Last Week, I headed off trail to summit Buster Mountain. After a couple of miles, I arrived at the saddle in the middle, looked into the canyon, wilderness, Isolation and mountain lion territory beyond and thought, probably not a good idea to do this alone. What I did not know is, see that rise to the right of the saddle, that's Buster Mountain. I was a couple hundred yards from the summit. What lay beyond was Wilderness Dome and Leviathan Dome. Oh well.
Still oblivious to how close I was at the time, I talked "Vagabond Jeff" into joining me on the next attempt. He, I and his girlfriend Donna met on Sunday and shoved off. Jeff had downloaded a different route then what I had taken to his gps device so off we went. As always, nice views.
His route was, to be charitable, rough. What trail there was soon disappeared in.....
.....mile after mile of waist high grass and each of us was well aware of what could still be laying beneath or beside each step. Pretty much you just have to take an "oh well" approach although I was careful to put my foot in exactly the same spot as the person in front of me. We came through a couple of obvious animal dens, you can tell by the packed down grass, scat, prints, etc... but the animals were gone. One pile of animal poop had to be a bear, after examining its contents.
Above, very cool threads of reddish rock on the face of yellow rock.
We reached the summit of Buster, very disappointing as I looked wistfully at the Domes. I know there is a trail to one of them and am thinking about buying a gun (yes I know how to use and yes I own in Ohio). Hiking out here is a different feeling from hiking in Ohio. At times, the sense of isolation and vulnerability (there are lots of lions and bears up here and people have been attacked) both adds to the experience but also somewhat inhibits what I would otherwise do by myself. Anyway, finished the hike and put in a bike ride on Monday. Coming Tuesday, leading a group hike.
First the important stuff. Flyin Tuna and Jeff S are hosting a ride to which all are invited. Details are: Jeff and I are planning to ride from Wildwood Park (Granville) to Bladensburg on Sunday, 11/23. Ride will leave at 9:00 and should be around 55-60 miles, somewhat hilly, 15-16 mph average pace. If it is raining, consider it cancelled. Jeff has maps and we will plan to stay together.
Today was the Tour de Tucson, an event that pulled in 7000+ cyclists. Here, they emerge from the Snyder Road wash, a nasty sand/stone/boulder crossing.
Carmichael Training was passing out water bottles and Chris was riding the event. No Marty Sedluk this year and not sure if Tym & Lisa Tyler flew out for it.
The fan support is impressive as thousands line the route. There are frequent radio reports as a car follows the leaders.
Well, it's 10:00am so I stop at where OSU alumni and fans gather to watch our Buckeyes.
After the fame, I do a short hike that includes this neat canyon and emerging from it.....
.....I see tomorrow's destination, there in the middle, Buster Mountain. Really looking forward to that.
It did not take me long to learn that if you stumble or begin to fall, do not instinctively reach out to catch yourself. 9 out of 10 times, heck, maybe 10 out of 10, the grab will be more painful than the fall.
Having made two attempts recently, not making it to Cathedral Rock was gnawing at me and so, back to Sabino Canyon Park on Thursday to try again. I believe that is it, center/right, highlighted by the rising sun. CR is the highest point in the Catalina Mountains, which are a front range to Mount Lemmon. It was going to be a long day but enjoyable.
Gaining a little in elevation, I looked to the southwest. Beautiful and glimmering in the sunshine was the observatory on top of Kitt Peak, way, way distant.
My least favorite part of the hike, the mile long Cardiac Gap climb. I reached the top of the saddle in 1:30, total time from the parking lot, about the usual time.
At mile 6.25, the trail, having emerged out of the canyon, rather steeply that contains Bridal Veil Falls arrives at a broad expanse of slick rock with a couple of large boulders. Here, I stash my backpack and in a waist pack, carry about a liter of fluids, snack, etc... for the final push to the top. Note the blue sky, which contrasts with.....
....what I saw on Sunday when I turned around. With 3000' of climbing, I have about that left which means, lots of climbing to go and about another 3 miles.
The trail rises above Esperero spires with mountain ranges in the distance. I make a right off Esperero Trail on to Cathedral Rock trail. So far, the trail has been fairly easy to follow and since I have been on CR trail once before, I now know where not to become confused. After meandering beneath a rock face, the trail emerges on to another saddle. If you have read previous reports, you know here is where I missed the off trail route to Cathedral Rock and ended up walking down hill away from the objective.
This time, I found the route, marked by cairns going steeply uphill but the cairns were spotty and I kept getting off the route. Once I realize I am off a route, I retreat to the last cairn, begin an arc of reconnoitering to try to find the next cairn but this really slows the pace. Frequently I would find a cairn, be encouraged and then, nothing. Looking at my watch, I grew very frustrated and begin shouting expletives. What the heck, maybe it would scare off a mountain lion. Finally....
.....I decided to pick a spot, in this case that obvious notch, and shoved my way through the brush, fallen trees, up scree slopes, nasty.
I arrived at the notch and faced a 12' wall and nothing to suggest this was the route. Only later, coming back down did I find this was one way but that wall.... To the left was a hundred foot drop so scouted to the right. I was running out of time but did bring a head lamp so while it would be useless up here in this morass of scrub, down below on the more obvious trail the lamp would be an asset.
I found a series of cairns that led me along this ledge and up and up. Exciting stuff to be sure.
I finally made it. I could see there were some spires that could be climbed that I understand, sitting on top of is amazing but no time for that. I shot some very cool video, a few pics, wolfed down some food....
...admired the few a little longer, that's Mount Lemmon beyond the rocks.
It's actually mesmerizing and I didn't want to leave but I began entering an anxiety phase because as I climbed down with the absence of cairns, everything looked different. I'll admit to getting a little panicky. Getting lost up here, not good. I got off the trail but found a couple of cairns that led me to that notch I had bypassed earlier and it proved to be a shortcut too!!!! The down climb was a little dicey but made it ok, got off trail, began a sweep, then just plunged through the thicket toward what I thought was the saddle with the Cathedral Rock trail and, what luck, found it.
The sense of relief was palatable. There are the Esperero spires way down there. I ran into a guy from Germany who was headed to "The Window" another great hike. I reminded him of sunset because I did not think he could get to the window and back prior to dark. On the way down, I ran into a Tarantula, below. Played with it for a moment and kept going, reaching the parking lot with an hour of daylight to spare, 6400' of climbing and 18+ miles. Fun day.
Sombrero Peak. Been here a week ago but was led by Vagabond Jeff so thought, before I commit to leading a hike for a local group, I ought to make sure I can find the way to the top. It's a short hike, steep and fun with some exposure and treacherous footing.
I came through that and that is typical on this hike.....
....and then I have to go through that. No trail, just pull yourself up through the morass of boulders to the narrow rock bridge, take a deep breath and walk across it.
Dang, the views as usual are breath taking. Below, the official summit and I signed my name to the register again.
I took Saturday off to enjoy college football. In hindsight, I should have joined 3 guys who were making the climb to Cathedral Rock on a beautiful sunny day with highs in the mid 70's. One of them for sure (probably all 3) is the real deal, Gary, who discovered Kirchner Caverns and an experienced climber with appropriate gear. But, instead I decided to do the CR hike on Sunday. Yes, the same hike as last Sunday during which I missed a turn and thus missed CR. The more I read about the place, the more I want to visit. This Sunday morning, 6:30am, clouds still in the area at Sabino Canyon State Park.
Although the clouds were forecast to depart from an overnight cold front, they always linger in the mountains for an extra day so I was not optimistic. It could very well be raining up there, making the rocks slick. I understand the final push to the top is over a class 4 scramble which has exposure so not a place to be if the rocks are slippery. I hoped the clouds would clear as I was going up and if not, it would just be a good workout.
The clouds add to the usual beautiful views to the south and west.
Climbing out of Cardiac Gap, I am encouraged by the patches of blue sky but....
....still very ominous looking farther north where the trail goes.
Esperero Spires to the southeast. There is a route up to them from Cardiac Gap but ropes are needed to ascend.
Now at mile 6.5, at a spot where I can stash my backpack and proceed with a lighter dayhike pack for the final 3.5 stage but still not looking good. I sit and wait for awhile to see if conditions improve. I'm no more than a couple hundred feet from the cloud line and it's fascinating to watch the clouds so close, drifting up and down, obscuring and then revealing features. Other than the potential danger of hiking on wet rocks, it would suck to get to the "Inner Sanctum" of Cathedral Rock, stand in pea soup and not be able to see the views. So, I turn around and head back down.
Reaching the bottom and looking back, the clouds still linger while elsewhere it is sunny.
A roadrunner pauses long enough for me to snap an image.
I drove the one mile to Catalina State Park, crossed a wash and began walking on a trail called the "Birding" trail. Pretty benign and a nice level walk until, a short climb to a bench, I walk behind the bench and begin going off trail.
If you've been following my hiking reports, you know I've climbed Pusch Peak on the right a few times, wanted to go off trail and climb Bighorn Mountain (middle) but while doing some on-line research, found there is a route to the mountain on the left, Buster Mountain. After leaving the Birding Trail at the bench, I find cairns and a faint trail and begin.....
....going up and up. The mountain is named Buster because in the early 1900's Buster arrived with his family from Texas, family returned to Texas except for Buster, who worked odd jobs while working a still. Supposedly, somewhere around here you can see the remains of the still.
Reaching a saddle after a pretty good climb, there is a canyon and then a steep climb that either takes you to the above or....
...to the above. Not sure this close which is Buster. I've walked 2 miles and have another 2.5 to go. However, it's eerie up here and I'm going to lose cell service after I leave the saddle. From the saddle, I call Vagabond Jeff, local hiking legend and get him to agree to go the distance next weekend, so I'll be back. Also, one of the local hiking groups has designated me a hike organizer so if this goes well, I'll put it on the schedule. I belong to 4 hiking groups and for a variety of reasons, the hikes have been very lame so far so I'll try to add some spice.
Turning back, I notice the rocks in the area appear to be pink. Very pretty.
I am now a regular at "Tim's Ride" a very enjoyable group ride, Thursday mornings, currently starting at 7:30 from in front of the PF Changs on River Road. It is a tempo ride for the first roughly 12 miles which serves to keep everyone together. Upon reaching the loooong climb on Twin Peaks, the tempo remains but the ascent takes its toll on a couple of the group, usually numbering 30-35. Then, upon crossing Tangerine Road, the hammer drops and the peloton explodes. It's a mad scramble to reach and then hang with the front group. Today, "Lou" a Cat 1 is riding a track bike.
Tim Carolan, a former Pro/1/2 racer, our ride leader and who works at "Miles Ahead" bike shop, can ride at the front but usually hangs back and pulls some of the splinter groups. Judging by the kits, many if not most of these people race on the weekend so they are content to follow the rules, ride with the group, ride hard when appropriate and then after we reach the roundabout at the end of Twin Peaks, we return to tempo riding. As we race to the roundabout we can see those returning from it and it allows us to see where we rank, let's see....1, 2,5, 6, 9......I'm still counting, 11 and I am 12th, second week in a row. I could move up a spot or two but I'm out here to hike so riding 1-2 times a week is enough. We finish with 48 miles and afterwards, someone tells me I should hang at Starbucks so people can get to know me. Next week I tell him. Getting to know me is not a good idea if you value your anonymity.
Kayla Starr is headed to southern California, hooking up with a friend for 10 days of intense training. Not satisfied with her endurance during last season, the Cat 1 intends to focus on improvement in this area as she rides around the Santa Monica Mountains. Then, in early January, she will be in Phoenix and Sedona for mountain biking. Great way to kick off the new season.
On Friday, while hiking Sombrero Peak with Vagabond Jeff, he described a hike that sounded very cool, Cathedral Rock. He described the environment at the top as "surreal" so while watching that great Buckeye game, I decided to do the hike and began searching the internet for hiking reports. Note to self: Don't read hiking reports while watching football, too distracted During the drive Sunday morning, the rising sun hits the top of the Catalina Mountains. Maybe you can see Finger Rock, shrouded in shade, center right.
The hike originates in Sabino Canyon and somewhere up there, 9 miles distant and 6000' of climbing, is the destination. I shove off at 7:15, temperature is 55ish with a forecast high of mid 80's in the valley, ensuring it will not be too cold at the top; mid 60's. I figure worst case I can cover the 18 miles, with playing around time at the top, in 10 hours.
After a couple of miles, the views to the southwest appear. Way, way out there on the last ridge is Baboquivari Peak and to the right, Kitt Peak.
The trail, Esperero, reached a ravine that is climbed and described by the locals as "Cardiac Gap"
Always a welcome sight, the end of a long climb that is kind of steep but many would be more deserving of the "Cardiac" designation.
At the saddle, the views, already fantastic, become more so.
Looking to the interior, water is heard gushing far below. The trail eventually crosses into the canyon but much farther upstream.
The trail now circumvents the canyon, rising slightly as it skirts "Geronimo Meadows". I had brought about 4.5 liters of fluid, which was plenty. One bottle, frozen from an overnighter in the freezer, I hid at the above saddle at mile 3. Dang, did that taste great when I returned.
The rains from the monsoon season have produced a bumper crop of various grasses, that obscure the trail and any reptile that may be lying in wait. I'd hate to have my skinny legs mistaken for a meal. Wearing hiking shorts was a big mistake. Walking so far, through so much of the above, took a toll on my legs.
Upon descending a bit into the canyon, and then ascending along it's bottom for about a mile, one reaches a prominent spot, "Bridal Veil Falls" So named because the mist from it resembles a bride's veil, although it was not obvious to me. The water was running strong and would be a good source if one had a filter.
Emerging from the canyon on to a ridge that parallels it, groan, I still have a long way to go, assuming the above is where I will find the Cathedral Rock Trail junction. But.....
....very soon I reach the trail marker as it is well short of where I expected it to be. My failure to carefully read hiking reports caused two big mistakes. One, Cathedral Rock Trail does not go to Cathedral Rock.
I am going in to some detail because as soon as I arrived home, a notice popped in via email that a group was going to do this hike in a few days. They'll have an opportunity to read this so, ascending CR trail, I came to a rock cairn. Odd since there had been none other than at stream crossings. This must have some significance, right? I looked around and there was something similar to a cut-off golf shaft to the left, pointing uphill. Farther up, there was some litter but no trail that I could discern. I retreated to the cairn and proceeded forward, finding another cairn and so I kept going.
The trail was very faint and with all the overgrown grass, skirting a wall to the left and sharp drop to the right, I began to wonder if I had gotten on to a game trail. Some large animal suddenly bolted from the underbrush but I could not identify it, so thick was the coverage of trees and brush. I was just giddy it was going the other direction. The trail ascended slightly, eventually reaching the saddle, center/right, above. Here was my 2nd big mistake.
Reaching the saddle, there was a very faint trail going to the left but a row of stones and branches crossed it. That is a common marking to signify that you should not go that way but stay on the current path. Now I had great views into the interior of the wilderness. I was about at mile 8 and now plunged downward into what was a north facing slope and the vegetation changed dramatically. Down and down and with it my sense of confidence that I was headed in the right direction. I was not. I was headed toward a feature known as "Hutches Pools" and a 24 mile loop ending at Sabino Canyon. Yikes. I retreated to the saddle but now, it was too late and at the time, I was still oblivious that the side trail with stones crossing it was the way to go.
My sense of some anxiety did not let up until I got back to that cairn and then the Esperero trail. Some of you are thinking, "Dude, you should have a GPS device." I have one but lack of proper preparation led me to think it was a straight forward march to my goal via a trail named for it. Oh well, finished with 17 miles and 5500' of climbing. Legs feel good other than the areas subjected to thousands of grass cuts.
It does not appear like much from this image but when looking to the west/southwest, Sombrero Peak dominates the horizon. I have attempted this hike twice and so far stymied once I arrive at the walls.
Mostly, I arrive at this point, the trail goes both left and right. Looking to the left (west) there is no way, right? Way too steep to get around that area but I talked a local hiking legend, Vagabond Jeff, to take me up here and yes, you do go left. Dang, as we walk toward the above, there is no obvious trail but there is enough of a ledge that one can get through there. Live and learn.
Looking to the southeast, the views are just amazing. Almost mesmerizing.
"the Vagabound" as he is known, leads me up a steep and very bouldery area. We reach a narrow rock bridge with sheer drops to both sides. I stop, gosh, I hate these areas with so much exposure. It is irrational. How often are you walking and suddenly trip and fall? Like never, right? I carefully walk across the bridge and then reach the summit. Yes, I am looking ancient.
Great views. After a brief stop, we head back down. It took us an hour to reach the summit, about 1.5 miles from the bottom and 1700' of climbing.
Here is that rocky bridge. I know, doesn't look like much but if you were there, wow.
On the way down, we came through an odd concentration of saguaro cactus. Fun hike and now that I know how to get to the top, will do it more often. I rode with a Strava group on Saturday, watched my Buckeyes win Saturday evening and then......got a good one coming.
When clouds are in the area, which isn't often, there are spectacular sunsets. We had a cold snap early in the week with Monday's high of only 67, brrrrr. This was a 20 degree drop from the previous day but no rain came through with the cold front. Then on Tuesday, the temp bounced back up into the low 70's and in a day or two back in the 80's.
Always a fun fitness hike and full body workout is the 1.9 mile hike, via the Hunter Trail to the top of Picacho Peak. It is a steep slog to the saddle, which I did in just under 22 min during which a woman told me she hated me. She said, "I hate you. I saw you start way down there and now you're way up here and passing me." I got through the various obstacles and reached the summit in just under 44 minutes. It was cloudy today so the views were muted.
On the way down, I took time to take a couple of images of the parts of the trail that add interest, such as this bridge across a sheer rock face.
It appears so close but it is so far. The trail goes to the left of the rocky face to the right, goes way back and then up past those ribs in the background. Only 2.1 miles to the peak but 2600' of climbing and it is friggin steep.
Like this section, scramble up to the right, cross over at the midpoint and then over the edge.
At about the half way point there is a fork. Must take the left fork or else you will end up at the overlook in the distance. A couple of guys came down and asked if I had done this hike before, which I have and they asked how they had missed the fork....rookies.
There are several "ribs" that are passed on the way up.
More "ribs" as I head farther up with glorious views to the west.
I reach the top and sign my name to the registration book which is under a rock. There are a couple of guys already up there.
In the distance is Rosemont Peak, which I climbed about a year ago. Cool place.
On the way down, I passed this rock with a line of I don't know, maybe crystal imbedded in there? Because I ride or hike every day but one, each week I can't post every day but put up the better hikes. Good news, Vagabond Jeff, a local legend, has agreed to lead me to the top of Sombrero Peak on Friday. Can't wait and more to come.
If you have driven to the top of Kitt Peak and the fabulous array of telescopes, you would have noticed to the south a very prominent peak a few miles distant, that is Baboquivari Peak and so, I drove an hour to this dirt road with the intent to hike as far up the peak as is possible, without the use of ropes, of which I have none.
I read a couple of hiking reports and they said at mile 2.6, you would find a fork in the road with a sign for Mormon Corrales and you were to take a right. Note the peak is getting closer as clouds play across the face of it. From this point, the road became rougher but still passable via car.
The reports said when you reached a white fence, park and begin walking the remaining 4.4 miles to the base of the steep part of the peak. OK, the fence was not white but at the time of the reports, written in the late 90's, it was probably white. This vehicle approached and the occupants told me to be careful because a mule deer hunt was under way. They said, "No one will shoot you but be careful." Also, a couple of years ago, two hikers were killed by illegals in the area. Well, nothing to do but push on so I got out of the car, gathered my gear and began walking.
The base of the peak did not appear to be 4.4 miles away but what the heck. It was a beautiful day for a hike, low 80's and sunny. I followed a jeep track.
Hmmmm, never seen this out here before and there were a lot of these formations. Note the faint path. I shoved a hiking pole way into one hole, thinking maybe a rattler would come out but nothing. Probably home to some furry varmint.
After walking for 4.5 miles, I reached the real white fence where I was supposed to park but no way to do that without a very high clearance vehicle. The peak is getting closer. There was also a yellow ranch house, there in the lower right. How remote! The trail went to the right of the house and then....
......through a portion of the ranch and note how the corral is constructed with pipes and wood scraps. I know, you're thinking, dude, you are off the route but no, this is correct, it goes through the perimeter of the house.
After 5 miles, I reached this point and with 4 yet to go, I did not have enough fluids so I turned around. I planned on a 9 mile hike, not an 18 mile hike. So close yet so far. The image does not do justice to the size of the mountain. I'll be back but need a suv to get me closer before setting out on foot.
On the hike back, I re-entered a stream through which the road went and it is kind of tight quarters so the suv ought to have high clearance and be narrow too. Lots of butterflies around this.
A flock of cholla to the side of the road with a great view to the east. I walked and walked, passed a guy in camo fatigues with a gun, under a tree, watching.
Reached my car and drove away. Above, ,maybe you can see the white telescopes on the top of Kitt Peak. I'll be back.
Sunday, I rode with a Tour de Tucson training group ride of 56 miles and the upside to that was meeting someone who told me about a Thursday ride and said, "Oh, you'll fit right in with that bunch.". Didn't know what to make of that but then on Tuesday, I hooked up with an early morning group hike. The sun breaks the horizon and brings another day of sunshine. Still warm out here with temps in the upper 80's but that is going to change soon.
We followed a couple of different trails, headed to Cochise Springs. On the way, Picacho Peak way in the distance.
The 8 of us reached the spring, dry now and someone broke out salami and cheese. How about that! Finished with 10.5 miles and done by 10:00am, before it gets too hot. Hiked again on Wednesday and then.....
...headed to the Starbucks on River and Campbell Roads to join the Thursday ride I was previously encouraged to attend. It is called "Tim's Ride" after a guy who raced in Ohio for a couple of years. I think his name is Tim Caroline and he does bike fitting. Really fit looking group of cyclists, with 25 showing up for the 7:30am start and 60 degrees.
I turned and caught this image. Not of cyclists but check out the restaurant, "Zinburger" a wine and burger bar. Beth and I checked it out and it is an upscale sports bar with fantastic hamburgers. Wine list is kind of small but there is a "Stags Leap" chardonnay and so what it lacks in quantity it makes up in quality. I highly recommend it with locations in Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tucson and elsewhere.
Anyway, we shoved off and headed west, then north and then hit Twin Peaks Road. The pace is intentionally moderate to keep most together and I was amazed at the self restraint shown by many who could motor away whenever they want but Tim stays at the front and no one jumps out of the pack. Upon crossing Tangerine Road and heading up Dove Mountain, then and only then are the hounds released. I hung in until the final ramp and had to spit the bit and after reaching a roundabout, reversed course and head back for a regroup at a gas station before proceeding back to the shop, again at a moderate pace, ending with 47 miles.
Then I went hiking yet again. There are three major construction projects in the immediate vicinity, all building condos or rentals. Hard to believe the area can support the addition of hundreds of new units.
I headed off trail in to the mountains, doing some more scouting for my new trail to Bighorn Mountain. Someone told me out of all my concerns about creating a new trail, I did not think of bee swarms. Disturb one of their nests and you are toast. Every year a few people die from the bee swarms. I did see a fox sprinting away and I have reservations about entering an area that probably has rarely been disturbed. Above the barrel cactus begins to produce fruit. Below, Friday's big adventure and more to come about that later.
First, Marty did not voluntarily send me this image. As many of you know, he is not a publicity hound but I heard there was an image of him at the finish line so I applied some pressure. Below is his description of the final climb and in the interest of fairness, I am providing one of my fans with equal exposure so no one can say I do not provide balance.
This was taken just before the last rise to the finish line. The guy to my right is Chris Lyman, I have seen his name a number of times at Fondo’s that I done including a few weeks ago at the Levi Fondo. He is usually in the top 10 and was a very strong rider. He started to cramp at the top of the Green River Cove climb, I told him to hop on and he explained that he would not be able to help. I said that it was fine and told him, let’s go. As we hit the final rise he told me to go ahead without him. I am glad that I was able to ride with him, he helped me set a strong pace up the Green River climb and was very encouraging and told me that I could catch Winston.
Amanda, aka, "Corvair" for being as dependent showing up for a ride as was the car by that name. Here, she is on vacation, somewhere south, eating a less than healthy meal. Below, another food item. Amanda certainly ate well after doing a lot of hiking. I of course welcome and encourage ride/hike reports from others. Flyin Tuna used to provide a report every so often but I think I annoyed her by insisting her reports use more than single syllable words and that she should read a book on proper usage of grammar, before submitting another report. Corvair also, on occasion sent a report and I even gave her the title of "Ink Stained Wretch" but then she wanted a stipend and no one gets paid around here.
590 line up for the 80 mile, 8000'+ of climbing event with many others populating shorter routes but it was in this group that Hincapie, TeeJay van Garderen, Michael Barry, Kevin Livingston and other current and former pros slotted in with the greats of Ohio cycling. While the Ohio guys and gals did not make the podium finish, three of them finished in the top 10.
The start was a bit chaotic with Jon Morgan and others crashing as cyclists were forced in to a narrower slot in the road then what they had previously been riding. Jon is ok but his frame is toast and sounds like he braked so hard the pads burned through the rims too. Above, this and other images provided compliments of Hendra P and yes, that is Hincapie on the right. From this point, Luke Russell takes over with his recollection of the ride.
There was much hubbub at the starting line as riders jostled for position and ran into friends from all across the country. Our Columbus group of about 20 managed to secure a great spot near the front, and we watched as George, Tejay, and Tom, to name a few, moved through the crowd to lead the fondo out and get the show on the road. The start was fast-paced and rolling, and held a big group of nearly 200 riders spread across both lanes. Oncoming traffic was ushered off the road as we thundered towards the base of Skyuka mountain through some of Greenville's most scenic roads. Some anxious members of the peloton were pretty aggressive with their braking, causing some big pile-ups near the rear of the group. Gus had to wrangle himself free from me in a near-crash, and Jon was tangled up badly in a big fall that destroyed his bike. I was involved in both incidences, and went down with Jon around 12 miles into the ride, fortunately not taking out Lori who was riding right behind me. I was lucky, and my bike was still rideable, but Jon had much worse luck. He is in the market for a new frame. After picking myself up I managed to TT back to the group just before the base of Skyuka.
It was a lot of work, as I said before the pace was very quick at the start. When I arrived, I saw Marty and Hendra casually move to the front of the pack, weaving their way past all but the fastest climbers as they rode the 1800 foot, 9% climb alongside the pros, allowing only a couple of enthusiastic riders to get away near the crest of the climb. Marty would later tell me that he was "just hanging onto the back". His casual, perhaps wry smile while he was climbing tells me a different story. He was playing his cards pretty well. I was about a minute and a half back at the top of Skyuka, and managed to catch Hendra on the downhill. He had stopped for a photo op at the top, overlooking a gorgeous valley of fall color. Hendra and I rode hard from the base of Skyuka towards Howard's gap, a grueling 2 mile uphill, with parts over 15%. I couldn't match pace, and dropped off as the others blew through the climbs and flew along the (very scarce) flats. I was passed by Gus who was riding like a storm with a group of 4 of the Hincapie development team riders. I heard that he got tired of riding with those guys, and ended up dropping all 4 of them a little later.
After 2 major climbs I made a pit-stop at the mile 54 rest area to refuel, and met up with Lori who was having trouble shifting. She was stuck in the small ring for a good 5 miles, and we found a mechanic willing to help us out and get us back on the road, though I think Lori lost a good 15-20 minutes to the mishap. The mechanic was nice and made sure Lori could use both chainrings for the rest of the ride. Lori and I led a group of 8 or 9 riders at a fast pace away from the rest stop, going 25 or so along rolling hills. Lori decided she had had enough of me pulling (hard), and came around me to push the pace! I moved to the back of the group and held on, as I watched gaps opening up behind Lori. I managed to close the first, and then the second, but by the time Lori had opened a third gap, my legs just couldn't keep up. Lori disappeared with 2 other guys and rode away from both of them a little later on.
The final big climb was a long 9% grade with 17 switchbacks. It was tough and I rode hard uphill, passing a lot of people on the ascent. Eventually the climb opens up and flattens to about 3%, and that's where Lori and Marty do pretty well. I think on the overall segment including the 17 switchbacks and then the 3% grade up to the summit, Lori clocked the fastest female time ever, and Marty was 2nd fastest overall. No messing around here in Ohio. After the summit is a long, gradual descent for 7 miles and I tried to gain as much time as I could, hoping that I would catch Lori if I went fast enough. After the descent, the road flattens for a couple of miles along the Saluda river valley until a final 1.5km climb to the finish at Hotel Domestique. I arrived 2 minutes behind Lori, and rode as hard as I could. Marty would finish very near the front, missing out on the podium by a very small margin, and was there to greet us after a nice shower and change of clothes. Hendra finished not far behind Marty, after what sounds like a mostly solo effort. Gus finished a little later than Hendra, powering through the course. Todd Delay came in a few minutes after me, and soon thereafter, Rick Miller arrived. Meredith, Allison, and Maya, rode together and crossed the finish after sticking with eachother the whole way. Meredith told me it was the hardest ride she has ever done. 80 miles, around 9000 feet of elevation, and with intensity to match the Thursday New Albany ride, it is a tough ride to match anywhere in the world. That's why we all decided to go climb Paris mountain the next day for "recovery". No rest for the wicked.
Marty finished 5th, Billy Campbell *who I still count as an Ohio guy) was 7th and Hendra 9th. Marty rode hard and said that is as good as he could do, besting last year's time. Farther down the list but not by much was Pete Czerwinski at 44th, Gus Cook at 64th, Lori Nedescu at 104 but 6th overall in the women's division and that with a 15-20 minute mechanical, Luke at 110, Todd Delay at 119, Cornel at 137, Meredith, Maya and Allison riding together and finishing mid 300's. I could not find a time for Rick Miller and Tattoo Dude Wes but no doubt they finished high on the list.
Tick-tock, tick-tock we await word out of Greenville on how the guys and gals performed. Above, the hopes of Ohio are pinned to the jerseys of these four, Allison, Maya, Meredith and Lori on the ladies' side of the field.
I joined a group on Thursday for the weekly Blackett's Ridge fitness hike. Kameron above, set a torrid pace and then at the halfway point, wanted to take a short break so I joined him, which cut in to my finishing time of 59:37. Kameron is from northern Iraq in the Kurdish region. He's looking for a wife. His sister urges him to come back to Iraq but most of the available woman around his age are on the front lines fighting ISIS. He likes it too much in Tucson, buying and flipping houses, to return.
Saguaro cactus with a lot going on. These guys would be 200+ years old.
I did some scouting for the new route to Bighorn Mountain on Friday and then joined a group ride out of the Bicycle Ranch bike shop on Saturday. Good group of 25, all but a couple are A and B.
They roll out together and then things sort themselves out on the road. We went west on Ina until reaching I-10, went north on a road that parallels 10, then turned right on Twin Peaks and the hammer got dropped. Twin Peaks is an 11 mile, constant 3-5% climb that upon reaching Tangerine Road, crosses and keeps climbing up Dove Mountain, ending at the Ritz Carlton resort. I hung in there until just before Tangerine, #12 in the group, formed up with some guys coming up from behind and....
...stopped at the resort for regrouping. Nice descent to Tangerine where we headed east and eventually back to the shop with 48 miles. My Garmin shut down so not sure of the avg speed but these guys are the real deal and I'm glad I found a good option for Saturday rides, other than going all the way in to downtown Tucson for the "Shootout" ride.
7:00am and running a little late for a hike in the Tortolita Mountains, which are behind me and not what you see in the image above. If you look carefully, you'll see a balloon rising above the distant mountains, middle. I arrived at the trail head, grabbed my stuff and began walking toward the group when I heard someone say, "Oh, that guy. He practically runs up the mountain." and someone else said, "Yeah, he was on a hike I was on and he is fast." How about that. The hike was rated intermediate + so people are encouraged to attend who can at least make that pace, which is defined in the description when the hike leader sends out the invite.
I get a little ahead of the group but there they are, coming down from a climb, nine of us in total.
I wait while checking out this view. We take a quick break and I saw something I have not previously seen. A guy just out of the army lights a cigarette. That's a first for any ride or hike, I kid him about it and he laughs good naturedly.
Part of the group. The red haired woman brushed against a Cholla and doing so, a portion of it clings to her shirt. Instinctively she grabs to pull the clump but that's a mistake and the needles sink in to her hand. Someone has a pair of pliers and pulls the needles. Fortunately, she is not a bleeder. The woman in front of her has a daughter at Dennison and moved from Gahanna, another small world moment. Lot of Ohioans out here.
Nearing the end of the 8 mile hike. Good day hike with fun people and all done way before lunch.
Saturday, this Saturday and not to be confused with any other Saturday past or present, Jeff S is leading a ride out of Granville's Wildwood Park (west side of Granville as you enter the village) at 9:00am. Jeff will not have maps so click on the below link and print or sketch something on a napkin, whatever you prefer. 64 miles with shorter options that will be immediately obvious after glancing at the map, or at least to my practiced eye, the short-cuts are obvious.
Have fun and send me an image or two if you are motivated to do so.
First the important stuff. Jeff S is leading a ride out of Granville's Wildwood Park at 9:00am on Saturday, going to Bladensburg. I'll have the gps file for the route later. Meantime, the forecast was 10% chance of rain and I had decided to take the day off (Saturday) to watch football and then this comes rolling in with heavy rain for a couple of hours. There were some people on top of one of the mountains who were caught out in it but all made it back ok.
Next morning, all was back to normal with some lingering clouds. The peak on the right I have visited a couple of times and left my name in the register at the top. The middle peak, "Bighorn Mountain" has no trail to it and few have visited it. I had planned to hike the right peak, go off trail on the left ridge, hit the basin and up the next ridge to the top if Bighorn but then it occurred to me, heck, I can just create a trail that goes directly from the valley to Bighorn. Maybe they would name it after me like "Mark's Folly". It would be time consuming and I could not take tools and alter the landscape but it is ok to scout a trail and place cairns at regular intervals to show the way. I'd be walking in areas never walked so who knows what I run in to and that is a concern. Have to think about this some more. Wandering in to a den of rattlers, mountain lion home, pack of javalenas, bobcat, etc... would be bad news.
There is a 3 mile loop that I would use as a springboard for my route and so I scouted it to see where I should leave that trail, if I pursue my plan. Along the way I found a bird's nest in this warren of cactus.
And then this gruesome looking type of centipede. Well, back home to catch up on work.
Pretty exciting stuff for those who are going to the George Hincapie Gran Fondo, as reported in VeloNews at :http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/news/armstrong-former-usps-riders-reunite-weekend-gran-fondo-hincapie_349986#OEKV1ih4QmvhX1Ru.01. Marty Sedluk, Luke Russell, Lori Nedescu, Jon Morgan, Allison Nuovo, Meredith W. G., Gus Cook, Maya Wei-Hass, Todd Delay, Rick Miller and others headed to Greenville for what will be a very exciting event. I should have a ride report for the enjoyment of everyone from one of the guys. Would be great if one of the ladies chipped in with one too.