We have them in Albany. So does NYC, Rochester and Buffalo. Even Syracuse-based “Cuse Cycles” ramps up with hundreds this summer. Bike-sharing programs have proven to be mighty popular in major cities throughout the world and Phoenix is no exception. Today, I took a lime-green, three-speed out for a spin.
At Grid Bike Share P127, between the Central/Roosevelt Valley Metro Light Rail line, there are plenty of bikes to use. I jimmy the U-shaped bar free from the bike spokes after entering my account and password. The black banana seat had been baking under a scorching sun but, surprisingly, it wasn’t hot. (Signature hot sauce would prove different later at lunch.) I adjusted the seat height and aimed towards Roosevelt Row.
Earlier, I had downloaded the app to my i-phone and registered to use the bike share program with my credit card. At $7/hr, I thought that was a bit pricey but still better than renting a car. Then, of course, I learned that the dockless, yellow-colored competitor called Ofo rents for only $1/hr. Ahhh, live and learn.
I picked to pedal on the sidewalk (laws say you can do that here) because the road edge was narrow and busy. Besides, the sidewalk was completed deserted, that is, all but a seemingly lost business man. He’s fully dressed in a tie and black pants suit and running just ahead of me. Weird, right? I ride alongside him and suggest he rent a bike like me. He ignores my wisdom and continues.
The Roosevelt Row Arts District is known nationally for its arts and cultural events, live music, delicious markets and shared plates. I brake to take photos of colorful murals, sculptures and photographic works alongside rehabilitated bungalows.
Local artists take credit for transforming boarded-up buildings and former crack houses into one of the most dynamic areas in downtown Phoenix. It doesn’t feel like during a hot summer afternoon but by nightfall the place is saturated with revelers.
I continue south onto 6th street with that fool-hardy business guy still in the lead. My destination is Pizzeria Bianco for a beer and a slice. Supposedly, it’s rated the best pizza in the world, so says Zagat, Bon Appétit, Vogue, Rachael Ray and Andrew Zimmern.
Having just subscribed to the Barstool Pizza Review on YouTube and watched the pizza episode of Ugly Delicious, I thought it a good sign. Also, the art curator at my hotel, Found:Re (more on it later) said it’d be worth the mild dehydration bike trip.
I lock the bike up against one of the restaurant’s front awning posts. I’m dripping and flush red from heat exhaustion. There’s no waiting as I wiggle up to the only available seat, at the bar, facing the brick oven. I’m wedged between 4 drinking buddies all wearing golf shirts munching down on meat pies called WiseGuy and Sonny Boy. The place is small but intimate, located in one of the old, original Heritage Square buildings.
The server brings me tall glass of water with small samples of two local crafts on tap. Goosebumps and a head rush proceed the first sip. My parched skin really needs to cool down. I take note of a white disc called Rosa, topped with red onion, parmesan and raw, unsalted pistachios.
I watch as my pie slides into the custom-build, 800F oven with flames cast by, get this, local wood. Really? This is a desert, where do you find red oak or pecan? Within minutes, it re-emerges with a bubbly, baked crust and dripping house-made mozz. A combination to resuscitate the soul.
With one bite of this simple perfection I’m convinced I could make it at home using my makeshift fire pit. George, if you’re reading, get ready to heat up those old tire rims!
After paying I return to the mean streets of hot Phoenix. I’ve got several leftover slices wrapped in aluminum foil in my backpack. It’s lunch for tomorrow’s kayak ride down the Salt River.
Looping onward, I make a few more pitstops to refresh. First, at a spacious garage converted into a food hall called Desoto Central Market then onto Fair Trade coffee shop for a killer smoothie and an impromptu sing-along for birthday girl, Kany (pronounced Connie).
If you’ve been to Troy’s Hedly Building or Latham’s Galleria 7, you’ve been to a food hall. The phenomenon is all about providing a variety of boutique restaurants and food vendors under one roof. The trend is also a great fit with hipster artists looking to debut their work.
At Desoto, I wander through air-conditioned bliss while sniffing rotating grub from vendors like Izzy’s Pantry (global street food), Root and Soul (contemporary soul), and a brewery pop-up called Huss Brewing Company (3-month liquor license). I’m tempted by the fresh oyster bar.
One hour elapses into two and the clock is still ticking on my rental. As I dock the ride, I remember the running madman who kept pace with me in his business attire. I ponder how or if he survived, seeing how difficult it was for me on two wheels. Maybe he too had a hotel pool like this (see below) awaiting his adventure?
More on the Found:Re hotel in this week’s Phoenix blogs.