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!
Wow. 46 miles for the Rivet/A cyclists? Already? The B group may have a few visitors from the A community. Like Rick Miller always says, "Ride with the B group, ride like a B cyclist" OK, I just made that up, like a lot of what I post here and elsewhere. Have fun out there! Note the new start location, below.
Effective TUESDAY, 4/23 the Tuesday & Thursday Cycling Club group rides will start from the parking lot at the New Albany United Methodist Church. 20 3rd Street, New Albany Ohio 43054. Starting time is still 6:00pm, with the same format as usual. Note the club made a hefty donation to the church and in exchange we receive access to the quiet, private, leafy, location which includes access to their restroom. Inside the entrance and turn left. Yes, this is the same location from where we began our ride a few years ago.
A windy day was forecast so I was more than agreeable to take up a friends request to lead up La Milagrosa Canyon to the waterfalls. Well, I was agreeable until I realized that my one previous visit wasn't actually up the interior of the canyon but a loop around the inner canyon. Then, after reading several descriptions of the canyon hike I decided that is best left for another day so, above, we head east on Horsehead Road into the wilderness.
I understand there are several neat features within the canyon so certainly will visit for at least a scouting mission. Our little group of 3 headed up the ridge trail which allowed some good views into the canyon.
The hedgehogs are now blooming. Beautiful color.
The trail drops into a canyon with a meager flow of water and then back out and the climbing continues.
Wow, not seen this before, a saguaro cactus having an orange arm. Weird.
Every time we reached a saddle, there was another to climb. I had my prior experience having hiked the loop and I also had a GPS track I checked so what did I do......
….I walked right by a right bearing fork and we kept going up and up. Finally, I called a halt to the proceedings, checked the screen of my device and noooooooo. I had mistaken a black terrain elevation line for the route. There, about a mile back was the black, dotted route line. We retraced our route to.....
….the fork in the trail and took a break to refuel. I walked down to a ledge and peered into the canyon while my companions were probably discussing whether one should push me in to the chasm.
We decided, rather than continue on the official loop trail, to go back the way we had come which would give us 8 miles while the loop would yield about 10.5. Working with a time constraint forced the decision. Above, water trickles over rock slabs.
Various homes have landscapes for which they pay many thousands of dollars to look like what we see all around us. Throughout the hike, I was in hyper snake scan mode and did see a garter snake on the trail but no rattler. Returning home, a neighbor alerted me that a Western Diamondback was in our condo complex so....
….I ran over to see. There it is, curled under a rock. The fire department arrived and....
….grabbed it with one of those pincher tools. Note the color of the rocks behind the snakes upper body. They blend in way too well. I asked the fireman if I could touch the snake and he said no. Then I asked if he could release the snake so we could reenact the capture for video and he again said no!!! They had more snakes to capture so off they went.
For your watching and studying pleasure, the Rivet/A, B & C Thursday routes: I think legendary "C" ride leader, Steve Hewitt has returned from touring Napa and will be able to pull the C cyclists around their route.
The yellow flowered Brittlebush, in bloom for many weeks, still going strong. Another front arrived and dropped our day time highs by 20 degrees, into the low 70's:) High winds with gusts in the 30's took me off the bike and on to the trail.
I made a last minute decision to join a small group of 8 and depart from the Sabino Canyon visitor center and head to 7 Falls. I expected a slow pace and was good with it but what I did not expect was numerous regroupings that included extended story telling so with my patience exhausted....
….I left the group behind. Reaching the top of the only climb, I looked down canyon and the abundance of wind blown dust obscures the magnificent mountain ranges, both distant and near-by.
The spectacular falls, all 7 of them. The confined space of the canyon caused the wind speed to pick up and my hat was blown from my head and deposited into a pool. Having a hiking pole, I extended it to its full length and was able to pluck the hat from the water.
I climbed above this falls and.....
