Cool-temprature rides in AZ?
Welcome to the desert, the Arizona summer has arrived, prepare to burn!
That might be a slight exaggeration, but if you get caught out on a ride after 11am, you'd best have a water source nearby. I got completely cooked on a 90-miler last weekend and it was no fun at all - it's time to run to the hills!
I've found a few good, long rides up in the cool country, but I'm always ready to learn of a few more - where are the good rides in Northern AZ?
It wasn't that hot out there when I visted a couple of weeks ago, it snowed in Prescott on Cinco de Mayo!
89A in Prescott seems like a nice road to ride on, I dont know if there are any loops you can find off of there. I've always wanted to ride that road through Prescott and then try my legs up Mingus Mt into Jerome, but I think that would kill me.
Sedona is out of the question for road biking, at least the main road 89A (although I did see a couple crazies out there going through Oak Creek Canyon, the ride up from OCC towards Flag is 2000 ft of straight up elevation, and there were people out there riding it (that would definately kill me!).
A couple of riders I talked to in Flag were telling me there are good rides all over the place up there, but it's 7000 feet elevation, so the air is mighty thin. Speak to the people at Absolute Bikes on San Fransico, they can set you up with many differnt rides around the area.
Good luck, (it was 104 in Phoenix the day we left - and 48 when we landed in Boston)
Start in Cottonwood and ride through Jerome UP Mingus Mountain . . . not always cool . . . when we did it on the Answer to the Challenge a few years ago, temps were already high 90s in Cottonwood at 10 a.m.
Riding in Flagstaff (up hwy 180/64) to the Grand Canyon and then to Cameron (on 64) and on 89 back to Flagstaff makes for a 200-mile loop that we've done several times in 3 days . . . can stretch it out to 4 or 5 days if necessary.
Shorter ride from Flag to Lake Mary and back or down Oak Creek Canyon (going up Oak Creek not advised as you'd be too slow climbing with lotsa cars honkin!).
The first couple rides have considerable elevation gain. Perfectly do-able on a single as we have done it on our tandem.
The other alternative is to do early morning rides in the summer; start at daybreak and be back home 4hours later.
Couple tricks to keep cool: Wear light colored jersey, wet your cycling cap and use a wet bandana as a neckband . . . helps until the darn thing dries ! Have commuted in temp as high as 117 degrees with 2% humidity in Tucson . . . no fun . . . but do-able.
Hope this helps!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
I will be in Scottsdale monday...OYE!
This weekend's only 99 degrees, maybe you'll get a break & Scottsdale won't cook you, quite yet. I rode a 70 and was simply warmed-over, not cooked!
Lake Mary Rd is nice, and I've done the Flagstaff ride out to Wupatki Ruins (you haven't lived until you've climbed out of that hole). I like Mingus Mtn a lot but don't want to get squished, I've always figured it for too many cars/RVs that aren't used to the swervy conditions
Last edited by SandLizrd; 05-20-07 at 08:50 AM.
Another fine choice for northern AZ riding is using a cyclocross bike on forest roads - many are well maintained, graded with a fairly smooth surface.
Have done Wupatki on both tandem/single bike as the Grand Canyon to Mexico Tour used go that way for years on the way south to the border.
Avoid RVs by not riding on a weekend in that neck o' the woods.
Same at the Grand Canyon, headed for Desert View and down to Cameron . . . get on the road before the RVers leave after their breakfast. However,once you get to Desert view, 99% of the traffic turns around and goes back, so the downhill to Cameron is a quiet/fastride.
Have done the North Rim of the Grand Canyon once by tandem. Start at Jacobs Lake, pedal to the North Rim and stay there overnite before heading back to Jacobs Lake . . . a very scenic, quiet ride, but elevation is 1,000 ft. higher than the south rim.
My in laws live at the base of mingus mountain, don't take jerome highway, there are other roads with almost nobody on them. too bad im too fat too make it up all the way without stopping
This weekend I found a winner - Petrified Forest!
