The rain began on Monday evening with Tuesday being almost a continuous period of rain which is really unusual. Wednesday was spotty rain, same for Thursday and even Friday morning there was some rain. Of course, it provided some beautiful scenes of clouds and mountains.
The view through the windshield. I had people advising me to check weather radar prior to going out but I told them it is like this every 3rd day from where I spent most of my life.
Between the rain I got in a good hike at Linda Vista and even saw....wait for it......
Got in a 40 mile ride on Thursday and was going back out this morning but was turned away by a persistent light drizzle. Climbing Mount Lemmon on Saturday so missing today's planned easy ride was no big deal. Lemmon, ugh that will be slow and painful.
Dramatic images as I zipped in and out of.....
….Catalina State Park. Going to see U of A's first basketball practice this evening but not to worry Buckeye fans, my commitment to all things scarlet and grey is unwavering.
I know my Ohio friends, you've been asking yourself, "Where has it all gone?" Depressing to be sure but wait! There's more!! OK, not a bunch more but 3 more, rides that is for the Thursday evening, Cycling Club group ride. And so the Rivet/A, B & C routes for the 5:30pm start:
And if you've made it this far, I have more. The author of these silly posts, me, will be visiting you soon. Yes, my bike needs a tune-up and Rick Miller is the only person I trust with it. Meantime.....
….in the land of sun and fun....rain. Not a little but a lot! It began Monday, mostly rained thru Tuesday and now into Wednesday morning. For only the 2nd time in the 6 years I've come out, a group ride was cancelled due to rain. I'll have a bunch of pics to put up as some areas around here have received over 3" of rain.
A long time Ohio friend, Belinda, let me know she would be in Phoenix on business, would have an extra day, was planning to hike the Grand Canyon in April, wanted to check out AZ hiking prior to that so.....I depart Oro Valley at 5am, drive across the desert, pick her up and arrive at the Lost Dutchman State Park.
Above her right shoulder, the infamous Flat Iron. Many dreams of summitting have been dashed on the steep slopes so I thought reaching the top of the Siphon Draw, kind of the midpoint, would make for a good hike if we ran out of energy for the top.
The Siphon Draw trail ascends the western side of the awesome Superstition Wilderness. We mostly hike in the shade but to the northwest, the views are terrific with a nice contrast between the sunlight and shade.
Soon, our destination comes into a better view. Did I ever tell you about the two guys who sat on the edge, had a few beers and later their bodies were found at the bottom of the Flat Iron, heads driven into their stomach cavities? Yeah, probably not. Well, put that out of your mind as we continue our story.
Walls adorn the side of the canyon as we......
...continue our ascent. This is a very popular Phoenix (actually east of Mesa near the town of Apache Junction) area hike. Not as popular as the more centrally located Camelback and Squaw Peaks but always a busy day on this trail.
Ah oh, the sun is gaining on us as it lights a rock feature. I like this image!
My trooper friend, who has been working 12 hour days as a CFO at a manufacturing company, is doing well but the steeper slopes are beginning to take a toll.
The Flat Iron is closer and so too the marvelous Siphon Draw, there in the middle, bottom.
We begin our climb and it is way steeper then the image suggests, way, way steeper.
Having reached the top of the Draw, we decided to abandon the Flat Iron for a more reasonable destination, the "mini Flat Iron" which is more of a rolling ascent. We pick up "John"who joins our revised mission and after awhile, reach this point with great views.
After a short break we head back. Above, The Flat Iron, center right with the ravine to the left that is the approach to the top. My first attempt at reaching the Flat Iron, maybe 6 years ago, I made a wrong turn and ended up where we hiked today so it was good to revisit. Having reached the Flat Iron probably 10-11 times, it did not bother me that we did not make it today. As some of you know, I get a kick out of exposing people to these unique hiking destinations.
Check out the arch!
We reach the top of the Siphon Draw and begin our descent. Kind of tricky but I learned the best way to descend is the zig-zag line so some of the steepness is removed. Ugh, I hate how it looks like a flat walk.
The descent is in full sun now and the temperatures is creeping higher.....I love it but my companion is not such a fan. We finished with 5.75 miles and 2800' of climbing so a good day of hiking even without reaching our initial goal.
Driving back to OV, I take a picture of the western end of the Superstitions (called the Supes by locals). So many stories about the place, the lost gold and subsequent searches, avoided by the Apaches because it was considered haunted, deaths, bushwhacking's, practically weekly missions by SAR teams to rescue distressed hikers, my kind of place and fun.
