There are a hundred reasons why this weekend was not the perfect time to go for a bike ride.
It was 104 degrees outside. I didn't have anyone to go with me. I didn't have the right type of bike. My brakes weren't in good working order. I didn't have the right clothing/shoes/whatever.But I really felt like getting out of the house for a while, so I decided to go for a ride anyway. Rather than just ride around the city aimlessly, I chose to check out the Reach 11 Recreation Area in North Phoenix. Although I have driven by the place many times, I had never been there before. My spirits were high as I loaded my bike in the car and headed over to Cave Creek Road and Deer Valley Road to check it out.
Reach 11 Recreation Area is a City of Phoenix park that was developed in partnership with the US Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation. The 1,300 acre facility opened in 2007 and features over 18 miles of mixed-use trails for both bicycles and horses. The trails follow the Central Arizona Project canal for several miles in a south-southeast direction from Cave Creek Road all the way to 56th Street.The main features of Reach 11 are the twenty (yes, twenty!) lighted soccer fields and two massive parking lots with space for a total of 1,200 vehicles! There are also two playgrounds with public restrooms available.
The other big thing about Reach 11 is that it contains the Arizona Horse Lovers Park, a public park where you can take your equine friends to run, jump, and stretch their legs. The Horse Lovers Park is located on Tatum Blvd. just south of the Loop 101 Freeway and right after the Musical Instrument Museum.
There was about an hour of daylight left when I arrived at the Reach 11 area. What really surprised me about the place was its enormous size. Have you ever seen what twenty soccer fields looks like? It was a sea of green grass as far as the eye can see.
Before you sound off about wasting water in the desert, you should know that while most of the fields are turf, there is at least one synthetic grass field. The remaining ones are watered with reclaimed water, and signs are everywhere warning people not to drink from the sprinklers.It wasn't long before I was unpacked and ready to ride. The trail was firmly packed with a thin coating of gravel, and it was very easy to maintain a quick pace. There was plenty of room to pass had there been anyone else around. I made a loop of the facility and discovered a neat tunnel that I never knew about that passes beneath Deer Valley Road.
The Reach 11 website contains a message warning visitors to watch out for desert wildlife such as rattlesnakes and javelina. While I didn't see any of those things, I did see some cottontail rabbits, a roadrunner, and a whole lot of quail.The temperature seemed to drop a little as the sun slowly slipped behind the mountains. By this time I had nearly finished my water jug and needed to use the restrooms. The restrooms were near the entrance to the park, and I have to say they were the cleanest public bathrooms I have ever seen by far! Everything was clean, stocked, and in working order. There was no graffiti to be seen. I was pleasantly surprised!
With daylight fading fast, I headed back to the car. Even though the circumstances were not perfect, I completed my ride and I had a good time. The park's website also says that Reach 11 has a baseball field for little league practices and a "barrier-free nature trail loop" which is not accessible by bike or on horseback. While I didn't get to visit those things this weekend, at least I have something to check out next time.
The moral of the story is that if you spend your life waiting for conditions to be absolutely perfect, you will never get anything done. So what if it's hot? Bring water. So what if you don't have the right gear? Make do with the best you have. Don't let your circumstances hold you back. Just get out there and have fun!
Reach 11 Recreation Area
2425 E Deer Valley Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85024
Reach 11 Website