The Big Surprise - Ascaping Covid and Winter in Arizona - CycleBlaze

December 17, 2020

The Big Surprise

Uh - okay. But we didn't see anything on this ride!
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Our impromptu lunch spot was at this concrete culvert that ran under the road. It even had a handy railing on which to prop the bike since we don't have a kickstand.
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Here I am happy to actually have something to sit on other than cactus! Notice how bundled up I am. This was my usual attire on most of our rides as it was so cold (at least to me).
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The desert here was quite sparse and brown. Not at all green like we have over at Lost Dutchman. No saguaro either!
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After researching possible bike routes we could do in the Phoenix area which included some nice canal trails, we decided to do a road ride instead. So as soon as we had eaten breakfast, we drove to the far NW side of Phoenix to the city of Surprise.

I discovered later that Surprise was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler saying she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much"! It grew from mostly inexpensive homes built for agricultural workers to a booming city full of retirees. 

It took us 1 1/2 hours to make our way clear across town to our parking spot at a Safeway located at the intersection of Bell Rd. and Highway 303. Boy, this sure is one BIG metropolis!

From here we biked west into a nearby neighborhood in order to avoid the busy Bell Rd. which had no bike lanes or shoulder. We enjoyed meandering our way through the nice homes past a couple of schools until we could get back onto Bell Rd. which was 6 lanes with no shoulder. 

The road soon changed into Sun Valley Parkway - a divided 4 lane highway with a HUGE shoulder but it still maintained plenty of traffic. We couldn't figure out where everyone was going as this appeared to be undeveloped desert for a long way. 

It was much less green and more brown than over at Lost Dutchman. Maybe there is more moisture that falls around the Superstition Mountains? 

This route was a gradual incline as we circled around to the north of the White Tank Mountains. The day remained cloudy and cool which seems to be norm in December in Arizona. I don't need it to be 80 degrees but some sunny warm 70's would sure by nice!

As it drew closer to noon, when we came to a concrete wash next to the road, we stopped for lunch. It had a guard rail we could lean the bike against and we were able to climb through the fence to sit on the concrete section to eat. 

Back on the road, we continued a little further west before turning around. There was a slight headwind which wasn't an issue as it was also a little downhill so we moved along pretty well. 

Other than a road runner, we didn't spot any other wildlife. There weren't even any saguaro cactus out here to enjoy. 

It wasn't a bad route to do and if we had had more time, we might have done a longer ride. But we knew there was still a long drive ahead to get back to camp.

By the time we got to the van, loaded up the bike and stopped in Safeway for a couple of things, it was nearly 3 pm. Just in time for the start of heavy rush hour traffic! 

It was after 4 pm when we got back to camp and we had just enough time to shower and grill our dinner. Don does all of the cooking and has used our grill nearly every night. 

We've had fun experimenting with shish kabob and foil tent meals. I had gotten a book on my Kindle with foil tent recipes on a grill and we've tried out several. The evening was not too exciting with our usual movie watching.

Today's ride: 20 miles (32 km)
Total: 135 miles (217 km)

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