As few will attest, no one is more optimistic than I but dang, look at the forecast. If the rain doesn't get you the wind will but this group is mostly comprised of hearty, cookie eaters so get out there and ride!
I had been reading about a Cooper's Hawk dive bombing residents, pecking their heads when they walk below the hawk's nest. I had forgotten about it when I arrived for my short visit and then discovered the nest is outside my 2nd floor unit! Been fun watching two youngsters take their first tentative steps outside the nest, wings flapping but not yet ready to take flight. Now on to an epic hike.
ON a day having a forecast high of 98, I head south and enter Madera Canyon where the road rises and the temperature cools a little. Above, Elephant Head on the right and to its left but out of sight is Mount Hopkins and higher up, Mount Wrightson, my destination, today.
I park in a generous parking area, still driving Rick's mumbo van that I hope to transfer in a couple of days. It was great to have the van as a transport to get some heavy items out here but driving a vehicle that gets 16mph kind of sucks. Beside being at a higher elevation of around 5000', the trail is in shadows for much of the day and when not, ample tree coverage picks up the slack.
There are a couple of options to ascend to Mount Wrightson so I choose the most direct and steep route, Old Baldy Trail. It will be a 5.5 mile hike to the top, gaining 4050' of elevation gain at an average of 14%. I sure seemed steeper than that!!!! The tree canopy breaks occasionally and provides awesome views as I make my way to Josephine Saddle at mile 2.2.
Reaching Josephine Saddle, I continue my trudge on to Baldy Saddle, another 1.8 miles farther up trail. My legs are surprisingly ok despite not having done a hike of similar difficulty for quite awhile.
At Baldy Saddle, I am directed to make a right and continue on for .9 miles. Mercifully, the steepness abates a bit for the remainder of the climb.
And there it is, the granite peak looming above me....ugh, so far, so high.
Still steep at times but also the ascent moderates, rarely, I work my way up the switchbacks while the trees are now absent and the views...awesome!
And here it is, the peak. Always an emotional rush to make it on a climb of significance as this one is. The high point in the Santa Ritas and of course, higher than....
….Mount Hopkins and its observatory. The names of the two summits are derived from the names of two surveyors who were bushwhacked by Apaches in the mid 1800's. That climb to Hopkins, oh wow, so steep.
In the distance, the Catalina Mountains and there are multiple mountain ranges in the wonderful 360 view afforded to me.
A few decades ago, a fire watch tower was maintained here but now nothing but the foundation exists, along with an ammo can that contains the summit registry which I proudly sign.
A nice man from St. Louis arrives.
For Strava followers, I finish 10th of 242 which is ok but my hiking fitness is not great so yeah, I will go back and do it again, soon. Maybe take the longer but shallower "Super Trail" but for sure do it again.
Soon, I begin the descent. Rounding a corner I see....
...an incongruous site of a small grove of trees on a south facing slope. Seemed out of place but beautiful.
A long dead pine stands alongside the trail.
Descending, the temperature rises. I recover a fluid bottle that I removed from the freezer in the morning and stashed off trail on my way up. Geesh, did that cold drink taste great but I was also glad to be in the shade during my return to the trail head.
The hike to Sombrero Peak, one I have done many times but a good hiking friend stated she has never experienced the hike so I was glad to show her the way. We park at Sanctuary Cove and begin the hike, quickly gaining elevation.
The peak, in the distance, is only about 1.5 miles from the trail head but several steep sections to arrive at the peak.
The views.....geesh I love it.
The route goes through a small grove of mature Saguaro cactus.
My buddy climbs through a steep section and ready for more which.....
….arrives. At this saddle, hiking poles are dropped, excess weight and thus we begin a hand a foot effort to the peak. A fun section of the route.
We reach the peak, sign the summit register, snack and head down where I....
….hug a Saguaro which provides a representation of how large these things can be.
About half way down I look back at what appears to be a formidable obstacle but there is a way and I was glad to share it with another fellow hiker.
And so here we are in June and faced with a somewhat troubling forecast for this evening's festivities. We once had a club weather forecaster, Steve Nelson, but he was shoved out the door (gold parachute attached) for a rather deplorable forecasting record. Throwing darts proved to be more accurate. I'd plan on being at the church, 6pm, for the roll out following the Rivet/A. B or C routes seen below.
