Tuesday, March 26, 2019

2019 Patagonia 600km Brevet

Ride Report
March 2019
Sunrise on the Tucson Mountains
To qualify for the 2019 edition of the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200, a rider must complete a full Super Randonnuer series of sanctioned brevets in 2019. The 200, 300, and 400 are in the bag (click each distance for ride reports) and the 600 is all that is left to complete!

The official Patagonia 600 km is March 30-31; but this year, yours truly, will be supporting the actual event, so this ride report covers the 'Pre-ride.' The Pre-ride is sanctioned under RUSA rules to allow the organizer and/or volunteers to ride the course, for credit, up to 15 days in advance of the event. This allows the Regional Brevet Administrator (Mike Sturgill) to ride and enjoy the actual event. Mike Sturgill, Roger Peskett, Tom Baker, and Brian McGuire, pre-rode and supported the earlier events, so its our turn. Brian McGuire will join us for the Sunday portion of the ride and will also be supporting the event. Here is our story:

Day 1 - 400km

There is actually a bike in there!
Its 90 miles from home to the event start in Marana (just outside Tucson) and to save a little gas we packed the bike in the Mini and motored down to Marana at O'dark-Thirty Saturday morning. Quickly assembling the machine in the Day's Inn parking lot (room reserved for the over night), and grabbing a Frappuccino and reciept at the Chevron station on Cortaro road at 0555 we are off!

Moon is still up with the sunrise
Quite chilly at the start (Garmin reports 36 degrees F) but with the sun coming up and the gentle climb towards Gates Pass, its a nice way to ease into the ride and warm-up. The turn onto Sweetwater came up quickly and soon we find ourselves at the top of the pass. Very little traffic in either direction!
Gates Pass
Much of the descent in the cold shadow of the mountains
Picking up speed, its cold and the road is rough from frost heaves in the pavement. Soon we leave the cold shadow and have a gentle climb on Kinney road to leave the park. Turning onto AZ86 we put Tuscon in the rear-view mirror and head toward the first Control in Three Points. The road is smooth with an ample shoulder and the first 6-7 miles are recently resurfaced and smooth. It is another 7-miles of good shoulder to the Three Points Store.

Grabbing some supplies and a receipt its a left turn onto AZ286 headed toward Sasabe and Arivaca. You can put away the cue-sheet, its 33 miles to the next turn!
Far left Baboquivari Peak, right Kitt Peak and Observatory
You won't need the cue sheet until Baboquivari is much closer on your right, that cues the next turn. Traffic is light and while there is no shoulder, the road is straight and the few motorists gave plenty of space. Probably 3 out of 4 vehicles belong to the Department of Homeland Security Border Patrol!
Leaving the first Border Patrol Checkpoint
The ride will pass through several Border Patrol Checkpoints, the first one is heading toward Mexico, no need to stop here!
Entering the Buenos Aires Refuge
60 miles and 4.5 hours from the start, brings us to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Closer to Baboquivari, but still another 12 miles to go before the turn to Arivaca! This was a good spot to strip some layers and slather on the sun screen!
Babo is getting closer!
The joy from finally making the turn, quickly disappears. The rains have been tough on Arizona roads this winter. And this section of road was a very rough patch-on-patch-on-patch surface. No traffic in sight so its all over the road trying to find a smooth line. At least most of the holes were filled!

Soon the town comes into view and we stop at the control at Arivaca Mercantile. Finding a spot in the shade we enjoy some canned soup, chips, and a Pepsi! Leaving town there is a bit of climbing, but the road is much improved.

HOWEVER, while smooth, this road also suffered damage and there were many un-repaired potholes to be on the look out for. There was a nice tailwind, and with the general downhill and steep rollers on the way toward Amado, full attention is necessary as hitting one of those at speed  (25-30 mph) would be catastrophic!
Another Checkpoint just outside Amado AZ
No time for Lunch today
Too early for dinner?
We enter Amado and marvel at the architectural roadside masterpieces. Time for a right turn onto the I-19 frontage road for the run to Rio Rico and the next control.
This section of road is metric (whatever that means)!
The route follows I-19 mostly on the frontage road. There are two sections where the route is on the freeway shoulder, but the pavement is smooth and relatively debris-free.

