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Short, sweet, with just enough meat

Cyclists who are just getting into road biking are often challenged to find moderate-length routes with a variety of terrain where traffic is minimal and roads are in good condition.

Today's 15.5-mile route through the orchards and rural setting east of Phoenix meets these criteria and will help newer cyclists become comfortable sharing the road with motorists without encountering a lot of traffic. The route also is a good training route, as its hills will challenge the legs of new cyclists not yet in shape.

Seasoned riders with limited time, but who need a good workout, might also try this route. If the distance is too short, try repeating it a couple of times.

You can start this ride at the Phoenix exit (The Shoppes at Exit 24) where there is ample parking. If crossing the freeway overpass intimidates you, look for parking around the Petro Truck Stop and start your ride there. Miles shown are from The Shoppes at Exit 24.

From either of these two starting points proceed east on Fern Valley Road. At mile 2 turn right on Payne Road and then left on Hughes Road (mile 2.5). The first three miles gain 339 feet at an average grade of 3 percent. At mile 4.8 turn right on Royal Crest Road, then bear left on Suncrest Road at 5.1 miles.

At mile 5.3 you will start climbing a 3-percent grade, gaining 313 feet elevation in 2.5 miles. Stay on Suncrest Road, which turns into Valley View Road West.

At mile 6.8 cross North Valley View Road and continue on Valley View East heading east. At 7.4 miles turn left on Meyer Creek Road for a short (1.5-mile) 3-percent climb, and then left at Wilson Road. Enjoy the quick downhill. At 8.3 miles you should be at the intersection with North Valley View Road. Turn right on North Valley View Road and after a half mile turn left on Carter Lane, then left again on Staples and right on Valley View Road West.

You are now retracing your route and headed back toward your starting point via Valley View Road West and Suncrest Road. At mile 11.5, you can either turn right on Royal Crest Road, retracing your route, or continue straight on Suncrest Road for a couple of challenging hills. The distance back to the start is the same either way.

For the hills, continue straight on Suncrest Road for four-tenths of a mile, then turn right on Payne Road, where you will start a couple of nice climbs followed by short rapid descents back to Fern Valley Road at mile 13.8. The first hill is a little over three-tenths of a mile at 5-percent grade. The second hill starts with a 2-percent grade for almost three-tenths of a mile and then pitches to a 10-percent grade for a little over a tenth of a mile. From here it's a nice downhill coast back to your starting location.

Wear bright clothing and a helmet, share the road and have a safe ride!

Bicycling enthusiast Bob Korfhage of Phoenix is a former president of Siskiyou Velo bicycle club.