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Best Road Bike Ride Phoenix 2013 - South Mountain Summit Ride

You'll need thighs of steel (or at least a hell of a granny gear) to complete this ride in one push. With our middling level of fitness and bike gearing set more for speed on the flats, we can't reach the summit without frequent rest stops. Yet we go back again and again. Why? This hill is the toughest — and sweetest — challenge for road biking in Phoenix. Some compare it to a shorter version of the legendary Mount Verdoux (part of the Tour de France), in terms of both scenic beauty and heart-pounding exertion. From the Central Avenue park entrance, you'll climb grades of 5 percent to 8 percent for 5.5 miles to Dobbins Lookout; it's a little farther if you go to the TV towers. The smooth asphalt makes for an E-ticket descent with treacherous drop-offs, so make sure your steed is in good shape. Eleven or 12 miles is short for a road-bike ride; most locals do the summit trail as part of a longer adventure, such as the round-the-mountain ride on Riggs Road that will add at least 40 miles to the trip. We've done that several times but also enjoy biking to the entrance and just cranking the hill. For us, it's always a major workout — and always fun.

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