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Grand Canyon to the border ... a 500-mile bike adventure.

Few states can rival Arizona for natural beauty and diversity of terrain. That's why the Greater Arizona Bicycle Association (GABA) has devised a "Grand Canyon to Mexic Almost Across Arizona Bicycle Tour."

Beginning at the Grand Canyon and generally following state highways, the 500-mile bike ride to the Mexico border at Nogales offers some spectacular scenery combined with the local color of small-town Arizona. Taking you from alpine lakes and woods to saguaro-filled deserts, past ranchlands and Indian ruins, and through small logging and mining towns, the route will rarely be boring.

April and October normally have the best weather balance for both the alpine and low-desert parts of the ride. You can can cycle part or all of the route this month on your own, or sign up now for a guided ride in October. That month each year, GABA sponsors two guided rides complete with a sag wagon to carry all your gear; see page 98 for details. Last fall, the youngest to complete the trip was a 2-year-old Phoenix boy who rode a trailer behind a tandem powered by his dad and 10-year-old brother. The ride's oldest finisher was 76. Many of the participants have never been on an overnight ride before. "But we haven't had anyone unable to complete this ride because it was too tough," says GABA's Rich Corbett, the man who originally dreamed up the trip. The ride is taxing, but within the range of the dedicated recreational cyclist: if you can complete a century ride (100 miles), you should have no problem.

Still, only experienced bicyclists should consider tacking the entire route alone. Inexperienced riders might want to select one- or two-day segments. A right-on-target guidebook

You could probably make do with a good highway map. But a detailed guide to this route eliminates most of the unknowns. Try Grand Canyon to Mexico Bicycle Route, by Ed and Lori Stiles (Breakaway Press, 3324 E. First St., Tucson 85716, 1983; $3.50 postpaid).

Sized to fit in a bike pack, this 35-page booklet gives day-by-day maps, scenery descriptions, and even elevation diagrams. It points out which areas are difficult or hazardous for inexperienced riders, suggests possible side trips, and gives crosstown routes through Flagstaff and Tucson. You also get good advice on what to bring along. Bus options

Going on your own will require some planning. Options include providing your own sag wagon.

Or you could consider using bus transportation for yourself and your bike; ticket holders may ship a bicycle, which must be boxed, plus one other piece of luggage at no extra charge. Some possibilities:

From Phoenix, Greyhound has daily connections to Grand Canyon Village, with departures daily at 11:10 A.M., arriving at the Grand Canyon by 4:45. Tickets cost $24.50.

From Flagstaff, Nava-Hopi Tours has daily 8:30 A.M. departures for the Grand Canyon, arriving at 10:15, for $12.75.

From Nogales, eight buses a day leave for Tucson; cost is $5.85. There are five departures are from the Greyhound depot, within easy walking distance of the border. The bus to Tucson can let you off on Valencia Road a couple of miles from the airport. Weather, lodging, road conditions

GABA studied 40 years of weather charts before choosing early October for the ride. But, as guidebook author Ed Stiles observes, this is country where "weather doesn't happen--it strikes." There are no guarantees. Riders in October 1981 were buffeted by winds, sandstorms, and rain. In an average April, rain is most likely around Flagstaff and least likely around Nogales. Average Flagstaff highs and lows in April are 58[deg.] and 27[deg.]; for Tucson, 83[deg.] and 49[deg.]; for Nogales, 86[deg.] and 44[deg.]. Overnight stops marked on our map offer campgrounds, motels, or both. You can request a motel list from Grand Canyon-to-Mexico Bicycle Tour at the address below. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

There are no shoulders on the road for the first 25 miles in Grand Canyon National Park. But traffic should be light this month and again in October. The rest of the route follows highways and roads, may with generous shoulders. Two guided October tours

First-timers can join a guided run in fall. You meet on October 5 in Phoenix or tucson; from there, buses will take you and your bike to Grand Canyon Village. The ride itself begins October 6, ending October 13 in Nogales. From there, buses can take you to the Tucson airport. Total cost is $140, covering transportation, sag wagon, six group meals (including a final lunch in Nogales), and campground fees (cost of motels is not included). This trip, limited to 150 participants, fills early, so act now.

Veterans of the tour meet at the Grand Canyon on October 4 and depart the next day. After riding a slightly different route, they join the first-timers in Tucson. Limited to 100 riders, the trip costs $150.

Register with Grand Canyon-to-Mexico Bicycle Tour, 7454 E. Broadway Blvd., Suite 102, Tucson 85710. GABA members ($11 per year) get $10 off the trip fee, plus newsletters; wire to Box 43273, Tucson 85733.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Apr 1, 1985
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