September is not just the time where Valley denizens embrace the gradual cooling of evenings and mornings and begin cracking windows for a wee bit of fresh air any chance they can. September also means that the fall cycling season is just around the corner and it's time for legs and bikes to get tuned up.
This year's fall season is shaping to be a doozy with October featuring five prestige events so great the Cycle Social Committee (of one) has changed the name of the month to "Bike-tober."
That's right, two-wheeled machines of all shapes and sizes are set to take over roads, trails, paths and parks throughout the Valley to celebrate all things bikes. So use these next few weeks for some solid training, or just enjoy these sub-triple digit temps while on a glorious early autumn ride.
The fall kicks off with Pedalcraft: Volume 2 on Sept. 28, followed by events all week long leading up to the return of Tour de Fat on Oct. 6 at Tempe Beach Park. Pedalcraft is an exhibition fusing bikes, art and community and features original posters and other bike-oriented artwork at the Kitchen Sink Studios Gallery in downtown Phoenix. The evening will include a lecture and book signing by renowned bike advocate Grant Peterson.
The week continues with nightly pub crawls and bike rides around Tempe and Phoenix, including movie nights at FilmBar (Oct. 1) and Madcap Theatre (Oct. 5). The shenanigans culminate with the thick rubber celebration know as Tour de Fat, this year featuring a headline concert by DeVotchKa.
The Arizona Cyclocross season also kicks off the first weekend of Bike-tober on Oct. 6 up in Flagstaff. Cyclocross is a cross of road racing and mountain biking as rider mount rigid road frames with thicker knobby tired and bound across parks, hills and sand usually hoping for a bit of mud or frost to make it truly feel like fall. AZCross brings the first Valley race to Mesa with the Crossroads Night Ripper on Oct. 20. The season will track an overall points leader and offers prizes for top finishers at each race, with all bragging rights sewn up at the Cyclocross State Championships in Gilbert on Dec. 16.
For those looking to hit the dirt in a different way, the folks at Red Rock Racing are bringing back theFour Peaks Urban Dirt Triathlon
to Tempe Town Lake and Papago Park onOct. 7
. As they declare, it's time to "forget your skinny tires and aero helmets folks, this is a mountain bike triathlon" that ends with a famous slip and slide finish line. Last year,Lance Armstrong swooped into town to claim first place
One of the state's most popular road races returns to DC Ranch in North Scottsdale with the Tour de Scottsdale on Oct. 14. This 70-mile route drives north to Cave Creek before dropping down Nine Mile Hill to Rio Verde and through Fountain Hills before rolling back up to DC Ranch for a ride that features nearly 3,000 feet in elevation gain. A 30 mile route is also offered for those looking for a shorter conquest. Entry fees are $100 with some proceeds benefitting the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.
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If 70 miles just isn't enough, the Faster Grando Fondo may be the ride for you, wrapping Bike-tober on Oct. 27. Covering 100 miles along most of the same route as the Tour de Scottsdale (with the exception of a couple of added hills to climb to account for the extra mileage), the Faster Grand Fondo is the area's first foray into the world of grand fondo rides. A European cycling tradition sometimes referred to as a cyclosportif, a grand fondo is a long, often challenging organized ride for a large group that rolls through scenic terrain at a competitive but not racing pace.
Faster, one of Scottsdale's newest bike shops that is more than a bike shop (they also have extensive training and fitting facilities including the nation's first bike-specific wind tunnel), created this grand fondo to be "challenging and supported bike ride." Certain climbs will be timed with King and Queen of the Mountain prizes on offer. Former cycling pro and current NBC Sports commentator Bob Roll will be the ride's grand marshal and guest rider. Entry for the 100 mile course (a 55 mile option is also offered) starts at $99.99 and includes a ride jersey and water bottles.
It's time to get riding because Bike-tober is coming.