Hwy 180 out of Holbrook is bike-friendly with few cars, nice wide lanes and (apparently) not drunk-indian territory. The heat-cracks make it a bit bumpy but with so few cars I was in the smooth lane most of the time. It's about 20 miles to the southern entrance of Petrified Forest.
Petrified Forest was beauty! There's a few inclines so it's not for wimps, but the cars were the friendliest I've ever seen (and there were only a couple of dozen of 'em anyway). The temps were still in the 90's but luckily a storm blew in, I caught enough rain to keep it nice. It's 30 miles from end to end, with a 3-mile side loop.
I also found a few losers. Hwy 260 was nice in the early hours, but traffic and narrow shoulders made it suck. Hwy 377 from Heber to Holbrook was a nice ride, but narrow and redneck-infested. ShowLow was BUSY! Incredible numbers of cars, even on a non-holiday weekend.
I was in greer last week and 260 was paved nicely, but not very wide, luckily i was there during the week, so not alot of cars, i did greer to Eager and back.
Originally Posted by scottmilk9
My in-laws lived at the base of Mingus (up Black Hills Drive, turn left, wind around and head all the way down the dirt road; it was the furthest house out that way) from the late 80s until just a few years ago. They got very tired of their well going dry after the Del Webb subdivision went in down the hill from them.
Today I rode Lake Mary Road in Flagstaff. It was WINDY! And hot. And dry and dusty. I hate to talk that way about beautiful Flagstaff but all the fire warnings were just off of maximum and Lower Lake Mary is gone (down to puddles). I couldn't see Mormon Lake but I only rode the 7-mile back road, the view's better from the highway - but I suspect it's gone too.
It was 7000 feet elevation and oh boy did I know it. And it was too short. The road sucks until you get to Canyon Vista campground, then it's real nice just to the grade above Mormon Lake. You can't really ride to Clints Well without "sharing the road" with RVs and lumberjacks, so on a weekend it's basically a 45-mile out & back. I tried to do the out & back twice but it was pretty bleary the second go-around, I think I'll keep searching for good long rides
Last edited by SandLizrd; 06-17-07 at 11:13 PM.
Skull Valley to Bagdad is scenic and very few cars early morning. Lower 50's this past week end. 80 miles give or take a few. Add another 30 miles round trip to bike from Prescott via Iron Springs Road. Imho, 15 degrees cooler on average for the high and low as compared to Phx.
That does look pretty good! The map makes it look kind of hilly, but not outrageous. Last year I rode Congress to Prescott through Skull Valley, and I liked it a lot. The 10-mile stretch from Yarnell to Kirkland Road was no good, I didn't ride that stretch, but the rest was kind of nice!
Has anyone rode north of Prescott? I'm looking at rides towards Chino Valley, and I'm wondering if Williams or Ash Fork are good destinations
Williams south on 73 (Perkinsville rd) is scenic, rollers for a few miles followed by a 13 or 14 mile descent to NF-492. That's as far as I went. I think NF-492 which will take you west to 89 is crushed granite. Not sure if Perkinsville rd towards Chino Valley is paved past that point or not. If it is, that would be one of the better rides in the area for sure.
Originally Posted by SandLizrd
Williamson Valley Road out of Prescott is very busy with no shoulder at all in many spots. If I lived up there, a cross bike would be the way to go; many dirt/crushed granite roads/fire roads...
The Lake Mary Road ride is my usual ride as I live less than a mile from where it turns off of 89A. The first six miles, as you said, aren't the greatest due to the lack of a shoulder but it does get a lot better after that. I have to admit that the 45 mile ride is plenty long for me! I had hernia surgery six weeks ago and I've only been on the bike once since than but hope to go for a ride tomorrow.
Originally Posted by SandLizrd
It has been very hot and windy here the past few weeks. It is unusual for it to be windy this tme of year.