Traffic is light heading toward Mexico. On the other side of the road, there is a huge back-up at another Border Patrol checkpoint. The next control is any open business at Exit 17. We roll into the Chevron, get some supplies and a receipt and take a short break in the shade!
Bike path on Pendleton Drive
Back on the road, a new route through Rio Rico takes us to Pendleton Drive. Its under construction, apparently due to the addition of a bike path. After noticing the path at about mile 127, we cross the dirt and join the path, but at 127.7, it abruptly ended (without warning) due to a washout. We pick it up again at 127.8 but it only goes to 128.6. In hindsight, it would have been better to just stay on the roadway until the path is complete/repaired!

We leave Pendleton Drive for 13.6 miles along S. River Road. It meanders along through farmland, and with a slight tailwind and gentle rollers, its a very nice route to AZ 82.
AZ 82 just outside Patagonia
Its climbing time again, but with the breeze at our back we are heading east toward Patagonia and the next control in Sonoita. The road is wide and smooth with a narrow rough shoulder.
Next time stop here!
Rolling though Patagonia we are tempted to stop at the Wagon Wheel. But with another 12 miles to the control in Sonoita, and wanting to make the big descent before sunset and it gets cold we press on.
Arizona Wine Country just outside Sonoita
We roll in Sonoita at 1800 (6pm). There is a new rest stop with a water fountain so we stop to see if it works; it doesn't! No worries we stop at the Dollar General store (open until 10pm) for supplies and a receipt.

The sun sets behind the mountains, and quite suddenly the temperature drops from 65 to 50 degrees during the 20 minute stop. So in the waning sunlight we push out for 10 miles of climbing before the payoff and 12 mile descent to the outskirts of Tucson.

The first few miles of the descent are steep and ADOT has put rumble strips in the pavement. Not a big deal during the day, but at night they appear suddenly and the vibration jars the headlight mount so the beam is pointing toward the sky! We hit the second set in the dark before we can stop and fix the light and continue, with an adrenaline boost for good measure.

A left turn puts us on Sahuarita Road with the lights of Tucson in the distance. The road is in fair shape but its 18 miles to Sahuarita and the lights never seem to get any closer! Finally a left onto Nogales Highway and 4 miles to the next control is in Green Valley

With temperatures continuing to drop, we make a quick stop at the Circle K and get back on the road for the climb up Duval Mine road. Not much traffic up here at 9:30 on a Saturday night. We turn onto Mission Road just as the lights of the mine come into view. A little more climbing to Helmet Peak and its the sweet and gentle descent on good roads all the way to Tucson!

With temperatures contining to drop in the desert (low 40's) we look forward to getting into town where its warmer! Warm, but at a price. At Congress road, and the first several miles of Silverbell the road conditions were very rough. Not a happy place with 240 miles in the saddle. They do get progressively better and the temperature drops again and we make our way the overnight control in Marana.
Nearly 2000 calories for our midnight snack!
We check into the room at 0038 Sunday morning, stow the bike and run down to the car to hit the McDonalds Drive Thru. Its open 24 hours on Saturday and right next door, but the dining room is closed. So its to the drive thru. They were only accepting cash, but luckily we have enough to procure breakfast and head back to the room.

Shower, eat, repack the bike, watch some SportsCenter, and hit the sack at 0145 with a planned wake-up of 0615.

Day 2 - 200km

Waking up just before the alarm went off, grab an Ensure and some fruit bars as we get ready. Brian texts at 0645 that he is in the lobby and ready to go. I run down and grab a coffee with my bags, check-out, load the car, and return to the room to get the bike.

After a false start with the Garmin (it re-booted) we rolled out for the 200km loop to Oracle. The sun is up and comfortably cool as we start the 41 miles of gentle climbing to Oracle.
Biosphere 2 on AZ77
The roads are good until Oracle Junction, then the shoulder narrows and the road deteriorates. Not the best for a rear-end with 400km in the books on the previous day!

