Monday, June 14, 2021

Hot

Stopped at the Bike Ranch in Hachita to see our good friend Jeff and get a couple of hours of sleep. Up at 3:30 am to eat something quick, drink some OJ and drive to Antelope Wells.  When we got there right at 5am John M was walking his bike to the chain link fence in front of the Border Station.

Lined up quickly and rolled out. It was actually a little chilly, had my base layer on. John and I talked for a few minutes and I could sense he was a lot faster than me, so I dropped back and he gapped me by quite a bit .. then I needed to stop for a quick break and I didn't see him again.

As Gus who left at midnight said "the first 80 miles were great" ... I think I got to Separ better than ever before, I felt strong, wasn't winded. I got some drinks and sat on the porch with them, then got a bag of ice and iced up my Camelback and my bottles.

west of Thorn Ranch

Started rolling to Thorn Ranch and that went well, then made that left turn off Gage Road and things got slow ... a headwind with about 100 degrees behind it just drained me. I stopped at a yucca tree for some shade, but that didn't help much. Used a couple of GU's which might have been the cause of my upset stomach later, but was able to get to highway 70.

And then the hard part started ... Gus and I met and switched places riding past the mine and on into Silver City, but we might have taken 4 hours to go 20 miles or so. It wasn't pretty. And when I got to that Chevron station the food mart was closed. Having thrown up by the mine, now I had the dry heaves. 

Well, we got a mile down and found an open conv store and went our separate ways to find hotels for the night.

On Saturday morning I got up, hit Denny's for breakfast and decided to go straight for it rather than rest and recuperate. I did pretty good climbing up to Pinos Altos, stopped a petted the doggie at the museum and continued on. Someplace near the top I was getting pretty tired. Hit the other side going down and Iwas feeling fried. Stopped on a downhill in the heat. Then stopped on the flatter section going towards Lake Roberts. Finally made it to the general store and got 2 Cokes and went outside to drink them.

I may have hung out for an hour and a half there, just sitting outside in what shade I could find. Got some cold waters and 2 cokes to go. Made the climbs around Lake Roberts ok and then pretty much was out of "gas" by the time I got to Sapillo campground where the CDT comes in. I took a photo of the trees in the wind ... the Wahoo said it was 105, maybe a bit higher than was it was but I was melted.

Hot and Fried

I pushed the bike up Star Road, laid down again, got to the top and camped right there. Fixed a cup of soup and felt better and decided to sleep on it. 

Got up in the morning and started up Star road again, and I had no energy. So I turned downhill towards Mimbres to look for food. The old Mimbres Cafe was closed, so hit San Lorenzo and waited an hour for them to open. Had a great breakfast, and then rode towards Silver City. Called home and let Susan know I was pretty much done.

I slept, sent a scratch note to Matthew. Got up this morning and went up a little hill and I was still weak. Don't know what I did maybe we'll be back to normal in a few days, but Tour Divide is done for me for this year.



Saturday, February 13, 2021

Diablo Mountains

Had seen this area when I rode to Buenos Aires from the Arivaca Highway on Batamote road and wondered what was over there. Then I saw some posts from other riders about some "Hunter Access Road" and so decided to give it a shot.

The starting point is just west of the Border Patrol CP on I-19. There is a frontage road on the west side of the freeway and you see the Hunter Access sign and turn in and just park right there.

Pretty straightforward riding, I did this in two parts, going about 10 miles and then turning around the first day and then the next day going to Arivaca and heading east from there to where I got the previous day, that piece was about 28 miles, starting from the Arivaca Community Center out and back.

