Sunday New Albany Ride
Sunday, 12:30pm for an appropriately scheduled ride, given the temperature. The ride brought out 20 of us including Larry P, Lisa A, Peggy and Karla as shown. Peggy was glad to see I had returned from AZ while the others pretended not to care. Just kidding. Mostly everyone was glad I was back.
Sokha on the left, with Chris and Justin, Mitchell on the right. Maybe 52 degrees with a cold wind out of the northwest.
Eleanour paused to greet us as she was running errands. Too busy to join us I suppose.
And we are off! OK, my system absorbed the temperature shock and once we got rolling, I had made the correct clothing choices and was fine. We took a good route, organized by Don N, picked up Flyin Tuna along the way and arrived in Granville where....
...we paused. The roads have some massive holes, especially one on Louden Road where Lisa A hit it and flatted.
While in Granville, a guy entertained us by riding partially up the side of the building on a bike that had no seat. We returned to New Albany, finishing with 53 miles. Fun day on the bike.
Yet Another to Celebrate
Angie finished 4th in the Cohutta 100, mountain bike race in TN. There may be a report coming so stay tuned. Yes, that is a check she is holding so in addition to the pride of a top finish, she walks away with cash too.
If you ever hear me say I am driving to/from AZ, please kick me. Beautiful driving through the Rockies but then I hit eastern CO and then the......
....dreaded Kansas where the highlight of that agonizing drive was a grass fire. Be in Ohio on Saturday and looking for a Sunday ride.
On My Way Back
I change from my usual duties of self deprecation, promoting the success of others...ok, that covers it all, to address something that concerns us all. Recently, one of us visited a dermatologist for her annual appointment. A mole showed unusual characteristics and was removed. A subsequent analysis of the mole showed melanoma had gone beyond the edge of the removal. A follow-up procedure to excise a larger area was performed. Above is an image of the stitches with another set of stitches present internally. My friend endured several days of anxious worry, who would not? The result came back clean. What a giant relief for her and her friends who were aware of her situation. The point of this of course is, readers of this blog are in a high risk category for melanoma and I hope you all have an annual visit to a dermatologist. My buddy, had she not been making the annual visit, would be facing a very grim future.
Meredith Wins at Barry-Roubaix
This is a good story so with Meredith's permission, I post it here:
My husband and I showed up 9:30 AM narrowly missing a highway trooper who gave in to only getting the guy behind us as we are speeding to the start of the Barry-Roubaix from our friend’s house in Perry Michigan. It was sitcom material for sure. My husband has never done a bike race before let alone a gravel bike race. We got to a park 1/2 mile from the start of the race. We did our unloading, checking the bikes, eating the last of the oatmeal, etc... We entered this ring set up by the race for warm-up. Hundreds of nervous riders were getting ready for a mass start. I decided it was time to go meet the 150 other women in Wave 13 doing the 36 mile race. Lo and behold I saw a familiar set of faces, Katherine and Amanda. Both were beaming and were so excited for what was going to happen. I could barely contain my nerves. Amanda exclaimed to anyone who would listen “This is my first gravel race!” The race announcer caught her glee in his mic to the masses. Katherine was so Zen about it, Whatever happens happens, we are just training, soaking it in….I could barely hear them because all I could hear were the voices of my race friends in my head, “Get on the podium!!” I knew I had more serious goals then my smiling friends. We moved up closer to the start line and Immediately a swarm of women take off as I just watch. Damn! I kicked into gear. We had about 2 miles of pavement and then the gravel. There was lots of weaving and passing and yelling “on your left”. This went on for a couple more miles before I saw the remnants of the first pile up. As I was rubbernecking while passing, two very serious women hopped on their bikes and took off like bandits. I followed. I didn’t know if I could hold on but thought I should take advantage of the train ride. After awhile I started feeling bad for them. I realized they were the front contenders and were very angry about their situation. So I decided that I would help them catch whoever they were chasing. They were younger than me and thought I could benefit from this. When I finally die I figured they would be dropping me further up the road. After watching and riding behind them for awhile they start looking at me…like who are you, what are you doing and are you going to help. They weren’t very nice. They were mad and serious. I pull through and help their cause but I wasn’t willing to kill myself for them. They weren’t very nice. After awhile we were in a rotation and they seemed relieved to have help. I never actually envisioned I would end