Although Sierra Vista is only about a 90 minute drive from Oro Valley, the 7am start kind of required me to stay at a hotel. The sun has just risen as participants gather in the parking lot of the host hotel.
A much smaller turnout then what I witnessed for the Wilcox Flyer about a month ago. This is the 4th annual event and should grow because they have a good route, which is a loop rather than the out/back in Wilcox. Approximately 200 cyclists came out.
Check this out! The mayor of Sierra Vista (guy wearing the tie) made a few comments to the group. Also check out the ghastly orange T-shirt. That is what we received in our bag of goodies when I checked in on Friday.
And we're off. We start on a bike path which was too narrow to safely improve one's position so I missed the front group. Emerging from the path and then navigating a neighborhood with too many speed bumps, I get in with a group of 9 which included a cycling friend from Oro Valley, Tricia. I almost got dropped on the first, modest climb of the day as the road headed toward a mountain but just before spitting the bit, I saw we were to make a turn away from the mountain which I correctly interpreted as the end of the climb. I......
….recovered on the descent, barely survived another climb and then we experienced a glorious, 8 mile descent...yeehaw! Arriving at a bridge spanning the San Pedro River, I knew the gig was up and work would begin anew. The road rolled for a bit and then we began a 14 mile climb. I was going well until I wasn't and at mile 31, with a 21mph average, I had to drop anchor from the 4 who remained from the original group.
The road finally stopped rising, dropped a little, rolled through a roundabout with plenty of volunteers to direct me onto the main road through Bisbee which has a large copper mine at its entrance. Thus began a really hard climb of about 5 miles. I was lulled into a false sense of relief when I reached an exit and descended, assuming the climbing was finished but noooooo!!! The steepest was to come as the final mile via Old Divide Road averaged 7%.
I wonder if the copper color or the month of October was the inspiration for the shirt giveaway?
I reach the top of the climb and pause at a refueling station. Nice views into the valley and the town of Bisbee. Having upped my cycling miles for the month to over 600, my legs were in much better shape than what I had for the Wilcox ride. That I had stayed in the group for as long as I did shocked me but of course, leaving the group the average speed plummeted. But....
….my position relative to my peers wasn't bad. I enjoyed a long descent prior to teaming up with another straggler for the final few miles, finishing with 62 miles, 3000' of climb and a 17.7 average speed. Well, back to hiking.