Out the door as a glimmer of light backdrops the Catalinas. Yes, I am once again being stupid and driving to Ohio, 29 hours of sitting in a car. Hard to explain but I like having the freedom of a last minute decision to depart and the need to take my bike to my friend Rick so he can fix what 2 shops in Oro Valley failed to do.
Heading east on I-10 I pass this interesting rock formation.
Soon I pass an area from where dust storms develop but plenty of recent rain will deter the formation of wind driven storms.
Now in NM, I see rain shadows but my route skirts the rain.
I stop to refuel and see this neat scene as well as see.....
….this huge piece of art. Midway through day 3 of driving I arrive.....
….in New Albany, OH and jump in with the Thursday, Cycling Club group ride. This is the final evening ride of the season and only 26 cyclists come out, compared to 70-90 on mid season rides. The area has a very healthy cycling community and hundreds of miles of lonely country roads that stich small towns. Hilly to the southeast, east and northeast, flat to the west it is an ideal cycling area with thousands of short but steep climbs. So different from slogging up the many 10+ mile climbs in AZ. If OH had AZ weather, I'd never leave but it doesn't so.....
Scott Billman and another new machine. Wait, does he shave his legs?????
Chris I also has a new bike and note the custom lettering on the frame. I've gotten behind on keeping track of all the new bikes.
Cycling buddy, Larry P in the foreground next to John and Jon. Two groups will roll out beginning with the Rivet/A as a split squad followed by.....
…..an A and B combined group. Only 27 miles for our ride but still enjoyable. Andrew Clayton on the left, anxious to head south to FL and a winter stay. I've cycled down there often and it just never appealed to me but it is much closer to Ohio. Flat, boring but close proximity to Ohio makes a lot of sense. One thing I decided, I am shipping my other "BH" bike to Ohio so I can ride it when I visit Ohio rather than drive with my newer version. Drive 10 hours, jump on the bike for a group ride makes for a long day.
First, START TIME IS 5:30PM! Had someone text me on Tuesday and ask if the start location had changed cause no cyclists were seen at 6pm. I don't have a composite map to show, only the Rivet/A route but all routes below. Folks, 24 rides down, only 4 to go so come out and enjoy the camaraderie.
The sun is still below the horizon as I ride 6 miles to the start of a group ride hosted by Cat 4 cyclist, Carolyn Audilet. The third Tuesday of every month, the guys are invited to attend this women's only ride. It's too bad for the guys because Carolyn creates the best routes among the ride organizers for GABA (Greater Arizona Bicycling Association).
Nearing my destination, the mountains to the west are just being touched by the rising sun. Beautiful as always. The somewhat humid air has been swept away so rain chances are nil for a few days while each day's high temps remain well below 100....fall is here!!!
Our group heads south and then turns west, crossing I-10 before eventually heading toward Dove Mountain where I had my lungs ripped out on the Twin Peaks climb, as usual. Finished with a tidy 34 miles. Well, with the increase in weekly miles, I'm ready to venture farther afield with some riding on the big slopes. First though, with the arrival of an Ohio friend this weekend, got to show off one of the premiere hikes, one of the hardest, in the Superstitions. More to come.
I met a friend for a hike around my reliable, stand-by trail, Linda Vista and as usual, enjoyed fine views, here looking to the west and the Tortolita Mountains.
It was a fairly active monsoon inspired weekend although most of the rain was to our east and south. I departed my home at 6:15 freaking AM:) to meet a group and a view presented itself that was magnificent. Of course, the camera fails to capture it but in the distance, sunlight illuminated Kitt Peak and the observatory shone like a beacon. All else was in cloud induced shade but for that one ridge.
Rode out of Oro Valley toward Saddlebrook where there are some good climbs and as usual, although we may be dry, the Catalinas were engulfed in clouds and no doubt rain. I've been coming out here since 2012 and am so glad I don't take the view of the mountains for granted. Awesome.
Saddlebrook has plenty of golf courses but I am too busy for that. Imagine, I have 2 sets of golf clubs in the closet and they are rarely used. I should sell a set. This was my second week of 150+ cycling miles so all going according to plan.
Where has the season gone....well, no where! The season is still with you Ohioians. May be some spotty showers but I have full confidence you can skirt them as you leap from New Albany and race into the beautiful countryside while enjoying the camaraderie of your fellow cyclists. Meantime, I have ramped up my miles and will be in Ohio, maybe for the 10/5 Blue Jay ride....ouch....that is a hard route....maybe not. The routes:
Each late summer, several groups mobilize to begin Tour de Tucson training rides. Each weekend there are rides from various points, the length of which incrementally increases each week. One such ride began only 3 miles from my home but at 6am which is a few minutes prior to the sun rise. Very odd for a 38 mile ride to start so early and at 5:45am I prepared to ride to the start but it was still dark. I waited for a little light and headed out to.....
