OK, I admit I was a little apprehensive about a 26 mile climb but hopefully there would be lots of false flats or slight down hills during which to recover. I shoved off from the Safeway at the corner to Tanque Verde and Catalina roads, kind of a traditional start point. During the 4 mile run up to the start of the climb, I gained around 250 feet and passed a local cyclist on a Klien. Ha! I thought, local loser finds out what chasing Marty Sedluck around New Albany's Thursday rides does for the Ohio boy. I paused to take this image of the very obvious start to the climb. Meanwhile, local boy passes me and I never see him again. Ha! I thought. Ohio loser finds out what short cutting rides all year does while local boy trains on 26 mile climb.
Soon, I reached the 4000' elevation marker, then the 5000" elevation marker but the slopes were always around 3-5% so not hard at all. I passed numerous pull-outs for picture taking and was awed by the views but kept grinding along without stopping.. Soon, I reached the 5 mile mark and not so soon, reached the 10 mile mark. Throughout there was a 50 yard stretch of slight down hill but otherwise, always up. Around mile 12 I passed through a flatish area with campgrounds but here things changed. Probably the engineers, when building the road came to the conclusion, "Egads, if we continue at this rate we'll run out of real estate to make the top." So, suddenly, the grade increased between 5-10% for another couple of miles and somewhere in there I passed the 6000' elevation sign. Around mile 15 of climbing, I began worrying about my water situation and seeing a cyclist, of which there were dozens and dozens coming down the hill as I climbed, I finally paused at one of the pull outs to ask if there was water at the Palisades, a stop around mile 22 of the climb. His reply, "Well, there caaaaaaan be." What the heck kind of answer is that but he explained water is never assured at that spot so I may have to go all the way to the top at the small village of Summerhaven. Note the great view and road in the middle.
I kept going, mile 16, 17, 18......oh, oh, only a 1/4 of a bottle of fluids left. So, I stopped at the "San Pedro" overlook and talked to some motorcyclists, one of whom used to cycle a bunch in Colorado but after moving to Tucson, picked up motorcycles instead. He said the remaining 5 miles was fairly hilly but the last 2 miles was rolling along a ridge line. I was wearing an OSU jersey and from behind someone asked, "Are you from Ohio?" Why yes, I confirmed I was and turns out they are from Canal Winchester and had a good chat with them. Their son lives in New Orleans, surrounded by LSU fans. Note the message on the sign about being able to see into New Mexico on a clear day.
So, running low on fluids I spit the bit and coasted down, a fantastic down hill with broad, expansive turns so even a notorious cautious descender like me rarely had to hit the brakes. Ended up with 44 miles, 4800' of climbing, practically 2 and a half hours of climbing but got back down under an hour. Not worried, I should have lots more chances to make the top and next time will carry an extra bottle. While a very long climb, most ways up the grade is low enough that you can recover easily and other than requiring patience to reach the top, is not a grueling climb. Our experience in Oro Valley was very neat. I'll post images of the condo we acquired. Note this is all due to my financial advisor Adele, who turned my investment of $100 into a princely sum by having me short gold and other commodities right at the market high. What a stroke of genius.