Monday, May 5, 2014

Southwest Winter Riding

Author : Brent Moody

The Southwest this winter, awesome awesome weather! Waking up to high 40s in the am and 70s during the mid-day, perfect riding weather. 

My wife and I had to take our RV into service, so it would be out of commission for about 5 days, so perfect time to take a trip San Diego to see our daughter! She lives in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego, so was drooling to get a century ride in there. We arrived there over the weekend and took in some beautiful sites around the area with my daughter, since deciding the best day to ride would be on Monday.

I called a few bike shops and surfed the web, finally finding a decent century route and try to escape most of the traffic. I headed out from our hotel and rode along some the bike trails along the freeway to get to the beach. Tricky around there trying to find these bike paths and routes.  I found a route that went thru the back country going north of San Diego by Miramar Air Base; thru the mountains of Rancho Santa Fe, up thru Escondido, and then back west to Carlsbad.  

This turn to Carlsbad I caught the westerly winds coming off the Pacific. Tough ride to the coast, which was approximately 20 miles. Once arriving in Carlsbad, I quickly found the Pacific Coast Hwy, which is a beautiful route down along the coast. I stopped near Del Mar and had a bite to eat and sat in amazement of the ocean and 70+ degree weather, bright and sunny! The last part of my ride was the most memorable, weaving in and around the canyon roads around La Jolla. That ride was a challenging one I was very tired, which there were a lot of stop and goes due to the traffic lights. Not to mention the 7700’ climbing as well.  I will remember that ride well as my mind kept taking me back what it would be like to live during the 50’s and Beach Boy days. My Dad spent some time here in The Marines in the 50s at Camp Pendleton, so was good to see some of his stomping grounds!


My next ride ride, I decided to take a trip up from our winter hideout in Mesa, AZ, up to Boulder City, NV to see a buddy of mine, Greg. I met a few Colorado riders a few years back in Nebraska, and have stayed in touch. Greg lives in Colorado most of the year, but heads home to Boulder City for the winter months. On the way up to Boulder City, I just had to stop near Kingman, AZ and ride some of route 66, the famous 50s and 60s!

I parked my truck at a truck stop, and decided to ride and “out and back” from there, which would be around 40 miles roundtrip. Great lunchtime ride, and was it ever! I started out on route 66, and they have the highway sign painted on the road, very excited at that point! The road is pretty rough, so if your ever riding this, come prepared with extra tubes, heavier tires, and your teeth rattling to the point of falling out, LOL! It was a beautiful winding road, with a pretty decent climb up to the top of the mountain, Sitgreaves Pass. One of my favorite sites along the way is the infamous “Cool Spring” gas stations. I was so excited when I saw this as I was unaware this place was here. The 50’s music was playing and all I could think about was the old convertible cars driving by, which I didn’t see any that day, bummer. I did stop to refill my water bottles here, definitely and must see. I kept on trekking up, as the climb was winding and the road was insight the whole way, I could see the top. Finally arriving at the top, I was able to find someone up there to snap a picture, which they were in bewilderment why anyone was riding a bicycle up this mountain! I didn’t stay long as I wanted to, but had to get back, but I was ear to ear grin the entire way.


I arrived in Boulder City, and found a small little hotel on the old highway downtown, which again, reminiscent of the 50’s hotels. Had a great time catching up with my buddy and we got a few rides in around Boulder City/Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. Boulder City has a designated bike path that circles the mountain between thee and Vegas, that’s 34 miles long. Great pathway to take, as you can see all of Vegas, Lake Mead, and Hoover Dam. Had another ride planned, but we decided not to go as the winds were blowing 30-40 mph.

Our winter time has ended in Mesa, AZ, so off we go for some more travelling. Our first stop was to spend a few days in Tucson, while on our way to New Mexico. Tucson is a great cycling area. Big mountains, some flats, nice little city with lots of culture and history. We found an RV park west of Tucson about 15 miles, which was pretty desolate out there, but great riding. My first ride was up thru Old Tucson and Tucson Mountain County Park, where there have been many of the Old Western movies filmed.  This was a pretty early am ride, as the winds were supposed to be 25-35 afternoon. All I can say is some epic views from the top. Not a long climb to the top, but short and steep, some 11-13% grades. This is a must 40 mile ride if you ever stop by Tucson.

I took a few days off due to the wind and ice predicted in the am, and finally got my chance at Mt. Lemmon. Mt. Lemmon is one of the top 10 toughest climbs in the US, so this was on my bucket list. From the point of least amount of traffic, its 29 miles to the top with about 6500 ft. climbing, with quite a few 6-8% grades!

Views of the valley below the entire way up!  I took off out of Tucson and caught up with a group of local guys that I asked if I could hang on their wheel. Was a little slower than I wanted to go, but I was able to get to know these guys, some great conversations, and learn more about Mt. Lemmon. They pointed out a few bike teams training on Mt. Lemmon along the way. This was a famous winter training ground for Lance Armstrong. I guess he would ride this in the am, come back and work with some local kids cancer programs, then head back up in the afternoon. That’s about 12 miles for the day and almost 14,000ft! The roads are great, super wide shoulders all the way up, many changing sceneries as the bottom is cactus and at the top you’re in the alpine area. Some very breath taking views. When you reach the very top, there’s a skiing village up there and some great little restaurants. Stop in for some famous breakfast, and then ride back down!



Next blog will be rides in New Mexico up to Cloudcroft, Billy the Kid highway by Ruidoso, White Sands to Las Cruces, and Santa Fe/Taos area! Stay tuned!

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