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BEST LONG ROAD BIKE RIDE Phoenix 2007 - Around South Mountain

This route keeps us in the saddle much longer than we'd like, but it's probably a two-hour ride for the hardest of bicycle butts. Where you start depends on where you live, but we do the loop clockwise, finding Maricopa Road from the East Valley. However you get there, you should eventually find yourself on Riggs Road/Beltline Road, a wind-blown dusty highway on the Gila River Indian Community way to the south of South Mountain. Fifty-first Avenue is the loop's western edge. Just after Beltline bends north is a Texaco store good for drinks and snacks. Sometimes, it stocks flat-repair kits, but don't count on it.

About half the time, we'll finish this ride by taking Dobbins Road to South Mountain Park's Central Avenue entrance and steaming up to the radio towers before heading home. We love the winding summit road because it's hard, and there's nothing like the burn we get from doing it after the round-the-mountain ride. Of course, free-spinning down the hill is one of life's greatest joys. From our home, this is about a 50-miler — enough to justify a couple of 44-ounce drinks and a long nap.

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