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My, my, my, another new year starts. 2018 got here so fast, don’t you think?
I once saw a plaque that said, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” I really hate how that plaque sticks with me… and is so annoyingly true.
Well, we’ve been on the road a few weeks now, our maiden voyage with Trailer George.
I have mixed feelings about George. He’s so darned handy for carrying all our ridiculous cycling accessories…
…but at the same time he’s a big pain in the ass.
Hmmm, that sounds strangely familiar. Really handy, but a pain in the ass; where have I heard that before?…
With James’ birthday “Mallorca Masochistic Midlife Mayhem” cycling trip looming, I was especially motivated to ensure that every place we stay has some good cycling right out from the campground.
This actually took hours… scratch that… weeks of planning ahead of time. For weeks we spent our evenings visiting cycling and campground websites, reading reviews, bitching at each other over whose idea is better (PS: mine are always better), and building our trip’s Binder of Fun. Although this time around it really should be called the Binder of Suffering. Get it? Because all the bike rides are hard. And we suffer…
We’ve been pretty successful with the rides and campgrounds thus far, with a few snafus here and there… I’ll get to those. So read on as I share some of our hot (and not-so-hot) camping and biking spots. My goal is to document each of the significant rides we do this trip, so expect a few more posts on our campgrounds and rides as the trip continues. Maybe some will intrigue you enough you’ll add them to your own bucket lists! (…or scare you enough to stay far, far away…)
Guys, I just love Southern Utah. Really, I do. So much in fact that whenever we visit I like to nag James about what a happy wife I’d be if we moved there. If you’ve never visited, then that’s just messed up. Point your RVs there right now. I mean it! Put the keyboard down and go hit the road.
Sure there’s the beautiful (and jam-packed) Zion National Park just down the road, and yes we’ve stayed there, too. But Utah’s state parks are really the place to stay if you’re not a fan of crowds. Sand Hollow has reasonably level sites spaced far apart from each other, so you really feel as if you’re more remote than you are. And the best part! You can get an amazing breakfast burrito from the park’s café in the morning!
It was cooler weather, so we bundled up and did a gorgeous bike ride to the St. George airport and back. Here’s the details on that ride from my Strava page, you can click on the picture and go to my Strava to see the pics and stalk me and such (PS come Strava-friend me so I can stalk you back!):
There are so many things to love about road rides in Southern Utah. Since cycling is popular there, they’ve got wonderful shoulders, cars who happily move over, and a tight knit cycling community where 100% of cyclists who passed us waved. A refreshing change from other places we’ve stayed and biked.
We had planned to do a second ride out from that park, one that would have taken us up into the back side of Zion Park with some breathtaking views and excruciating climbs, but woke up to crazy windy no-way-am-I-staying-upright-on-a-bike weather. That’s the great thing about being RVers! You can move! And that’s exactly what we did.
We didn’t actually stay here; just used it to park while we rolled out on our bikes. The area was sort of strange. It seemed slightly ghost-townish and past its heyday; though there was an old convenience store opened, even though we never saw any cars or people at it. Turns out as the water levels dropped, the resort part of Echo Bay struggled. It is now closed, and the boat ramp is no longer functioning.
Still, the abandoned feel of the place couldn’t detract from the area’s beauty. I’d stay there in the future. That ride was SOOOO worth it…and you can see the pictures I took during the ride on my Strava page, just click the pic:
The ride ended up being 30 miles and over 2,000 feet of climbing, but if you choose to do it, it’s an out and back and you can make it as long or short as you’d like. The views were stunning, the traffic was light, and the hills were rolling…my favorite kind of ride! The only downfall was the intense headwinds going out. Oh yes, and that staple James ran over towards the beginning of the ride; you can see the video of James removing the staple HERE!
Being the smart people we are, we had just switched our tires to tubeless the week prior. Once James pulled out the staple, the tubeless goo instantly filled the hole and we were back on our way. Score 1 for the FitRV!