I departed Ohio under the all too usual clouds and some rain but the worst of it was to my south and soon.....
….I could see blue skies as I emerged from the system. Going farther west I pass....
….the Arch in St Louis. How about that. Throughout the drive, I had to be really careful to check the mirrors when making a lane change as there was a huge blind spot. That secondary mirror is very helpful.. Driving the van was like driving while sitting on top of a ladder. I could look across at truck drivers.
The terrain through IN, IL, MO, OK is all pretty much the same but once in New Mexico, things change.
The billboards for "The Thing" begin appearing going south out of Albuquerque.
Mountains begin to emerge above the horizon as I depart the interstate at St. Rt. 26 for a shortcut down to I-10. I drive through Hatch, NM which calls itself.....
….the Chile Capitol of the World. Could be I guess.
Lot of restaurants and markets involved in the Chile selling business. Lot of large figurines adorn the buildings.
I head west on I-10 and drive through the areas known for sand storms but the wind is not strong enough to stir the sand and dust. I have been through here when the Highway Patrol shut sections of the interstate. I had departed a hotel at 5:30am as I was anxious to arrive in AZ and once there.....
…..unloaded the van, scattering boxes in the guest bedroom and living room, putting book cases together and enjoying the sun, warm temps and blue sky. Now I'm ready to hike and ride so more to come. Not sure I want to drive the van on to CA for Rick. He dangled the option of picking it up on his way to CA with a driver friend. I need to get back to Ohio to kick ass in the B group:)
Yeah, hey, sorry for the pause in posts here gang. I did not ride last weekend as I was having too much fun in my woods where I saw a turkey and the.....
….cutting and splitting of wood went well and I am finished for the year. A kind of sore back made me think I'd be up for something different so.....
…..Rick Miller had 3 vans he needed to get to CA for the start of RAAM (Race Across America) so I volunteered to take one at least as far as AZ. Plus, there have been heavy things I wanted to advance to my condos so.....
….I loaded the van (note the bunkbed for the race participants) and began the 29 mile drive. Much more to come folks.
Rick Miller makes a rare appearance at our Thursday ride, this time riding with his wife on a tandem. I was telling Rick I was thinking about renting a van and driving some heavy things I always wanted to take to AZ but the drop fee was $750! Shazammm, he has 3 vans that he needs to get to Oceanside, CA for the start of RAAM so I volunteered to drive one as far as AZ. I head west on Thursday but no fear, I will be back.
Paul Stock riding a loaner bike because his Trek is in the shop for repair.
5:40pm.....what to do, what to do? Should I let the old timer continue to sleep as he obviously requires it or wake him so he can scramble to organize things and be on the bike at 6:00pm? I woke him from a deep sleep.
Tonight, Don had the "golden key" the one that opens the doors to the church but he was late and the natives were restless. Philippe, French Climbing Machine, on the right after a hard weekend of riding in NC with Doug McConaha.
Yay! The Queen of Treats arrives and took a pizza box, made some improvements and can not keep her tasty treats cool until we return from our ride.
The Riveters gather to plot strategy.
The wind deterred some from coming out so we only had around 50 participants. We gather to hear any comments about the route or whatever needs said prior to.....
….shoving off on our 48 mile route. Actually, I should not use the word "we" as I was headed back to work in the woods. Almost finished.
Steve Nelson, on the right was a nice guy and made public his route so a few of us gathered in front of Starbucks on this warm, humid and foggy Saturday morning. The Cooks were there, councilman Kasey K and new guy Dwight. Always good for new guys and gals to check out our rides and who knows, maybe we can convert some into regulars?
Todd Fry in the foreground and in the background, just back from a visit to Dallas, Marty.
All smiles as we prepare to head out.
And so we do into some rather thick fog but of course it eventually burned off. We entered Granville and swung back west before heading north toward Utica. But, I was losing enthusiasm and in Granville, I overheard Kasey tell someone that he had to get back to participate in a New Albany parade so I explained I needed to get back to secure a good curbside viewing spot and away the two of us went.
