Cyclerides.com Monument Tour

Well, we are safely back home after 3311 miles and 10 days of the gypsy life on the road. We had a flexible itinerary, no reservations and changed routes and destinations as the circumstances warranted. After living without a schedule, and the only thing to worry about was where we were going to sleep that night, it is a bit of a shock to get back to the real world. I suppose it could get old after a while, but I sure could have gone another couple of weeks with no problem. I have spent the last couple of days catching up on emails and posting rides. I even answered an email I had kept in the unread state for the last 30 days, just to give the person a good response. My mid-year resolution is to answer emails instantly and not procrastinate, because they always get buried and lost in the shuffle.

The 10 days of the trip was posted on the new Cyclerides.com Facebook page with a paragraph about the day and 8-10 of the best photos of the day. If you haven't seen the photos go take a look. Even if you do not have a Facebook profile, you can still read the posts and view the photos. We now have over 800 Fans that have signed up on the page. If you are a Facebook user, just click "Become a Fan" at the top of the page and you will get the most up to date information from Cyclerides posted on your wall. Thanks to all that have signed up and left comments. I do enjoy reading them. Hope you enjoyed the updates. Click Here for Cyclerides.com Facebook. And you can always reach this page from www.cyclerides.com .

Next week I will start sharing the route and pictures from our recent 2009 Trip to Canada, but this week I wanted to give you a good idea for something that you could do even this weekend. It is what I am calling the Monument Tour.

Cyclerides.com Monument Tour

A few weeks ago I pulled out the Arizona map and started scouring it for locations that I haven't visited. Sure enough, I came up with 4 National Monuments that I had never been to, all within 160 miles of the I-17 and Loop 101. A lot of times National Monuments are pretty much a yawn, but these 4 that I am about to give are really good. They combine an overall good scenic ride with a short walk on three of them, and a little more strenuous walk on the other. As for me, I would rather be riding than hiking, so these are perfect.

The four National Monuments that I am going to outline for you are Montezuma Castle, Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument. Normally I'm not a guy that seeks out National Monuments because a lot of times there is more hype than substance. But in these 4 it really combines a good ride with some surprisingly interesting facts and great scenery.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

If you are coming from the Phoenix area I would suggest heading North on I-17 and making your first stop at Montezuma Castle NM. This is located just off of I-17 on the East side of the road at Exit 289. Ride East for approximately 1/2 mile to the blinking red light. Turn left on Montezuma Castle Road for about 4 miles to the visitor center where you will learn about the castle and the people who used to inhabit it before you take a short walk.

On December 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated the passage of the Antiquities Act by declaring four sites of historic and cultural significance as our nation's first National Monuments. Among these was Montezuma Castle, which the President identified as a place "of the greatest ethnological value and scientific interest." A paved, 1/3 mile loop allows you to gaze through the windows of the past into one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. This 20 room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff, tells a 1,000 year-old story of ingenuity and survival in an unforgiving desert landscape.

It is one of the best places I have been that actually gets across what a day in the life of the Sinagua Indian culture must have been like, allowing you to imagine how you might have survived in this same place. There is also several points of interest along the way and an interactive kiosk to help you learn about the life and times of the Sinagua people. Tourists are no longer allowed to go in the dwelling. Open daily 8am - 6pm June-August and till 5pm the rest of the year. $5 entry fee.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

After about an hour at Montezuma Castle, we hopped on the bikes heading North another 60 miles to Walnut Canyon National Monument, located just 9 miles East of I-17 off of I-40 at exit 204. I really had no preconceived idea of what this place was going to look like, but I was really surprised at how beautiful it was in this canyon setting. Walnut Canyon National Monument was established by President Woodrow Wilson on November 30, 1915, to preserve ancient cliff dwellings. Initially managed by the US Forest Service, the monument was transferred to the National Park Service in 1934. Today a variety of archeological and natural resources are preserved on approximately 3600 acres.

