyers so you can win the bids in this competitive, low inventory market and have confidence that rates are truly good – consult with us or other local mortgage professionals that monitor rates daily to customize your plan for home ownership!

Now to some Bikepacking....

In late 2020, a year before we decided to move into semi-retirement, we asked, what will we do with our time??   

In my case, as you have read in our past newsletters, I enjoy the outdoors:  hiking, backpacking, fishing and some travel to remote locations. So what’s next?   

One of the newer fastest growing outdoor adventure sports is Bikepacking.  It’s a concept very similar to Backpacking, where you head out for days on end, with all your gear on your back to hike and camp.    

Bikepacking is similar, you just put all your gear in assorted bags on your bike and head out for days on end. 

In Biking, you have two main categories, Biketouring or Bikepacking.  The difference you ask?

Before I move to much further, you will see I inserted some pictures of our latest ride from the beginning of March.

We had five of us on this trip, Rog from Columbus Ohio, Jon from Port Angeles Washington, David from Port Townsend Washington and Kathy from Austin Texas. 

Only Jon and Rog had ridden together, I had not ridden with any of the group, but turned out we all rode so well together, we are looking for other opportunities.


Added note, those colored stretch straps on the front blue bags are Voile Straps, some of the best there are and super handy, well worth having around for assorted things.

Biketouring is, for the most part, exclusively on paved roads, whereas Bikepacking is on a combination of gravel roads and paths, to single track trails and some paved paths, though the paved portion can be very limited. 

Want to learn more?  A site to browse would be, which is my go-to site to locate defined routes in Arizona, neighboring states, or across the world.  They even offer answers to gear questions.

As I started to research Bikepacking I found thousands of established routes not only here in the United States but all over the world.  Here in Arizona, we have the Sky Island routes (East and West) out of Patagonia, which spans about 305 miles, while a trip to the Craters and Cinder Cone around Flagstaff is around 185 miles.  Routes can be as little as 20 miles to as long or longer than the Western Wildland Route, which is 2700 miles stretching from Mexico to Canada and could take 2 months to ride.   

You may have numerous questions: do we camp overnight, how many miles we will ride in a day, to what the heck do we do with all our gear, also known as a ‘Kit’ in the biking world.   

Let's start with the last question first, our Kit. 

This includes our tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, assorted clothes, food, water and bike repair tools.  The Kit is placed strategically on the bike; few riders carry much more that a small day pack on their backs to carry water or clothes; most of the weight is on the bike. On the front bags, which hang off the handlebars, you will find my tent and sleeping bag.  You should carry your heaviest items in the center frame bag, so water in my case.  

You might also carry a bag off the back of your seat, which is where I carry my food or panniers that are mounted on both sides of my rear tires. Most the time I carry bags on my front forks (the Blue Bags) which can include water, although in my case I usually carry clothes and tools there. 

The next question, how may miles a day?  

A lot of this depends on the terrain you are riding. If we are fortunate enough to ride smooth gravel intermixed with some paved roads, we can ride 45 miles plus.  Extreme riders will bike upwards of 70 to 100 miles a day. In our recent Sky Island trip, East and West loops we ranged from 18 miles on a short day to 46 miles on a long day. The difference as mentioned above is mainly the road or trail conditions and elevation gains and how much Hike-a-Bike you are doing.   

So, what is ‘Hike-a-Bike’ you ask? Aren’t you riding a bike? 

We do try to ride all parts of the route, but at times the uphill or even downhill grades are so steep, the terrain is so rough, that riding is both impractical and/or dangerous and takes more energy than just getting off your bike and pushing. This can also be strenuous since all that gear, we talked about can push your total weight of your bike up and over 50-60 lbs.  That’s a lot of weight!
The last question was, do we camp overnight?
Yes, for the most part we camp at predetermined spots. I say for the ‘most part’ because we travel so many more miles in a day compared to backpacking at 10 to 15 miles on average and we are on gravel roads of some sort that go through small towns, so we have more options. For instance, again on the Sky Island East loop, as we approached Green Valley from the east, a storm was approaching from the southwest bringing cold 40 mile an hour head winds, with rain and snow. So, we ducked into a motel that night.  The next day it was clear with just a little snow on the ground, but not enough to deter us from riding that day.   

We finished the two Sky Island Loops, East and West, just last week, and I have put a few of those pictures in this newsletter.

We met Sarah Swallow at the Appleton-Whittle Research Ranch of Audubon, who mapped out these rides on the 2nd day of our East loop.

We found out rather fast what is easy for some is not so for the rest of us.
When we looked at Sarah’s pictures and description of the East loop, we said this will be great, and it was, but there was a lot more ups and downs, and hike-a-bike than we expected.  

Look forward riding with the group again in the near future. Jon is doing the Western Wildland Route this spring and summer; I may join him on the New Mexico portion? Just depends on timing.

Combined the two loops are a little over 300 miles and I hope to write about these adventures in future issues of the newsletter.

The next adventures, hike up in Utah, then a Rambler Bikepack out of Manti Utah the first of August.


Jeff Ross * Renee Gaun
Your 1st Choice in Real Estate®
Your Team for Success

928-607-5556  Jeff
928-606-6232 Renee


15 E. Cherry Ave
Flagstaff, AZ. 86001





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