We've had the good fortune to spend this past week riding around the east side of Phoenix. One ride took us from Mesa to Fountain Hills on Hwy 87 and then returned via Shea,
I was impressed with the very wide shoulder on 87 from McDowell Road all the ways to Fountain Hills. We would now like to ride 87 all the way to Sunflower or Payson IF the wide shoulder continues the majority of the way to either city.
With all the high speed traffic on 87, I will not ride it without the shoulder.
Does anyone have first hand knowledge of the shoulder conditions beyond Fountain Hills?
I don't have first hand knowledge of the shoulder conditions, but, in case you haven't done it yet check google maps. They have their streetview coverage of that road, i only checked in a few sections but it looked like a decent shoulder but it has the rumble strips on it.
The Beeline (AZ 87) is good for riding about as far north as Bush Highway, the turnoff for Saguaro Lake. Once you get much beyond that it gets more narrow, the north/south lanes split. There's sometimes rockslides along the road too.
Not saying it can't be done, or isn't done, but I'd make sure the weather cooperates, go with plenty of sunlight, make sure you have a cell phone, water, etc.