Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Biking from N. Phoenix to Casa Grande (sort of....) AZ March 8 & 9

March 8.....Cleveland Indians 4. San Diego Padres 4. Game was played at Peoria Sports Complex, a suburb of Phoenix, about 15 miles from our campground, so it was the perfect place to spend another lazy spring afternoon watching spring training. Since it was Saturday, the game was way more crowded than our previous game in Surprise, especially in the outfield grass, where we bought our eight dollar tickets for. There were kids everywhere and literally bus loads of college sorority girls from Flagstaff. Very few people even knew there was a game going on, as everyone was just enjoying the atmosphere and weather. We stayed in left center for a few innings then we walked over to some really good seats on the third base line, and spent the rest of the ten inning tie game, getting a much better view of the action on the field.

The outfield was a little crowded today

This score board isn't as fancy as the one in Surprise

Part way through the game we moved to the bleachers down the 3rd base line

Advertisement on the foul pole!

Flags of all the teams in the grapefruit league

Our seats

Pitchers walking to the bull pen

Final score - 4-4

March 9......79.48 miles in 6:22.... I intentionally decided to get through Phoenix on a Sunday, so I could avoid any traffic hassles, including trucks, once I got out of town. I could have spent a lot more time in Phoenix, because there is tons of things to do, but the campground was expensive, and the Sunday ride worked out very well. Some sections of the ride ( the trails), really didn't make any difference when I rode, but I had one stretch right along the airport, and a stretch through Tempe, that could gave been a real hazardous pain in the butt.
I got a pretty early start in the beautiful, warm, morning weather, and only rode a few miles of traffic free roads, before being directed onto the main bike route trails through Phoenix. I depended on my girl on the Maps app GPS on my phone, and we had some disagreements as the day went along, but I think I figured out what she was trying to do to me, and I am slowly figuring out her way of speaking. We ought to get along better now that I know her better, but today she was trying my patience. The first scene she created was when she tried to get me onto the bike path. I finally got there, and followed the Skunk Creek Bike Trail along a big empty canal, to the Arizona Canal, which was filled to the brim, and flowing quickly. The trail was beautiful, with an east trail on one side of the empty canal, a central trail, between the two canals that were now running parallel to each other, and a west trail, on the other side of the water filled canal. Three trails and two canals running parallel! A very unique layout. Also very confusing for my GPS girl when she's telling me to make a right turn, or a left turn, and I'm on the middle trail. Only one of the three trails had a tunnel that went under the many crossing roads, and we had quite a conversation about how to get on the proper trail. Anyhow, it worked out so I could go under the crossing roads, and it was all a great way to get through a busy city. I never saw downtown Phoenix, even though I think I was real close. Other bikers, walkers, and dog walkers were using the trails, and it was very clean with no graffiti or homeless people hanging about. The scenery was minimal because of the cinder block walls that surround every residential area and a lot of the businesses. I got off the Arizona Canal Trail way before I wanted to, and the path of travel directed me on to another intersecting trail. I think it was called the Grant Canal Trail, and it was an entirely different ball game. The trail became a narrower, one lane trail, and it  only had tunnels under a couple of freeways, with all the other road crossings requiring me to stop and look. Fortunately, traffic was very light, and crossing was no problem....on a weekday that may have been a different story. Also, the neighborhood became much less savory. Graffiti now covered the cinder block walls, shopping carts and other junk appeared in the shallower water, and broken glass made the trail an obstacle course. This trail spit me out very close to the Phoenix Airport, called Sky Harbor, and I rode for quite a while along a road that was calm, but it looked like it had potential to be very busy. Once again, it still had a bike lane, like most if the roads I have been on in Phoenix. I rode parallel with the Phoenix Mass Transit train, past many businesses and industrial properties that were, fortunately, closed on Sunday.
I traveled a frontage road along the 101 loop road, a major artery around Phoenix, and the 202, another crazy road, and they were both on their best Sunday behavior. This frontage road  and some other roads brought me to the Tempe area. I came across a big river, or lake, which was bordered by the Tempe Beach Park, a beautiful place that was crowded with a huge Aloha Festival going on. It was very tempting to stop and check it out, but I was way too early in my ride. It was right next to a downtown looking area that was between the park, and Arizona State University. The place was really hopping for a Sunday morning. When I got to ASU, I took a detour and checked out some of the campus. What a beautiful place. As a matter of fact, Tempe seemed to be very nice everywhere I looked, a place that we might have to check out if we ever come this way again. Some residential roads then led me to Chandler, another city/suburb, on the southeast end of the metro area. Chandler seemed to go on and on with huge corporate headquarters, high tech industries, and upscale residential plans. Many places had lakes, waterfalls, and all other sorts of water features. I was surprised by this, with the water shortages, droughts, and the fact that I thought we were in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Many places had disclaimer signs explaining how the bodies of water were actually saving water usage, but there was a lot of beautiful green grass and eccentric landscaping. Very nice, but all I hear about is the water shortage, so who knows....
Forty five miles into my ride, I finally found the end of the Phoenix Metro area. The wind had been picking up during my ride, but my fresh legs and wandering eyes kept me from paying it much mind. Right out of town, I picked up AZ 87, which would take me the rest of the way to my destination, or so I thought. The road and shoulder was nice enough, but the wind became a direct hit, and built up steadily, right in my face. I traveled through a very flat stretch, very monotonous, through the Gila River Indian Reservation. There were some interesting landmarks, which I took pictures of, but the wind was beginning to beat me down. Towards the end of the trip, I was down in my aerobars going 8-9 mph. Ouch! As I have noticed on other reservations, the dogs were running wild, and two came into the road to challenge me. I had been carrying my bear spray on my handle bars, but not today. That won't happen again, believe me. I would have drawn it on both those 'friendly' pit bull type dogs that could have chewed me up, but didn't. Thank God. Bear spray will be my constant companion from now on. As I got further into the ride, dust clouds were blowing and the wind must have been blowing 15-20 mph, straight on, when my GPS girl added her final insult. She told me to turn on a dirt road, which I knew might happen, but the washboard bouncing was only exceeded by the sandy, tire eating sandy soil that constantly threatened to slide the tires out from underneath me, and always slowed me down and was like riding on a beach. Just what my legs wanted, but at least I was now heading west, and the strong wind was no longer a direct hit, but was whistling through my left ear hole. This went on for 6-8 miles, before I found pavement again. The pavement was near the town of Coolidge, not Casa Grande, where I thought I was going, but it took me right to the RV park that Pam had found, ten miles from the nearest town. I will go through Casa Grande on the way to the next destination, the Organ Pipe National Monument, which will have lots of stories to tell. 
Pam cooked up steaks and a great meal to refuel me. The wind and dirt roads through the cotton fields and hay fields of the area  put my legs through a great workout, and they were tired. I have been blessed with so much tail wind, or calm, that I haven't had one of these days for a while. And that damn GPS girl.......

More cactus arms than we've ever seen on a Saguaro!

Reassuring sign in Phoenix

Empty side of the Arizona Canal

Full side of the Arizona Canal

Trail down the middle of the canals

Trash in Grant Canal

Grant Canal Trail

Lots of graffiti along Grant Canal

I hope they don't drink out of this canal!!!

Phoenix sky train near the airport

Tempe Lake

Aloha Festival on the bank near downtown Tempe

Entrance to ASU

Lush housing plan in Tempe

Gila River Reservation

Catholic mission on the reservation

Stone tepee on the reservation

Purple and yellow flowers in the desert

Riding down the shoulder of I-8

The GPS put Mike on this dirt road

Wind picking up dust clouds

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