Today was groundbreaking. I’ve finally pushed beyond the annual melancholy feeling that plagues me at the beginning of each summer. I remembered that hot temperatures do not mean the end of biking. Although the afternoons are off limits, we truly have no off season in Phoenix. While other regions are limited to biking on rollers as a result of snow and ice, our roads remain clear. Our only obstacle is a 4 am alarm clock.  It’s brutally early, but the reward is exponential.

Just this morning, with a new set of Continental GP4000’s mounted and my trusty Axiom light illuminating the road before me, I  set off from my apartment. Gradually, I began to warm up my legs and gained momentum. Pedaling through Old Town Scottsdale, the Saturday night revelers had long since retired from their partying. I was left to enjoy quiet & empty streets. Ordinarily, Goldwater is a bustling 4 lane thoroughfare congested with shoppers, professionals, and delivery vehicles. However, it was now a ghost town. As I passed through the historic shopping district, a bar had forgotten to turn off their misters. Although hardly a wise usage of water, the cooling spray was welcomed as I waited for a light to change. From there, I enjoyed a brief descent on an underpass beneath Scottsdale Fashion Center, turned into the adjacent neighborhood, and entered Paradise Valley.

The roadway before sunrise.

Paradise Valley is a unique town. Although it is in the heart of Phoenix, its’ affluent residents are diligent to maintain a desert atmosphere. This diligence lends itself to a strictly regulated, almost police state atmosphere. However, it also provides gorgeous scenery. The roads are narrow and desert flora abounds. I watched rabbits scamper across the road and quail forage for food as my pedals turned. Quiet mansions sat behind their foreboding walls.I began to daydream about what it must be like to live in one of those residences.

Eventually, I arrived at my destination: Echo Canyon Trail. This popular trail leads to the summit of Camelback Mountain. Ordinarily, residents and tourists jockey for limited parking. Hikers line the sidewalks and park rangers diligently keep the flow of traffic moving. However, at that time, only a few early vehicles were present and the ranger was just beginning to set up the temporary “No Parking” signs. I had the road to myself, which enabled to me to dismount and take a few photos.

Camelback Mountain

After a few moments of reflection, I again set off. Home was my destination. The pristine asphalt effortlessly rolled beneath my 700Cx23 tires on the downhill. Still, I was the sole user of the roadway. In fact, the only vehicle that I saw on my descent from the mountain was a Paradise Valley photo enforcement vehicle. With a 35 mph speed limit, I wasn’t concerned that I would be speeding. It was actually welcoming to know that any motorists would be slowed by its’ presence.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I passed the Phoenician golf resort and gathered the energy for a final sprint. Having skipped breakfast, hunger was becoming a consideration. However, as I turned into my complex and entered my gate code, I encountered a feeling that I can’t honestly say I have felt since the triple digit temperatures began. Contentment.