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Tortilla Flats - What a Ride!(6 posts)

Tortilla Flats - What a Ride!dgangi
Jan 25, 2004 6:51 PM
Yesterday I went on a century ride that included the AZ 88 highway to Tortilla Flats and back. This was my second century ride but definitely the hardest because of the hills.

Anyway, if you live in Arizona and haven't done this ride, you have no idea what you are missing! This is probably the funnest ride I have even been on - MTB or road.

We started in west Mesa and headed east on Brown road until it ended in Apache Junction. This was the AZ 88 intersection. We turned left on 88 and that's where the fun began.

After a few miles of rolling terrain, the road makes a moderate climb followed by a moderate descent. We then had to climb another moderate hill (with vistas that were fabulous!). After that climb we were rewarded with a FUN descent. This downhill section was VERY windy and very steep (mountain grades and curves with signs recommending speeds of 10-15 MPH). I was coasting at >35MPH. I am still relatively new to road biking so I was a little cautious on the turns, backing down to around 25MPH on the really bad ones.

After the long descent you arrive at Canyon Lake. The road bends and winds around the bank of the lake and after a few miles you start to climb again - moderate, not too hard. After this climb you see Tortilla Flat in the valley below and drop down into it (another fun drop!).

But pass Tortilla Flat and it gets REALLY tough - a 4.5 mile hill with 8-10 percent grades in places. I was in my lowest gear (double up front, 23t in back) for the entire grade. After this ugly climb the road continues on a saddle between 2 mountains for a few more miles before it turns to gravel. We rested here for a few minutes enjoying the gorgeous scenery. This is where we turned around.

The reward for this long uphill slog was a fast curvy downhill race for the 4.5 miles. I got my bike up to 45MPH in some spots. What fun!

The ride then continues back to Apache Junction the same way you rode in - more uphills (in reverse) and more fun windy downhills (in reverse). The only other dreaded spot was climbing back out of Canyon Lake - a 4 mile climb, but it was not nearly as steep as that out of Tortilla Flats.

To top it all off - the pavement on this ride was fantastic. It was smooth so I never felt "beat up". The road is very narrow with no shoulder, so you have to be prepared to deal with cars. I understand that during the summer (boating season) the traffic becomes a little unbearable, but during the cold months it is fine. There was very little traffic on the road yesterday :)

To make the ride a complete century we also rode through Usery Pass - not nearly as fun as the Tortilla Flats road.

Anyway, if you haven't had the chance to go on this ride and you live anywhere near Phoenix, I HIGHLY recommend it! And if you are coming to Arizona on vacation and want to see some of the most beautiful scenery around on one of the funnest rides, this is it!

Sounds wicked cool.PseuZQ
Jan 25, 2004 7:03 PM
Next time, bring your camera and post a report!!
Sounds wicked cool.dgangi
Jan 25, 2004 8:33 PM
Yeah, as I was buzzing around and taking in the scenery I really wished I had my camera. To make it even more interesting, there were some storms rolling through the area and the mountains looked ominous. I will not forget the camera next time!

I miss that ridemickey-mac
Jan 25, 2004 7:45 PM
Tortilla Flats was one of my favorite rides when I was going to school out there from 88-91. The long descent to the lake is a blast. The weather is unbeatable in the Valley of the Sun this time of year. I'm glad you enjoyed the ride.
I miss that ridedave woof
Jan 26, 2004 3:18 PM
Yep. Have done that a few times. Great climbs... Hate the bridge though.. Also have ridden it during boat season. Hint - DO NOT do this during boat season. Those trailers are REALLY wide and the lane is narrow. The trailer wheels and fenders miss your calves by 3-4 inches sometimes. Really unnerving. Last year a friend of mine was forced off road by a uncaring RV driver. THe same guy had missed me by only 2-3 inches.. He almost hit a rock wall off the road. We later came up him at a rest stop... let him have it verbally! He was a drunk old RV driver - didn't give a SH*T about cyclist safety.

Anyway.. yeah it's a great ride. Descents are fun!

re: Tortilla Flats - What a Ride!Heron Todd
Jan 27, 2004 9:30 AM
Hmmm. I haven't done that ride by bicycle yet. Just by car and by motorcycle. I does sound like fun if there isn't too much traffic. By the way, the town of Tortilla Flat is for sale. You could commute up there to work every day!

Todd Kuzma
Heron Bicycles
LaSalle, IL 815-223-1776