I've always thought that riding on Highway 66 from Seligman to Kingman would be a great ride. I don't know the exact mileage but it must be around 120 or so. There is a shoulder for most, if not all, of the way and the traffic is very light. It is incredibly scenic and there are places spaced out along the route to restock on water etc. You could actually start the ride just west of Ashfork at the Crookton Rd. exit off I-40.
Within & Joe, that's good data, I'll be checking that out next weekend!
This weekend I rode the South Rim. Started at a little trading post/restraunt north of Williams, I don't know the exit number but it's the one that says Grand Canyon. The store's on the left & there's a bunch of shade trees to stage from. It costs a quarter to use the restroom because they have to truck in their water, but hey I'm not too good for a pay toilet.
And wouldn't you know it - the guy running the trading post was a rider/racer back in the day!! I met him last year when I was training up for the Great Alaskan Double Century and he's still there. He used to race the Alaskan Time Trial, I believe it went from Anchorage down the Kenai peninsula and was a pretty good competition in its day. Unfortunately, he now has a breathing machine and a bad attitude, and I found out why - he breathed the oil smoke in Gulf War I and he's a VA patient now. I don't know that you'd like the guy, but I found it to be a study in life and told the guy that this rider respects him for what he did.
The ride to Valle (that's where the Flintstones RV park is) has some rollers but is mostly downhill. Both times I've ridden it I had nice tailwinds. From there the rollers are in a more upward direction and the tour buses start coming by, but the shoulder is NICE just about the whole way. I like this road!
I saw some riders coming South into the wind, I guess there was a tour group or organized ride. I don't think they liked that road much at all.
Tusayan (that small town outside the park) was busy and full of idiots in minivans, but it's a short stretch, no worries. More rollers to the gates of the park, and that's where the fun begins.
I'd ridden the Williams stretch before, and knew what to expect. Inside Grand Canyon National Park was another story. The whole place is rollers! It's one of those rides where you start saying "yay, it's a downhill" but 10 miles later you're thinking "oh no, it's a downhill, I'm gonna have to climb this beech on the next uphill." It seems to alternate from 7200 to 7500 feet about 12 times (I'm exagerating but not much). This desert dweller was suffering at 7500 feet, I think all the oxygen falls off into that big pretty hole in the ground. I ended up shifting Way Down and just surviving the stretch. Park roads have a shoulder, but it's small. Cars were not exactly nice. There was way too many of them, trailers and RVs sometimes don't realize just how wide they really are, and it was getting hot (over 90) so everyone was just a little bit grouchy. By my standards it's acceptable, but not great.
Out towards Cameron I gave it up, I was burnt from the rollers and even my driver had an altitude headache. Cameron was over 100 degrees and I cried uncle. It was 48 miles from Williams to the gates of the park, and just over 20 miles to the east gates of the park. The road to Cameron got wide again like the Williams road, and like Zonatandem said earlier in this thread, there are some nice downhills (but also some inclines). I think I'd be a lot happier making a multi-day trip like Zonatandem did.
Another mention about Zonatandem's ride - the highway back towards Flagstaff has many, many miles of that excellent shoulder. However, it has just a few miles of no shoulder whatsoever! Not long stretches but definitely, positively not nice - it's a major road. This is another reason for the 3-day trip, because although I love my native-american brothers, there's been an instance or two of drunk driving out there by the res. We can tell by the broken bottles by the highway. Rumor has it that one or two individuals of unknown ethnicity like to get likkered up and go to Flagstaff to get really loaded, so I'd stay off that road in the evening!
Today I am definitely feeling it. All this dragging-me-arse to Northern AZ is becoming a lot of work. Only one more to go before my big event! With a little help from my friends, it should be a good one
Last edited by SandLizrd; 06-24-07 at 09:36 PM.
Reason: just one photo
Wow Sandlizrd, that is quite a ride. NIce ride report. I haven't driven from Williams to Valle in quite a long time so I'm not too familiar with it. I'm very familiar with the route from Valle, through Tusayan, and along the rim road. I worked up there most of the summer of 2004. I was surprised at how few cyclists I saw. The traffic can definitely be crazy on the rim road with all the RVs and heavy tourist traffic. Highway 180 from Flag to Valle would/could be an excellent ride if there was a consistent shoulder. I don't think I've ever been in Valle when the wind wasn't blowing like crazy.