The route takes us past Oracle and we double back on American Avenue. We stop at the control (Circle K) and reload and get our receipts.
Rejoining AZ77, Picacho Peak in the distance (44 miles away)
Brian McGuire
We spot Picacho Peak in the distance. The next control is at the foot of the peak, 44 miles away! We continue down the way we came but turn right at AZ79. The climbing starts again, and we pull off to lose some layers. The climb ends at a electrical substation in the distance (about 6 miles away) so its heads down and start climbing. Not much shoulder here, and with somewhat heavy traffic, we both dialed it up a bit to get this section done.

We turn onto Park Link Road. Its wide, smooth, and with very little traffic. Its 18 miles of twisting slightly downhill riding through beautiful desert. Brian flats about halfway down and insists that we go on and meet at the control.
Will this road ever end, Picacho Peak, still in the distance!
Reaching the I-10 Frontage road, we turn right for the last 5 miles to the control in Picacho. There is a Dairy Queen there, but we spot a Subway and decide to stop there because the service is generally slow at the DQ and the parking lot was packed. While the sandwich was good, the Subway was also packed! Brian finds us and we finish lunch and head out on the frontage road for the last segment to Painted Rock and Marana.

One more stretch of rough road on Sandario road and we make it to Picture Rocks and the last control. Purchasing a cold water, and tucking the receipt in the brevet card we press on for the last climb of the day.
Re-entering the Saguaro National Park
One last spectacular run through the Saguaro National Park! Traffic was moderate, and there are some steep and fun rollers on the descent! Leaving the park, its only a few miles to the Marana and the finish.

We pull into the Chevron at 1622 and enjoy a Popsicle to toast the end of this very enjoyable 600km Brevet! Thanks to Brian McGuire for joining us.

Will we see you at the Patagonia 600, there is still time to register here! (midnight 27 March).

Click here for GPS data

Steve Atkins

Soaking in a salt bath on the recovery day with an audience!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

2019 Around the Bend 400km Brevet

Ride Report
March 2, 2019
Tom Baker gives the rider brief
Flat, fast, and with a tailwind! What could be better than that? The 2019 version of the Around the Bend 400km Brevet lived up to all that, and with an average temperature of 65F, you could hardly ask for more in a 'winter' brevet!
25 Randos at the start
Tom Baker designed this route and would be the Trail Boss for the day's festivities. This is the 8th edition of this ride on the Arizona Brevet calendar, and like the last several years would be run in the counter-clockwise direction. The start finish location was moved a few miles east (from Sun Lakes to Chandler) to the Fry's shopping center at Riggs and McQueen Roads. More services and a better split of some of the urban riding on Riggs Road made this a great change.
Traffic stop at Riggs and Maricopa Roads
A few traffic lights along Riggs through Chandler, but at 6am, the traffic was light and soon we were zipping along at a reasonable but fast pace through agricultural portion of the Gila Indian Reservation. About half the peloton, stacked back up together at the traffic signal at Maricopa road. When it turned green, it was back to brisk pace as the Estrella Mountains were slowly illuminated by the rising sun.
The pace line working through the west valley
Riggs turns into 51st Avenue as the route passes through Komakte, exiting the reservation, and entering the City of Phoenix before turning west toward Buckeye. The group, benefiting from a gentle tailwind, continued to course along at 22+ MPH!
Tom checks us in at the first control in Buckeye
The RUSA Rules for Riders point out that brevets are not competitive events. In fact, results are to be listed in alphabetical order, not the order of finish. They are, however timed events with the opening and closing times of the intermediate and finishing controls determined by a maximum (about 19 MPH) and minimum speed (about 9 MPH). Riders must stay within these time frames to successfully complete the brevet.

Nine of us rolled into the first control in Buckeye exactly at the control opening time of 0851! Tom Baker was there to check us in, sign our brevet cards, and provide supplies and snacks for the next leg to Gila Bend. Riders rolled out one or two at a time, but soon another pace line of 7 or so riders formed for the run to Gila Bend.
David and Mike after some work at the front!

