While the event might not rival Le Tour de France in sheer majesty or attract riders like Lance Armstrong, Tour de Payson is expected to be a banner cycling event that will draw two-wheeling enthusiasts from around the state.
The event, sponsored by Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club, will be held May 8 on old 4x4 roads, jeep trails and single track around Payson.
The route options include courses five to 50 miles in length, some of which feature water crossings, switchbacks, steep climbs and plenty of cobbled, rocky terrain.
The more experienced and well-conditioned riders can opt for challenging courses near Doll Baby Ranch and Houston Mesa.
Volunteers will provide support for the entire ride.
The tour returns to the Rim Country after being on hiatus since 2005.
The event has its roots more than 15 years ago when a group of local mountain cyclists, including Ken Shepherd, Wayne Gorry and Dan Basinski, got together every Tuesday, weather permitting, for Tour de Payson.
Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club member Bob Beane, who owns a home in Payson but lives in the Valley, is among the organizers of the upcoming tour and calls it a “low cost, low key, come ride and see” event.
He expects up to 100 riders, some from Payson and others from clubs in the Valley and Tucson.
“This is an adult recreational fitness ride,” Beane said. “We are not doing it to make money, but to showcase some of the riding opportunities up there.”
He expects some Valley area riders to drive to Payson the morning of the event and spend the day. Others, he said, will spend the entire weekend.
The ride begins at 8:30 a.m. at Macky’s Grill, which will also be the finish line.
A registration and check in will be held from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at Macky’s.
“There is no required mass start, but we do hope to have several local guides to lead an easy-paced warm-up circuit,” Beane said. The entry fee is $15.
For more information, call Beane at (480) 861-7750, visit Hike, Bike & Run, 600 E. Highway 260 in Payson, or log on to www.pmbcaz.org/tourdepayson.html.