Adventure #10: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling . . .

Here’s the first installment of my Top 10 Adventures (of the past year and a half) countdown. I’m going to cheat a little bit on some of these, so consider yourself forewarned. #10 is actually multiple adventures packed into one category: bike ridin’!

Those of you who know me know that I ride my bike pretty frequently. My commute to the ASU campus is about 9.5 miles one way. Some semesters I do that 5 days a week and easily rack up 1200-1500 miles in a semester. Other semesters my schedule is more condensed and I only bike 50 miles per week.

After my Bike Friday was demolished in a hit-and-run accident in November 2011, I used Mike’s for a while but finally decided to get a new bike in February 2012. My new ride is a Surly Long Haul Trucker —  a well-respected bike among the touring crowd. I love it. As of today, since I got my bike computer at the beginning of March 2012, I have put 3494.5 miles on her.

Aside from my regular commutes, my LHT saw some more varied terrain in the past year and a half. She went to RAGBRAI XL, central Arizona, South Mountain, Tucson, and Frank Elementary School. RAGBRAI came first.

RAGBRAI XL, for those of you who don’t know, was the 40th year of the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, and it covered 471 miles of the Hawkeye state. It was my 8th RAGBRAI, and I pedaled it with Mike and my dad. Although I thought I was in decent biking shape from all of my commuting, this was one of the hardest RAGBRAIs for me. With temps in the 100s, strong head winds, and long days, it was all I could do to make it to the overnight towns most of the week. As exhausted as we were, we didn’t do as much partying as I had hoped to do along the way. Since it wasn’t as exciting as years past, it might take a little longer for me to hear the siren song of Iowa again, but I’m sure I’ll be back for more RAGBRAIs in the future. I’m more likely to go if a larger cohort of friends and family join in, so let me know if you have a hankering for some homemade Iowa pies hard-earned with miles under your belt.

Mike, Dad, and I at the start after 3 hours of sleep

Mike, Dad, and I at the start after 3 hours of sleep

Pretty scenery along the way

Pretty scenery along the way

A cool bike sculpture built by an Iowa farmer

A cool bike sculpture built by an Iowa farmer

Team Shagbrai's bus

Team Shagbrai’s bus

One of the full-to-bursting sag wagons

One of the full-to-bursting sag wagons

The route went through the Czech Village outside of Des Moines

The route went through the Czech Village outside of Cedar Rapids

Slip 'n' Slides were popular on the hot days of RAGBRAI XL

Slip ‘n’ Slides were popular on the hot days of RAGBRAI XL

Since we finished every grueling mile, Mike and I dipped our bike tires in the mighty Mississippi at the end of day 7

Since we finished every grueling mile, Mike and I dipped our bike tires in the mighty Mississippi at the end of day 7

Back in Arizona in fall 2012, I felt the need to share my love of bicycle touring with others, so I devised a plan to rope some unsuspecting ASU Outdoors Club members into a weekend central Arizona tour. Mike and I convinced 3 AOCers to join us, so we loaded up our Pontiac Vibe with 5 bikes and 5 people for a 2-day tour. It turns out I did not research the route as well as I should have because we encountered an unpaved, horribly sandy road about 10 miles into our first day. With the help of GPS, we modified the route and only had to travel a few miles on the awful “road.” On the upside, the snafu made the tour seem like the kind of thing we would encounter in South America and added to the adventurousness of our trip. We continued on, heading toward Jerome, AZ. Jerome is an old mining town on the side of a mountain, and it’s said to have lots of ghosts. We didn’t have time to visit any haunted houses or anything, but we did enjoy the  picturesque little town. It also had great views since we had to climb a few thousand vertical feet to get there. Though it was dinner time when we arrived, we had to keep climbing to reach our campsite for the night. In fact, we probably rode for an hour after dark before we finally found a good spot on the side of the road to pitch our tents. Despite the super hot daytime temps, it got pretty chilly on that mountain at night. On day 2 we biked the rest of the way up Mingus Mountain to a height of 7023 feet and then had a long, long descent. After a day of biking, we made it back to our starting point in Camp Verde only to discover that someone had removed one of our tires as a prank. Luckily it was only 50 feet away, but we had to borrow someone else’s jack in order to put it back on. In the end, we traveled a mere 93 miles on our 2-day tour, but we climbed over 5800 vertical feet! To see the route profile, visit my MapMyRide page for our tour.

In this picture you can get some sense of how steep the road to Jerome is since you can see the next switchback above us.

In this picture you can get some sense of how steep the road to Jerome is since you can see the next switchback above us.

Oh yeah, we're bad-asses.

Oh yeah, we’re bad-asses.

These grasshoppers were all over the road on day two of our tour.

These grasshoppers were all over the road on day two of our tour.

After 2 days of biking this is our reward??!?

After 2 days of biking this is our reward??!?

One day in February Mike and I got another AOCer to do a hike and bike with us at nearby South Mountain. South Mountain is the largest municipal park in the country, and it’s just a few miles from our house. We biked 10 miles to a relatively remote area of the park, locked up our bikes, hiked an 8-mile loop, and then biked 10 miles back home. It wasn’t a super crazy adventure, but it was a great reminder that there are good recreational opportunities close by.

It was a little chilly for our South Mountain bike ride.

It was a little chilly for our South Mountain bike ride.

In March we rode the Tucson Tour de Cure with several other people from the AOC. The Tour de Cure is a charity ride to support diabetes research, and every member of our team raised at least $150 to participate. Thanks again to all of you who donated! Anyway, we biked a lovely 60-mile route with a couple of really long hills. It was a gorgeous day for the ride.

The Tour de Cure route was pretty scenic once we got out of the city traffic.

The Tour de Cure route was pretty scenic once we got out of the city traffic.

The AOC crew, posing for our post-ride victory shot

The AOC crew, posing for our post-ride victory shot

My last noteworthy bike adventure was also the shortest. Just a week ago I participated in a charity event called Ride for Reading. Book donations are collected ahead of time, and volunteers go by bicycle to pick up the books from a local bike shop and deliver them to underprivileged school kids. The event is meant to promote both reading and healthy, active lifestyles. The local version of the ride saw approximately 50 volunteers load up their bike baskets and trailers for a short 2.5 mile ride down the road to Frank Elementary School. The kids were lined up along the school fence to greet our bike parade. After some announcements from the principal and the Ride for Reading event organizer among us, the kids each got to come choose a book to take home with them. They were so excited about it that it made my day. I don’t know quite how things go down, but it might be worth looking into how to organize an event where you live!

The kids at Frank Elementary were very excited to choose a free book delivered to them by volunteers on bikes.

The kids at Frank Elementary were very excited to choose a free book delivered to them by volunteers on bikes.

With any luck, my upcoming summer adventure will feature some biking as well. In addition, my father-out-law always participates in the annual Ride for Roswell charity event. This event raises funds for cancer research, and Bernie does a good job of raising lots of money every year. If you’d like to support him, visit his fundraising page.

You just lucked out with a 5-for-1 Top 10 Adventures post. Come back in a few more days to discover what adventure made it to the #9 spot. In the meantime, may the 2-wheeled adventures continue!

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