But the fact is, for the 3rd time in four years, a crew representing the electric company came through and cut more ash trees and really made a mess of things. I asked that they just drop the trees and I would cut into pieces but none of them spoke English so that was a problem. Now I have this urge to cut and split it all and organize the area. It being a Tuesday and the usual New Albany ride on the calendar, I'm glad the high will be only 66 so I can use that as an excuse to play Paul Bunyan for another day:)
From Steve Nelson:
For those of you all not doing the Chillicothe ride tomorrow (18th May):
There will be a group of us pre riding the Honor Ride Course to make sure there's no surprises for next week. Right now it'll be Gus, Peg, Jay and myself but all are welcome and it'll be a subdued B pace with a stop in Utica. Start time will be 8am Star Bucks NA with a get back no later than 1pm but more than likely noonish or slightly thereafter. If anyone wants more miles, there are certainly options to extend or shorten.
Wow. After seeing an old Savage Hill, orange jersey worn by Larry P on Tuesday, here is another on Thursday! Oh, wait!!! David on the right, forgot his jersey so Larry was pleased to loan his, I'm pretty sure unwashed from his wearing of Tuesday....sniff, sniff. Will P and Kurt S on the left.
This being our first year at the Methodist church parking lot, I was glad to see the restroom is getting a good workout. Remember gang, keep it clean.
We begin to gather in earnest. Kim on the left, Steve the former club's weather forecaster who was fired by the club because his forecasts were correct less time then a blind squirrel finds an acorn, Jon in blue just back from wintering in FL and Mike M, getting his eye piece aligned.
More cyclists arrive and by shove off time, our numbers swell to 60 cyclists. Note Ron Moody's new celeste green Bianchi.
Hard to miss the throw back helmet worn by Paul Djupe's friend. I had to rap my knuckles against it to confirm it is leather. Paul's friend had it custom made by a store I think in Thailand. Kinds of neat.
The Rivet group rolls out and later, they would (those that could finish with them) end the 46 mile route with an average of just under 24mph. Hey, that's Muscle Dude on the left...wait, no, this is the A group rolling out, the Rivet's already long gone. The A group finished with a 21.5 average.
That left the B and C group yet to shove off. Yes, I gladly rolled out with the B group and was on the rivet all the way around;;;;geesh. Above, Don, Chris, Amanda and John await the marching orders and.....
Eventually going east on Stone Quarry Road, we approach the final ramp and I jump from the pack, take a really, long, long look at Don Novel and limp away. I had to take a 2nd stare back in disbelief that no one followed. I guess the strongest were pined against the ditch and unable to respond. We reach the bottom of SQ and do a regroup, having swept up Katherine along the way. As we wait....
….Mike, John and Jonathon slurp down gels of various types for the remainder of the route.
We climb Burg and descend via Thornwood and take a final regroup. Don N was no where to be found so many of us surmised I had stripped him of his manhood after he failed to respond to my stare challenge back on Stone Quarry. Well, actually he was shepherding some back benchers to the group. Quite a few new people who have not yet had the displeasure of meeting me. I'll fix that soon!
The clouds are rolling in as we race west into the gathering gloom. Our group finishes with a 19.8 average, kind of mundane compared to the others. And what was all of our reward for our efforts this evening.....
….yeah, Jonathon models the appropriate way of retrieving one of Kristie's cookies. Got a ride option for Saturday coming later today.
Larry P, so thrilled that I have returned that he closed his eyes tightly and reopened to make sure he was not dreaming. As a testimony to the theory that cycling jerseys are indestructible, not he is wearing a Savage Hill version from the '90s.
Next on my whirlwind visit around the parking lot was Don and Chris. By the time I finished greeting everyone, there was not a wet eye in the parking lot......get it....wet eye rather than dry eye. OK, weak I know. I was wearing civilian clothes and everyone wanted to know why. I told them it was too cold for me but.....
….I am having such fun in the woods and besides, I am 33.3333% finished with the task of creating enough fire wood for next winter. I predict it will be another long and cold one.
Yeehaw! The Queen of Treats is back for another season. Having 5 industrial ovens in ones kitchen does allow for industrial sized capacity which is needed but especially for Thursdays.
Terry Campbell has a personalized plate that matches his nickname, also found on the fork, Dr. Brutal.