up top 10 because of this. We head down a hill, Sager Road, that become instantly like a mountain bike path with big sand pits and deep ruts. That’s where I lost it…twice. First time I put my foot down. I was like Damn! Stumble, stumble, click, click, struggle “Ok, Ok I got it.” Then I encountered huge deep sand pit. My tiny 32mm tubulars laughed at me. Bam down. I watched the girls like Michigan deer just dance up the path away from me. Obviously they had been here before. There was a guy behind me who yelled, “Are you OK?” I was surprised by the kindness. “Get up you can do it!” I looked around, and struggled to get my foot out of the pedal. I stood up and started walking, then running and said to myself “I can clip in, come on..” I take a stab at it. It works then I was off navigating more sand pits and deep ruts with my cheerleader behind me. Wish I knew who that was. Anyway towards the end of that craziness, I came across a strong gal so smiley and happy to be racing on a nice day saying “Hi” to the local racers as she passes. I asked her how old she was. She was in her late 30’s. I said, “Well we can work together” she laughed and was in. I think we worked together for the last 10 miles or so. We had another gal latch on for a long while trying to get first in her division. The whole time I was just watching my heart rate making sure to not work too hard to then have my legs seize up at the end. She and I came in together yelling at the wall of guys in front of us to either move faster or get out of the way. Lol. I didn’t even believe we had a chance for podium. It was finally over and I had fun recounting our experience. We ended up talking to a guy who believed we were with the top 10. I hobbled over to a guy at the Newton Timing Tent and he was the one who said that I came in first for my division and 5 minutes faster than #2 gal. I was excited and ready to drink a Founders beer. I found my husband, we got cleaned up and went to the podium party. While talking with the folks there I found out that I would get a podium spot for being 8th overall. I ended up with two medals, a couple beer trophies and a set of gravel tires. I was satisfied with my efforts after this winter of healing from a November cervical disc injury and getting ready for a fun day racing at the “biggest gravel race in the US”. That’s my story I’m sticking to it.
Going Back to Bag the Peak
This picks up where I left it from the prior post. I was low on fluids, having underestimated this hike, so upon reaching the base of Bushmaster Peak (so named after an army regiment) I went off trail, back to the parking lot. I returned to complete the journey. At the start, a lone hiker stands atop a boulder, looking to the west.
Soooo, at the saddle where previously I went to the right and down canyon, I headed up and slightly to the left. Kind of a cocktail of emotions for some reason. I think partly it is knowing now in late April, rattlesnakes are active, plentiful, I was unsure of the route but hey, with my experience, I knew one or another, I would overcome, kind of, sort of.
Wow. I climbed and found myself on a plateau with grand views in all directions and what appeared to be a not too difficult final climb to the peak. Yayyyyy.
OK, it wasn't all that easy. Once I mounted the peak in the previous image, there was another yet finally I made it and looked back to where I had come. Damn, it was so dramatic and so absent from the image.
A black helicopter flew beneath me over Gates Pass but I could not find it in this image. Hey! There is my car in the parking lot, way below me.
Although I had reached the peak, there was still a lengthy ridge to navigate and that was great fun. Narrow in spots with lots of exposure. Gawd I love this and the thrill of finding my way. I would be less thrilled if I fell, of course. On a windy day, I would not want to be hopping from boulder to boulder.
Let's assume you have found this page while looking for info on this hike. Little has been written about it and allow me to point out an important tip; DON'T KEEP FOLLOWING THE RIDGE WHEN YOU GET TO THIS POINT!!! If you do.....
....the ridge dead-ends with a view into the abyss. Plus, it requires some maneuvering to reach this point. Instead, just prior to the final knob, you may see a painted white line with an arrow pointed to the right. I looked at that and it did not look promising. So, I scouted to the left and sure enough.....
....there was a series of cairns (man made piles of rocks) headed toward the canyon there to the right. How about that and now I was feeling more confident I was going to make it off this rock.
I descended and looking back, whoa, really steep.
I reached a saddle and while the cairns ran out, the way forward was obvious. Hang a right and head down canyon. It is odd that while the way to the peak is a fairly worn trail, once beyond the peak, not so much. Just pick your way through the mildly brushy areas and boulders.
Nearing the bottom of the canyon, I look back. It was not all that hard but wish I had worn long pants. My legs were shredded and bleeding but a band-aid or two and I would be good.
