Cycle: Mystery of the Green Arrows Solved!

Back in April, Cycle presented the mysterious appearance of green and orange arrows along common and popular bike routes throughout Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe.

The greater bike community was not aware of who put these arrows out there, and what the specific, complete route was. Until now.

After extensive investigation, the Cycle I-team (of one) discovered that the group behind the arrows was directly tied to what appeared to be the starting point of the route -- the United Blood Services offices on Oak Street, just west of 68th Street in Phoenix.

We can now not only close the file on this mystery, but lay out the entire marked route as originally intended. Attention pedal pushers: here's when you can ride this inventive route as an organized ride in the coming year...

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As Cycle reported in April, these arrows marked turns and directional headings along widely popular road routes that roll through such bike friendly neighborhoods as Arcadia, Paradise Hills, McCormick Ranch, Papago Park and Mitchell Park. The arrows were appearing in two distinct colors: green and orange.

These arrows were placed to mark the route of a fairly new organized ride put together by the United Blood Services and the Los Freeloaders Bike Club. The Tour de Hero held its second annual race back in January and the directionals were still holding fresh through the spring.

Today, the green arrows look to have mostly disappeared but the orange are holding strong, even though event organizers say they used a temporary chalk spray to mark the route.

"We presented to the City of Scottsdale what we were using and where we wanted to mark, and we received their consent," said Sue Thew, spokesperson for the United Blood Services.

The two colors indicated rides at two distances: 62 miles, a.k.a. a metric century, and 31 miles. As riders pull out of the United Blood Services parking lot, the first orange arrow is marked with a "31", and sends cyclists to the northern end of the route. After completing the initial 31-mile circuit, the green arrows take the metric centurions around the southern loop through Mesa and Tempe.

The Tour de Hero is a community ride intended to raise awareness about the need for blood donors during January, which has been designated National Volunteer Blood Donor Month. The inaugural ride attracted 43 cyclists despite some rainy weather, and the second edition increased to 223. The group hopes to build on those numbers for 2012.

Cyclists follow along the arrow marked route of the 2011 Tour de Hero.
Cyclists follow along the arrow marked route of the 2011 Tour de Hero.
photo courtesy of United Blood Services

The ride's intention is to bring in people to donate blood. Registration fees are discounted or waived based on the number of donors a rider can bring in. If riders can recruit 15 donors, they get free event registration and a free event bike jersey.

"Our intention is to increase the number of blood donors during the busiest blood draw month of the year," said Thew. "Not everyone can give blood and that's what makes this ride so great. Anyone can have a huge impact on hospital patients."

The route was selected by the Los Freeloaders Bike Club, a local group of cyclists who would ride on weekends and before work. One of the club's members, Sally Borg, works for United Blood Services and looked to get some support from her employer.

"We started the club as social riders and we wanted to get some team jerseys," said Borg. "I thought to ask United Blood Services and they were very generous to help us out, letting us live up to our club name of Freeloaders."

The club now acts as the logistical organizers of the Tour de Hero. They selected this course because it fits those who want to go fast with a challenge as well as those who just want an easy  ride around town.

Registration for the 2012 Tour de Hero opens Oct. 11. For more information, visit the Tour de Hero website.

Mystery Arrow/Tour de Hero Metric Century Route
Trip Distance: 60+ miles
Trip Duration: Depending on pace, three to four-plus hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. No overly challenging terrain (although there's a few fun hills through Paradise Valley), but the distance is good.
Route Map:

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