I just did the Taylor House ride for the second time. I previously did it more than 10 years ago, and exactly three things stood out about it that first time:
- A tube-socked dude who nearly wiped a bunch of us out through having some of the worst bike-handling skills I've ever seen;
- A very scary return to Flagstaff from Sunset Crater National Monument;
- The scenery was absolutely wild as the road went through the lava flow area.
That last bit is what really brought me back. These days, it's possible to record ridiculously beautiful rides with gear like the Cycliq Fly 12CE bike light/camera combo. I've been testing one for about the past month, and I really wanted to let it roll on this beautiful ride, which comes in four flavors (35, 45, 65 and 95 – I did the 65, which featured about 3,200 feet of climbing).
So let's break the ride down a bit with some things you need to know.
Taylor House Ride is More Overgrown Group Ride than Race
There are no number plates of official timing for the Taylor House ride. It's an open course, so you won't be separated from traffic except for about the first 5 miles thanks to a police escort through the main part of Flagstaff.
That's pretty much alright until you're headed back into Flagstaff on Route 66. You'll have headwinds and crosswinds, plus some really narrow road shoulders. The bike lane also disappears in a few places. And you'll have to jockey for position with semi trucks, people pulling trailers, RVs ... all that sort of stuff. And there's a lot of pebbly crap to contend with, which can be scary in some of the faster spots.
On the other hand, the rest stops are superbly stocked and the volunteers are extremely helpful. F-Bomb had some of their cool keto nut butter mixes, which was nice.
There are also event photographers, but they didn't manage to get a single good shot of me. Then again, I am not photogenic at all, so there's that!
It's All About Scenery
I promise that some of the scenery on the Taylor House ride will blow you away. This is especially a treat for people who haven't seen it before. There are some wonderful bits of forest and prairie to cruise through.
And Sunset Crater National Monument is pretty much a movie set. Thousands of acres of lava flow and cinders, along with a dramatic cinder cone. Any person who visits from out of state will have trouble keeping their eyes on the road during this bit. In person, it's far more grand than what you'll see in my photos.
A Tough Ride Between Climbing and Wind
We had a brilliant day with a few clouds. But holy cow, we had one helluva wind behind us. I knew as our pack rolled through town effortlessly at 30 mph that we would face serious winds on the way back.
Sure enough, there were times when people would be crawling along headed back to Flagstaff. I really wanted to find a pack to stick with both out and back, but I was having trouble matching my speed to anyone. So I wound up going alone for quite a bit of it. It wound up being my slowest time in awhile, which wasn't helped by a leg cramp with about five miles left; the narrow margin of error along Route 66 kept me from drinking for about 45 minutes, which played hell with keeping the electrolytes flowing.
I wound up finishing in about 4:20, right about how long it would take me to ride 75 miles in El Tour de Tucson.
Wrapping Up the Taylor House Ride
I enjoyed it, and I'm glad I did it. I'm not eager to repeat my experience on Route 66 — some of that traffic is simply too close for comfort. If they decide to close off a lane for cyclists, I'd do it again in a second, regardless of the wind. I think the Absolute Bikes crew did a nice job with everything; they can’t wave a magic wand to make Route 66 better, but I encourage them to do what they can to reduce the pucker factor there. (Maybe I’m just a big baby who hates trucks, trailers and RVs … I’m OK with that!)
Also huge props for:
- The well-stocked aid stations;
- The tasty finish-line food;
- The general event vibe.
Have you ever ridden the Taylor House ride? What did you think?
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