Now it was simply navigating through the typical Sonoran landscape, watch for snakes and while a couple of Javelinas startled me, ok, scared me, I got through ok. 3.5 hours to travel 3.5 miles. Unreal.
Everything You Want in a Hike
Gates Pass Road where at the top, there is a small parking area with restrooms. Bushmaster Peak is on the right side of the ridge and the entire loop is only 4 miles. When leaving home, I brought two bottles, became thirsty and began drinking from one. I intended to stop at a market and buy another but forgot so now, miles from a store, I have a little over 1 liter. Hmmm, should be enough as long as there are no complications.....
There are a myriad of trails leading from the parking lot where visitors have scampered around but eventually I find one leading up a ridge. I also have a gpx track but it shows shoving through a ravine up to a saddle where the ridge trail meets. The gpx route is from 2003 and may predate the trail I am following. Windy day and a lot of dust in the air, obscuring the view yet still, a great view.
Hey! There is the Old Tucson Studio where many western movies and series have been filmed. Including Tombstone, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The High Chaparral series, Little House on the Prarie, etc...
Oh geez, Jumping Cholla cactus. Stay away! Those suckers seem to just jump at you, hence the name.
The trail is fairly easy to follow as I have risen above the park and now walking mostly flat along a saddle to the next major climb that will take me behind the mountain range seen in the first image. Note the mountains in the distance, barely visible where normally they would be vivid.
The trail climbs to the left and then to the right. Lot of loose gravel and at times, a small bit of exposure. Nothing too bad just requires that one pay attention.
This hike is in the Tucson Mountains, which I rarely visit as I find the hiking in this range boring but this was turning into an interesting event. I am walking behind the mountains and about to come out to a saddle prior to what I think is Bushmaster Peak, there in the distance.
At the aforementioned saddle, I can see the parking area where my hike commenced. At the time of the hike, I thought I had just been on the peak and thought the trail would drop into this canyon. Instead.....
.....it stayed on a narrow spine of rock and headed toward......
.....this wall where a faint trail went up. OK, now my fluid level became a concern. The gpx track did not go up this but rather well to the left. When I walked down to where the track showed I should be, nothing to suggest anyone had ever passed through. I thought it possible the faint trail went up to a peak but perhaps ended requiring me to turn around and come back down. I scouted around, considered my options. I returned to the saddle and.....
...studied the option of going directly to the parking lot, off trail. I know, looks easy but what you can never see is where the slope ends and a cliff allows no way forward. I look at the spacing of the Saguaros, which is encouraging so I decide to hike to that formation in the middle where I can study more options. Reaching it, I decide to circle to the right and head for that large boulder where it appears there is a break in the terrain. Sure enough.....
....there is but some sketchy down climbing. And yeah, always watching for rattlers. Don't want to place my hand on a ledge and have one of those snag me.
Hooray, I reach the bottom. Entirely different perspective from here. I continue hiking up and down small ridges until.....
.....yay, my car! I am out of fluids but for a camel like me, all is well. Later I found out, yes, I should have gone up the slope via the faint trail and then it follows a rocky ridge and descends to the parking lot. Oh well, a reason to come back and do it correctly. Fun hike with lots of boulder hopping and route finding. Finished with only 3 miles and 1100' of climbing.
The Canadians are Coming!
Probably just that I have not previously talked to so many people but here we go again, most of the people I meet on this visit are from Canada and more often then not, the province of Quebec. The two on the left are guides, having arrived here 2 weeks ago and each week, greeting a new group. This week, 23, last week 28. They drove from Montreal and hanging out, showing cyclists around. How cool is that?
My ride took me to the southeast. 35 miles on Saturday, 65 on Sunday. One destination was.....
....Colossal Cave. I took a back way into the park, closed to cars but to a bike..... I'm sure the cave is worth a visit but judging by the condition of the grounds, yuck.
I head back to Saguaro Park and then on to Tucson. Beautiful couple of days with temps around 90 each day. Yet another front coming in Sunday night so Monday will be very windy and cooler on Tuesday. As I said before, really weird weather from what previously I have experienced. Still, way better than most parts of the US so not complaining.