Paceline on old US 80

The route continues west and then south, and with a quartering tailwind, the group was easily holding 20-24 MPH through mostly farm land. With the exception of just a few rollers near the Gillespie Dam, its pancake flat, and most of the road surface is in great shape! Just outside of Gila Bend, with 100 miles behind us, elapsed time was still under 5 hours! Credit to favorable winds and a large group of riders working together at a consistent pace!
Lunch Control in Gila Bend
Just outside of Gila Bend, we turn right onto Watermelon road. A slight, but much improved route variation for 2019. We catch a large farm vehicle moving at about 13 mph and 'motor-pace' behind it for a while, then we swing clear and pow, suddenly the wind is on the nose and quite strong. We continue on for a couple of miles, not minding the wind, since we will soon turn south and then east to the control and another 40 miles to Maricopa, with the wind on the tail!

Rolling into the control at 1111, a mere six minutes after it opened, Tom Baker had staked out the tables at the Gila Bend Chevron/Food Mart and set out an assortment of snacks, sandwich wraps, and drinks! More riders rolled in (the Stephen Kinney group had suffered a mechanical outside of Buckeye) and a bunch were ready to go after only 12 minutes!

Stephen took the lead with his group and we headed out with a nice tail wind. Its a straight shot for 40 miles to the next town of Maricopa. The first 19 miles is a steady 'climb' on an incredibly consistent .8% grade. Reaching the summit its another 20 miles of slight downgrade to town. With 150 miles to go, the pace was a little hot for yours truly, and it was time to drop off and settle into a comfortable pace.
On the big 'climb' of the day
About half-way up, other refugees from the front group came into view and soon we were again a group of about 5 working together. Clouds and a light rain were welcome relief as we cleared the 'summit' and still with a reasonable tailwind the speed picked back up and we were really moving.

On long straight roads, sometimes the mind plays tricks on a rider. Seeing a mailbox ahead in the distance, the mind says there is rider on the side of the road, only to find it is actually a mailbox! This time however, the mailbox became bigger and as we got closer, then then it turned into three Canadian riders!

We slowed down to make sure they were OK and had everything they needed for the repair and continued eastward. Of course well before we reach town, they are back on the train. As they rotate through the pace quickens just outside of town and the group splits again!

With the next control in Stanfield only 19 miles away, and with a full bottle, there is no reason to stop and we head south out of town and through the Ak-Chin Indian Reservation. Passing the Harrah's casino, a couple of riders come into view. Its Roger Peskett and Bob Fisher working together. It takes some time, but just a few miles before the next turn we are a group of three. Continuing at the same pace, Bob hops on and we roll into the control in Mansfield together. With diminishing winds and numbers, no need to worry about arriving early, the control opened 90 minutes ago!

Bob Fisher at the Stanfield control
With 82 miles still to go, and building winds out of the northeast (our direction to the next control in Florence), we take a 20 minute break to refill both bottles and chow down a turkey sandwich, Frappachino, and some chips. Bob is ready to go we head out as a group of two working together through Casa Grande and Coolidge to the next control in Florence.
Mansfield Road near Florence
Superstition Mountains on the horizon
Passing more smelly feed lots that we cared for, we finally roll into Florence and stop at the information control at the Circle K on Main Street. Its bustling on an early Saturday evening. It seemed every third customer was wearing an Arizona Department of Corrections uniform! Lots of folks were interested in our ride, and one nice couple shouted out a blessing from their pickup for safety as we continued our journey!

Florence Control
As we roll out, Mike Sturgill rides up, and we ride together for a short trip to the McDonalds where he makes his dinner stop!
Sunset on the Pinal Mountains to the east
We continue out of town, passing several more corrections facilities heading north as the sun illuminates the Pinal Mountains to the east.
Sunset on Arizona Farms Road
Soon we turn onto Arizona Farms Road and literally ride into the sunset! After a quick stop at Attaway road to put on the reflective gear, its Bob in the lead with yours truly hanging on his wheel for the last run to the finishing control in Chandler.

