Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Climbing Tucson: Part II

Well it has been a stressful couple of days since returning from Tucson. As you may or may not know, my bike took a little detour on the way home. I think he was pissed at me for not riding Mt. Lemmon again, so he pulled a rebellion and refused to leave Arizona. Hid from the baggage people and decided to not get on the plane and just make my life miserable with worry for a few days. But no worries now, he’s back. He just so indulged himself along the way I can’t lift him out of the car.

(And on behalf of my friend Mich who works for the other airline I am supposed to say: Damn West Jet.... damn damn West Jet. There you go! By the way when I picked up my bike, there was a gentleman ahead of me picking up TWO bikes. HA!)

But there were so many other rides to do and I was bone tired. Mt Lemmon is one of those rides where, especially the first time you do it, you should take a day off after and recover but with only a week in the town that has multiple rides you need to do before you die, there were a few other rides to be done. And one damn good hike.

Picture Rocks and the Saguaro National Park Tucson District (there are two of them as you will see)

Tuesday happened to be a stinking hot day. We drove to the West end of the city. The plan: Sonora Desert Museum with a little ride along the way. I set out with the fast boys again and lasted about 18km (admittedly downhill and with the wind the whole way). This was the day I got dropped because I couldn’t get clipped fast enough at a stop sign. I’m really bad for that. I’m told I need to be ready before everyone else just to be able to keep up. I think I do it on purpose though, to have an excuse for getting behind.

The roads were crap most of the way and there were quite a few stop signs. We did 62km total and I did about 40 of them by myself. This is the only ride I did where when I pulled into the parking lot of the museum at the end that I truly felt done. DONE! And it was 93F which is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 32C. There was a huge hill at about km 50 or so that was about 10-12% grade. It flattened out in the middle and then carried on. Neither section was very long but my heart rate was 178. I stopped in the middle. I hear rumors that I wasn’t the only one. But the truth of that will remain as legend as I was not a witness to this alleged event. Then there was this nasty looking kamaze piece of downhill that required both hands on the breaks and when you get to the bottom of that you’ve reached mile zero, according to the signs, that is until you turn toward the museum and ride that final 8km into the wind uphill. Oh yeah! I was DONE. Recall this was the day after Mt. Lemmon. Total ride time 2:20.

We paid $13 dollars to get into the museum after that and I felt nauseated at the start but I dare say I looked more healthy than Michael did at the end of the day. And I had my hair tied back which I almost never do so that meant that I neglected to put sunscreen on my ears. I’m still peeling the remnants off the tops.

The Desert Museum was a cross between a small scale zoo and any desert you can see in Tucson for free. Highlights of the day were mating doves and phallic cactuses. Stig and I politely walked around for about 30 minutes before, and I think it was me who spoke up first (because I am less polite than he is), “Alright, I’m ready for beer.” And so started the desperate search for beer. So in addition to stinking hot temperatures, animals that were hiding from the heat (why weren’t the humans also hiding?), all the restaurants were closed by 3PM and there was NO BEER TO BE FOUND. We eventually wandered into the coffee shop and found Kim W., Chris, and Sean in the same state (minus the search for beer for 2/3 of these folk). Michael wandered in about 10 minutes later looking like death and the consensus was, Why are we here when we could be in a bike shop?

Saguaro National Park Rincon Mountain District; Old Spanish Trail, Colossal Caves

Wednesday had us once again sleeping in and driving East this time to a Safeway parking lot. Total km for the day amounted to about 88 for me. I did not last long keeping up with the boys this day. They even tried to create a double pace line for me and put me on the leeward side of the wind in the back left corner. We had wind coming from the side and a little bit from the front and the whole way to Colossal Caves was uphill. Deceivingly uphill. I just thought I was losing my touch the whole way out because it really really looked flat. I was about 10 minutes behind them or so by the time we arrived. I batted my eyes and said I was with all those boys over there and they didn’t make me pay to get in. When I mentioned to the boys that I got in free and that it paid to be cute, Jim T. asked which one of them was I talking about. I knew then, officially, I had been accepted as one of the boys. It warms my heart to think of it.

We rode up a steep hill to get to the touristy part of the caves, fondled the statue of the cave worker who had the most humongous disproportionate arms – kinda like Barbie’s breasts.

I was done trying to keep up and the ride to the turnaround point contained some of the sketchiest roads yet with piles of asphalt crumble to dodge. The reward was the downhill the whole way back with bonus side winds to nearly blow me into the cacti at the side of the road. We ran into Jim M. On the way out and the boys decided to try and catch him but Stig and I turned around and went to Saguaro National Park and rode a loop of the coolest road ever. I would have loved to have done video but it was another ride where both hands on the breaks was pretty much a requirement. 

We rode back to the Safeway to find the van gone which meant we had to ride the extra 8 or 10 miles back to the ranch. I called Jim T. and the fast boys met us at Starbucks. On the trip back, I hung on for as long as I could and promptly got dropped again (but... probably only at the 2 miles from the ranch point). It is a good thing that I am well aware that comparing me to them is like comparing a rattler to a garter snake, or perhaps a better comparison, a Greyhound to a Chihuahua. Or I might have come home from this trip with no self esteem whatsoever.

It was a nice night of alone time for Stig and I which sounds all fun and romantic until I tell you that we did laundry and watched Sideways and could barely move all night.

Catalina State Park

On Thursday the gang had to move from the Ranch to a hotel. To make a long story short there had been a screw up in the booking and the ranch double booked itself. So they moved to a gorgeous high end hotel, the Hacienda Del Sol which was probably typically $400 per night. We did however spoil ourselves later that night by going out for dinner at the hotel restaurant which included free intermediate courses and dinner served in unison with 8 waiters. Wow.

It was truly a much needed day off the bike. As hard as it was to do that while in biking heaven, my legs told me a different story. But the day was spent hiking up a mountain. So much for recovery. It was so worth it though. We hiked to the pools on the Romero trail, described as a 7 mile hike with a 1600 ft elevation gain. I’ll say it in pictures. We had lunch at the pools and then lunch again after the hike at a happenstance found Danish Bakery conveniently located in a strip mall with two, count em, TWO bike stores. I told you I was in heaven.

Deja Vu

I really wanted to climb Mt. Lemmon again. I probably should have as Sophie and Margaret did and said it was far easier than Monday, but I had no legs. We went out instead and did a repeat of the Colossal Caves ride and Saguaro National Park part II..... and it was so worth it. I even did a brick after riding 60 km and it felt OK which was surprising given that the run was downhill on the way out and uphill the whole way back. I decided to do a 20 minute run and I was feeling so good at 10 minutes out I decided to run for another couple minutes, knowing it would take me longer on the way back.

Coming back I came upon a stick in the middle of the path. That stick eventually caused me to stop dead in my tracks because it was moving, ambling, slithering, across the path. Rattlesnake. I let out a girlish shriek and ran back about 10 feet and gave it lots of space to cross. And he looked kinda like this dude right here. The next thing I thought was where is my camera. But no camera. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I haven’t gotten the hang of using my sixth sense to tell me that I need to have my camera with me because events will transpire that I will want to write about.

By the way. I negative split that run.

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