Let us know if you do the Highway 66 ride I mentioned. I've alwasy wanted to do it. That route is so much more scenic than I-40. Another nice ride is the Sunset Crater/Wupatki loop. You could also head down Townsend Winona Rd and hang a left after 10 miles or so onto Leupp Road. This road was just redone and has an excellent shoulder. I've only driven to the reservation boundary so I'm not sure how far the shoulder continues. You could incorporate this ride with the Sunse Crater/Wupatki loop. Just a bit of warning......the hot dry wind continues to blow up here in the north country. I've never seen it like this before.
Glad you liked it, Joe - there's been other questions about riding Grand Canyon, so I thought I'd spell it out real nice, be kind to an easterner or something. Usually I just say "North Rim is Great, South Rim is Crowded" but now they can find out in detail. Feel free to add your experience. In particular, the newspaper they give at the gates says "all paved roads open to bicycles" and "Hermit's Rest road open to bicycles, must stop & get out of the way of buses." However, I didn't go that way, I didn't want to brave the Village craziness. I wonder if that 16-mile out & back might be nice, even though it's at altitude and humans can't breathe there. (Allright, I'll give you Flagstaff riders credit and say "desert dwellers can't breathe there")
I am planning on taking on part of the route 66 ride this weekend. I'll be launching from Prescott and riding Chino Valley, but Ash Fork is 50 miles and I'd like more. It's unlikely I'll make it to Kingman - they've been right around 100 degrees so I'm likely to wimp out before I drop out of the hills. Seligman's still 5000 feet, Kingman's 3300 so I'll leave most of that ride for you!
Last edited by SandLizrd; 06-27-07 at 03:06 PM.
Originally Posted by SandLizrd
Enjoy the ride! I'll be doing the Ashfork to Kingman route but, unfortunately, it'll be in a car on the way to Vegas to visit the parents.
I just wanted to make sure you caught the last sentence in my 6/23 post about 66 beginning west of Ashfork at the Crookton Rd. exit of I-40. I'm not sure how familiar you are with the route so I wanted to make sure you didn't think you could hit 66 in Ashfork.
Ah yes, the road to Seligman, and beyond....
I'm proud to wrap up this Northern AZ adventure with another success story! Prescott to Ash Fork is a BEAUTY ride. The shoulders are wide, the road is fine all the way. Slight exceptions in the towns of Chino Valley & Paulden, but it's not bad on the northbound leg, they have a center turn lane & it takes up the extra room but the cars moved over just fine. (More on this later)
I launched from Watson Lake in Prescott area. There's a park with restrooms and such, a good place to stage from if you can spare the $2 fee. There's a good bit of downhill initially, which is nice to get stretched out and limbered up. Heck, I ditched my driver I was going so fast! It took him 'til mile 35 to figure out where I went. There's a few inclines closer to Ash Fork but they're only a few hundred feet each, not particularly deadly.
I saw one other rider today, he was southbound out of Ash Fork. I believe this out & back would make a great Prescott century (but I'll qualify that in a minute).
Joe is correct, there is no way to Route 66 from Ash Fork except for I-40. GoogleEarth shows some suspicious colors but it's dirt road, it's blocked off, it might not cross the train tracks, it sure ain't no good for bikes.
By the time I got moving on Route 66 towards Seligman, it was getting quite warm. The sign in Ash Fork said 96 degrees. The pavement is recent chipseal, black as night and radiating heat like the sun! Some would say it's rough but I think it compares well to the options. The famous Northern AZ wind was blowing like a hair dryer in my face, and there were some real inclines. One 6% hill went on for a mile or more, and climbed up over 5700 feet (two GPS units said it was closer to 5800). Still, the road was kind of fun. The views went on forever! There was no shoulder, but there weren't many cars and they were well-behaved. Sometimes I felt like I was all alone out there - no one ahead, no one behind, as long as I didn't look at the freeway over there about a mile it was kind of special. I've got the railroad in my blood & it was neat seeing a few trains go by - one must have had 50 railcars of autos. That's a whole lot of Toyotas!
