Cycling season has started

NOTE: On July 1, Centennial SUBARU is hosting the second in an ongoing series of support rides for Ride to Remember (formally Three Feet for Pete). Join us at 6350 Centennial Center Blvd. for an out-and-back ride from Centennial SUBARU, up the 215 bike trail to Charleston Boulevard and back. It’s approximately a 27-mile round trip with about 1,800 feet of climbing. We will provide parking and morning coffee.

I’m a cyclist. Not a great one, but consistent. And definitely addicted! In the spring, I start to wake up when the first glimmers of daylight find their way through the edges of my bedroom blinds, and the raucous birds in the backyard sound like they’re throwing a huge early morning party. I stumble downstairs, find my first cup of coffee, and after I’ve managed to get my eyes open, it’s out the door on my bike. I’ve prepared my gear the evening before, so I’m ready to go. There’s air in the tires, lights are charged and my water bottles are full of ice.

As I pedal through my quiet, sleepy neighborhood and toward Red Rock Canyon, I usually have the whole road to myself. Normally busy intersections are empty, and only other dedicated cyclists and runners are out.

It’s 7 miles mostly uphill to a high point overlooking the national park, about 1,000 feet of elevation gain on the route. The trip is visually spectacular. Early morning sun rays light up the back wall of Red Rock escarpment. The canyon is full of Joshua trees and bright yellow and orange wildflowers. This time of year, April and May, mornings are crisp and cool.

After the overlook, there’s one more fast uphill before a long easy downhill past Spring Mountain State Park and what used to be Bonnie Springs Ranch. If I’m lucky, I’ll see a few wild burros, as I head toward the town of Blue Diamond. Sometimes coyotes are roaming.

After a brief stop in Blue Diamond Village for some coffee and a blueberry scone at the Cottonwood Cafe, or maybe an icy Coke, it’s back on the bike, past the gypsum mine and along the scenic byway into Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

There’s one final climb, a long grind up past Oak Creek and First Creek trailheads, then the rest of the trip home is much faster with almost all of it a fast down-hill cruise back to the edge of town and morning traffic.

After a summer full of early morning rides, I’ll be in great shape, leaner from the constant leg and core workouts cycling brings with increased energy levels. The first rides of the season are always a little more difficult after a winter of hibernation.

While the physical gains are always good, the mental health benefits are even more rewarding. I can feel stress melt away, as I put in the hard work of climbing hills.

Leigh Morehouse is the general sales manager at Centennial SUBARU.

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