Bicycle Culture

Cycle: Sam Coppersmith's Favorite Ride and the Thrill of Being a MAMIL

As Cycle has tried to point out in previous entries, Phoenix is a city with a multitude of bike rides and routes. And for every route is a rider who claims it as their favorite.

Sam Coppersmith has lived in Phoenix since graduating Yale Law School in the early Eighties. During that time he has served as an assistant to Mayor Terry Goddard, was elected as an Arizona Representative to the US Congress, chaired the Arizona Democratic Party, and established a local law practice of which he currently is a managing partner. Oh, and he's an avid triathlete and cyclist.

Coppersmith first got into cycling when he moved to Phoenix, teaming with a law school classmate to ride in various long distance charity rides. While his run in politics took him away from cycling, he re-discovered his passion for being a MAMIL - a Middle Aged Man In Lycra - upon returning from Washington.

As comfortable with dropping a line from "Airplane" as he is explaining the legality behind the development of bike lanes on Lafayette Boulevard, Coppersmith now uses the rolling terrain in and around Camelback and Mummy mountains to strengthen up for his races.

What are your favorite races?
I really enjoy the New York Triathlon and I loved doing the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon last year, but my favorite bike ride is the America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride that circumnavigates around Lake Tahoe.

What do you like about riding?
Well, it's the thrill of being a MAMIL, but it's also the freedom. Cycling allows you to go places and see things at a decent speed that you don't get from other physical outlets, certainly not from a car.

What was your first bike?
It was an old steel Centurion with a bright red touring bag strapped to the handlebars. One of my riding friends used to chastise me about it saying I was a good enough rider to have a better bike. I used to take that thing up to Pine and ride it up to the (Mogollon) Rim.

Why do you like this route?
It throws it all at you: some nice climbs, good straights, a fast descent, and you get a good workout in about an hour and a half.

The Ride

Coppersmith's favorite route starts in Arcadia along the south slope of Camelback Mountain, works westward through the basket of Paradise Valley around Mummy Mountain, climbing to the top of Hummingbird Lane on the north side before dropping down and heading back to Arcadia.

The ride starts through Arcadia along Lafayette Boulevard, cuts around the east end along 66th Street, and then rolls along a few gentle hills on the north side of the mountain leading over to the Sanctuary Resort. After dropping down to McDonald Drive, the route winds through the Camelback Manor neighborhood and across Lincoln Boulevard to the entrance of the Camelback Inn.

At the Inn, go left on Desert Fairways Drive just before the entrance to the Inn and ride up a false flat to a small hill peak before dropping down and around to Shadow Mountain Road. Work up and down along the west end of Mummy, basically following 54th Street, over to 52nd Street and north to Doubletree Ranch Road.

Once on Doubletree Ranch, use the flat straight to pace up heading east for two miles before turning right on 66th Place and working through the Camelback Golf Club. It is through here that Coppersmith proudly points out his only zoning case in the City of Paradise Valley.

Now in the northeast pocket of Mummy Mountain, roll over, up and back down Hummingbird Lane for the last climb of the ride. Once out on Mockingbird Lane, head back to the starting point in Arcadia, using that last stretch along Lafayette to get every bit of speed left in the legs out and on the road. Coppersmith likes to maintain a good 20 miles per hour clip along this last mile-plus stretch.

Trip Distance: 22 miles
Trip Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes at a decent training pace ("As long as you're not stopping to tell stories," says Coppersmith)
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging with some good hills
Route Map:

Cycle reader and riders, what are your favorite rides in and about town?
Share your routes in the comments section to possibly be featured in a future Cycle, and Jackalope Ranch will select one suggestion for a Reader Ride later this spring.

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Jason Franz
Contact: Jason Franz