Once you are through the visitor center and pay your $5 fee, there is a choice of 2 trails to see the Cliff Dwellings. The Rim Trail is a .7 mile hike that gives you an easy overview of the canyon. But if you want to get up close and personal by actually going into the dwellings, you will have to take the Island Trail which is .9 miles long that takes you 185 feet down into the canyon via 240 steps. The trail takes you in a circle around the canyon allowing you to experience the rooms and the structures while enjoying the beauty of the canyon. If you are able to do so, this is really a wonderful little hike. However, climbing the 240 steps back up at an elevation of 6690ft can tax the heart and lungs. If you have bad knees, it might be a long hike. Bring water! This stop will probably take you about 1.5 hours to complete. But it is well worth the effort and my personal favorite of the National Monuments. Park hours are 8am - 5pm, May-Oct and opens at 9am Nov - April. Be sure and look at all the photos from this stop.

Sunset Crater Volcano/Wupatki National Monument Loop

From Walnut Canyon you are just 18 miles from Sunset Crater/Wupatki National Monument loop. Just go back to I-40, head West to Flagstaff to Hwy. 89 and go North about 12 miles to Forest Rd. 545. You will see the signs for the turn. Sunset Crater National Monument was established by President Herbert Hoover on May 26, 1930, to protect its geologic formations. In 1990 the name was changed to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. It occupies 3,040 acres surrounded by Coconino National Forest.

I will admit to not knowing much about the history of Sunset Crater, but it is a nice ride through here, that is what was important at the time. Apparently a volcano erupted here about 900 years ago and obviously wiped out civilization as they knew it, covering the area with a lava flow that you will see today. Vegetation has returned that give it an interesting landscape combined with the lava landscape. 900 years later, Sunset Crater is still the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. The volcano's red rim and the dark lava flows seem to have cooled and hardened to a jagged surface only yesterday. They have a visitor center as well, which we did not explore. It was more about the ride through here.  

Wupatki National Monument

About 20 miles into the 34 mile loop you will start to see the Painted Desert in front of you and will soon come upon the Wupatki National Monument which was established by President Calvin Coolidge on December 9, 1924, to preserve Citadel and Wupatki pueblos. It now includes additional pueblos and other archeological resources on a total of 35,422 acres. Wupatki represents a cultural crossroads, home to numerous groups of people over thousands of years. Less than 800 years ago, Wupatki Pueblo was the largest pueblo around. It flourished for a time as a meeting place of different cultures. Your first stop is the Wukoki Ruin which is one of the ancient pueblos ruins that were inhabited by the Sinaqua Indians from about 1100AD to 1250AD. Other pueblo sites within the Monument include Wupatki, Citadel, Nalakihu and Lomaki. This was the only one that we stopped at. The visitor center is just a couple of miles down the road.

Optional Stop - Arizona Snowbowl and Skyride

We spent about 30 minutes at the Wukoki Ruins and were on our way back to the Flagstaff area where we made our way to the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort for a late lunch on the patio of the ski lodge and a trip on the Skyride which shuttles you to an elevation of 11,500 feet for panoramic views atop this extinct volcano. From this elevation, you can see over 70 miles of world-class scenery, including the Grand Canyon and downtown Flagstaff. The Skyride operates from 10am -4pm at a cost of $12 per person. The Arizona Snowbowl is located 7 miles northwest of Flagstaff on Highway 180. Turn right on Snowbowl Road and continue another 7 miles. Click for Directions. This ride up to and the experience at Snowbowl is really enjoyable. I would highly suggest Snowbowl as a day ride on its own merit. Not only that, you can relieve yourself in the highest toilet in Arizona, 11,500 feet!

The total mileage for the ride, assuming a start location from I-17 and Loop 101 is 388 miles, if you include the trip to Arizona Snowbowl. Taking Snowbowl out would lower the trip by 34 miles to 354. But remember that 250 of those miles will be on I-17 which of course moves at 75 mph.

So if you are looking for a ride this weekend that would be a combination of riding separated by a few short hikes to see some history, the Cyclerides.com Monument Tour would make for a great day, and it would get you out of the heat in the Valley. As usual, I went snap happy with the camera and have included 190 great photos for you to enjoy. HAVE FUN! Let me know if you go.


