More than 140 entrants in the 24th Annual Great Arizona Bicycle Adventure will make an overnight stop in Payson Oct. 5. Some riders will stay in the Payson Inn and others camp out in tents and sleeping bags.
The event, dubbed "Grand Canyon to the Old Pueblo," begins Oct. 2 at Tusayan near the Grand Canyon. Over the course of seven days, the riders pedal 525 miles south and through more than 29,000 feet of climbing, event publicist Melanie Rineer said.
In addition to the overnight stop in Payson, riders will stay at Gray Mountain, Flagstaff, Show Low and San Carlos. The riders are scheduled to arrive at the finish line, located at the Ghost Ranch Lodge in Tucson, Oct. 9.
The Flagstaff-to-Payson jaunt covers about 95 miles and crests over the Mogollon Rim before making the steep descent through Strawberry and Pine.
Some riders who have participated in past adventures say one of the things they best remember about the day's ride is the delicious pies enjoyed during rest stops at the Strawberry Lodge.
After leaving Payson, during the fourth day of the adventure, riders pedal about 98 miles to Show Low. Along the way, some will see for the first time the devastation caused by the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire.
While in Show Low, cyclists have scheduled a one-day rest stop but have the option of taking the 25-mile round trip visit to Pinetop.
The entire course, from Grand Canyon to Tucson, Rineer said, "takes the cyclist through contrasting ecological zones, from forested mountains and red rock plateaus, to cactus- and mesquite-covered deserts."
Along the way, sponsors provide sag support, mechanics, group meals and baggage transportation.
To participate, riders pay a $525 fee.
The cyclists, ages 24 to 74, represent 25 states, Canada and Austria. The event is sponsored by the Tucson Chapter of the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association.