SNOWBIRDING IN ARIZONA
Author: Brent Moody
We finally decided it was time to head out from Southern New Mexico, they were 10 degrees under normal for the year, more snow, and freezing temps. Not my idea of snow birding, aka; snow cycling.
We took off December 26th, and destination was Mesa, AZ. My parents have been snow birding in Mesa for 4 years now, and they kept rubbing in the 80 degree January February temps, so sounded like the place to go to. 2-3 months there sounds like a great plan, as I look back now and see how much of the entire U.S. is getting abnormally cold weather, even Florida!
First ride, day after I arrived, thought I would take off and ride the arroyos up to Red Mountain, which is NE of Mesa about 10 miles. If you ever make it to Phoenix/Mesa area, Mesa is the place to be. Mesa is very bike friendly, which designated bike lanes on almost every street you ride on; easy access to desert mt. biking, as well as roads heading up to some Arizona climbing. Another unique thing about Mesa, is the arroyos that run thru the city from North to South, and are laid out in the grid about every 2-3 miles. The water comes from the northern mountains and the arroyos direct it to the city, where Mesa draws out their water supply. They have again been very hiker/biker friendly, as there are paved paths on 1 side of the arroyo and gravel on the other. Water is clear and plenty of fish in them as well. My dog goes bizirk over the fish and ducks in the arroyos. Its perfect riding in the city, can escape the traffic and stop lights. I took off right from our RV park, hit the arroyo 1/2 mile away, and rode up to Red Mountain. Just coming out of the high New Mexico mtns of 7000 ft, I had some decent lungs. Felt like a champ on this first ride.
Next few rides were just getting to know Mesa, Phoenix area. Theres a nice loop that most Mesa natives ride, that's up and around Red Mountain, about a 40 mile loop, nice paved road. Red Mountain and Usuary Park is home to some of the best mtn biking in the county I understand, over 800 miles of trails. You can hike a couple of the trails in Usuary Park, a 1500 ft climb in 1.2 miles, you can see quite a few miles from there.