….looked down as a duck flew in, glided to the shore and approached this group of women. I climbed out of the canyon, exchanged pleasantries with the incoming group and finished with 7 miles. I was able to hop on a bus that arrives at the Bear Canyon trail head every 30 minutes and saved a 2 mile walk. Well, back to the bike.
The Cactus Club organized a ride to Kitt Peak so 9 of us gathered at the base of the mountain and rode the 12 miles to the top. As I recently posted several images from the same ride from two weeks ago I'll keep this accounting short. I was ready to shove off at the appointed start time of 9:00am. Looking around, there were others not ready and with my desire to ride in my private box of pain, I got going. Above, some of the group pass the point where the road finally bends flat.
Aw, the views!
The area being remote and where we parked our cars having a reputation for car break-ins, I had taken everything of value from my car, stuck it in a bag and stored it in a SAG vehicle. The group was going to take a tour of the peak so I took my bag, looped it around my neck and began the descent.
I took 20 minutes off my time of 2 weeks ago, finishing the entire ascent of 12 miles in 90 minutes. Still 9 minutes off my best time and I think I can get that so probably will try the ride again, soon.
Here ya go kiddos! The routes for this evenings fun filled, exciting gathering of cyclists inhabiting the C, B, A & infamous Rivet categories. It's an unprecedented day of great weather for early April so come out and ride.
After joining a group ride last week and enjoying the pavement and surroundings, I returned to the town of Oracle. In the distance, Mount Lemmon still carries snow.
Rather than follow the 45 mile route of last week, I rode to the southern end of Oracle on West American Avenue, turned around and thus added 10 miles to the course.
The usual 6 mile descent on Webb Road followed, then through San Manuel on Reddington Road, descend 3 miles and head to the end of the pavement. I think I crossed 10 cattle guards in total. Some fit perfectly to the road, some do not so it can be bone jarring at times. Otherwise, the pavement is fabulous.
My time on the 6 mile ascent of Webb always sucks. But, to my left are the mountains so between that distraction and the rare car passing, it is an enjoyable climb to the extent that is possible.
I finished with 55 miles and 3300' of climbing so a good workout. I've ramped up cycling but that has come at the expense of hiking, as is the norm for me in the spring. I've ridden 3 of the last 4 days and rather than rest, am joining a group to do KItt Peak for a 2nd time this visit. More to come on that.
One day this week when a dry front rolled through and brought with it wind gusts of 35mph, I thought better of riding so joined a small group hike at Catalina State Park, which is less than a mile from where I live. The snow melt has diminished enough that the washes can be crossed without getting our feet wet.
The area is very green as we.....
….follow the Sutherland Trail to a canyon with a nice flow of water. It seems each day a different species of plant is flowering but one.....
….the Ocotillo has not yet flowered but is on the verge of doing so.
Have no idea what this is called but looks like some kind of hydrangea plant.
Locals call this one "Angel's Breath". There were plenty of them bordering the trail along with.....
…..many others. It being snake season, we walked carefully as a rattlesnake had been spotted crossing this trail prior to our passing. Nothing would ruin a visit more than getting snagged by one of those.
A beautiful bouquet is passed as we finish our 6 mile, fairly flat hike. Back to cycling.
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 described 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.
1. The Shady Spot--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 to socialize prior to the ride.
2. Ride Leaders--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 and while he looks and acts like a creeper, he is harmless.
6 Cookies & Treats--Within the group there is the Cookie Lady, Kristie B, who will ocassionally provide post ride goodies from the trunk of her car. She uses this as a means to collect donations for "CAF" (Challenged Athletes Foundation) so after selecting a treat, do the right thing.
The Galiuro Mountains in the distance, still grey as the sun has not risen enough to expose the beautiful colors. This morning I drove 25 miles north to the small town of Oracle and park at.....
…..AZ Zipline Adventure. Not been here before but what a neat place with a restaurant that I hear is very good. I joined a small group to ride the U of A's Oracle Road Race route, an event they hosted in early February. We depart, rolling for a couple of miles then plunging 6 miles to the town of San Manuel via Webb Road. Been to San Manuel a few times but never ventured farther on Redington Road which cuts through the town while paralleling the San Pedro River. I always thought the road turned to dirt a mile or two distant but.....
