The road bike dilemma and Tempe’s Western Canal

Every now and then I get the idea that I might like a road bike. My problem however, is that I love the “ride anywhere” possibilities of a mountain bike. I mainly ride my ’06 Marin Northside Trail which rolls on 2.4″ fatty Maxxis Holy Rollers, but after putting 31.x miles in pulling the pedicab for the PF Chang’s Marathon on Sunday, I was pretty much done with the mtn bike for the day. I have a 1970′s Azuki 10 speed womens cruiser that I had originally purchased for my girlfriend but turned out to be too big for her. It’s in amazing condition and I paid a pittance for it, so I couldn’t bring myself to re-sell it. Talk about a completely different ride, the gearing is awesome, huge double rings up front with friction shifters on the stem. The 27″ 100 psi tires also make a big difference, when I mash the pedals on this bike, it moves. It’s experiences like this that make me think to pick up a road bike, but I have a feeling I wouldn’t ride it very much. Most of the routes I ride usually involve some sort of curb jumping, trailblazing or other activity that wouldn’t be well suited to a road bike. I’ve thought perhaps a well built cyclocross bike which I could still ride on multiple terrains, but I don’t have that sort of money right now.

I put in about 16.8 miles on the Azuki on Sunday night, about half of that on the Western Canal alongside which Tempe has recently added concrete paths. The Western Canal is a great place to ride if you’re looking to get away from cars, and after dark it’s deserted. I only came across two folks walking last night, and one bike ninja*. It’s easily accessible from the west side of Kiwanis Park and after heading south of Guadalupe Road turns eastbound and continues for many miles. I haven’t explored it past Hardy on the west, or past Arizona Ave on the east, but I do know the concrete paths continue in both directions. At Tempe Municipal Golf Course you can also pick up an unnamed canal path that runs southwest and is paved until it exits onto Kyrene Road south of Warner. Additionally there is a paved path that heads west 1/2 mile south of Elliot that turns into Carver Road from which you can access the Tempe Sports Complex. Check it out if you’re looking for a change of scenery.