Ride Reports

The following are samples of ride reports by Northern AZ Randonneurs.

10/17/15 - Flagstaff to Valle 200k Brevet (RUSA Brevet 1816/Permanent #2550) (John Ingold)
San Francisco Peaks Scenic Road + Fall Colors at Altitude! (See Permanents page for subject ride details.) With only 3 riders and a mostly overcast day with light scattered showers, this ride included rich golden patches of the changing quaking aspen leaves along the western base of the San Francisco Peaks around 8,000 ft altitude. Patchy blue skies with occasional sun highlighted the ride out to Valle/Bedrock City along US-180 and the designated San Francisco Peaks Scenic Road that included Kendrick Park Wildlife Area and Red Mountain Volcano. Best of fall colors in N. AZ, complete with sightings of tarantulas moving about getting ready for winter.

8/19/15 - N. AZ Historic Roads 114k (Permanent #2290) (John Ingold)
Ride through history on quiet paved and dirt roads! (See Permanents page for subject ride details.) After recent riding on roads with high traffic and construction (with delays) I healed my cycling soul on this route with virtually no vehicles and no construction. It's one of my favorite routes in the region that starts oddly at the busy Bellemont Pilot Travel Center. You quickly detach from the hustle and bustle  when you immediately start by rolling down the first stretch of Old Route 66. This ride is wrapped around the historic aspects of the area roads, some of the first in the region, before railroads, and steeped in US travel lore for their pioneering of the West. It features the highest elevation along the entire Old Route 66 (7402 ft), several forest road sections overlapping the 1800's Beale Wagon Road (argueably America's first "interstate" road, 1200mi from CA to AR), and a section near Williams of the former Old Trails Hwy - the predecessor of Route 66. I saw a new small buffalo herd, numerous longhorn-cross breed cattle (thankfully more interested in grazing) in the open range and volcanic cinder cones of Government Prairie, and a huge flock of sheep grazing thru the forest and congregating around one of the many tanks (watering holes) on the route. After dipping into Williams to refuel, the route returns almost the entire way back to Bellemont via colorful sunflower and penstemon-lined stretches of Old Route 66 thru Parks where its a good point to hydrate at the historic Parks in the Pines General Store/Cafe. Road surfaces are about 50/50 older pavement and forest dirt-gravel. Speed records aren't the mission on this ride, but soaking up the rural forest and prairie and feeling the spirits of the pioneers. Best to ride on little higher volume tires due to the dirt-gravel stretches, 32mm+. I ride this with 50mm 29ers on my hardtail Fargo, which soothes out both the gravel and older pavement, but roll along fast enough to easily make the time limit.

7/8/15 - AZ High Country 400k - CCW Loop (Brevet #1688/Permanent #2548)  (John Ingold)
Soon to become a N. AZ summer classic! (See Permanents page for subject ride details.) I did the brevet pre-ride (also know as the "worker's ride" for brevet ride day volunteers to get ride credit) knowing that anything can happen during the monsoon season in N. Arizona. This is a mini-epic 252-mile loop ride with a 27 hour time limit and a bit over 10,000 feet climbing (per my on-bike Garmin GPS) between 5200-9400 foot elevations. Terrain variety is featured from the high desert of historic Holbrook as the route climbs to the forested Mogollon Rim towns of Heber, Overgaard, Show Low, Pinetop, and Lakeside. The climb from Show Low on the White Mountains Scenic Road up to the real high country (top road elevation 9407 feet) to the Mt. Baldy Wilderness and Big Lake Recreation Areas was at the height of alpine wildflower bloom. I also saw several elk grazing in the lush parks (AZ-speak for meadows) as the route rolls above 9,000 ft for about 25 miles. The highlight 7-mile, 2000-foot descent from the mountains towards Eagar-Springerville included switchbacks and critters crossing the road, so downhill patience to control speed in the dark was key (riding solo, chatting with folks at the controls, making ride notes, sitting out a few downpours, I hit this descent later than most riders are likely to pass this point). Thunderstorms rolled throughout the second half of the route from late afternoon to about 5 am the next morning as the terrain opened up to the high-altitude grasslands and desert, which rewarded 50-mile views of the oncoming lightning-punctuated storms. Since it is the wet season, many of the swales and draws between St. Johns and Holbrook were alive with raucous frog song (calls?) to serenade the rider through the final rolling hills. Even as a solo ride with weather delays, I was able to finish in 23 h 55 m, well within the 27 hour time limit, just in time for breakfast in Holbrook. Follow-up: The 7/18 ACP brevet had 7 riders, most up from Phoenix area to escape the heat. The majority of riders showed the spirit of randonneuring by working together against the wind and supporting each other during flat tires. Yes, there was some rain, but a 20+ mph tailwind between Springerville and St. John's helped power riders thru this 30-mile stretch. For pure N. AZ terrain variety and a climbing challenge over the 400k distance, this is soon to become a N. AZ classic, and in the future, likely to be scheduled somewhere outside the monsoon season (June or September).