We rolled in at 1859 (7:59pm) to put this one in the books at 13 hours 59 minutes.

Another great Arizona Brevet! Thanks Mike and Tom!!!

Next up, join us for the Patagonia 600!

Steve Atkins

Click here for GPS data

Monday, February 4, 2019

2019 Saguaro National Park 300km Brevet

Ride Report
February 2019
Mike Sturgill and Roger Peskett at the rider brief
Thirty or so riders assembled in the Casa Grande Walmart parking lot in the predawn darkness for the 2019 version of the Saguaro National Park 300km Brevet. With dreams of PBP in 2019 in many riders heads,  it was another great turnout representing 3 countries (Canada, Ireland, US) and 10 US states (AZ, WA, UT, WI, CO, IL, MN, TX, NM, NY)!

A fixture on the Southern Arizona Randonneurs' calendar for many years, this route was last used in 2013. Roger Peskett took on the duties of Trail Boss so RBA Mike Sturgill could join the fun with the main group. At the stroke of 6 am, the group rolled out and headed south for a couple miles before looping back to the north for the run to Coolidge.

Paul Foley, Paul and Jennifer Danhaus
About half the group formed a large pace line and stayed together through Coolidge. Just outside of Coolidge, about 1.5 hours into the ride most of the group dropped off for a natural break. With the group momentarily split up, there was time to catch up with old friends and take a few photos before the pace line reformed and the work resumed!
10 rider paceline on the Pinal Parkway 'climb'

Turning south onto the Pinal Parkway (AZ 79) a strong group of 10 set a steady and reasonable pace for the next 10 miles to the first control at the Tom Mix Memorial and road side tables. A spacious pullout with covered tables 46 miles into the ride make this a perfect control stop. Roger was ready as 10 of us arrived en masse in to check in, refill water bottles, adjust layers, and grab some snacks. Chicken tenders and fries were a welcome treat!

The riders rolled out individually, but soon we were grupo compacto with 20 miles of false flat/climbing (1.2% average 4.2% maximum grade) to the summit some 5 miles outside of Oracle Junction. About 2/3's of the way to the top, I noticed Stephen Kenny's rear wheel looked out of true, and warned him that he may have had a broken spoke. The group split apart as Stephen dropped off to check his machine and the grade steepened near the top.

Stephen rejoined the group (confirmed broken spoke, but serviceable to ride) as we reached the summit and took a monster pull all the way to Rancho Vistoso. Hitting the rollers in Rancho Vistoso the group split as we settled into our own pace. Forming a small group with Rob Welsh and Mike Sturgill, we rode together along the northern and western edges of Tucson along Twin Peaks and Silverbell roads.

Welcome to the last climb of the day, Gates Pass
Entering the spectacular Tucson Mountain Park, its three miles of climbing to Gates pass. With the lunch stop only 3 miles past the summit, there is no reason to hammer up the hill, as we will likely regroup after lunch.
Lunch on the McCain Loop
Rolling in the lunch stop in the Saguaro National park, a number of riders are there enjoying a great lunch provided by Roger. Chips, sandwich wraps, Frappuchinos, sodas, fruit, pickles, and other calorie and sodium packed foods were available. With 116 miles down and 70 to go, it was a perfect spot.

View from the lunch stop

Yours Truly and Mike Sturgill (photo by Stephen Kinney)

Stephen Kenny and Mike Sturgill lead the way after lunch
We roll out with Stephen Kinney and Mike Sturgill, starting at a reasonable post lunch pace, there is time to take some photos while suffering through some seriously annoying 'frost heaves' on the older pavement.
Fantastic views in the Saguaro National Park
After crossing Kinney Road, the pavement is new and smooth and Stephen dials up the pace as we glide through several miles of the Saguaro National Park. Jolted back into the reality on the very rough Sandario road, and with the Calgary Express in front and a building tailwind behind we cover the next 15 miles in 35 minutes (25 mph average speed)! 

