"Tucson" Says me
"Do you know how far it is"
"Yeah, I think it's about 14 or 15 miles" ( I was a little east of Piety Hill on Redington Road )
"There's a lot of climbing to do"
"Yeah, it's kinda downhill in a bit"
"No, there's a lot of climbing, lot of ups and downs, think you'll be ok"
"Yeah I think so"
The black Jeep Patriot continued feeling it's way down the rubbly road and I continued pushing my very tired butt up, hoping to get to Piety Hill and at least do that nice downhill to the A7 Ranch headquarters, then somehow get to the AZ Trailhead and get off most of Redington by sundown. I think it was about 4 pm ... the sun goes down quickly at this time of the year.
So there we are on a Sunday evening, having started this crazy ride on Saturday morning at about 7:15 am. Tired, just wanting to be done, and knowing I still had 15 or 16 more miles of pavement to get to where I parked my car.
Saturday morning was promising as all of these rides are. Blue Dog Bicycles hosted Bellbreaker this year, with a changed route because of snow on top of Mt Lemmon. Most riders got to the shop in plenty of time to chat a little, score some breakfast that was being cooked on spot and look at each other's rides. There were the fast people, with almost nothing being carried, on a gravel only bike. And the in between people with a little bit of stuff. And then there were clowns like me with the full bike packing suite.
|Getting ready at BlueDog|
7:15 came, no countdown, we just rolled out, down Mountain to the Rillito path and headed east. I had my buff on and I looked a bit like Kenny from South Park, all bundled up. Was freezing cold down by the river where the cold air settles. At Udall Park, I stopped to pee and unlayer some, as the main group headed east, the last I would see of most of them.
Quick stop for a Coke at the Circle K on TV and then up Redington. I've done that route several times and think I set a new slow, just couldn't get my ST. But I passed a couple of people, then stopped and got passed by them. Chatted with a girl who had a van, was sitting on a rock with cool music playing and her orange and white cat was just chilling out with her.
Back up Redington. Lots of water on the road, it had frozen overnight and there were little bits of ice in the potholes. Someplace on the back side of Redington, I looked at the time and realized I had been going for 5 hours and was just now on San Pedro road.
|San Pedro valley|
Getting to the San Manuel turnoff was pretty easy, then got the dirt section to Mammoth. Crossed the San Pedro with a little bit of water in it, pretty good rolling to Mammoth. I took a picture at the old bar, then got to the Mexican restaurant and scored some tacos and rice and beans. The food was great, and I got another Coke from the Circle K and a to go asada burrito. Three other riders were leaving and I tagged on their back for a bit and followed them on the dirt road going towards Dudleyville. They moved away and I fell back ... thought I had eaten enough, maybe not ?? .... wheels coming off ... riding slower ... this sucks.
|This would have been a fun place|
|I think I ate enough|
Through the mud puddles, slight detour near the railroad siding that was on private land, had to heft the bike over a locked gate ( might have been a few feet off course ?? ) .. Finally I get to Freeman Road.
|Getting dark on Freeman road looking towards the Galiuro Mountains|
Know I had a GU, drank some Coke, but just no strength. Rode some, got pass the memorial markers, it's getting dark, it's getting cold, the sun is down. Someplace way up ahead I think I see a red bicycle taillight. Out of energy and cold maybe 3 miles from the AZ Trail trailhead, I pull over and camp. 7 pm, tired, asleep.
Cold. Wake up to pee. Cold. Back in the sleeping bag. 3:15 I wake up. Figure I better get my ST and head out. Pack up, ride a little in the cold and dark, walk more than I should. Two vehicles at the trail head, no lights, I move on.
Turned onto Willow Springs road in the dark. Ride some, walk a little. Slow, cold, tired. Get a little more energy as the sun comes up and I'm going through the Willow Springs archway. Turn onto the gas line road, climb the green gate and get on the bypass for 77. Three more gates, heavy assed bicycle. Get through it.
Mexican restaurant in Oracle. It was warm inside. Iced tea and huevos ranchers and a hot tortilla. So damn good. Cleaned my plate. Saw some strong people had quit. Thought about quitting. Pain in the ass to ride home after quitting. Pain in the ass to keep riding. Better to finish than quit. Rode up the hill, scored a chocolate mile and orange juice at the Circle K at the top of the hill.
Fun to ride downhill to San Manuel, but knowing every inch of elevation would have to be regained.
Starbucks drink, some candy, 15 minutes there, left. Breezy heading south, saw three gals riding going north. Stopped, ate a little.
|Long ways in either direction|
Back up that hill. Probably the slowest I've ever done it. Saw the jeep guy near Piety Hill. Yeah, got some food, got camping stuff, can just hangout another night if I don't make it, but screw that, time to go home.
Cross the AZ trail and my speed picks up. Suddenly I can ride the climbs ... no more walking, like I'm some kinda rejuvenated or something. I had fun going downhill, getting dark, with red necks blasting their guns away on the north side of the road at three or four places, rolling along.
|Snow and Granite in the Rincons|
At the top of the switchbacks the view was amazing, sundown, lights on in Tucson, pitch black otherwise, red sky, lights on in campers along the switchbacks. Getting cold. Gonna make it.
Bombing the downhill, so much fun, splashed through the creek at the bottom. Turn on my tail light ( bonus, it's not discharged like it was during Sunset ! ). Pretty well lit, if they run my ass over at least that wasn't the reason.
|Nice way to end a day|
I get to Bear Canyon and go into the pizza place. Got a grinder for some dumb reason ... wasn't what I wanted at all, nibbled at it, ate some of the fries, downed a glass of orange soda, left most of the sandwich on the table, outta there.
Got down TV and survived, didn't get ran over. Got to the Rillito bike path. Safe now. Coyotes howling in the river, howled back at them. Craycroft, Swan, Alvernon, Country Club, Campbell, finally Mountain. Up the hill to Paul's house, got my car, and drove two blocks to Blue Dog. Took a picture at 9:02 and I'm done.
So about 38 hours to do 200 miles. Gotta be the oldest person to do this ride ... like Ever ! Good to be done. Something like 92 miles on Saturday and 108 on Sunday.