….gosh was I wrong. After 4 miles of flat riding, we descend another 3 miles and then keep rolling until at mile 23, we finally do reach the end of the pavement. Later, I looked on a map and saw there are other, small communities such as Redington, Cascabel and the road cuts over the mountains and drops into the east end of Tucson.
Our group of 9 regroup and then, with the wind at our back, enjoy the return to the base of the first climb where I stop and.....
….of course snap a few images. Although not shown here, an abundance of different wild flowers are in bloom, one of the best displays ever.
The belt of green running through the middle of the image shows where the San Pedro River is flowing. I also should note the pavement is superb. Reaching San Manuel, part of the group continues on Redington Road out to #79, an extra 10 mile round trip segment but some of us declined that option and headed up the 6 mile Webb Road climb....ugh. Finished with 45 miles and 2450' of climbing. Another beautiful day.
Whoa, long line of vehicles going into Saguaro East National Park. The 8 mile loop is a great workout with a lot of climbing. Emerging from the park, I saw a cyclist standing in the middle of the driveway, holding up traffic. Arriving alongside of him, I saw a rattlesnake disappear in the brush. The cyclist had held traffic so the snake could cross the road. Naturally, I leapt off my bike and carefully......
….entered the Sonoran desert while keeping the snake to my 10 o'clock so it would continue slithering toward an open space and above it emerges.
A good size one too! OK, time to get back on the road and out of its habitat.
I'm about 3 weeks behind schedule because of unusual weather but after the climb of Kitt Peak last week and today's forecast high of 83 in the valley and 60 up top, I made my first foray of Mount Lemmon.
I reached 7 Cataracts at mile 9 and checked out the.....
….rusted hulk of a van that had tumbled into a ravine a long time ago. The ravines are still running strong from the snow melt. I stopped again at Windy Point Vista at mile 14 and had a long talk with a cyclist from Phoenix as well as being approached by the usual curious tourists who can't believe anyone rides their bike up the mountain.
Such a relief. At mile 21, just above the Palisades gift shop, the road finally and mercifully bends down. Of course there is that 2 mile descent and then a 1 mile ascent before rounding a curve and dropping into.....
…..Summerhaven where I stop at the Sawmill Restaurant for a salad. I had carried a 3rd water bottle but still surprised I had so much left in the remaining two. Across the road is the community center and newly built homes on the hillside which had been wiped out during the 2003 Aspen Fire.
I had a ping pong event at the Culinary Dropout (more on that below) beginning at 5pm so I elected not to make a left and ride up to Ski Valley. North facing slopes still retain some snow, here at about 8000" elevation.
Evidence of the fire is still visible and yet it also allows for sweeping views that otherwise would be hidden. I descend the 1 mile and struggle through the 2 mile ascent and then a wonderful, 21 mile descent that is not technical and one can simply.....
…..enjoy the views which are dampened by overcast skies. This being a Wednesday, traffic is fairly light.
One of my favorite sections that includes.....
….this iconic rock hoodoo and its unusual shape.
In the distance is a very slight uphill, just about the only one on the descent and it is welcome to stretch the muscles briefly. Toward the bottom I encounter....
….some serious rock climbing. Yikes, it is getting late so I resume the descent and arrive at my car at 4:30pm. Have to be at the restaurant for ping pong at 5pm but no time to go home and change. I take clothes into a nearby McDonalds and take a quick cat bath at a sink, change and drive to the Grant Avenue location. Had a fun time but always aware I probably smelled like 10 day old road kill. Finished the ride with 59 miles, 6400' of climbing and a ascent time very distant from the record ascent of 1:21:)
A gaggle of central Ohio's finest, arrive here on Friday for a week of riding in the sun and heat. Looking at the forecast, it looks pretty good as.....
