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Cycling from Cordes Junction to Phoenix

March 7, 2013

On Saturday I completed one of my toughest rides to date. At 8 am my dad dropped me off in Cordes Junction, from where I rode on Bloody Basin Road (FR 269), to Cave Creek Road (FR 24), to Phoenix. It was 39 degrees at the start, but quickly warmed up to the mid 60’s. The first miles of the road were mostly grated and downhill, making for very difficult riding on my steel cross bike. After passing the Fish and Game Department’s ranch, the terrain became mostly rolling hills for awhile.

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After a few hours of riding, I began to notice cattle on the side of the road, but coming around a corner I saw three bulls blocking the road, with calves and cows behind them. I rode up to them, but they lowered and shook their heads,and pawed the ground, making me think they were getting a little angry. I dismounted by bike and held it in front of me like a shield, thinking all the while that bringing a chromed frame was not the best idea. One took a step forward, and I slowly began walking backward. I walked back about a quarter-mile, until I could not see the bulls. I waited there for twenty minutes, to give them enough time to move, then began walking forward slowly. Coming around the corner, I saw them and waited another half-hour until they moved into a hill on the left. I slowly walked past them, and once out of sight I rode away.

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I rode past many parked trailers, a few campers, and was passed by a few trucks, ATV’s and dirtbikes. Most of them were courteous, but I could see that they were quite puzzled to see somebody riding a bike out in country like this. Eventually these rollers became steeper and steeper, so I decided to save my energy and walk up the hills. It was a nice stretch break. Then, coming around a corner while walking my bike, I saw that the hill just kept going. This, I knew, would be the most difficult climb of the day. I got back on the bike and rode most of the way, but finished it on foot. At the top I got a cell signal, and let my folks know I was doing alright, albeit a little bit tired.

On the downhill I began to notice the horrible performance of the cheap Tektro (Oryx cantis) brakes that were on my bike. On the steep descent from the pass I found that the stopping power of these brakes was not even enough to stop the bike. I’d be trying to slow the rear wheel, but could barely manage that…stopping the bike or locking out a wheel was out of the question. After the downhill I had a dozen miles of rollers.

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The rollers ended at the junction between Bloody Basin Road (FR 269) and Cave Creek Road (FR 24). I rode through the junction, stopped at the creek for a break, and continued on. It was really heating up, and I was really beginning to feel it on the climb. I made it out of there with a little walking, and took a rest on some downhills. The next bit was rollers as well–sort of… It was a mile of downhill followed by a mile of uphill. I’d walk up the last half of these mile-long uphill sections and coast downhill.

After nearly bonking right after the Junction of FR 24 I put one headphone in and listened to some music to get me going again. This distracted my from how tired I was, but also made me oblivious to the noise coming from my rear wheel. When I took out my headphone to let a few ATVs pass I noticed it… Four of my spoked had curiously loosened so much that the nipple was not visible, it had completely retracted into the rim. I have never had this problem before, and with 4 useless spokes my wheel was way out of true. I tightened the spokes up as much as I could with my hand and kept riding, it is all I could do. I disconnected the rear brake, making the downhills even more interesting.

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With the broken wheel I took it slow, and tried to get a cell signal to let my dad know what was going on. I couldn’t. The miles went slowly, and I was very tired. I avoided eating much, and drinking much in case my bike broke and I found myself stuck out here. My memory of this part of the ride is a blur.

I finally reached Seven Springs, and immediately dropped my bike and got in the water. The water felt great to cool off, wake me up from a state of nearly bonking and haziness. By now it was getting late, so I got on the bike and went to finish up the ride.

The last part of the ride on dirt was the flattest, but also some of the roughest grating. I felt a burst of speed upon leaving the springs, and made good time. I got back to the pavement by 4:30 pm, after a rewarding but very difficult ride, and made it back into North Phoenix by 5:00 pm, glad that I hadn’t done this ride from Phoenix to Cordes.

My route:
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Link to route

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