Dang. Last year if we had 20 come out for a Tuesday ride it was a good group but last week there were 30 and tonight 44. The club's goal of maintaining a B pace ride is impossible with so many European racer type looking guys coming out so Don announced there would be both an A and B group, which is a good idea. Above, Peggy tells the group that the Honor Ride needs a few more volunteers and states that information about volunteering can be found on the Cycling Club's site: https://www.thecyclingclub.org/
Seems like everyone prefers gathering at this church parking lot due to the much easier road access compared to behind the Heit Center. It was brutal getting out of that parking lot.
Kasey K on the right listens as do the others to additional announcements and then the groups are......
…..released to the open road! For the 36 mile route, the A group averaged 21mph while the B group slotted in with a 19.5mph. Hmmmm, is that Jon Morgan giving me the finger at the back of the group? I can image plenty of people who would but Jon???? See you Thursday for the mother of all group rides, same place, same time. Don't miss it.
Feeling sloth-like after my serial eating experience while driving to Ohio, I joined the 8:30am group out of Milford Center for the 60 mile loop to the high point in Ohio and back. It was good to see Larry P, Kenda Janet & Paul, Miek Wray, Woody, Jeff S and new guy Jeff J. It was COLD, relatively speaking as we headed northeast with a favorable wind that would build and build and then suck on the return, into the wind.
Most of us hung together into Bellefontaine, the highest elevation point in Ohio. An AZ friend was none too impressed after discovering that was only 1550' elevation. I claimed we started our ride a couple thousand feet below sea level so it was more impressive then it seemed. I have to apologize to the readers. I got out of the habit of taking pics but will regain the expertise for the next ride.
We completed our ride with 58 miles and 2600' of elevation gain. Meanwhile, Kenda Janet expressed surprise/disappointment that more of the other ladies that populate our rides did not come out for this one. Thus she was the lone woman but it is generally agreed that her personality makes up for the loss of many. Looking at the forecast for the Tuesday New Albany ride....hmmmm…..maybe I'll just put in a social appearance and slowly condition the group to my reappearance. Having me around for 3 hours would probably be too much at first.
I head north and pass through Salt River Canyon, a beautiful place. Gaining elevation the....
...scenery changes. I like to take different routes to see parts of AZ and CO through which I previously have not traveled so while headed to Durango, CA I visit....
….at the urging of friends, the Petrified Forest. The story behind it is interesting but as for the views....
…..hmmmm, I'd not recommend a visit. I did not understand why people thought this would be a good destination. Maybe if you are from the east coast or Midwest and never visited the southwest, well maybe.....
OK, now this was interesting in the visitor center. I worry about running into mountain lions but had this still been alive, I'd never hike again. Yikes!
Kind of funky looking, multicolored mounds was neat.
Back on the road and headed toward CO. Nice rock formations.....
….along the way. Should have brought hiking shoes and checked to see if there was a way up one of these. Nearing Durango......
...the snow capped peaks of the Rockies creep above the horizon. I spent the night in Durango and got a very early start the following morning so did not see anything around that city.
Had to be very careful driving as there were 6 separate encounters with deer or elk that forced me to slow and once stop as a herd of about 40 elk were crossing the road.
Beautiful as I head to Wolf Pass and once there....
….snow is still abundant. Looking west.....
….another beautiful view with a sign that warns drivers of what is ahead during the descent.
I was following a front that hit Ohio on Thursday and each day of driving, I'd catch it and drive in the rain, discouraging my progress. It took me 4 days to make it to Ohio and along the way, I snacked frequently. When I weighed myself Friday morning, I was 4 pounds heavier than on Monday. Way to go Mark you dumb ass!!!
The clouds are low as I cross the last of the Rocky passes.
Somewhere in eastern CO, I pass a lone cyclist. I slow to talk and discover she is riding to Washington DC. For what reason I did not think to ask. The prior day I passed a group of 10 cyclists in AZ headed to Chicago.
Ugh, the drive across eastern CO, all of KS, all of the other states, just ugh. No better word to describe that part of the trip.
Here is a Saturday morning option. Columbus Outdoor Pursuits is putting on the annual "Top of Ohio" ride. The first 20 and final 20 miles of the century route is mind numbingly boring but the middle 60 is a good, rolling route that includes the famous "Corkscrew Hill" climb to the high point in Ohio. Meet us at 8:30, ready to ride, at the MILFORD CENTER START- School Bus parking lot on Middleburg-Plain City Rd just on the east side of Milford Center. Roads will be marked and maps for 60 mile option will be available. There is a small fee of $5 for COP members and $10 for non members. B pace ride but if you want to go faster or slower, good for you. I am searching through my winter clothing to find something suitable to wear.