Turning west at the Marana airport, and exposed to a strong crosswind, it was an easy decision to drop off the Express and stop for a water refill at the Circle K in Marana. With 45 miles to the finish, and favorable winds, two bottles would get us there!
I-10 Frontage road with Picacho Peak in the distance
Rolling out alone, but with a descent tailwind, the next 30 miles of brain numbing I-10 frontage road to Eloy went by easily and without a sign of any other riders.

Rolling into bustling downtown Eloy, Stephen Kinney, Mike Sturgill and Dave Hilton, appear in the rear-view mirror. They made a stop at the Dairy Queen at Picacho peak, and Stephen said it was "well worth it!"

Tacking on to the Calgary Express yet again, the route turns north and with a strong tailwind, it is back to the races hanging on for dear life. Noting the information for the control at 11 Mile Corner, we head west for the last 8.5 miles to the finish.

With the strong crosswind and a narrow shoulder, the pace line advantage disappears and its off the back yet again. No worries, just settle into a normal pace and finish it off.

Stephen sees me drop and slows down to pace me back to the group, and tucks me in just outside the fog line and he takes the wind and our group of 4 rolls into the finish together! Officially in the books at 10 hours and 39, it was a fast 300 with great conditions and even better company.

Mike signs our cards and we head to the Carl's Jr. to enjoy a post-ride meal and camaraderie before its time to head home!

Next up, Around the Bend 400, come join us!

Steve Atkins

Click here for GPS data

Sunday, January 13, 2019

2019 Saguaro Lake 200km Brevet

Ride Report
January 2019
40 riders gather for the start
About 40 riders assembled in the Fountain Hills Safeway parking lot for the first event of the 2019 Arizona Brevet Series. The 200km route consists of two loops of 100km each, so in addition to the brevet, a 100km populaire option was available. The second loop is new this year and includes a run up to Carefree Arizona through Scottsdale providing more fantastic desert scenery and less city riding through North Phoenix.

Mike Sturgill, RUSA Regional Brevet Administrator and Brian McGuire would provide support throughout the day.

The route starts uphill with some sharp rollers to wake the sleeping legs and provides a much needed warm-up (temperatures were in the mid 40's), before descending to Shea Boulevard and the Beeline Highway. At the start the computer unexpectedly powers off, so after a quick recycle, we roll out near the back of the bunch for a more civilized start. After a quick catch-up with Tom Baker and chatting about PBP plans we hit the first sharp roller. Descending the second roller, the front group comes into view stopped at the light at Shea, grabbing a gear and accelerating we hit the intersection just as the light turns yellow and rejoin the front group.

The bunch is huge and enjoying the downhill to the Verde River. Crossing the river the road tilts up for the 8 mile climb to the Bush highway exit. The pace picks up and the group starts to thin as riders slip off the back.
Bush Highway headed toward the lake
Approaching the Bush highway turnoff, a group of refugees from the front group form a small group and we work well together all the way to the start of the Usury Pass climb.
RBA Mike Sturgill at the Usury Pass Control
Usury Pass is a popular climb and many riders were out enjoying the morning. Its a 3.5 mile climb, but with over 100 miles to get to the finish its best to settle into your own pace and enjoy the view. At the top, a large chunk of the front group was in the control, and not needing supplies, it was a quick hello/check-in with Mike and back onto the road.

