Scottsdale: Arizona’s hot spot for road cyclists

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Arizona has long been a destination for cyclists and triathletes hoping to escape winter temperatures and log quality road miles. Earlier this year, At Your Pace Freestyle Cycling Adventures announced a new guided tour that starts in Scottsdale and winds its way throughout Arizona’s Sonoran Desert region to help cyclists do just that. The tour averages 38 miles per day, with options to extend or reduce ride lengths depending on your mood and fitness level.

Here are 3 of our favorite Scottsdale rides:

 

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Bartlett Lake

Leaving from downtown Scottsdale, this  80-mile ride round trip offers a variety of options for shorter or longer rides. Cyclists are treated  to iconic desert scenery including the world famous Saguaro cactus, which is abundant, but also all the varieties of Sonoran flora such as mesquite and palo verde trees, creosote bush, and numerous cacti including the prickly ‘teddy bear cholla’ cactus, which should be avoided at all costs! It wouldn’t be unusual to see coyotes cross the road, or have red tail hawks overhead. It is even possible to see javelina (wild pigs), and eagles. The scenery will help take your mind of the strenuous climb required to come out of Bartlett Lake if you go all the way to the lake. Once you top out you will have nice long 20 mile mostly downhill ride back to Scottsdale center. At the marina, fill up on food and drinks!

Post ride tip: Visit the Buffalo Chip Saloon; especially on Sundays during football season! Go for the ambiance; it’s unique; the food is ok, too!

 

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Saguaro Lake and Usery Pass

Again, cyclists depart from central Scottsdale. This is a big ride that takes you out on the highway toward the White Mountains. The highway has a very wide shoulder and is commonly used by cyclists. The payoff comes with the gorgeous canyons route past Saguaro Lake and down along the Salt River to Usery Park, where you can choose to climb up along the park’s desert reserve landscape and into Mesa. After that, it’s an easy city ride back to Scottsdale with options to extend. Stops along the way are usual convenience stores.

Post ride tip: Head down to Tempe’s Mill Ave and get beers and burgers at one of many establishments; on Saturdays in the fall, home football games for Arizona State University make the place even more alive. Try Desert Roots Kitchen for something healthy – even gluten-free foods are on the menu here!

 

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South Mountain

This city ride through Scottsdale and Phoenix brings you to one of Phoenix’s largest city parks which also happens to offer a fantastic hill climb up to a view over the entire metro area where TV towers broadcast the world’s info. Once a month, on Sundays, the city closes the park to vehicle traffic, and this is an even better ride! The park, as big as it is, offers climbing and miles, literally, miles of park pavement to ride. From the entrance to San Juan point is 11 miles roundtrip.

Post ride tip: Stay in Phoenix and visit the Biltmore Fashion Square for some fun window shopping, or get a burger at Zinn Burger along with a draft from Four Peaks Brewing Company!

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