The final brevet of the 2017 spring season is the aptly named Scorpion 600km. This was the second running of this Mike Sturgill designed course that provides an outstanding sampler of Arizona road riding. With Arizona's territorial capital (Prescott) to the north, Saguaro Lake to the east, and a healthy slice of metro Phoenix (Phoenix, Sun City, Cave Creek, Carefree, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, and Mesa) in between, it is quite a route. Throw in the sting of 15,000 feet of climbing over 375 miles, and it rightly earns its moniker of Scorpion 600!
|Bob Larson, Roger Peskett and Mike Sturgill at the start|
The brevet day riders were Bob Larson, Roger Peskett, and yours truly. Mike Sturgill, organizer and Trail Boss, met us at the start/finish line at the Days Inn at I-17 and Deer Valley Road to provide our brevet cards and rider brief. He joined us for the run up to Carefree/Cave Creek. We were treated to a glorious sunrise, and spectacular desert scenery to the first control in Carefree. The route continued through Cave Creek and descended to the Carefree Highway. Somewhere along here Mike, flatted on a descent while riding fourth wheel. Our momentum quickly carried us out of earshot. We thought he had dropped off to head home, but we had inadvertently dropped him!
|Bob and Roger on AZ 89 toward Congress|
The real climbing on this ride starts at the Yarnell Hill (6 miles at 6%) and you can see the road cuts in the mountain from miles away. Congress AZ is at the foot of the hill, and as we entered town, my Garmin computer froze. While resetting it, I ran up on Roger's realwheel for a bit of a scare and flashback to last year!
|Desert in full bloom on Yarnell Hill|
|Roger and Bob on the climb!|
The high desert grass and scrub soon disappeared and was replaced with Pondersosa Pines as the climbing continued to the high point of the ride at 6200 feet. With a little snow in the shadows, and expansive mountain views, it was quite a scenic section of road. The only drawback; a constant stream of motorcycles (mostly loud Harleys) on their way to Historic Whiskey Row in Prescott!
|Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott|
The route climbs out of Prescott for a few miles back to the 6200 foot summit, then generally descends all the way to Phoenix. However, the winds, which had been favorable for the whole day, were now right on the nose and especially heavy in Peeples Valley!
|Just a little windy in Peeples Valley|
|Lush farms and outstanding scenery|
Reaching Congress and turning south, the winds shifted off the nose to a crosswind, a welcome improvement! The sun set as the road continued to Wickenburg and another control and more food at the Burger King! As the lights of Phoenix eventually came into view, the route continues southeast to Sun City and another control before heading north and back to the control at the Days Inn.
Rolling into the motel at 11:30pm, the plan was to check-in, eat, shower, and get a 4-5 hour nap and be back on the road by 5 am. After a Denny's Grand Slam, quick shower, it was 'lights out' as my head hit the pillow.
Waking before the alarm went off at 4 am, and wanting to get this one done before it got hot in the afternoon, it was back on the bike with lights blazing into the morning darkness. Again treated with an awesome sunrise, the route heads east to Pinnacle Peak and the fun 9 Mile Descent to Fountain hills.
|The Fountain of the Hills|
|Gilbert Road Bridge over the Salt River|
|Wind back on the nose for the last 30 miles of the ride!|
|At the finish|
|My faithful weekend companion!|
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