...….Kyle Z, Travis I, Aaron C, Andrew B, Peter P and none other than Scott Billman will ride over hill and dale and mountains. I was invited to attend the launch of their first ride, this Friday afternoon. Even at the height of my great powers I could not hang with this group but I owe it to my readers to get a few pics, ride with the group until I am spit out the back and take an image of them disappearing in the distance. Oh, Pascale Lercangee was out here last week for a PACTour event and I think I read a total of 50 other cyclists were on the same tour. OK, rest day today and up the mountain tomorrow. My highlight of the day is a visit to Dick's to buy ping pong balls.
I rode 51 miles on Saturday and jumped in for a group ride of 36 miles on Sunday. We paused at a gas station and I bought a Payday on this Sunday. All the unusual but welcome weather (rain) has vacated the area and a return of the norm has cyclists pouring from their sheltering in place, places. It's rare to ride any distance and not see other cyclists on the road. Mount Lemmon is clogged with them and given Wednesday's forecast of southwest winds (helpful) and temp at the bottom and top (85 & 60), that is where I will be. Although this is on the Cycling Club's Facebook page, not all of central Ohio cyclists visit FB so below is what I received as a summary:
From the Man on the Beat, Gus Cook, comes this summary of the Cycling Club's Annual Meeting:
We had a pretty good turn out given that so many of the cool kids were out of town. Probably 30ish at peak crowd. Don Novel took the reins and did a nice job presenting agenda items as 12-14 pitchers of beer and 8 large pizzas were being devoured by the peloton.
Rick Miller pulled up the website on a big screen and walked everyone through the voluntary fee membership page, Tuesday and Thursday route pages, Mark’s Cycling Blog link, etc.. updates and new background pictures still pending, but everything functional.
Focus of club was Emphasized - “its about the rides”; safety; recruitment of new riders (new blood, young, old, energetic); volunteering to lead slower riders (posting Thursday C group “training” rides with leaders)- having club vests or “penny” clearly identifying each group ride leader (provided by Club); club kit options forthcoming due to obvious interest; financial report by Fritz- “state of club is healthy and flush for foreseeable period”; and much more.
Important item: Discussed moving ride start location due to construction, parking challenges, safety. Possible locations being evaluated next week before regular season schedule kicks off. Potential locations: church off 161 where temp. Started a couple years ago; lot across street from old Plate Restaurant building (corner of 161/high), lot adjacent to chamber of commerce.
It is a long story but the long running trams were taken out of service at Sabino Canyon about a year ago. Last week, temporary buses were added while new, electric, open air trams are still a few weeks from being operational. The buses run every 30 minutes and the demand for the limited seating (about 24 per bus) is high. A hiking buddy and I arrived at 8:45am to get on the 9am bus. Not a chance. We were lucky to get the last tickets for the 9:30am bus.
The bus travels the 4 miles to the trailhead in about 25 minutes where we hop out to begin the hike to Hutch's Pool, a spectacular spot in the backcountry of the Santa Catalina Mountains. There is an initial, moderately steep climb out of the canyon, about .8 mile while gaining 500'. The switchbacking rewards......
…..us with fine views down canyon and once we reach the top are rewarded......
….with the sight and sound of roaring water as it thunders beneath us. We come to the first of two significant water crossings, remove socks and shoes and wade through knee deep water which is flowing at a good clip. The surface was rocky, edgy and the water, really cold! Thereafter, we kept our shoes and socks on as the surface was too uncomfortable for bare feet. I need to invest in a pair of sandals for this type of activity.
Above, I am wading through the 2nd crossing. I was wearing long pants which had to be rolled up so they too did not get soaked. The water is kind of swift but not so much that one would get swept away by the force of it. However, it is easy to imagine someone losing their balance and then the force of the water could topple you. A complete body soaking would ensue and who knows what body part would impact a boulder.
After the 2nd significant water crossing (there are others but hoppable on rocks) the West Fork Trail continues on to Cathedral Rock but I watch for a faint trail to the right, take it and find the famous beach that borders Hutch's Pool.
