Monday, May 12, 2014

Gear Shakeout Ride

I needed to start getting serious about doing the Divide and one remaining thing is to checkout all of the gear that I will be taking.  I have bought several bags and lots of miscellaneous items to take with me and decided that this weekend would be a good chance to put it all on the bike and go for a long ride and see how it played out.

My buddy Gene E and I decided we would head for Wilcox AZ mostly on dirt roads, stay overnight there and then ride back to Tucson.  We met at 6 am and rolled across Tucson to eat at Viv's on the east side before we headed up Reddington Pass.  Reddington is a nice dirt climb with some great views.  The pass splits the Catalina mountains and the Rincon mountains,  and you climb about 2000 feet in seven or so miles.  Once on top its a set of rollers until you get to a long descent down to the San Pedro river valley.

Looking back at Tucson from half way up Reddington Pass

Gene climbing
 The climb isn't too bad, pretty good surface and the 4 wheeler types were pretty well behaved and didn't dust us all up.
Mile 18 about 6 or 7 more to go to Cascabel Road
It's a good long ride across the Pass, but eventually you do get to the other side.  We cross the San Pedro river, which is quite dry at this time of the year, and connect up with Cascabel road.  The sign below welcomes you, showing 18 miles to the north to San Manuel ( which has a Circle K and nothing else ) and 40 miles to Benson.  Our plan is to ride to Wilcox and we would make a turn to the east on a road called 3 Links Road.
Intersection of Cascabel Road and Redfeld Road ( dirt in both directions )
 So at this point, we have climbed a few thousand feet, ridden 30 miles on dirt roads since our water refill at Viv's and we are Ok but will need more to make our goal.

Mesquite thickets 
 The road winds along and has a surprising amount of climbing involved.  I drove this a few years ago and didn't remember any of the little climbs.  Oh well.  Our water plan was to resupply in the little community of Cascabel.  But you know plans are only as good as first contact, and Cascabel just isn't that obvious of a place, so apparently I and then Gene rode right past it.  There weren't any signs telling you that you were there, just two or three houses close to the road.  When I passed the Oasis Bird Sanctuary, I knew I had overshot and missed that water resupply.  Nuts !

Cliffs along the San Pedro
 These cliffs on the other side of the San Pedro would be interesting to explore.  There is a pretty good sized geological fault line running along here.  The Rincons seem to have lifted like a trapdoor with the high side to the east.

Shortly after we passed this point, I was quite a bit ahead of Gene and got the the intersection of 3 Links and sat down in the shade of a road sign.  It was getting to be about 92 or so and a little windy and I didn't have that much water left.  After a bit, Gene rolled up and he was out of water.  We looked at 3 Links road and it ran along the southern end of the Winchester Mtns and that looked a bit harder than going the next 10 or 12 miles to Benson, so we headed for Benson and water resupply.  The distance to Wilcox or Benson was about the same.

Gene recognized the name of a farm that provides produce at some of the farmers markets here, and he made a turn into Sleeping Frog Farm.  The folks there were great, and let us both into their kitchen and we refilled our bottles and petted their doggies and were on our way.  They also told us that 3 Links Road was really very  rough, and figured we had made a good choice going on to Benson.

Benson is an Amtrak Station

 After a couple more hours we finally got to Benson, rode under I-10 and up the main street and I went straight for milkshakes.  I got a large one and a large Coke and both were delicious.  Yeah, we got a little dehydrated out there, but had 99 miles on us and about 6200 feet of climbing with our fully loaded bikes, so not too bad.  After ice creaming it up, we rode up the street to Reb's Cafe and had dinner.  Then rode on some backstreets to stay off I-10 and got to a Motel 6 for the night, so ended up with about 110 miles for the day.

Rincon Mtns behind me
 The next morning we rolled out, breakfast at McDonald's and we were westbound on I-10 with the trucks.  Had to stay on it for a while until we got to Marsh Station Road and then took it and got away from the freeway.  The rest of the ride home was pretty nice on a lot of roads that we've done road bikes rides on.  We had a strong headwind and later in the day you could not see the mountains for all of the dust in the air.  The dustiness started after taking these pictures.

Bridge over Cienega Creek
 Crossed Cienega Creek and took a few pictures.  Cienega Creek is a little wetland that still stays damp in the heat of the summer.  It was pretty dry down there today, hope we get some rain soon.



And with that, Gene and I navigated the next 20 miles or so across the city area to the west side of Tucson, had lunch at the Mercado and were home.  It was a good 2 hardish days out on the bike and I think our gear worked out pretty good, nothing fell off and I just need a few little tweaks.  Have to do another couple of rides like this before the Divide.  It's 30 days now till Antelope Wells.

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