A metric century starting from the Gainey Village Shopping Center in northeast Scottsdale, looping around to Fountain Hills, Beeline Hwy, Gilbert, and through the streets of Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale. Approximately 1,300 feet of climbing.
A fast and fun metric century route
A few weeks ago, while on a casual Los Freeloaders ride, the weather was so nice I couldn’t resist tacking on a bunch of miles, and ended up on an impromptu metric century ride by myself out to Fountain Hills and then down the Beeline Hwy for a few miles, turning down Gilbert Rd, and then south all the way to Gilbert.
If you’ve never ridden the Beeline heading southwest out of Fountain Hills, you’re missing a treat, for this section of highway has a very wide shoulder (almost as wide as a lane of traffic), is fairly free of debris, and the best part: it’s downhill. You can easily cruise along at 25 mph without too much effort. And this is after coasting down Shea Blvd in Fountain Hills to the Beeline, after you’ve reached to top of Shea at the intersection with Palisades Blvd. You have almost 35 miles of downhill before reaching bottom in Tempe.
No one I know personally has done this loop. Not that it’s hard or mucho miles or anything, but many of my riding buddies would never attempt it, thinking that it is too far. But that’s a misperception.
Yes, Gilbert & Guadalupe may seem like a long ways away from the Fountain Hills area, but in fact it’s only 20 miles. And the loop shown above comes out almost exactly a 100 kilometers – a metric century. Long, but not 100 miles long.
The only really dicey part of this ride is the short few miles south along Gilbert Rd, after leaving the Beeline. You have to cross a bridge over the Salt River, and there is very little shoulder here — and potentially a lot of garbage truck/trailer traffic heading back from the area dump that sits just north of the Beeline at Gilbert Rd. Other than that, this route is about as safe as any urban ride is going to be.
In the route shown above, instead of going straight down Gilbert Rd, I made a jaunt east on McKellips, heading over to Lindsay Rd, before turning south again to Gilbert. Why this little jaunt? Because Lindsay Rd has bike lanes all the way. Gilbert Rd does not. It gets dicey through the center of Mesa.
Instead of riding all the way south to Guadalupe Rd like I did, you could just turn off Gilbert Rd and head west on Brown, and eventually hook up with Rio Solado Pkwy before hitting the streets of Tempe. This would shave off an estimated 8 miles, making this a 54 mile adventure.
I may make this shortened version the official Sunday ride Los Coyotes ride this weekend. I can probably convince a few sacrificial victims to try it.
Actually, it’s a great loop if you want some fast, wide-open riding, which this route features a fair amount of – for an urban area, anyway.