Bicycle: I want to ride it where I like

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

Freddy Mercury

Michael Stoll and I have been road biking a couple times a week in and around the Payson area. It is my current way of trying to remain in some semblance of shape since running has taken a toll on my hip and this seems to be a bit better on not aggravating my nagging injury.

Usually Mike and I ride around the golf course and up through the Country Club Vista area, out on Tyler Parkway and up 260, through Payson North and back home. That in itself is quite challenging both physically and mentally since riding the streets of Payson is extremely dangerous. The lack of bicycle lanes and lack of signage encouraging drivers to “share the road” is noted often by Mike and I.

For a change, Mike and I decided to head down the Houston Mesa Road and out to Whispering Pines. It is a beautiful day for a ride as the wind has died down and I’m ready to just get some exercise, remove some stress, and enjoy the ride. Sounds good in theory but I don’t much like riding my bicycle. I’m always in great fear which adds to the stress of the day. Mike is a bit more of a risk taker then me. He enjoys pushing himself up hills and rushing down the other side. Me, I just like making it up hills and I do not enjoy the rush down the hills. Now when Mike is with me, I enjoy the conversations that we have and it is most enjoyable. The problem is, I’m slower then: (whatever comes to your mind).

Our journey to and from the Whispering Pines area reminds me of the old parental adage, “When I was your age, I walked six miles uphill to school and six miles uphill home.” Riding to Whispering Pines is like that. It is about 10 miles uphill and another 10 miles uphill back. The Houston Mesa Road has no shoulders so cars roar by you and sometimes very close as some drivers will wait to pass and others are in such a hurry that they just squeeze by you at 30+ mph. You try to ride as close to the edge as you can but it is very nerve wracking. Heading uphill towards Mesa Del, I am beat down but now I have the added worry of cows on the road once we get past Shoofly and a long and windiIMG_1574ng downward stretch towards the river. I’m hanging on for dear life as Mike has done left me in the dust and I’m plodding along. The good news is that there are two signs on Houston Mesa Road that have “Share The Road” displayed. One sign on each side of the road so I feel safer. (sarcasm is noted) Photo is from last summer but thought it was appropriate.

Mike usually waits for me somewhere down the road and he does this time as well. The climb up from first crossing is not for the weak. I’m just happy that I don’t have to get off and walk as my mph decreases to about three, just fast enough to stay vertical. We continue on and I am amazed at the new bridges and parking areas that have been built. They are welcomed great additions to the area with added facilities to use the bathroom if needed.IMG_2364

We have started late on our trek and dusk rapidly approaches as we turn around and head back. I make no attempt to keep up with Mike as I try to get some enjoyment out of my white-knuckle ride. At one point I hit 40 mph on a downward stretch and I am literally scared to death. That is the fastest I’ve gone downhill and I don’t enjoy the experience. From Beaver Valley back towards Payson the climb is relentless and leaving me breathless plus Mike has completely disappeared from view. I’m just plodding along hoping to make it back. Sun has dropped to that dangerous angle that makes it difficult for drivers to see and I’m hoping and praying to just get back in one piece.

Mike being a good guy does wait for me at points along the road–I’m assuming to make sure I’m still upright and moving forward. We eventually get back as the sun sets. Mike raves about the ride, me I’m just happy to be alive. I have to admit that the views are beautiful, the exercise strenuous, but I still am uncertain about this bike riding. I have yet to gain the confidence in my ability to keep the bike upright and as a natural worrier, that safety issue is always on my mind. So that brings me to getting up on my soapbox for a little editorializing of my opinions. And yes I know what they say about opinions but  “You’ve gotta stand right up for somethin’  Or you’re gonna fall….for anything“.  John Mellencamp

Riding my bicycle in the Payson area has always been challenging. I’ve had stuff thrown from cars at me, I’ve been flipped off, I’ve had others tell me to get the “f off the road” and I’ve had some near misses that have made me come close to soiling my shorts.” It hasn’t been an easy thing to do around here but I try.

It is the season for riding bicycles and getting out for walks etc. and it is clear to me that the Payson community (at least at the leadership level) doesn’t much value this type of outdoor experience. I am seeing more and more people get on bikes and ride around but they do so at a great risk. In Payson, the public works director has never placed value on these activities. Instead value is placed on wide road with no bike lanes.  Why in the world do we need center lanes on Longhorn, Main St., and on McLane?

Just check out the new road behind Town Hall and you won’t find a bike lane on it. The current town council and town administration clearly hasn’t made these things a priority. I question why local roads like Main St, Longhorn, McLane, Vista, Airport, Bonita, Frontier, Manzanita, Mud Springs, Tyler Parkway, Payson Parkway, and Phoenix do not have regulation bicycle lanes for a safer riding experience. Why not have bike lanes on the 87 and 260 in the town of Payson. They do on the highway that goes through the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona. (my New Belgium Fat Tire bike I won over a year ago but nervous to ride in Payson)IMG_1232

In the new Town of Payson budget proposals, there does not appear to be a single item concerning active lifestyles outside of some upgrades at parks. Instead we talk carpet. Really? How about a pool that stays open at least through the end of summer. Critics of mine will be glad to point out that it just can’t be staffed due to students returning to school. My answer is bull crap. Just check out Sedona’s pool. They don’t require 10 lifeguards on duty at a time and when I’ve been there to swim during their lap sessions, they usually have three employees, at the most, on duty. Hmm. Wonder how that happens.

Instead the citizens of Payson and the surrounding areas get a pool that is open until the third week in July after opening the last week in May, and it is never open on Fridays and Sundays when people actually might be able to use it. In Sedona, the spring pool hours are now set from April 4 through May 17. The Sedona “Community” pool closes in what month? November! Priorities I say, you won’t find that in Payson.

Gila County could put down bicycle lanes on each side of Houston Mesa and the road could become a cycling paradise for those who want to get some higher elevation type training with plenty of hills. It could be a “clean” tourist attraction where cyclists come and ride and guess what else? Yep, spend their money. Instead in local governance, we will get those who want to line their own pockets running for County Supervisor in the next election cycle. (Mark my words that is already on the backburner as a certain candidate is already lining up to replace the current supervisor).

I would think the quickest way to easy economic development is to improve infrastructure for those who might want to come up for a day or so to  ride their bikes, train, swim, etc. Just check out the Beeline in the Shea Blvd area on any Saturday or Sunday morning. Large numbers gather to ride their bikes in the Fountain Hills area and they spend their money at places around that area. I know, I’ve done it.

Lake Mary Road is packed with cyclists in the spring and summer months. Why? They have identified the road as cycling friendly with large areas for bicyclists and for vehicles to pass. This is what I would call clean tourism where they spend money eating and relaxing and they go home.  They like to hang out in settings that provide outdoor seating where they can converse and have community with others. A simple form of economic development planning.

Clearly my soap box rant will irritate many and I will get de-friended and blackballed for expressing my opinions but in reality you have to make some sort of stand. (The attempts at blackballing me for my views and opinions will be another story forthcoming)

As a reminder, Queen’s video of “Bicycle Race” contains naked models riding bikes. Of course you don’t see frontal nudity but you do see some bare buttocks. That’s my warning and it is what it is. Yep I’m still “living the dream”.

About timfruth

Longtime public educator who recently retired from public education. Messed around in politics as a town councilor and vice mayor. I am a father and a husband who currently works in a new active career in Human Resources. Love the outdoors and rapidly adjusting to a new me.
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