Debris is obvious to show how high the water ran following the system that deposited the 42" of snow on Mount Lemmon and soaked the surrounding area with rain. Debris could be seen 10' higher than where we stood.
Trees, long tortured by nature, have somehow survived but note the twisted roots and trunk. We walk parallel with the river a short distance to reach.....
…..where the water rushes through a cleft to keep the pool full. The force of the water and sound of it is awesome. Looking down stream.....
….a great view of the pool. In warmer months, people climb the cliffs and jump in. During this visit, a woman unseen by me as I was continuing to explore, undressed, jumped in the water, floated for a second, jumped out and redressed. How could I have missed a photo opportunity of a skinny dipper?!
Another tree clinging to cracks and crevices while drinking from the water.
Farther back from the pool again looking down stream.
After a snack, I see a neat camp site. Slightly down stream there was a broad boulder with 7 grinding holes so no doubt, this concave place has been used as partial shelter for a long time. After 8.7 miles round trip, the tram stop is reached and the slow bus ride descends the canyon. Total elevation for the distance was 965' so after that initial climb from the canyon, it is mostly flat to rolling and a hike manageable by all but maybe when the water flow is diminished.
The drive from Oro Valley to Kitt Peak is mostly via Ajo Way/St. Rt. 86, a flat , straight shot with the Quinlan Mountains growing on the horizon. On the right peak a small, white spec is one of the observatories.
I go through a border patrol checkpoint, make a left on #386 and a sandy, unofficial parking area is immediately found on the right. Later, a friend told me there have been a number of car break-ins at this spot as traffic is very light. Many people park at the tiny town of Three Points around 23 miles to the east.
This being my first mountain climb of this visit, I plan to ride slowly and enjoy the 12 mile workout. I even pause a few times to take images. Water is still flowing in ravines and over slick rock from the rain and some snow melt.
Odd thing is my legs felt pretty good and I began to regret my decision not to push myself. My best time is 1:22, today 1:45 and I think I can beat my best time on my return trip. 3450' of elevation is gained during the ascent having an average grade of 6% so a little steeper than Mount Lemmon but of course, much shorter.
Proof that I rode the bike and not the car. The peak has the largest collection of observatories in the world and the.....
….views are grand.
The road does a 360 around the mountain rather than switch backing up the face of one side.
Baboquivari Peak in the distance and the high point of the Baboquivari Mountains. Just have to do that hike one of these days. Snow still present on the north facing slopes. There was some snow on Kitt too but only along the road where it had been piled.
The pavement is very good and the traffic very light on this Monday. In total, only 15 vehicles passed me going up or down as I ascended.
Coasting down is kind of a pain as it requires frequent braking. My hands ached at times and so I stopped to take pics, of course.
Unseen but heard, water rushes through this ravine. Finished with 25 miles and an urge to go back and do it again soon. I so much more enjoy this climb over Mount Lemmon. The latter is, for me, such a grind up 26 miles. Oh, while my best time is 1:22, the overall best is an unbelievable 47 minutes by Luis Lemus.
The business end of an arm of a saguaro cactus. Run into that and thus a good day turns bad. I had told a good hiking friend about a hike I completed a few weeks ago and so with all the rain and closure of trails, back to the Tortolita Mountains we go.
I will be brief as previously I gave more detail to this route. However, headed out on the Wild Borrow Trail, first walking in a sandy wash then climbing to avoid a steep pour-off.
Then make a left on the Wild Mustang Trail, climb a bit and views open up of the surrounding, snow capped mountain ranges.
The climb out of the valley is not too steep but it does have the unpleasant surprise of a false peak as once you reach what you expect is the top, you reach that and discover, ugh, more climbing.
Then there is a marvelous rolling hike along a ridge that includes a look at a fairly recent budding of a crescent saguaro. I think 1 of 10,000 saguaro's have this feature.
As each day passes, more flowering plants bloom. Finished with 9 miles of a fun hike but yes, I will post about my ride to the aforementioned ride to Kitt Peak, soon!