Thursday New Albany Rumblings
Strava "Fly-by" illustrates a second of what transpired on the pavement, Thursday evening. Danny A, never known to short cut, must have missed the turn and so is soloing back to the parking lot. Meantime, Travis, Patrick, Jason and Jon H had gapped a strung out group of Riveters and finished with a 23mph average. Now, I have fielded and read some comments and there was some grumbling about a lack of a warm-up. The rule is to ride easy to Beech Road and then release the hounds, not before then. Also, this is not a race. Ride as hard as you want of course but don't take advantage of the corners to gap those still in the group. I am arranging for Rick Miller to make a guest appearance as enforcer of the rules to be there Thursday to scream at you.
Taking it Easy at Sabino Canyon
Second windy day in a row but better tomorrow. Front came through and the mid 90's are gone but back by Sunday. Today, the high was 70 so I went for a hike at Sabino Canyon. The visitor center has a lot of neat displays.
In addition to signs warning of mountain lion sightings, active rattlesnakes a new one has appeared. A rabid fox wandered up to a guy and bit him a few weeks ago.
Lot of people out today enjoying the cooler temps as I cross a bridge and head to Blackett's Ridge Trail. Just wanted to take it easy which I find difficult to do, but did.
What impressed me the most visually (the steepness of the trail always makes an impression on me) was the fine display of flowers on the Ocotillo plants.
They are not considered a cactus, rather a bush with long canes. I stopped prior to the top and....
....turned around and headed back down. Didn't want to stress the legs too much so finished with a bit over 4 miles and 1100' of climbing.
Visiting Bike Shops
After several days of temps in the 90's and after my suffering climb of the mountain on Wednesday, the area was hit with a "cold" front that brought sunshine but high winds. I-10 was shut down from sand storms, cactus bent sideways so I got in the car for today's transportation. First stop was "Ordinary Bike Shop in downtown Tucson but they sell no apparel. Next was what is likely the premier bike shop in the area, "Fairwheel Bikes." I stuck gold here. Above my new jersey! Then, a very nice shop person, upon learning I was from Ohio said.....
....I will give you 20% off. So, my shopping continued and I picked up a new T-shirt. Browsing continued and I.....
....bought a pair of socks. Then I visited "Arizona Cyclist" but they had nothing new to offer. I like buying jerseys and T-shirts having the independent bike shop's brand on it. Pretty snazzy stuff. The wind continued into Friday when the high was only 70 so I went for a hike. More to come.
A Good Day Despite
My legs didn't have it for today's planned activity. I drove my car to 7 Cataracts parking at mile 9, coasted down the mountain and headed up at 9:00am. Wind was out of the southeast so that is against me but would not turn to a favorable southwest until around 11:00am and by then, the temperature would be closing on 90 degrees.
Lot of other cyclists on this Wednesday, probably because the forecast for the next two days is very strong winds. Whether you are headed up or down, 90% of approaching cyclists give you a wave or thumb's up. Great camaraderie among strangers sharing a special time.
The views as always are magnificent and all these images were taken while coasting down. I reached my car on the way up, gobbled a Cliff bar (I like the white macadamia version) and although I set a new PR to this point, I just did not have it today. Above Windy Point Vista at mile 14 and with 7 miles to go I thought about spitting the bit. I did a mental calculation and did not think I would even beat my previous best, let alone the unserious notion of beating Tom D's time.
At San Pedro Vista and with 2 miles to go, I noted my legs had quit a couple miles earlier but I kept them turning, just not rapidly. I passed a couple riding mountain bikes and all geared up but barely passed. I reached the 21 mile summit above Palisade Gift Shop and instead of taking the remaining 5 rolling miles to Summerhaven, I turned and coasted back to the car. The legs felt awful. I think my food intake of yesterday had something to do with it.
Reaching home, I put the "effort" on Strava and so I did beat my previous best but only by 6 minutes. With 6800 recorded efforts, a good percentage around my time, improving by 5 minutes jumps me 500+ spots so maybe I will go back next week. On the way down.....
....I stopped at Geology Vista Point and talked to a couple who were hanging out, from Illinois. Always fun talking to tourists. I need a couple of days off and so, I will go cycling jersey shopping!!! More to come on that front.