The descent is fast and with a wide shoulder, very comfortable. A few minutes after leaving the control, there is a rider on the side of the road waving as cyclists go by. Nearing her, it was clear she was trying to flag someone down. Grabbing the brakes, she says she needs help with a mechanical. She had repaired her flat tire, but was having difficulty getting the rear wheel back on the bike. Shifting her rear derailleur to the small cog it was a snap to get it back in. 30 seconds of stop time for a good deed and its back on the road for the decent to Power Road.
Yours truly and Russ Cummings on the Bush Highway
After hitting the King Kong descent, the route turns east on the Bush Highway, and into a building headwind. Just then Russ Cummings rolls up with a hearty hello and we get a chance to catch up under blue skies and gorgeous desert scenery.
Joining some fast 100km riders
As we chat, a half-dozen or so riders roll past and we decide to hop on for the short descent back to Salt River Recreation for some company and relief from the wind!
Bush Highway and Four Peaks
A series of scenic rollers along the Salt River and Saguaro Lake are next and we settle into our own pace and the group thins back out!
Brian Mcguire at the Butcher Jones water stop
Brian McGuire set up a water/snack stop at the Butcher Jones turnoff near Saguaro Lake, with a full bottle there was no need to stop, just slow down and let Brian know we are passing through. The route tilts up for a climb back to the Beeline Highway. Traffic is still light, and the views of Four Peaks with a light dusting of snow are fantastic.
Verde River near Fort McDowell
Back on the Beeline Highway the wind is now on the tail and its easy to hold a 25+ mph pace all the back to the Verde River. Hang a right at the casino and soon we are making our way into the Safeway parking lot. Mike Sturgill has taken up residence at the Subway (a 6" sandwich, chips, and a drink are included in the entry fee). We plop down, check in, pass on the sammy, and head to the truck to reload and change layers.

The base layer, light wool jersey, jacket and full leg warmers were great at 7:30am, but were quite sweaty 4 hours later. No worries, leaving the jacket and leg warmers in the car, slathering up with sunscreen, and after refilling the bottles and pockets with fresh calories, its back on the road for the second loop.

Just a mile or so up the road the Garmin locks up. Normally a power recycle cures the problem and with the restart, no loss of data, or interruption of the track. Not today, the computer did a full reset, and while it saved the loop one data, all the counters reset to -0- ;-/!
"Easy to Miss' bike path entrance
The second loop includes a link from Fountain Hills to Scottsdale through a gated community that has provided a bicycle easement to pass through. After a short climb, the route descents on a bike/hike path to connect the two towns.
Bike Path
Cyclists Welcome!
Exiting the bike path, the route appears to reach a dead end at a gated community. But wait, the gates to this community are offset so bikes can pass through and use 145th Way to connect to Via Linda. It is a much improved route that includes a little more climbing, adds some nice views, and avoids Shea Boulevard (6 lanes, 50 mph speed limit, and no bike lanes) to get to Scottsdale. Descending on the brakes to obey the speed limit, we don't want to lose this easement!
The Boulders at El Pedregal
The route heads into and through the planned communities at the foot of McDowells making use of new roads with ample shoulders/bike lanes and relatively few traffic interruptions. Turning right on Pima Road, it is 8 miles of gentle climbing through beautiful Sonoran Desert before heading west to the Boulders and north to the control in Carefree.
Carefree, what's with the cactus hats?
Tom Altemus rolls up as we head into the Carefree control (Shell Station/Convenience store) to get a Frappachino and a signature for the brevet card. He was having pedal problems and dropped out of the front group to made a few adjustments. As we were heading out Russ and a two other riders rolled in. We head out with Tom and trade pulls all the way to Dynamite road.
Pinnacle Peak from Dynamite Road
Its a 3 mile climb and Tom goes off the front as we hit our own pace. Tom gets caught at the light on Alma School at the top and we rejoin and work together for the 9 mile descent and 12 miles of rollers to the finish.
Tom Altemus leads the way down Nine Mile Hill
More great views of Four Peaks on the descent of Nine Mile Hill. With increased housing development in the area, each time through it seems E. Rio Verde road gets wider and better as it is improved to support the increasing traffic. Still a few miles with no shoulder on the top half, but the pavement has been resurfaced and the bottom half has a wide paved shoulder.

With light winds on the nose during the descent, and cross winds after turning south at the bottom towoard the finish, it was a little more work than normal passing through Rio Verde and the McDowell Mountain Park. Soon desert gives way to development and we are on the last climb into Fountain Hills. Sharing stories of mutual suffering on this particular stretch of pavement with Tom made the climb go by in a flash and soon we rolled into the finish at the Starbucks inside the Safeway store. Mike was there to check us in and put this one in the books!

A great day on the bike, connecting with old friends on a spectacular course.

Next up is the Saguaro National Park 300, come join us!

Steve Atkins

Ride Data: Loop 1   Loop 2