Check out Arizona getting the jump on the rest of the country. Beginning April 1, many municipalities throughout the Valley will be celebrating Bike Month, 30 days earlier than most of the other 49 states.
Granted, most Valley denizens will spend May seeking shelter in swimming pools or in air-conditioned holes as triple digits veer our way, so enjoying our greatest weather month while on two wheels is pretty fantastic. And with a plethora of rides, races, clinics and movies offered across the region for our enjoyment, the month of April won't last long enough, as far as we here at Cycle are concerned.
Valley Bike Month, sponsored by your local mass transit authority Valley Metro, kicks off on April 5 and 6 with the Great Arizona Bicycle Festival, highlighted by the Mayo Clinic El Tour Criterium and El Tour de Mesa. All festival events are based right in the heart of downtown Mesa and include live music, arts fair, custom bike competition, kids' safety instruction and riding areas, and a ciclovia.
The first weekend in April is capped on April 7 by the Tour de Tempe, a 10-mile family-friendly cruise through central Tempe. The ride is an out-and-back that kicks off from Kiwanis Park at 9 a.m. and rolls north along College Ave. to the ASU campus before working through some of the town's historic neighborhoods en route to the Tempe Town Lake Marina. Free T-shirts will be given to the first 1,000 riders who sign in, beginning at 7:30 a.m.
If your legs need a break from all of the early riding, don't forget that the world's greatest professional cycling race, Paris Roubaix, takes place on April 7. Fix up a batch of waffles and pop a Chimay in honor of the warriors combating the cobbles. Live coverage on NBC Sports (DirecTV 220, Cox 69) begins at 5 a.m.
April's second weekend kicks off with a family ride in Chandler and an arts ride in Scottsdale on April 13. The Chandler Family Bike Ride is a flat 7.4 mile spin along the Paseo Trail starting at Tumbleweed Park and making the turn at Crossbow Park. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with wheels out at 9. You can pre-register on the event site and if you are among the first 100 you will get yourself another free t-shirt.
The 8th Annual Cycle the Arts ride, hosted by Scottsdale Public Art, offers two ride options for 2013. The first is a 6.2 mile loop through town with stops at various public art pieces including Michael Maglich's Horseshoe Falls and an IN FLUX temporary installation & performance piece by Rachel Bowditch. The second option builds on the first loop by adding another 8 miles by heading to the Tempe Transportation Center to hop on the light rail to Roosevelt Ave. in Phoenix for Feast on the Street. All rides begin from the Scottsdale Cultural Council office complex in the Scottsdale Civic Center park at 10 a.m. and cyclists will receive a seeded map of the route custom made by local artist Matthew Moore.
Saturday finishes with a special big screen showing of one of the great bike movies of all time, Pee Wee's Big Adventure at Pollack Tempe Cinemas at McClintock Blvd. and Elliott Rd. Tickets are $11 but special combo packages are also available starting at $20 that offer food and special poster prints.
Glendale and Phoenix get their turn on April 14. Westsiders can pedal about at the Glendale Family Bike Ride along either 6 or 15 mile routes through Glendale's neighborhoods. Glendale is also offering free shirts to the first 500 registrants who check in between 7 and 9 a.m. at Sahuaro Ranch Park. The ride will officially launch at 8 and requires helmets. If you are helmetless, don't despair as the city will have $10 lids available for purchase.
Valley Metro finally gets to throw their own party with Bike to the Ballpark, a quick 3.5 mile jaunt from Steele Indian Park to Chase Field in time to catch the Diamondbacks take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in you are so inclined. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Diamondbacks organist Bobby Freeman will lead the pack down the road under police escort. All ballgame tickets sold from the ride will provide a donation to Valley Metro from the Diamondbacks.
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If you've ever wondered if you could pull off a bike commute to work or just want an excuse to show up to the office a little sweatier than normal, take advantage of April 17 as it is Valley Bike to Work and School Day. Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale are holding special events to commemorate the day, each offering various contests and incentives including, you guessed it, free t-shirts.
Bike Month wraps with the 32nd Annual ABC Desert Classic rides, presented by the Arizona Bicycle Club. With ride lengths of 30, 45, 65 and 100 miles looping through North Phoenix, legs can be tested to any cyclist's pleasure. Ride registration is $35 for all rides except the century which is $40. All rides begin and finish at the Oggi's Pizza at 67th Ave. The Arizona Bike Club was founded in 1964 and can regularly be identified throughout the Valley as their various chapter group rides sport Arizona flag jerseys.
Get out and ride, dammit!