Rested yesterday, easy 18 mile ride today where I passed an odd work of art. The roads are adorned by dozens of similar pieces. I am gearing up to cut into Tom Danielson's enormous gap on the 21 mile segment up Mount Lemmon. He is at 1:19, me at...cough, cough, 2:41. Yet, I have a plan. I stupidly did not realize that the time I spend stopping to talk to tourists....THE CLOCK IS STILL TICKING! I thought when I stopped the Garmin, the timer stopped but nooooo. There is 20-30 minutes right there. Then, no fluids until mile 26 at Summerhaven so I carry 3 bottles. Not this time, only 1 and I will preposition another up the mountain...brilliant. Then the wind. OK, not looking good for tomorrow with winds from the southeast, changing to a favorable southwest at 11:00am but by then it will be 90. I will sustain the highest effort I can for the 21 mile segment, gaining 5454' and see what I can do.
Now folks remember. The primary purpose of the blog is 10 years from now when I am in an assisted living place, I will look back and read these posts for entertainment. So, I have heard a lot about a place called the Golden Goose. Apparently, people from a nearby affluent development, take items here to donate. The poor and wretched then visit and buy the items. The store is staffed with volunteers and all proceeds donated to a variety of charities. Neat concept and I know of 3 pieces of art, purchased by a friend for $25-35 that have a market value many times that. So, I decided....
....to check out the place. It was packed with people. I lack the judgement to assess the pieces of art so of course gravitated to the golf section. Mostly junk. Wandered for awhile and purchased.....
....a game of Monopoly and puzzle to keep in the unit here. $10 total!!!
Riding Out of the Valley
Yesterday, I took an easy ride to the southwest and while parked in front of a gas station, baking because I started too late on a day where the temperature would reach the 90's, I noticed that spring had officially arrived with the blooming Palo Verde trees. Yeah, I am joking cause it has been spring here since late November. I also was looking at.....
....a new pair of cycling gloves. The shop person demonstrated these two cloth cavities at the end of the finger portion of the gloves. When removing a glove, you insert a couple of fingers in those pockets and it makes glove removal easier. Hey, what a great idea and it works. Wonder how long that has been available.
Sunday I pushed off at 7:30am with the temperature already 65 degrees and headed north to Oracle and a loop up there called the "Cody Loop". It is a 25 mile climb out of the valley with an average of only 2% but still, always climbing. My legs had not completely recovered from the mountain ride of Thursday so rather than descend into San Manuel and face that hard climb out, I turned around and headed back.
I stopped at a gas station that had this interesting statue. Finished with 55 miles and 2400' of climbing. Geesh, checked out weather radar and see another glob chugging across Ohio. Talked to a friend this Monday morning and was told it was again snowing. Better weather is coming and so am I. Thought I better get the bad news out there!
On My Day Off I....
After climbing to Ski Valley on Thursday, I decided to take Friday off. Reading the WSJ, I saw a movie was highly rated and only 90 minutes called, "A Quiet Place." Since the temperature would reach around 95, I decided to kill a couple hours in the theater. Really enjoyed that movie. Creative twist on the horror genre. Then, Olivia (daughter) and me visited Top Golf.
While it is a three tiered driving range, the emphasis is on serving food and drinks. Not a place where a serious golfer would work on their game. While my form above looks pretty good, I probably skulled the ball into the front net.
Olivia with a less then conventional swing but she is improving. Unfortunately for me, she is moving to Miami Beach in a couple of weeks. She has my work ethic (the one I had when I was young) and after being sent to a Hyatt property in Miami Beach to fill an emergency, they loved her and threw a bunch of money and a promotion at her.
Walked out the door after 30 minutes and spending $59. What a great business model. A Top Golf is opening in Columbus.
Thursday New Albany Briefing
A big thanks to Deniece for probably not caring that I stole this image from her Strava post. A bigger thanks to Dirty Dan for calling me and giving me the story. So, here it is: It was cold. It was windy. Approximately 15 cyclists arrived, including Kristie with cookies. A new guy from Louisiana rode with the Riveters and appears to be an able replacement for Luke R, who is now in MN. Dan thinks "Ragin Cajun" would seem like an an appropriate nickname. Well, that is about all I have to pass along but rest assured, once I return, the reports will be heavtier with more images.
To Ski Valley Again
My third big climb of the visit and probably 1-2 to fit in with the time I have left. Wind was against me but very light. I had no expectations but when I arrived at 7 Cataract Vista at mile 9, I looked at my time and thought I should pick up the pace and improve on a deplorable personal best of 2:58 for the 21 mile segment. Above, an Aspen with dozens of initials carved into the trunk. Idiots.
