Some spend the day after Thanksgiving waiting at malls and big box stores and driving around. I spend it riding, riding some more, having a can of beer on the trail, riding still more, eating bacon, yep still more riding, then at last arriving at Jim and Kim’s house for a tasty keg of Four Peaks beer and some more pork. What a day. What exactly am I talking about? The Flight of the Pigs (FOTP) is a really unique group ride in the Phoenix valley that has been running for 16 years. Every year for the last five years, this makes number six, I have participated in this ride.
All riders check in to get the pig tail (pink ribbon) to attach to the back of their bike. You also weight in with the heaviest rider and bike receiving a rubber pig snout. At 228 lbs fully ready with bike I was basically dead average.
The Flight Plan: This is a large part of what makes the ride so great, just riding National or Trail 100 is a bit of an epic, but making a huge loop including even more singletrack at Papago Park and some long stretches on canal paths and roads is a super epic. For scale, South Mountain Park alone is the largest municipal park in the world at 23,000 acres. Starting with National Trail in South Mountain Park is perfect, because it’s long, steep and incredibly challenging.
We ride as a group to Pima Canyon trailhead, then take the dirt road to National Trail. Ride National Trail all the way to its end at San Juan (using Mormon Trail is allowed). Regroup and ride northwest to the Western Canal. Follow the canal to 7th Ave near Baseline Rd. Go north on 7th Ave. Stop for lunch at Sacks on Thomas and 3rd Ave.
After lunch, continue north on 7th Ave to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve entrance. Ride Trail 100 to its end at Tatum Blvd. People are really tired at this point. The end of trail 100 is known as the grassy knoll. There are at least 75 riders sprawled out on the lawn.
This is where random people, either riders who couldn’t make the whole ride this year or significant others of riders, have provided things like bacon and cans of beer.
Regroup, then go south on Tatum to McDonald Dr, west on McDonald to 44th St, then south on 44th St past Camelback Rd to the Arizona Canal. Go east along the canal to the Old Crosscut Canal at 48th St. Follow the canal south to McDowell Rd. Go east on McDowell to 52nd St, then south on 52nd until you reach the Papago Park entrance. Ride this road until you can jump onto the trail that goes to the ramada. Then head east across Galvin Pkwy. Pass Hole in the Rock on its north side, then ride down to the Phoenix Zoo. Ride up to and around Hunt’s Tomb (the pyramid). Regroup, then ride down to the
east and take trails to Curry Rd just east of Mill Ave. Go to Mill and head south across the bridge. Go right on University, left on Hardy, right on Guadalupe, left on 48thSt, left on Olney, right and right again onto Pearce back the start. Here they give out awards and celebrate.
The Vibe: This is so much fun for all that participate. Everyone is trying hard to finish and helping each other along the way. There is a lot that can and does go wrong early on along National Trail, this year Chris Gardner suffered a broken frame. He was able to cobble it together and make it home to switch out bikes to finish out the whole ride. The finishers party at Jim’s was especially lively this year as it turned out to be a fast group and it was still light out by the time I started my second beer. It was Four Peaks Brewery’s Kilt Lifter again if I am not mistaken. Many times I have returned to Jim’s well after dark.
Thanks to Sharon who picks me up and drops me off.