Imagine if you live in central Ohio, it's December, January or some other winter month. When the weekend arrives, you're looking forward to riding but alas, it is 30 degrees with icy roads so you gird yourself for another session on the indoor trainer, right? But wait, just a few miles away, there is a road that leads you 25 miles into a valley where the temps are 20-25 degrees warmer so you and your buds drive into the valley and jump on your bikes in 50-55 degree temps with brilliant sunshine. Wouldn't that be great? Alas again, such a great alternative does not exist for us Ohioians but out here in AZ, while our peers are baking in the daily temps of 105+, such an option does exist, only in reverse. I hit the base of MT Lemmon at 8:30a, and already it was 92 degrees but half an hour later, I was cruising along the ridge where it was 72 degrees. Headed for the "Wilderness of Rocks" hike, a nice 9 mile out and back. Loads of mountain biking and hiking options up here and the day time high was the mid 80's.
Unfortunately, somewhere out there I lost my cell phone. Since I have an antique, I was not too bothered by this but while driving home, my wife called and a women, who had found my phone, answered. Ah-Oh!!! When I arrived home, I gave my wife the old, "Lost cell phone excuse" to explain why a strange women answered. Arrangements were made for me to drive back up the mountain the next day and retrieve it at the General Store. I checked out the fire lookout while up there and had a good time talking to the ranger who occupies this little shack at about 9000' above sea level.
Yet another day later, I jumped on the winter beater bike and began the arduous trek up Mt. Lemmon. I stopped at "Seven Cataract" lookout and saw these guys climbing a hoodoo.
I kept plugging away. Speaking frankly, what kept me going was knowing that if I turned around, there would be nothing to do in the valley where the temp this day was 108. I tried golfing one afternoon and the heat was not that big of a deal but geesh, I absolutely suck at that after so many years of neglect. Hard to believe but I once was down to a 2 handicap and now, I hit the ball short and crooked, not ideal for that game. Above, a fellow cyclist takes a break to admire the view.
After 19.5 miles of climbing, I had gained 5400+ feet of climbing and then a 1 mile drop, roughly a 1 mile climb and then coasted into the little town of Summerhaven, a more aptly named place does not exist. A major fire swept through here in 2002 and wiped out the trees and most of the homes and businesses but many have been rebuilt. I had a hamburger at the restaurant and enjoyed the views, one of those, "Life does not suck" moments. I became chilled sitting in the shade and so shoved off for the descent. It was interesting to descend through the temperature change, I'm sure I noted the shift into the 80's, then the 90's and towards the bottom, the blast of 100+ heat. Ended the day with 51 miles and 5700' of climbing. As usual, dozens of cyclists were climbing or descending the mountain but a couple of days later, a 55 year-old cyclist went left of center, crashed into a wall and died. The trip to the Grand Canyon coming tomorrow.
Mark is a long-time cyclist who enjoys poking fun at himself but most especially at his friends. No nicknames or comments are intended to offend, accept them in the humor they are intended.