Dozens and dozens of cyclists coming and going, including 20 from Team Quebec. I took 17 minutes from my best time and on Strava, climbed 900 spots. Now I am 4195 out of 6741. WOW!! Take another 4 minutes off and I climb INTO THE 3000s!!! It sucks to suck. I stop and eat at the Sawmill Restaurant.
I don't know why but my fingers are become numb when I sit in the restaurant. Must be a combination of blood circulating to my core and the fact the door is always open and the inside temp is 60. I finish and walk outside to sit on a black bench, in the sun and that feels great. While some cyclists stop here, most go a little ways down and visit....
.....the Cookie Cabin for hot soup and a cookie.
I begin my descent and enjoy the views along with.....
While the image is out of focus, 50 miles distant is Mount Graham, where I was on Saturday but required a 140 mile drive. To the right of that, 30 miles distant, is Bassett Peak where I hiked last fall. That too was a 2 hour drive. If only I was a crow.
Hey Cyclists! Here is a guide for all that you should know, want to know and will promptly forget regarding the thrilling Thursday New Albany group ride. There are four groups; C, B, A and the infamous Riveters. The Riveters depart promptly at 6:00pm with the remaining groups departing in 3 minute intervals. Parking and departing is behind Veloscience/Philip Heit Center. Yes, it is exciting stuff to mingle with the greats of central Ohio cycling but try to act cool, don't ask for autographs and follow the rules as I describe below.
Groups: Riveters: For those of you who can maintain an average of 23+mph for the duration of the route. A Group: Something less than the Riveters and populated by way too many who ought to be in the Rivet group. B Group: 18-20mph average. Sometimes there are two B groups, the 2nd one traveling at a slightly slower pace. C Group: To be clear, I have no direct knowledge of how fast these people go but hear in the 15-17mph range.
Rules: 1. There is a lone, smallish shady spot in the parking lot, bordered by pine trees. It becomes more important as the temperatures warm. Never, ever park your vehicle in that spot. Generally, this spot is reserved for Riveters and guest celebrities (like me) to socialize prior to the ride.
2. There will be a ride leader for the C group but none for the other groups. When it is time for your group to depart, someone will scream, "OK, X group can go now." and if that is your group, depart the parking lot in an orderly manner. Those remaining in the parking lot after all but the C riders depart, will follow the C ride leader who will shepherd you around the route, dispensing knowledge and expertise. This is a congenial group and if you are new to cycling, this is for you. If you are not new but just not that speedy, this too is your group.
3. Regrouping: None in the Rivet group and don't even ask. The A group will regroup for a few seconds, 1-3 times depending on the difficulty of the route. The B group will pause longer and regroup 2-4 times. The C group is a no drop group.
4. Talking: There is no talking in the Rivet group. Only grunting, spitting, sharp elbows to the ribs, etc... Talking is for before and after the ride only. Talking is allowed in the A group but topics must be confined to explaining why you are slumming by riding in the A group rather than with the Riveters. You may also talk about the pro peleton, racing and diet. The B group gets its jollies by jeering those who fall back from the A group so if this happens to you, you ought to abandon the route and solo back to the parking lot. Otherwise B'ers talk about different things when breathing permits. The C group carry on lengthy conversations about wide ranging topics but never about politics. Nothing gets you shunned faster than bringing up politics.
5. We have a guy who is the official recorder of the event and can be found taking numerous pictures prior to, sometimes during and then after the ride. Pay him no attention, allow him to take his pictures, he is harmless and remember to smile. So much more to say but that is it for now.
Monday Morning Group Ride
Hmmmmm, I was the oldest and appeared to be the least fit of the 8 who gathered. One guy was talking about riding in the pro/1/2 crit last weekend...... Nothing demoralizes like that but the guy was way cool and never went to the front. We jumped on the famous "Shootout" route, the group that departs each Saturday morning from downtown Tucson and apparently attracted 150 cyclists on a recent Saturday. Anyway, reaching Valencia Road at mile 6, the pace picked up with a 12 mile climb ahead. I really needed this intensity and hung on long enough to be #4 spit out the back. Then a couple of guys caught and passed me so I was 6th at the regroup at Helmet Peak Road.