It was dark when we rolled in to Lake Pleasant, and though we’d made reservations, we had no clue what our assigned site would be like.
Turns out our site could be described in one word: Unlevel. Wayyyyy unlevel. Although now I’ve got two words there. But one isn’t really a word so I think I’m still good.
There were tenters next to us and it was late, so we quietly tried to unhitch George on the hillside.
So with all these things going against us:
- our rookie status as trailer owners,
- the hillside,
- being pitch black out,
- us very tired & fussy,
… it probably doesn’t surprise you one bit that George picked this moment to try to escape down the hill.
I was sure I was about to watch James get trampled, because as the trailer started moving, James ran in front of it to stop it.
But, as it goes with James, he somehow was able to get control, and manually wrestle George across our site.
I swear the guy is charmed.
Note to self: We are NEVER getting a 5th wheel.
The road system in Lake Pleasant Regional Park has minimal traffic and is very pretty. It’s great for road biking.
We did, however, want to get a little longer of a ride in than just sticking to the 20 miles of park roads. So, we ventured out of the park.
Turns out the only highway leaving the park is very busy. It also has shoulders that are uncomfortably narrow and in terrible repair. We lasted only a couple miles before bailing, turning around, and heading back in to the serenity of the park roads.
And also, if you plan to camp at Lake Pleasant, do yourself a favor and call them for suggestions on sites that are less severely sloping. Be warned, most sites out there are significantly unlevel. But, the park itself is incredibly beautiful and definitely worth visiting.
You can’t go wrong camping at any of the regional parks around Phoenix. They tend to have spacious sites, beautiful scenery, nice showers, and you can make reservations…a big bonus for us.
We really liked McDowell Park. It is famous for its extensive mountain biking trails, and even though we don’t have our mountain bikes along this trip, we felt right at home surrounded by fellow cyclists.
We did have level issues once again with our McDowell spot, but after the Lake Pleasant runaway trailer thrill-ride, it was manageable.
Since James was working that pesky day job of his, I spent an afternoon riding with friends Rex and Valerie. There are tons of road-ride options from the campsite. Rex felt like rolling into the nearby town of Fountain Hills, so that’s what we did.
This was an easy 25 mile ride with 1200 feet of climbing, but we kept a slow pace and chatted as we rode. Way different than riding with James where I can’t spare the air to speak and we’re going too fast to hear each other anyways. So I very much enjoyed being able to see the scenery as I passed!
And at the end of the day, James busted out our CycleOps Hammer trainer and got a ride in at the campsite himself.
It cracks me up the virtual ride he chose to do is his same route he always does back home, Cottonwood Canyon Utah. Change is hard, folks!
I don’t even know what to say about this place. We thought it would be awesome, but in the end it just felt like we were staying in a parking lot.
Because we were staying in a parking lot.
On the bright side, it was level!
Don’t get me wrong, the place was lovely if you’re an active senior looking for a social RV/park-model community to hunker down at for the winter. And we did enjoy the laundry, the nice showers, and most definitely the gym. But since we weren’t a giant Class A and didn’t have a tow car, which is how they want their residents to come and go, they didn’t quite know what to do with us.
In the final analysis, if we would have stayed in a Walmart parking lot that was next to an Anytime Fitness and a laundromat, it would have been about the same thing. (And a lot cheaper.)
AND THEN there’s the cycling around the Casa Grande area. The riding there would be PERFECT you’re training for a cycling trip to Hell, and you need cracked pavement, broken glass, pit bulls chasing you, and aggressive angry drivers honking and swerving at you.
So naturally, after all that, this was our longest ride so far….65.7 miles of misery.
And with that…
Phew, gang! This has gotten long! I’ll continue it next week. It’ll give me time to recover from the trauma of reliving The Ride of Bumpiness.
Here’s hoping you all are ringing in the new year with health and happiness!
See ya on the road if I’m lucky!