…..catch the group on the return form a short loop and so.....
…..I did. Note in the distance, that is a rain shadow! There was some excitement among the cyclists that we may actually ride in the rain....how about that Midwesterners!!! The memory of doing so, frequently, is still too fresh so I was less than enthusiastic. Fortunately, our route skirted the rain. We were a fitness compatible group and I hung in until about 3/4 of the way up the Twin Peaks climb. Dropping anchor is nothing new and I was actually encouraged by my cycling progress, slow as it may be. I left the group.....
…...to get in a few extra miles that included a stop at my fav gas station, QuikTrip. Note the beautiful mountains in the distance. Finished with 51 miles and then at 6pm.....
….was sitting in a dugout, waiting for my turn at bat during a game of softball. The kids are accepting of me despite the enormous gap in age if not in youthful exuberance. I never really grew up as some of you have observed:) Typically, I play the infield but tried the outfield for a few innings. I have some real trouble tracking the ball in flight. I can see it just fine but figuring out its trajectory (is it destined to fall in front or beyond me) is a problem....then the wind....yikes. This experiment was a disaster so I resumed my spot at shortstop or second. We had a good game for 2 hours with much of it played under the lights. Fun time!
Following a 40 mile bike ride, I joined a friend for a tour of Colossal Cave, being guided through the "Ladders" route. The pavement leading into the park is in dire need of repair with multiple large and deep holes but things improve once you park your car.
Colossal Caves is southwest of Tucson, close to Vail, AZ. Nice views abound.
The stone structures that support a gift shop and café date back to the 1930's. The area is a pleasant place to relax prior to be called for the....
….helmet fitting and explanation of what to expect. The woman shown was also our guide and gave an admirable performance. Her knowledge of the history of the cave and the environment was impressive.
With our helmet lights on, we descend and are quickly off the main tour route and onto the ladders tour. The passages are narrow and the helmets are frequently tested on the low and jagged ceiling.
In the 1930.s a large group of men were paid $1 a day to improve the passages, install walkways, lighting, etc... to turn the cave into a tourist destination. The history of the cave is long with evidence of use all the way back to 900AD.
At one point, we are 6 stories below the surface.
Few of the stalactites are whole as over time, the tips were broken for souvenirs. Since this is a "dry" cave, meaning the water that once fed the cave ceased hundreds of years ago, no growth is occurring.
Probably the highlight of the 90 minute tour was being led into a dead end tunnel and instructed to turn off our lights. Then we were given the opportunity to feel our way out to the main passage while wisely scooting on our rear ends. In the blackness, it gave us an appreciation for what a few experienced, long ago, when they lost their light source and died, trying to find a way out.
Our guide continues her performance, including stopping at the "Alter" where for $250, you too can use the site for a small party marriage ceremony.
The Tyrannosaurus Rex rock.
An enjoyable time in a cave where the temperature is a constant 71 degrees. For this reason, early developers of the cave would....
…..spend several days at a time inside while the outside temperature soared. I give this tour a thumb's up.
About 1 mile from home is the Linda Vista trail. This 2.6 mile loop is easy to follow and hard up against the base of Pusch and Bighorn mountains. It's a good workout with 480' of climbing, all of it in the first half of the loop, whether you hike counter or clockwise.
In the distance is Wasson Peak, in the Tucson Mountains. I've ridden 3 times this week, 4 counting tomorrow and will have logged around 140 miles. Way off the 200-250 weekly totals from past years but again, this is the off season so way ahead of what I would be riding in Ohio's off season. The unusual warmth is about to end with a forecast for temps in the 90's. There is an interesting bike event in Sierra Vista coming up, still thinking about the Mt. Lemmon gravel grinder, a visit to Ohio, a visit by an Ohio friend who wants to hike, etc...
A great forecast for the Thursday ride. On this day, a few years ago, Peter the Great imposed a tax on beards (honest, you can look it up). After tomorrow's ride, there will be only 5 more to go! Then buckle down for the cold winds of winter so enjoy it while you can. The Rivet/A, B & C routes are below.
There has been some monsoon activity and it appears that it rains almost every day in the mountains so I rode to Catalina State Park on the northwest side of the mountains. Alas, this wash is still dry although I have seen video of other washes that are running with water. More rain forecast for the coming weekend but dry until then. High temps are still running a couple of degrees higher than normal (100+) but it looks like that trend will change this weekend too.