Bicycle Culture

Cycle: A Weekly Guide to Biking Through Phoenix

Jackalopes can ride bikes, right? (Given the temperature, they should be able to ... ) This week, we're introducing Cycle, a weekly feature where our own fanatic, Jason Franz, will tell tales of rides and routes, and cycling dos and don'ts, as he spins pedals across what Bicycling Magazine calls the 15th best bike city in America.

Forget those four wretched months of oppressive heat -- Phoenix is an ideal place to be a cyclist (of any kind) for a few reasons. I'll start with two:

1. It's really flat.

It's so flat, singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens remarked at his recent concert in Mesa that all you need is a step ladder to have the perspective of god. But Phoenix is also surrounded by mountains that offer some nicely challenging rides for any skill level.

2. There's easy access to virtually any kind of cycling -- mountain, road, easy, hard, and with groups or on your own. From the Scottsdale Green Belt to Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Phoenix has virtually hundreds of miles of bike-able routes all over town.

So let's get started. What's Cycle all about and where is Franz going first? Check it out after the break ...

What do I know about cycling? Well, I ride ... a lot, and I dabble in a few races along the way. I ride with my family, with friends, with strangers I meet on the road, and all alone. And while there's definitely an amount of sprawl that laces rows of foreclosed stucco boxes, there are also a ton of funky details to this city that make any ride interesting.

So, why do I ride? I ride...
• For fun.
• For therapy.
• To go fast.
• To go slow.
• To take my son to school.
• To get to work.
• To get lost.
• To find new things...
• And to return to old favorites.
• Because it's a good excuse to shave my legs (I prefer them that way; it feels goooood).
• Because it teaches me the true meaning of WWJD. (I'm talking Jens.)
• So I can think.
• To get there...
• And then get back home again.
• Because I like to go up...
• Because the way down is even better.
• So I can say I'm a multimodalist with some modicum of authority.
• Because bike stuff looks cool.
• Because I'm a fan.
• To be a part of a community.
• To improve my community.
• Because a bike costs about as much as a set of golf clubs and there's never a greens fee.
• To vent.
• To be at peace.
• Because I can.

So, why do you ride? If you don't, why not? If you think you can't, tell that to him, her, or them.

Next week, Cycle will kick off with a ride for everyone through the heart of Arcadia that will help burn off those extra Thanksgiving servings of mashed potatoes and gravy and take you past some iconic Phoenix/Scottsdale structures along the way.

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Jason Franz
Contact: Jason Franz