Saturday, March 1, 2014

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.
My next memorable ride, was again taking off from Mesa, riding thru Apache Junction, AZ to the east, and catching Hwy 88, or the North Apache Trail, past Superstition Mtn.and up to Tortilla Flats and Roosevelt Lake. Great roads, lots of climbing, pavement, dirt, cactus, lakes, a variety of scenery. Quite a few bikers on this road. Superstition Mtn is said to have been the location of The Lost Dutchmen treasure, no one has ever found it.
 -Above Canyon Lake

Superstition Mountain-
I even liked this ride so much, my wife and I took the dog up and went hiking up above Canyon Lake. We had such a great time and will be coming back soon to get an overnight hiking trip in. Here's one my signature pics with my German Shorthair, Sausage. Yes, that's his name, lol...
Next Ride was heading out to South Park in Phoenix. I wanted to get some climbing in. This park is phenomenal, as when I arrived at 7am, it was already packed with hikers, runners and cyclists. I even saw a cyclist on a 10 ft tall bike. Theres plenty of parking at the base of the park. The climb to the top is 7.5 miles, with 1500 ft elevation climbing. Idea was to get some repeats on this climb today, see if anyone else was that crazy today. I ended up finding that no one else was as I did get a few looks from people riding at the bottom as well as one of the younger bucks the grabbed my tail on repeat #4, he hung with me for about 3 miles, stopped and turned around. Thanks Cyclopaths for the mountain training… The cool thing about Maricopa county and their love for cyclist, they close the roads in South Park the last Sunday of the month, only allowing cyclists and runners on the roads. What a great idea! The top of South Mtn picture below… you can see for miles…
Next ride was heading out North to Scottsdale, Fountain Hills area. What a great ride. I left from Mesa at sunrise, trying to beat the traffic from Mesa to Scottsdale. Once you get to Scottsdale, traffic eases and pretty much you and the road up and around North Mtn and around to Fountain Hills. Some great climbing and you for sure have to stop in Fountain Hills and have lunch there. Fountain Hills is home of the tallest man made fountain. Its very similar to Old Faithful in Yellowstone. The fountain erupts every hour, for 15 minutes. Theres a few restaurants on the lakes edge, for a great view of the fountain. Truly amazing. The funny thing about this fountain as well is, I could see this thing 15 miles out, since its so high.
I have so many memories of Arizona, pictures, and one of the best things is unplugging from whats supposed to be normal; wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, repeat… I Thank God I'm blessed to have the opportunity to experience this. My parents have been in Arizona, as snowbirds , for 4 years now. I can say I cherish the time Ive been able to spend with them, see some sites, and enjoy the sunshine. Put this on your bucket list, go out and enjoy life! Picture of my wife and parents below, at a restaurant in north Phoenix.
Well, so long for this month, off to get some more cycling in. Next post will be some cycling adventures in San Diego, CA; Boulder City, NV, Lake Roosevelt Ride, and Mt. Lemmons climb in Tuscon!




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