I'm thinking of taking a week off, probably sometime in January or February, to spend some time mountain biking in Arizona or California and want to know if I'm approaching it the right way. I was in Tucson several years ago and regret not having had the time to check out the local trails. After doing some research, and being unfamiliar with the area, I'm wondering if I should pursue a guided mountain bike trip or go it alone? I'm interested in daily excurions from my hotel to multiple, nearby trails over the course of several days, to be ridden at my pace. I'm not sure if a guided trip lends itself to that kind of fleixibility, I also don't want to sell myself short and miss out on some great trails because I lack local knowledge. Should I count on contacting or meeting up with local riders or groups during the week in order to take advantage of their familiarity with the trails? I'm also not necassarily interested in epic rides, rather 2-5 hour trips consisting of technical single track and aggressive XC-type riding that I can do in the morning and still have the rest of the day to do other things. What would forum members recommend in terms of: 1) finding an affordable way of riding trails out west, 2) having the flexibility to ride when and where I want, and 3) still maintain a degree of safety if the trails are in secluded areas?
Thanks as always.