Click Here for 190 Photos
Click Here for Map

Useful Links:
Montezuma Castle
History of Montezuma Castle
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Sunset Crater National Monument
Wupatki National Monument
Arizona Snowbowl. 

Bike Nights This Week 

Thursday Night 

The Bike Night At The Billet Bar The Billet Bar is the place to be for the Summer nights and weekends. Set on the patio and watch the action. Voted "BEST BIKER BAR IN PHOENIX" by New Times. There is no better place to watch all the Bikes ride down Scottsdale road than from The Billet Bar Patio. The Billet is ALWAYS packed with bikes Every Day. Stop by and take a look at the New Flamed Booths on the Paradise Patio. The new bars front and rear provide spacious seating, fresh air atmosphere, perfect temperature and courteous staff. The food is amazing and always the latest in cold libations await. You can sit at the back bar and watch your favorite TV on any of the seven big inch televisions. Play pool, listen to the latest music and socialize. The front patio seats over 75 people and is perfect for people watching on Scottsdale Rd. The Billet Bar is located on 3752 N. Scottsdale Rd. Check it out this Thursday night and all weekend long. Info: at 480-941-1876. Click Here for the New Billet Bar Page with pictures. 

This Week 

Saturday, August 15th
Biker Mike Memorial Ride. This ride will be dedicated to our brother Biker Mike, August 15, 2009. Ride begins at Tonopah Family Restaurant where breakfast will be served, 8 am to 10am, located at 41101 W Indian School Rd (exit 94 & I-10) KSU at 10:30am. We will then ride to some of Mike’s favorite water’n holes and end up at Western Trails Ranch where a memorial will be held at 7PM. If it is not possible to make all the stops that day we encourage all riders to please try to attend the evening memorial service at WTR. Unite with us and Mike’s family in remembering our Brother - Friend - Fellow Rider. FMI: CONTACT NOMAD at 623-694-2455

Saturday, August 15th
MMA Charity Poker Run For Kid's Camp USA. Sign up 7:30 to 8:30am at 1800's Saloon, 13608 N. Cave Creek Rd. $10 for single $15 for double. Shirt's for the first 50 people. Leaving as a group at 8:30am, going to the Hideaway in Cavecreek then to Gavilan Peak Sports Bar in New River,then to Charlie's Place 43Ave and T-bird,ending at Spud's Bar and Grill 35 Ave and Northern for Fun, Food, Fiesta and Live Music. 50/50 raffle at each stop many raffle prize's at the last stop.100% of money will go to the charity. We plan on being at last stop about noon.

Saturday, August 15th
Memorial for Paula Hinkley. Paula Hinkley died Saturday after injuries received in a collision with a car that turned in front of her. Paulr’s Memorial will be this Saturday the 15th at 1:00 at the Steelhorse Saloon on 1818 W. Bell Rd. in Phoenix. A Benefit-Auction will be held on Sunday, September 13th to benefit Paulr's daughters. Click Here for Flyer.


Don't forget, the Rocky Point Rally is ON! November 5-8. If you plan on going you will need to get your passport card ordered soon. If you missed the newsletter a couple of weeks ago with the announcement of the Rocky Point Rally being UN-Cancelled, Click Here to Read and have instruction on how to get your passport card. The Rally is on an being planned with some very cool additions this year. More will be announced in the coming weeks. Get your passport cards and reservations now. www.rockypointrally.com .
Cyclerides.com is now on Facebook! I am inviting you to "Become A Fan" on the Cyclerides.com Facebook page.
Go to
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cycleridescom/108447575697 to add your name and bookmark this page. If you are not on Facebook, you can still go to the page, but you will not be able to communicate. There will be a link there for you to sign up for Facebook if you are inclined.

Ok, this is one of the more amazing stunts that I have seen. It is hard to even comment on.  Click Here to View.

Here is a commercial for VW that is called "When Arab Technology meets German Engineering". Click Here to View

Video of the Week
I don't know if this guy can hit a baseball or not, but wait till you see what he does with the bat in a swing. Click Here to View.


Until Next Week,
Blessings and Safe Riding To All,
Barry Caraway
"The Road Is Yours - Take The Ride"

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