5/1/15 - Riffleville 110k (Permanent #2709) (John Ingold)
Exploring N. AZ at its finest! (See Permanents page for subject ride details.) A fine mix of pavement and dirt roads from Williams around Bill Williams Mtn, downhill to Ash Fork, thru unique Riffleville (don't blink, you may miss it), then back to Williams via dirt roads and flagstone quarry and ranch country. The rolling dirt road sections were very quiet with bird song, some deer sitings, wildflowers, budding oaks and the return of the hummingbirds. Lots of water this time of year in the tanks (livestock watering holes) dotting the route. Lots of ducks and geese in the bit of water that is now Coleman Lake. I pushed the time limit (7h 14m time limit) on this ride by stopping frequently to take pics and take in the fresh smell of ponderosa and pinyon pines on the breeze. Only saw two ATVers on the mountain loop section and only three ranch trucks on the section from Riffleville back to Williams. The dirt road sections were typically well graded and rideable with larger volume tires (I rode 50mm hybrid tires on my Salsa Fargo for a very comfy ride). If you are looking to set any time records this is not the ride I would recommend - rolling dirt road sections are much slower than pavement with a couple short 10-15% grade areas. But, if looking for a classic N. AZ quiet and scenic ride (except the short I-40 section) this is it!

4/29/15 - Mormon Lake 100k (Permanent #2595) (John Ingold)
Spring has sprung along Lake Mary Road and the Mormon Lake Loop! (See Permanents page for subject ride details.)
This is a Flagstaff and regional classic lake country ride for cyclists. My ride was blessed with mild winds, blue skies, low-70s temps, and a break in the spring ritual of prescribed burns in the surrounding forest. The roll out of Flagstaff was relatively quiet before the Memorial Day traffic and summer campers. (Note: the "Northern Arizona Randonneurs" volunteer county Lake Mary Road cleanup signs are now posted at Mileposts 336 & 338!) Actually saw as many cyclists as vehicles - only one truck on the Lake Loop. Mormon Lake is getting a bit busier with visitors, but it was still fairly peaceful. For those who are familiar with the famous soft serve ice cream machine at the store, it has been retired, boo hoo. Wildflowers are starting to show up and with plenty of water in the lakes, birds are active. Enjoy.

4/9/15 - Mingus Mountain 200k (Permanent #2540)
(John Ingold)

All in all this ride was tough but well worth the world class views, funky Jerome and awesome Red Rocks! (See Permanents page for subject ride details.)
Hopefully, other randos will be interested in this ride as the scheduled May 16 200k ACP brevet (see brevet details on Calendar-2015 Rides page).

I rode this during a break in the N. Arizona spring winds.​ With almost 10,000 feet climbing in 200k, this ride may seem intimidating but actually there are no sustained grades greater than 6-7% making it a one-day epic worth the views. Breakfast near the Sedona start at the Coffee Pot Restaurant
​ (101 omlettes as advertised) fueled the start of the ride. Started in low 40 temps then dropped from Sedona Red Rocks on Dry Creek Scenic Road to quiet Page Springs and its bright green leaf buds and Oak Creek valley. Climbing started shortly thereafter at the Verde River when approaching Cottonwood. The "backroute" thru Cottonwood includes sections of the historic Old Jerome Hwy before the climb up to Jerome where a natural fuel stop is in order. The main climb is another 7 miles up and over the pine covered Mingus Mountain Scenic Road summit (7023 ft elevation, approximately 4000 ft climbing in the first 40 miles). This road has good pavement over and back but no shoulder.  Share the Road signs are posted, traffic was light, and all motorists were curteous and all passed with plenty of room. However, hugging the white line is a safe idea through the several switchbacks. A 20-mile downhill into the turnaround at Prescott Valley was a welcome and recharging rest for the legs. The climb back up and over the summit requires having some mojo left in the tank so a hearty fueling stop at the turnaround is recommended. Temps reached the comfortable low 70s. The return downhill is prolonged thru Jerome (watch out for some random-motion tourist traffic both on foot and vehicles thru town) into Cottonwood. The last stretch of climbing from Cornville to Sedona is deceiving. I had to take a break at the Red Rocks Ranger Station, about 13 miles from the end to rehydrate and snack before the final push. A thorough pre-ride servicing of brake pads and cables is recommended due to the mountain descents. A nice post-ride reward is available at the Oak Creek Brewery a block from the finish in Sedona to recharge with a tasty gourmet hot dog or brat and a refreshing beverage. Not a strong or light climber I was able to complete the ride in around 11 hours (13h 20m time limit) thanks to the well-earned long downhills and good pavement.