October brings a scenic Gila County event for cyclists: the Arizona Bicycle Classic on Saturday, Oct. 19. It starts at Jake’s Corner and offers three distance options along State Route 188. The entry fee includes “sag support” and lunch at Jake’s Corner Bar & Grill after the ride.
The event also helps a worthy cause, with a portion of proceeds donated to St. Vincent de Paul’s Payson Food Bank.
Entry fees are $80 for the 78-mile ride; $60 for the 56-mile ride; and $40 for the 28-mile ride.
“This is not a race or competitive event. The emphasis is on enjoying cycling through great Arizona scenery,” said ride organizers Brian and Marysue Myers.
“Again, this is not a race. Participants need to be courteous of and watching out for local drivers and traffic. Ride single file. This is a state highway with occasional fast traffic, not a road where you can ‘take the lane’ with several riders positioned abreast. Helmets are mandatory. It is recommended each rider bring two water bottles, a tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump.”
The ride offers mild terrain along State Route 188, with gently rolling hills and great scenery. According to the state’s Cycle Arizona map, SR 188 is one of the least-traveled paved roads in Arizona, and has shoulders at least four feet wide for much of its length.
All three routes pass through historic Tonto Basin, the subject of a 1921 Western novel by Zane Grey. Along the route, cyclists enjoy views of saguaro-covered hillsides, the rugged Sierra Ancha Wilderness and the Superstition Mountains. Riders who sign up for either of the longer routes have views of azure waters of Roosevelt Lake and ride over the iconic Roosevelt Bridge. About 1,080 feet long, this beautiful engineering marvel is the longest two-lane, single-span, steel-arch bridge in North America.
Registration includes complementary coffee before the start of the ride, refreshment stations (water, electrolytes, fresh fruit, healthy snacks), friendly course SAG and sweep support, and lunch afterward.