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Day 7: Peoria, AZ to Tempe, AZ

21 miles - Arizona Canal Trail, Arizona Falls, Casual Bike Ride With Phil Ladden - February 26, 2011

Biking In Metropolitan Phoenix With Phil Ladden
Phil Ladden and Steve Garufi

My friend Phil Ladden deserves a thorough introduction. I've known Phil for over ten years, when we lived in nearby towns: him in Colorado Springs, CO, myself in Manitou Springs, CO.

Three years ago, Phil played a helpful role as I went through Arizona on my first cross-country tour. First, when my bike was stolen while locked in front of a CVS on 19th Avenue and Dunlap, Phil shuttled me to a motel and arranged transportation so I could shop for and buy a new bike. Then two days later, as I was biking out of Phoenix with my new bike, I had (for lack of a better term) some crazy mechanical problems in the desert that had me unable to ride and on the brink of quitting. Again, Phil was there. He drive 90+ minues each way to rescue me.

Phil really wanted me to have a better experience in Phoenix, and this time, he biked with me. Phil recently bought a beach cruiser bicycle, and had taken up the hobby/sport of bicycling. On this day, Phil met me at my hotel, and we started our ride on the much safer and bicycle-friendly Arizona Canal Trail. Today's goal was to have a enjoyable and leisure ride with Phil, and to set myself up well for departing from the eastern suburbs of Phoenix on Monday. Also, notice that I took off the paniers on my bike. There was no need to carry extra clothing and unnecessary items when they could sit in my hotel room.

Before you scroll down and view the pictures and commentary, let me say more about Phil. For the past two years, Phil has done a "Phoenix Valley Walk" - a multi-day annual event he launched where he walks approximately 60 miles across the entire Phoenix metropolitan area. Now that's impressive! Read more about it here: Phoenix Valley Walk.

Additionally, Phil has been well-photographed on my personal website. He once owned a 1955 Chevrolet Truck, hiked Devils Head Fire Lookout with me and once campaigned for Hair Consultant in a bizarre political election. Most recently, Phil has climbed two 14ers with me during his visits to Colorado: Mount Sherman and Mount Bierstadt.

Phil's blog is www.philladden.com and his Twitter account is @philladden.

Phil Ladden

Arizona Canal Trail

From the Four Points Sheraton, we biked a short distance onto the Arizona Canal Trail.

Great shot of Phil happily riding his beach cruiser! Nice Arizona Cardinals shirt too. :)

Phoenix Canal Trail The Arizona Canal Trail is similar to the Santa Ana River Trail in Orange County.
Arizona Canal Trail Nice view of Shaw Butte from the bike path.
Phoenix Bicycle Trail The trail dipped below 19th Avenue. On my 2008 ride, I traveled south on 19th Avenue and stopped about one mile down, ate lunch and eventually had my bike stolen.

"If only you had known about this canal trail!" shouted Phil.

As we biked, Phil said I seemed more relaxed compared to 2008. I think he was right.

To use an analogy, this trip seemed like the birth of a second child. Of course, anything could go wrong, but I already had experience from my "first child" in my 2008 ride. This time, I kind of knew what to expect. I wasn't as nervous. And I didn't think I'd be as surprised by things. It also helped that my confidence was strong from six quality days of cycling under my belt, totaling 378 miles.

Phoenix River Trail Onward we continued ...
Arizona Canal Trail ... Phil and I biked at a casual pace. Phil could only ride in the 7 to 9 miles per hour range, and so I had to bike really slow to not coast far ahead of him. I won't lie: It was kind of frustrating. Oh how I wanted to pedal hard and rip into the trail with some mileage! Now I knew how an energetic dog feels that's strapped to a short leash. I teased Phil about this. :)

At one point, we stopped to gaze at Piestewa Peak. Phil pulled out his smart phone, captured this high quality shot of me and sent the picture message to my cell phone. Thanks Phil! :)

At about ten miles, the trail led us into the Biltmore area of Phoenix. This is a wealthier area with a golf course, some kind of resort and well-manicured lawns and shrubbery around homes.

Phil spotted this mirror and thought a self-portrait of us would be fun.

Phoenix River Trail Not sure which mountain this is in Phoenix.

Also note the trail became hard-packed with dirt, which we rode on for five to seven miles. This path is not fully developed, but it appears progress is being made.

Arizona Falls

So Phil and I were slowly working our way through Phoenix neighborhoods when we approached Arizona Falls. A waterfall in Phoenix? Yes!

Arizona Falls
To this day, I am astonished over how many Phoenix residents are unaware of this unique place. Here's the address: 5802 East Indian School Road in Phoenix.

Arizona Falls is a hydropower plant that was originally constructed 100 years ago. You can read more about it here: www.srpnet.com/water/canals/azfalls.aspx.

Arizona Falls

Arizona Falls

Arizona Falls

Phil Ladden and Steve Garufi We continued southeast toward Tempe. Nice shot of us! :)
ASU Stadium The Canal Trail ended near Scotsdale Road in Tempe. We continued south and passed Sun Devil Stadium on the right.
Southern Avenue We biked for miles on Scotsdale Road, and we ended our ride at Southern Avenue in Tempe. This spot put me in good shape to travel east toward Mesa and Apache Junction and out of the city.

We only biked 21 miles, but it was good enough. This riding day felt like a "rest day," or to use an analogy, like a relaxed half-day of work on a Friday, when coming into the office was optional. :)

Orange Tree As we waited for Beth (Phil's friend) to pick us up, I noticed these beautiful orange trees growing in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart. Can you believe that? There are freakin' oranges growing like crazy in Phoenix! Amazing!
Pei Wei Asian Diner

Pei Wei Dinner

Lunch at Pei Wei Asian Diner

Beth, Phil and myself had lunch at Pei Wei Asian Diner. When Phil heard me ranting about how I got to eat at a Panda Express in California, he insisted we eat at Pei Wei and said he'd pay for me. I surely didn't argue with him.

I ordered your basic sweet & sour chicken with a crab wontons appetizer on the side. Not bad at all! :)

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ADDENDUM: I invite you to read my book about my first trip in 2008.

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