Cycle: PISS and CRAP Routes from Tempe to Scottsdale

Both the PISS and CRAP rides start and finish at Tempe Town Lake Beach Park, one of the few spots along either ride that has...facilities.
Both the PISS and CRAP rides start and finish at Tempe Town Lake Beach Park, one of the few spots along either ride that has...facilities.
photo by Jason Franz

One of the great things about the many Phoenix area bike routes is that there is always a ride whenever you get the urge. You know, the urge.

Based on their names, two of the more popular routes in town - PISS and CRAP - have taken this, ahem, sensation to heart more than others. One is a slightly more challenging route that incorporates various sections of other Cycle routes, the other is an easy social crawl along one of Scottsdale most famous pathways. And both start at the same spot: Tempe Town Lake Beach Park.


The PISS Route is a popular training route for many cyclists that runs around both Camelback and Mummy Mountains. The acronym essentially stands for "Pedal Instead of Standing Still" but it's also been referred to "Phoenix Into South Scottsdale."

AzFixed, a local fixed-gear bike crew, leads a whole mess of different PISS rides each week (including a weekly Wednesday night run), often varying the route to include some off road, a.k.a. "Dirty PISS." The 28-mile loop follows a counter-clockwise direction through Arcadia and around the two iconic Phoenix mountains before heading back along 68th Street through Scottsdale and back into Tempe.

Papago Park's Hole-In-The-Rock has been known to receive many a person's "mark".
Papago Park's Hole-In-The-Rock has been known to receive many a person's "mark".
photo by Jason Franz

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The PISS ride takes cyclists past some of the Valley's more prominent landmarks including Hole-In-The-Rock in Papago Park, Arizona Falls at 54th Street and Indian School Road, and Cholla Lane Trailhead on Camelback Mountain. Much of this route, especially through Arcadia and Paradise Valley, is marked by the mysterious arrows - orange colored along this ride (odd that a shade of yellow was not selected).

REAL DEAL BIKE TIP #12: Know your watering holes, especially as the heat begins to creep back in. It really is possible to ride year-round here, but it is vital to always remain properly hydrated. Convenience stores are not necessarily always that convenient, especially going out to the edge of town or even in the heart around Paradise Valley and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. And never be afraid to hit a local resort's ice machine. Those things are worth their weight in gold when the temps hit triple digits.

If you're on the backside of Mummy Mountain and get the need to go, find a bush and enjoy the view.
If you're on the backside of Mummy Mountain and get the need to go, find a bush and enjoy the view.
photo by Jason Franz

This actually is a good ride that can provide a workout as tough as the cyclist wants with some solid little climbs and hills. If pushing a good tempo, the loop could be completed in a little more than 90 minutes

CRAP stands for Car Resistance Action party (which really just sounds like a bad excuse to call it a "CRAP Ride") and has historically been run on Tuesday nights. The ride first started in 2006 as a social bike crawl from Tempe Town Lake along the Greenbelt to the Old Town Scottsdale area where drinks are had, typically at the Orange Table in the Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza or Papago Brewing.

The ride then either returns back along the Greenbelt path or cuts back through Scottsdale along other roads. All in all, it's a very low-key twelve to fifteen mile ride.

It's fitting that the CRAP ride goes behind Arizona's largest flushing apparatus, Big Surf.
It's fitting that the CRAP ride goes behind Arizona's largest flushing apparatus, Big Surf.
photo by Jason Franz

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