Ah, Mother Nature, she can be such a fickle lady.
No Arizona cyclist wants to spend their riding hours indoors, either spinning miles on a trainer or lounging lazily on the couch. So when the calendar turned to 2013 and the temperatures turned bitter cold, only to grow amazingly warm before bring torrential rains, excuse us cyclists when we became a bit schizophrenic.
Good weather or not, February is now upon us and brings with it a packed schedule of bike events. The breaking-in period of all those holiday gifts is over. It's time to turn some pedals in anger ... or joy.
The Tempe Bicycle Action Group, otherwise affectionately known around these parts as TBAG, kicks the month off in high style with a full-day of cycling fun across two of their signature annual events. The morning starts with the Winter Games and bike swap meet at Boulders on Broadway in Tempe. The swap meet is the place to find some swingin' deals on gear, from 9 a.m. to noon. The Winter Games then commence at noon with classic competitions including the time honored brutal tradition of princess bike death races, slow ride races, figure 8 races and more. Boulders will be offering brunch, lunch and all-day happy hour specials to all participants.
After a day of heavy gladiator-like competition, TBAG classes things up that evening for the annual Tweed Ride, a highly dressed up yet casual ride to some of Tempe's favorite bike-friendly public houses. The group gathers at Tempe Beach Park at 7:30 p.m. for a quick photo op before taking their houndstooth, knickers and pipes out for an evening promenade through town at 7:45. For more information, check out the TBAG Facebook page.
If games and gussying up is simply not fast enough for you, the Sun Devil Classic criterium race also happens the morning of Feb. 9. The race runs a small loop at the north end of the ASU Research Park in south Tempe, just off of Elliott Road. Men's women's and junior's race categories will be offered throughout the day with over $9,000 in cash and prizes offered for category 4 races and higher. Entry fees are $10 for juniors and collegiate races, $30 for all others.
The riding kicks up a big notch the following weekend, anchored by Arizona's great multi-day road race, the John Earley Memorial Valley of the Sun Stage Race. This race pulls many top up-and-comers and regional pros, and has featured US Olympians such as Tyler Farrar and last year's women's race champion Evelyn Stevens. The three-day competition comprises an individual time trial on Feb. 15 near Buckeye, a road race on Feb. 16 near Casa Grande, and a criterium race around Wesley Bolen Plaza in Phoenix on Feb. 17. The race is just for pros and features classifications for all levels of racers with registration closing on Feb. 10. Even if you're not a racer, this is a great race to go watch, especially the Sunday crit.
If these other events don't have enough gnar for you, head south to Oracle for the weekend of Feb. 15-17 for one of the country's largest 24-hour mountain bike races, the epic 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. In what has now become a legendary event, Old Pueblo is now in its 14th year and features what has become known as one of the greatest race villages throughout the year. More than 3,500 people descend on a small patch of desert just north of Tucson for this race that rolls over some of the state's very finest singletrack. Registration has long been closed, but if you want to join the party, ring some cowbells and see who survives the rock drop at the end of each loop, then grab your tent and head on down.
For a more relaxed weekend ride, join in on the new social crawl through the Arcadia area with Arcadia Crews and their 80's Neon Ride on Feb. 16. The ride will start off at 9 a.m. at s.e.e.d. café in the new spin and yoga center Madison Improvement Club at Indian School Road and 38th Street. The cruise will head east to Milagro Grill and then finishing at O.H.S.O. Brewery around 1 p.m. And don't forget to break out the day-glo clothes, Vans loafers and Thompson Twins tapes to rock in the Walkman as you roll down the road.
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Speaking of O.H.S.O., the Cycle Club Team (of one) wants to give this new establishment its very highest post-ride rating of 10 cogs as the place to hit after that weekend morning spin. No matter how hard or long you go, O.H.S.O. has become the go-to place for cyclists. Sure, they offer the now famous weekend brunch menu of tasty $10 items that INCLUDE a beer or mimosa. But they also have plenty of bike rack space and free bike locks for those in need. Couple that with ample bike décor and a patio that feels like it's a stone's throw from the ocean and O.H.S.O. will become every cyclist's destination, we promise.