There was no place to get water until Seligman.
Seligman struck me as a goofy kind of town - half a dozen Route 66 gift shops, a restraunt serving American and German food, and the Road Kill Cafe'. I had a burger there after the ride and it was good, but I don't know if I'd make a special trip. I rode on towards Peach Springs and the road went from recent chipseal to old crack-seal. You know the stuff, they spray tar in the cracks and it ends up making lumps so the road gets real, real bumpy. If you ride in the traffic lane it's better but still not great. Plus, there was more climbing and that hot nasty wind had gotten hotter and nastier. I think I was on indian land and my driver was sick of the heat, so I called it a day before Havasupai Junction.
Joe, the rest of the Kingman trip is up to you, but feel free to wait until October.
After eating we scouted the highway that Within mentioned earlier, hwy 73 (Perkinsville rd) south from Williams. (edit: had to correct the name, sorry man) It's a pretty juicy 6-mile climb out of town (he was being gracious when he said rollers) up over 7200 feet, followed by a 19-mile paved descent. 25 miles of pavement! Big time territory! But then it gets sad, because the road to the west (nf-492) is about the bumpiest, washboardiest 10 miles of hell road I've been on in a LONG TIME. And I grew up in Yuma, I know something about bad roads. I stopped to check my bike a few times because it was so bumpy. It shook the QR off of my front wheel. The grader was parked at mile 2 (8 miles to go) and hadn't been used in a generation! The road south also turned to dirt in just 100 yards. I'd love to camp up in there, and this'd be a noteworthy MTB trip but there's no love for this road.
Remember the mention about turning lanes in Chino Valley? In the afternoon we saw the strangest effect - numerous people making deadly left turns right in front of cars! I had to hit the brakes a dozen times, and it wasn't just me, other vehicles were getting it too. My friend just laughed, said he's seen it when he went there before and thought it was insane. Crazy suburban commuter types in so much of a hurry they risk getting T-boned! Dozens of them! And this was on a Sunday afternoon, I doubt they were all coming home from work - I guess traffic there gets so bad the people resort to life-risking driving behavior out of... habit. Someone get a shrink out there. Or a traffic engineer. And don't ride south in the afternoon!
Next week I taper, I'll just hit an early ride around home. Then it's my big event, so I think I'm done exploring northern AZ for now. This thread has some pretty good info for the desert dwellers next year!
Last edited by SandLizrd; 07-06-07 at 09:47 PM.
Another loop we've ridden many times is starting in Show Low up Hwy 60 to Springerville. The downhill before S'ville is a beauty, we hit 53 mph on our tandem (coasting) and by the time we were up the other side of the big dip we were in our granny gear! Suggest overnighting in S'ville. The next day continue UP Hwy 60 past Greer and toward the Sunrise Ski Lodge and onto 260 for a swooping downhill toward Lakeside/Pinetop (very heavy traffic on a weekend) and back to Show Low.
You'll be up to 9,200+ ft if you make a detour to the ski lodge. Then grab a ride on ski lift to get you to the top of the black diamond mountain. Forever views!
Be forewarned, summer thunder storms are quite prevalent, so pack a rainproof jacket as the temp can drop 20+ degrees in less than 5 minutes. Just missed a hailstorm one year near Greer . . . big hailstones about 3" deep by the roadside.
A real stress on the lungs on that climb . . . 3 to 4mph in granny gear. My stoker/wife Kay has only 75% lung capacity and managed to make it OK . . . but we were younger (in our late 50s) then. This is not tandem-friendly terrain by any measure, but do-able.
Sounds like you'll be in shape for your Alaskan event S'Lizrd . . . good luck!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem