This & That
The rain has spurred growth. Glad this is not my front yard but if I didn't stay after it, it would, ha, ha.
Check this out! For $49.00, highly rated and I can confirm it works well. There are numerous small branches nearby that I had been cutting into fire place lengths using a hand saw. Plus, we can take it camping so when I drag branches from the wilderness, I can easily cut them.
The washes remain a source of entertainment.
After our windy ride on Monday, we were beset by more wind and it just makes cycling less than enjoyable. If I was visiting for a week I'd ride because it's not unridable weather but the 70's and 80's delayed so far, will be upon us soon.
Well, ok, one of the days was kinda unridable as we hiked around Sabino Canyon, in a light rain.
And our strange winter/early spring gets stranger and stranger. A guy hiking in a hot dog costume, became lost and had to be rescued by SAR. What the heck?
Parking lots are full at our area hiking trail heads. I'm back at Sabino Canyon to do my favorite, 2 mile loop hike.
So much enjoy the views.
The light is just right that it illuminates a deeper portion of the mine. I carefully walk in, scanning the sides especially where a snake could be. Being alone, I can't talk a companion into probing deeper, lol.
Amy and I do a short, recovery ride through the 49er development. This is the development having the grand Halloween displays but only a few homes have decorated for St. Patrick's Day.
Dozens of cycling camps and clubs have arrived this month. Everyone wants a crack at Mount Lemmon. I wish the temperatures were warmer for them and us.
On Monday, winds were again unusually strong so we decided to head directly south into the head wind and then finally, at mile 20, reverse course and enjoy ferocious tail winds. That half of the ride was enjoyable.
The snow melt is slowing and the run-off is diminishing at my favorite wash crossing.
We experienced a week of normal weather and just like that, it was gone. Rain passed through just as the sun was setting, behind the largest Joshua trees I've seen in the area.
I've had a naive view of weeds in southern AZ. I assumed a combination of the climate and maybe landscape fabric kept them at bay but NO! They grow as vigorously as they do in the midwest, a shocking and unpleasant surprise. I don't know the names of the various varieties but a landscape guy told me one is called the "bottle rocket" because it shoots up. Unfortunately, I'm plagued with a bunch of them. Still, there is something satisfying when the weed is pulled with roots as I soldier on in my battle.
As system after system moves through southern CA, each may not bring rain as to CA but they all bring wind. If only we could appeal to someone to return our weather to normal, lol.
Post rain, the views are always incredible.
For entertainment purposes, I revisit a nearby wash to look for stuck vehicles but none were there today. So, what does one do on rainy days....
....be it in the midwest or in AZ, all floors and furniture need attended as Jack watches me work.
We drove to Oro Valley and parked at the Ina/Oracle Road intersection. Got on our bikes and headed west with a brief stop to regroup. Nice view of Panther and Sombrero peaks from this perspective.
We rode up and over Rattlesnake Pass. Traffic was very heavy, much more so than a few years ago. Turning around, I could see why as development is booming out here. Not having much of a berm too was unpleasant.
We stopped at a new Quick Trip!!! My favorite gas station and this one, at I-10 and Twin Peaks is in a good location for refueling stops. Amy, being a amateur nutritionist, examines the back of a package, letting me know next time, I ought to buy something else.
We finished with 40 miles. The next day, I did the unthinkable....
....I joined a group ride on a day that was surely going to be wet. Again, this was on the west side which has several roads with short but steep climbs. As we headed back east, the rain arrived and for the first time in a long time, I was soaked by the time I got to my car. Our very weird winter weather continues.
Short Hike in Sabino Canyon
I parked in the overflow lot so I could access my favorite, short loop hike in Sabino Canyon. An artist was in the early stages of a water color.
Lots of people out, fueled by great weather and spring breakers.
The ocotillo don't yet have their red blooms but close.
This 2+ mile loop is a favorite because the views are awesome, it doesn't take long to hike it and my lower joints don't get beat up so I can ride the following day. In the distance, I see the Phoneline trail about half way up the slope.
I descend from the high point of the route, through a narrow ravine, return to my SUV and head home.
I returned to Tanque Verde Loop Road to see if anyone else was stuck. Why, yes, yes indeed. The water has receded enough I was able to walk a ways out there to, in a very nice way, ask, "WTF were you thinking?" He thought he could make it across, of course. Less than a mile distant, there is a road that parallels this one having a bridge that crosses the wash.
Apparently, this happens often enough that someone created this sign, stating that for $75 and a 20 minute wait time, help could be on the way.
Most glaringly stupid though was the guy had to get out of his truck, push two barriers aside in order to try to make the run through the wash.
I've had, for me recently, a big week of cycling. If I went out on Sunday for only 13 miles, I'd top 150 miles for the week. So, off I went and spent most of the miles in the 49er subdivision where I saw something I have not seen since an Ohio visit!!!
The poppies are blooming!
And the snow is receding. Today's high was in the upper 70's...yeehaw.
The warmth brings the snakes. This non venomous guy was laying on the road, quite lethargic so I scooted him off the road, safe for another day.
Loch Ness Monster Ride
I created a 41 mile route on "Ride with GPS" that Amy, sister Tracy and I followed. Afterwards, Amy noted the shape of the route and dubbed it the title of this post.
We passed this on the climb via "Hacienda del Sol" Road. I have no idea what this is.
We lingered at a CVS to refuel and each of our bikes leaned against a column. I went inside to buy a drink and managed to miss the "Checkout Nazi" who on my last visit, harangued me about standing behind a line as a person ahead of me was grabbing a receipt and departing. What would we do without the "Karens" of the world? I looked at the Karen with a contemptuous look and refused to move. I don't much tolerate stupid people, lol.
The route is quite hilly as I continue to amp up my distance and now climbing. I'm making progress with my cycling fitness, very slowly but kind of surely. Our temperatures have reached the mid to upper 70's and I suppose I should do the Mount Lemmon climb soon. Ugh....it just takes a bunch of mental, rather than physical, effort and I'm kinda short in that regard.
My silly blog used to be solely about those wondrously populated, central Ohio group rides originating out of New Albany and Canal Winchester. Crowds up to 90 cyclists would come out and within those groups, some interesting characters like "Muscle Dude", "Crazy George", "Group Killer", etc... Then the blog became a mix of fabulous hiking scenes with some ride reports. I'd like to provide you with hiking pics but for now, and it is temporary, I'm sticking with cycling and the reduced opps for grand images. OK, the cycling images aren't bad like this one from Kolb Road looking south. Amy and I got out for a 40 mile, hilly ride today.
The next day, I jumped in with the Cactus Club group ride.
I bugged out of the group after the climb up Twin Peaks and continued solo, for 35 miles. Then....
...a Buckeye sweatshirt arrived for Amy.
I drove around the corner to check, again, the Tanque Verde Loop Road wash crossing to see if we could ride through but not yet. Meantime, more stupid drivers attempt to cross. The odd thing, the driver of the vehicle on the right, attempted to cross after seeing the vehicle on the left, stuck. Geesh.
A Return to Normal Weather
At last, typical southern AZ weather has returned. The forecast looks great and the snow line is rapidly retreating.
Amy and I headed west on a hilly route which included a 3 mile climb via El Camino Del Cerro.
Of course, the nice tradeoff of a long climb is the descent as we return on our 34 mile ride.
Ha, ha, a quick visit to the wash that crosses Tanque Verde Loop Road. Not one but two vehicles stuck and a guy standing on a sand bar, calling for help I suppose. Our day time highs have returned to the normal range of low to mid 70's and my mood, which has always been tied way to closely to the weather, is again in great shape!
SNOW & LOTS OF IT!!!
It's as if all of our unusually cool, windy, wet weather was leading up to what we awoke to on Wednesday morning. This being only my 4th winter here, it's easy to state I've never seen this before but a lot of longtime locals were saying the same thing. Note the cups on the Mexican Fenceposts. It's advised to do this to prevent frost damage. Jack seems perplexed by his changed surroundings.
The outdoor fireplace with snow on the wood. I was anxious to see how my surroundings appeared so headed out.
I'm glad I got out to see scenes that I likely will never see again.
I checked out the scene at the base of Mount Lemmon. Only on Monday had the road to Summerhaven and Ski Valley reopened after the last round of snow and now, again closed. Almost 100" of snow has accumulated this season, up there.
Wow, snow clinging to saguaros.
And now for the next stage, the passing of the clouds to get a look at the peaks.
Weather & Riding
Another system arrives, another round of precipitation but the snow line.....
....whoa, is moving down. Won't last but a few hours at the above elevation but still.
Amy sends me shopping but for items I've never previously purchased. Almond milk, ok taste is not bad but which to buy? Usually, each grocery visit requires a call for clarification. lol.
We had two days where the temperature was again below normal but warm enough (50 degree start...brrr) to get out for a 25 mile ride with the Santa Ritas in the distance and....
....the Catalinas in the other direction with a crested saguaro on the left side of the pic.
Next day, I rode 37 miles to the west where saguaros heavily populate the surrounding hills. And then, maybe our last blast of cold air arrived and wow, something I've never seen before. More to come.
Surrounded by Snow Capped Peaks
I am enjoying riding with a group called, "The Cactus Club". They have no "A" group, instead calling the fastest paced group a "B" group. I suppose now I'm in the upper 20% of the attendees but working as hard as the weather permits to move up. Reflecting on the Ohio groups with whom I rode, this is a far cry from the "Rivet" group and the "A" group but probably on par with the middle of Ohio's "B" group. A lot of the cyclists in Cactus ride 12-20,000 miles a year and their fitness reflects that. Anyway, I started with the group but wanted a longer ride....
...so bugged out and took a break at a gas station/market. I'm so used to sitting on concrete that even when there is an available bench, I still sit on the harder surface. This time, next to a mouse/rat trap.
The first pic was of Rincon Peak. I'm not sure if I'll ever hike to the top of that again, remote, super steep....yeah, probably not. Ohio friends have told me it appears cycling route options are limited and it's true. Yet, that's the only down side to being surrounded by mountains and it's an ok tradeoff for me.
With the rain and snow melt, filling the washes, you'd think by now drivers would know not to enter. The water doesn't appear that deep and it's not but the sand, drawn from upstream, is like quicksand for a vehicle. Finished the day with 40 miles as we watch another storm system approach.
The Clouds Lift Again
I have three large bags of golf clubs, accumulated over time and most represent something that makes parting with them, difficult. I have my grandfather's driver, the first driver I bought, antique clubs having value, clubs I designed and developed, etc... Regarding the above driver, I found 74,000 of them at a couple of foundries in China several years ago. They didn't know what to do with them since the company that had placed the POs, closed. Under US law, the foundry is not expected to eat the inventory. If they make several good faith efforts to collect and no payment made, I could take over the inventory and so I did, passing the clubs on to a US retailer who disposed of them. Anyway, I am selling or throwing away enough less desirable clubs to have consolidated clubs into two golf bags.
Another 10" of snow fell on the surrounding mountains. As I type this, another system is passing through, sure to leave another good layer.
Cycling clubs and camps have not arrived in earnest yet but some have and included with the first wave is cycling friend from Ohio, Doug M. Actually, he started in Encinitas, CA, greeted with monster storms so came to Tucson for a few days. Alas, the road up Mount Lemmon is closed to all traffic for a few days but the weather was ok so he got in a few good rides. For this winter, FL is where you want to be, not the southwest.
The snow touched lower elevation peaks too but only briefly.
After putting in a 40 mile ride on Monday and then enduring 3 days of crummy weather, I got out for another 40 miles on Friday. One of my favorite views is Blackett's Ridge and Thimble Peak with the snow covered Mount Lemmon as a backdrop.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Jack sits in front of our house. All that knowledge I brought with me about trees and plants is useless now. I don't know the names, let alone how to treat, 95% of these plants and there is a boatload of different types. I mean, it's southern AZ so probably just let nature take its course but no, not the case.
Our third consecutive day of rain, clouds and wind. It's way too much like I'm back in an Ohio early spring when the cumulative effect of months of similar conditions, would affect my mental state.
The washes are flowing again and with that, stupid drivers too. How embarrassing for that guy.
We wait for the clouds to lift to see how much snow has fallen up top.
I've moved on from various levels of surprise, disbelief, etc... and now am at some kind of stunned numbness to what we have witnessed with this winter, lol. In an atypical winter season, we are greeted with what is typical weather as we begin a ride
Oh, there it is, the sun, obscured again.
Well, at least it's not raining as we head south towards the Santa Ritas and Mount Wrightson on a 40 mile ride.
We pause to have our pic taken in front of this stone sculpture. Beautiful scene.
Ants on the Roof
A group ride was organized from a local park which had multiple soccer and ball fields. Kind of chaotic getting in and out on the bike and the grouping was to take place in front of a barn having ants on top....what eves. There they were, quite large but barely visible. Sixty cyclists came out with 30 in the "B" group. Been awhile since I was in a group that large and it was enjoyable.
My extra miles over the last few weeks is showing some evidence I'm becoming a bit more fit. I was part of a group of 4 that got ahead and stayed ahead of all others so that was encouraging. I did eventually get popped from that small group so that was discouraging, lol. The route was only 28 miles so I kept going, getting on Woodland Ave which attracts many folks who come out to park and watch a variety of animals.
Wow, a Ford 8N tractor! I once owned one and it was a lot of fun to use it in Ohio to mow. Once my trees got tall enough and broad enough to blot out the sun, I didn't need to mow again.
I stood at the fence and this guy showed some interest in me.
The area very much reminds me of central FL where a similar farming area is located. Meantime.....
.....he had to come closer for a sniff. Finished with 40 miles.
Another Layer of Snow
Most of the clouds moved out as I drive to Oro Valley for a group ride.
A rare sight, snow crept all the way to about the 2500' level.
Table Mountain on the left with plenty of snow. Unfortunately, the 40 mile ride was interrupted by a flat tire, mine. While removing the punctured tube, I forgot to check for the source of the flat so potentially it was still in the tire. Rather than risk becoming a serial flatter, I told the group to continue without me as I turned around. Bummer.
Another System Passes
Not snow but sleet accumulates on our patio. Unbelievable. As a small point of reference, I belong to a cycling group that will send out an email the night before a group ride, alerting members of a start time change if the forecast temp is below 32 degrees. I've received more notices this season than in all the previous seasons combined. It's not close.
The next morning, a fresh layer of snow on the surrounding mountains. Then, another cold front moves through and lowers the snow level dangerously close to us. More to come.
What's Up with This Weather???
well, ok, this is a good weather day as I sit at Harvest Restaurant, waiting for carpet cleaners to finish with my condo.
I'll miss the time in front of a real fire place in the winter. Something about the atmosphere of a real fire always appealed to me whether it was inside or outside. This will be one of the last visits as my wonderful 2/1 condo will be for sale in another day or two. Given the views and location, it is expected to sell quickly. I acquired the unit in 2012 and the appreciation is impressive.
OK, but WTF is up with the weather this winter???? I mean, COME ON!!!! Sure, it's relative but for southern AZ, it has been an extraordinarily cold (well, most days the highs are in the 60s) winter. Typically, by this point, we'd have many days in the 70's and 80's but yet another cold front came through and with it, rain and wind.
Strava, what a fun app. After a ride or hike, the activity is transferred from my Garmin to Strava. There, the activity is available for analysis. Of course, speed, elevation gain, all the usual metrics can be seen but within each activity, there are usually segments, for example, a hike from the base to a peak would be one segment where my time to complete the segment is compared to other Strava users. Within that segment would be smaller segments, again with my time, the elevation gain of that segment, the average grade, etc.. all visible. One of the points of comparison is not only how you compared to all Strava users who did the segment but also how you performed against Strava users who I "follow". Had to laugh when I looked at a cycling segment from Sunday's ride and saw who was at #9, lol. He must have been with a group, taking it east.
The waters have receded and behind them, deep crevices on some of our trails.
Our wonderful sunsets are beautiful even when there aren't many clouds in the sky to amplify.
I'm selling my condo so on a recent trip to clean, I was trapped between my condo and suv by a herd of 13 javelinas. They were spread out, vacuuming nuts that have fallen from the trees
I joined the Bicycle Ranch shop ride on Saturday morning. Only 16 of us and rather than two separate groups of "A" and "B" riders, we all went out as one. The outcome was predictable. At mile 9, some guy who had been keeping the pace reasonable rotated off the front, the next guy rose and began sprinting and I was left gasping. LOL. I finished with 31 miles, far short of the group's 55 mile route because....
....I wanted to have something left in the tank for the next morning when Amy and I drove to Amado, unloaded our bikes and headed west to Arivaca.
The pavement and views matched, awesome. We had a strong, gusty head wind as we headed west but took comfort that the return would be a bunch more enjoyable and....
....so it was. Not only with a tail wind but mostly down hill too, yeehaw! The Santa Ritas in the distance with Mount Wrightson the highest peak.
We finished with 43 miles and 2000' of climbing. That gave me 138 miles for the week.
I'm at a kinda trim 170 pounds. My cycling fitness deteriorated quite a bit in the last 4 years as I pursued hiking, which I enjoy a bit more than cycling. Hiking too is great for fitness but it just does not translate well for cycling. I suffered one too many indignities in recent group rides (getting blown out the back of easier paced groups, passed by people who never should be able to do that, tired legs after too few miles, envious of my Ohio cycling buddies I follow on Strava who ride far faster and farther than me, etc...) so I put in a 138 mile week. I noticed the difference so will continue for awhile but hiking is never far from my mind.
I checked a road that we frequently cross on our bikes and still too sandy and wet to cross. Shouldn't be much longer unless this is fed from melting snow than it may be awhile.
Amazing how deep the sand accumulates over some roads.
Here, the force of the water flow was so great it stripped away the asphalt. We decided to head higher to check out the snow and so....
....20 miles up we found suitable snow to release Jack from his leash.
Great views through the trees.
Unfortunately, we forgot to bring a ball but Jack seemed satisfied to chase snow balls even though they disintegrated once he pounced on them.
Yeah, I must say, my least favorite environment, snow. So it's nice to get in the car, drive down the mountain and watch the outside temp climb and the snow clear. Nice series of days in the 70's coming up.
The Final CA Day
We were out the door by 7am to catch a second sunrise.
Beautiful scenes yet again and.....
.....our Wheaten Terrier, Jack, posed for this image. He doesn't look all that happy but he throughly enjoyed romping on the beach for several days. Then....
....into the CA traffic, ugh. It's three hours of this before we get east of LA far enough to enjoy a less congested environment. Door to door it's about 9 hours of driving and we'll come back soon after Gibraltar Road opens and warmer temperature. Low 60's each day was ok but 70's would be a bunch better.