Figures, the week that began with the re-entry of one of the "Encinitas Boys" it appears it will rain and hard for the Thursday ride. May as well take the scenic route back for the last leg of my Ohio drive.
Oh and I am back in OH or will be soon.
A final ride in AZ for awhile. This time, a small group that started out of Green Valley and headed to.....
….the tiny village of Amato where we headed west to Arivaca and a small.....
….coffee shop where we got out of a hot sun and relaxed in the shade of some....
….fine trees. This was at mile 32 and our return would be mostly down hill and down wind...yeehaw!
Nice views of the distant mountains. Well, driving back to OH and took some nice images through AZ and CO prior to the dreary march across KS, MO, etc...
I hit the 70+ mile mark today and while doing so, paused at Aqua Caliente Park which has, if not a unique setting, a rare one.
So thick is the cover that these magnificent palm trees provide and beneath them....
Several small pools as well as a....
….large pool where bird watchers gather. I don't get that hobby but maybe in another 20 I will be all over it. On the ride back, I spent a few minutes on a bike path and saw.....
….what is increasingly a common look, a cyclist having some kind of brim around their helmet. Yes, thinking about it.
Looks like you all will have a nice evening for a bike ride. I should be there next Thursday to wreak havoc and destroy the harmonious nature of the parking lot. Remember, new departure location as described below.
LaBuzz is usually humming with cyclists but today motorcyclists pause for coffee prior to riding up the mountain. I too head to the mountain but only go up a mile before coasting down and heading south to....
...the wonderful 8 mile loop through Saguaro East National Park. The road dips and turns, has a nasty climb on the back side and while there are many cars sharing the road, they drive slower than we pedal.
The Tanque Verde trees are in full bloom. Tough time for allergy sufferers.
My route takes me through 49er Golf Club. It is an older community with many mature trees including these arborvitae. Finished with 55 miles and lots of climbing. My weight has finally dropped so now I just look like Michelin Man Jr.
OK, overly dramatic title to the story of my 2nd ascent of this mountain. But, there is unfortunately truth to the title. Rather than park at the gathering place for cyclists, LaBuzz, I drove to the base of the mountain and parked in the shade along the side of the road. The high today was in the mid 90's but up top, low 60's. As I readied myself, a lot of emergency vehicles passed.
For as long as it takes me to climb the beast, I assumed the emergency would have been handled by the time I reached it. I took a break at mile 14, Windy Point Vista where I addressed the usual questions, "Yes, I am really riding my bike up the mountain." Back on the bike, a mile farther up the road, I happened upon the scene. A car that appeared undamaged was being pulled onto a flat bed truck. I asked a guy managing the "Stop/Slow" sign what had happened, "Injury" he replied. Later I was told a man had probably stopped to take a picture and fell from one of the boulders. His body was seen, wrapped in a sheet and being pulled from below.
I stopped to eat a salad in Summerhaven and then chugged on up to Ski Valley where I was surprised to see patches of snow still on the north facing slopes. The gate was open for the 2 mile additional climb to the observatory. I eyed it warily, turned my bike in the down hill direction and.....
…..began the 28 mile return. What a glorious descent. Lemmon is not a good fit for my cycling ability. Even my best time, set last year, sucks. On Strava, I am 4400 out of 8300 for the 21 mile climb segment. For segments lower on the mountain, my times are a little more respectable, mid 3000s out of 14,000 efforts. I guess that shows for the many dozens of cyclists who are on the mountain each day, how few of them go the distance. I just use it to burn calories and so I did, 4000+.
I joined a group of 5 for a bike path recovery ride. Rounding a curve, I heard someone yell something and suddenly, bikes were skidding to a stop. I managed to swerve to the right of a cyclist and stop just before crashing into a railing. What the.....oh, a Mojave Rattlesnake. It was too easy to imagine one of us falling to the ground on top of that thing as happened to a mountain biker a few weeks ago in the Phoenix area. Yikes!