I've well documented my several previous failures attempting the Mount Lemmon climb in Tucson. If it wasn't running out of water it was running out of daylight or not having appropriate clothing for the colder temps up top. This time I planned to shove off late morning with temps in the 70's in the valley and ride while the temps rose so, assuming I reached the top, it would be in the low 60's. It just so happened, this tour group pulled into the parking lot at the same time I did. Nice people who were happy to let me use their pump to top off my tire pressure. Much more on this group coming up.
Walked into "La Buzz" a popular coffee shop while wearing an OSU jersey and immediately, these people yelled, "O.H.". Turns out they are from Columbus and ride out of Plain City with the Dutch Kitchen gang.
Shoved off at around 11:30am and after 4-5 miles, began the 26 mile climb. Recently came across the below that lists the 10 most difficult climbs in the US and see Lemmon is at #9. I was oblivious about the existence of #8, which is not far away and something I will do in the future. Early on, I noted my legs felt great, benefitting from the 200+ mile block I did last weekend. Cyclists were streaming off the mountain and I stopped counting at #60. About a 1/3 of the way up, I was passed by a guy from the Lizard Head Cycling Tour and later learned he has wintered in Tucson, training for tri's. Passed a couple of guys and then......
.....this guy caught me, John Humphries. He asked what was a Buckeye doing on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon and we began talking. A small world moment ensued when he asked, since I was from central Ohio, did I know a guy named John Sada? Why yes, he lives a couple of miles from me. He asked if I knew John Marten, Steve P, Todd and others. Some I knew, some I did not but each of the aforementioned cyclists participate in a Colorado tour that Lizard Head hosts. The Lizard van was parked along the side of the road and John was nice enough to ask if I wanted anything to eat or drink but I was good, although I did need to tighten my seat which had dropped a bit. Good guy and you can view his site at www.lizardheadcyclingguides.com. They put on 16 tours, mostly in Colorado and Utah but have stretched out to AZ. John specifically asked that I let Sada know that he is training every day and is more than ready for him!
At long last, I reached the point above the Pallisades gift shop which is perpetually closed, climbed a little farther and at last, enjoyed a one mile descent, climbed another mile or so, descended again and reached the point above Summerhaven (a massive fire moved through the area a few years ago and wiped out the entire village save for 2 buildings).. Do I drop down to that town and enjoy a cookie at the Cookie Barn or stop at the general store or should I turn right and ascend to the Mt. Lemmon ski station where there is a restaurant? What has happened to me, I turned right and headed up another 2+ steep miles. I had no idea how far I had to go but after rounding a curve and seeing yet another long straightaway, I said to myself, "one more of those and I'm turning around", came around a curve and shazam, there was the restaurant. So, after 26 miles and 6300' of climbing, I collapsed into a chair and ordered food, lots of it. Coasted back down a glorious down hill with wide berms and turns and after a total of 61 miles, reached the parking lot with 7000' of climbing. Tomorrow, probably participate in Tucson's Saturday Shootout.