Road cyclists in Arizona are lucky to have one of the longest riding and racing seasons in the country. When Midwesterners are in their basements on their trainers, we’re out enjoying 75-degree weather and desert vistas. Sure, the summer is hot, but you just have to get out a little earlier in the day.
One of the best ways to enjoy road cycling in Arizona is with one of its many year-round group rides. Whether you’re a newbie looking to learn the skills and etiquette of pack riding, a seasoned racer getting in shape for the season, or even a visitor looking for some new faces to ride with while in town, there’s a group ride for you.
Tucson - Saturdays
Going hard for over 30 years, this is the granddaddy of Arizona group rides. In fact, it’s listed by Bicycling Magazine as one of the top rides in the country. Don’t be surprised to see pro teams, as many spend the winter in Arizona for the great weather, including local and visiting racers, often upwards of 100 riders. This ride is hard. Don’t let the easy pace at the start fool you. Once you cross Valencia on Mission, the hammer is dropped. Current start times and location here:
Goodyear – Saturdays
This route has open roads, good climbs, tough sprint points, two water stops, uncongested roads and little traffic. With A, B and C groups forming organically during the ride, and with distances from 40 to 60 miles, this is a ride for everyone. Vicki Young and David Herzog are great ride hosts, and the group as a whole is very friendly and welcoming to riders of all levels. Current start times and location here:
Tempe – Sundays
This ride starts at Landis Cyclery. As the ride heads out of Maricopa, it picks up riders, often numbering 50 or more. Once it hits Riggs, speeds go way up for a fast, flat ride to a sprint point. There is then a relaxed ride to a regroup at a nearby Circle K. If you still have the legs after that, many riders finish with a climb up South Mountain. As with many of these rides, start times get progressively earlier in the summer and later in the winter. Current start times and location here:
More Arizona cycling resources:
Ben Galloway is an amateur cyclist, former editorial cartoonist and father of eight living in Gilbert.