The McDowell Mountain night ride is one of the great things about summer for the local Phoenix mountain biker. It’s tough to be a mountain biker during the hot months here – especially if you’re also a stay-up-late sort of character. Just try scraping yourself out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to avoid the brutal sun. From the second it makes its way fully over the mountains, its intensity seems to suck your soul dry.
Really, there’s only one refuge for the desert mountain biker: the night-time.
Yes, you have to become a velo vampire. Myself? Night riding isn’t my favorite, and I always made excuses like “Aww, I don’t have a light.” But since I ponied up for some lights to get me through the Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, I’ve lost that excuse. And I want to keep my fitness, so I’m extra-motivated to stay on the bike this summer.
I’m a bit of a chicken, I’ll admit. I am kind of a lone wolf when I ride, but the nighttime will force me to be more of a pack animal. That’s what makes this weekend’s moonlight ride at McDowell Mountain Regional Park such an attractive idea: riding at night in the safety of a full moon and a large group of people – on a trail with barely any technical nastiness.
On May 22, you can head out there, pay $6 per car and hook up with other riders for a 16-mile loop around the uber-fun Trail B/Pemberton Loop (I’m pretty sure everyone knows how much I love the Pemberton Loop). It starts at 7:30. Bring enough light power for three hours, and don’t even think of showing up without a helmet. Volunteers sweepers will scoop up all of you stragglers.
Keep an eye on the park’s Web site. These rides usually happen whenever we get a nice, bright moon.