We descended into Sahuarita where I was again 6th out of 8 on the descent so I am consistent. Typical gathering in front of a gas station. We began the ride at 8:00am with a temperature of 65 and now it was approaching 80 with a high of 86 expected. Someone had a flat and then someone lost their Garmin so....
....we waited under a Pale Verde tree which isn't yielding much shade right now but will soon. We got onto a curvy bike path and I couldn't manage the curves as well as some so got gapped and was unable to bridge to the group. I arrived back at the parking lot, 6th out of 8 cyclists! Finished with 57 miles, 1500' of climbing and an 18.5mph average. Good time.
And so, our cycling season of Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday club rides is set to begin in Ohio. This Tuesday, 6:00pm, from behind Veloscience bike shop in New Albany (weather permitting of course) the group will embark on a 38 mile route, bursting forth from the village into the idyllic scenery to the east. The Tuesday ride is a B paced ride with a couple of regroups. All are expected to know the route, which can be seen by being a member of the club. All are welcome at the rides but for only $20, join the club! Go to www.thecyclingclub.org to join. Now, as for the Thursday rides, much more to come to initiate the uninitiated about what is the premiere evening ride in North America.
While Mount Lemmon and Kitt Peak get all the attention, to the east, near Safford and a 2+ hour drive from my home is Mount Graham. Although the state hill climb championship is held here and the U of A cycling team trains here, few cyclists make the drive to ride the mountain. On Strava, close to 7000 have recorded an effort on Lemmon but fewer than 500 on this mountain. At the base of the climb there is a market that makes good subs.
The road heads directly toward the mountain and then switchbacks back and forth up the face. Almost always the view is blocked so the climb in that regard is very inferior to the other two, aforementioned climbs. Note the condition of the pavement. Really rough. I'd try to keep my wheels on the smoother paint line but soon lose focus and back onto the surface. Ugh. Above, foothills on the way up.
There are no services on the mountain so earlier, I drove my car 12 miles up the road so I could change clothing and top off the bottles. On the coast down, I had a flat so glad I had a couple of extra tubes, one with me and one at the car. There were some good views but not many. At mile 12.....
....I stop. The climb starts at around 3500' and goes above 9000' so I took a jacket with me from the car and.....
....headed up. I checked my Garmin many times and the steepest the road became was 12% but seemed to always be in the 7-9% range. Several times, I would yell, "Give me a break!" It was unrelenting. For comparison, the Lemmon segment is 21 miles with a 5450' gain. The Graham segment is 19 miles with a 5595" gain. That is an average of 6% vs. 5% and that extra 1% is a killer.
Many hairpin curves which I like for climbing but for descending, it was awful with cinders in the curves, I suppose applied during the winter and then washed into turns during rain or snow melt. I was really glad I had started the day descending the first 12 miles so on my return from the top, I'd have only 10 miles of this.
There is a very small community of homes through which #366 passes on the way up the mountain and then when I reached Hagen's Point, there the views were very rewarding. A few years ago I had reached this point on my only previous visit and turned around. This visit I wanted to reach the point where the pavement ends so I.....
....kept going. I read somewhere that from the Hagen's Point the road flattens and averages 3%. Bullshit!!! There are 4 descents that brings the average down but when you are climbing, you are CLIMBING! I got to Shannon Campground where there was an overlook and paused, wondering if I should keep going. I did and maybe half a mile later.....
....yay! OK, kind of an anticlimactic end. The dirt road continues to an observatory that is never seen during the climb. By the way, during my two visits, I saw a grand total of one other cyclist. Vehicles are few but perhaps in the summer there are many more to escape the heat. I turned around and headed down.
The first couple of miles of descending is non technical but with no barriers along the way, I stayed well off the side, never knowing when I blast of wind might send me over.
A major fire had been in the area late last year and I saw some evidence of it but not a lot. One burned area is in the lower center of the above image.
It would be easy to become distracted and overcook a turn.
There would be no climbing out of that if you survived the fall. I was grateful that at this elevation, a vehicle was rare, coming or going. Arrived back to the car with 6000+ feet of climbing and 43 miles. I took my time on the climb and thus, my Strava result is way, way down the list. Hard to imagine anyone going slower! While driving down I passed....
.....a car that had gone left of center and to avoid an oncoming car, swerved into the rocks. Now for a 2 hour drive home.