The country is so dry right now, we need rain badly. #megadrought

Climbing up from the start

Rough country on either side of the road

After the pass ... turnaround point

Baboquivari ( zoomed in )

On the way back to start .. Elephant Head shows 

Grove of cottonwoods is protected from the ATV's

Day 2 rolling from Arivaca .. still in what passes for suburbia down there

Sign in here

Riding along, pretty good road 

Solar powered windmill

Where we turned around the day before

Same area different view ( you can see this from Arivaca Highway if you look in the right place )


Hola vaca's


Friday, February 12, 2021

Cienega Creek from the North

Another exploration of the area to the east of the Empire Mountains on Sun, Dec 27.  I just wanted to get all the way to Cienega Creek and back from Old Sonoita Highway and it worked out pretty well.

Parked on Old Sonoita about 1.4 miles from the Highway 83 intersection, there's a wide spot there. Pulled the bike out and rolled back down the hill to where the ATV people park, through the AZ State Land gate and south we went.

The first part is all rollers and rollers, then it flattens out a little bit. It's just miles of pretty empty country back there with the occasional ATV. For a Sunday it was really pretty empty. Maybe one ATV in the morning and two or three in the afternoon as I was heading back, so not too bad.

The whole thing was rideable, even for me, except for one or two wash descents that I walked down and tried to climb out of on the other side but stalled. 

Got to the sheets of metal hanging in the middle of Cienega creek, had a little something to eat and headed back. Ended up with about 5 hours of riding more or less, 3700 feet of climbing and 25 miles. Think it's on Strava at  https://www.strava.com/activities/4527245912 

Empire foothills 










Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Ride to Cienega Creek Narrows

Lately I have been looking at maps, continually trying to find new places to go and explore. I find it's a lot of fun, sometimes you don't know what you're getting into, you get out someplace and run into private property and that route fails, but others work out pretty nicely.

One that really interested me was written up by Scott Morris: http://topofusion.com/diary/2012/03/27/empire-rita-loop

He and a few friends rode from Sahuarita Road down between the Empire's and the Whetstone's, past

Wild Turkeys in the brush 

Empire Ranch, to Sonoita and back to Sahuarita Rd using the AZ Trail. I've ridden the AZ trail piece a couple of times ( it's hard ), but wanted to checkout the east side of the route, so Sunday found me at Empire Ranch with the goal of heading up to a place called The Narrows on Cienega Creek

Late start on Sunday, drove to Empire Ranch and was rolling out of their parking lot at the Ranch Headquarters at 10 am. The first part is a pretty nice easy downhill towards an offshoot of Cienega Creek that has a lot of big cottonwoods in it. I saw some wild turkeys, right in front of me, and got one photo of them disappearing into the brush by the time I got my phone out of my pocket.

More riding past some cattle corrals, a place where the route goes to the east and climbs a bit near some power lines and then downhill to Cienega Creek. I passed some ATV folks that were fixing a flat, and then got to the Creek. And there was water !  This year is probably going to be the driest on record for Southern Arizona with maybe 4.5 inches so far, so seeing running water is pretty amazing. Enough water that I got in above my knees and was holding the back of the bike up to keep bottom bracket and rear hub dry.
Water in Cienega Creek

Water is special

Next crossing 

Better place to cross is to the front of the bike 


Rode out of the creek, back into it a couple of more times and then climbed once and back down to the Narrows. I didn't see the flood control gauge ( there is supposed to be one there ), but I did see the sheets of metal and remember seeing a cactus growing out of an "area closed" sign.

Dirt road backstreets

Metal strips still here 


On the way back a guy in a pickup truck says "you got out here on that ?" ... think he was a little impressed. Pretty easy ride back to Ranch Headquarters and drive home. Nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Love the views 

Clear for miles



Have to ride to the Narrows from Sahuarita Road next.  


Monday, September 7, 2020

UME 2020

Four of us were pushing up above Alta, towards Sugarloaf. Kymberly, Jason, Jennifer and me. Someone would be in front and then need to stop and rest and someone else would pass them and we'd leapfrog our way to the top.

We got passed by some guys on electric mountain bikes. You could hear their motors straining under the load .. I got new respect for an e-bike right there. One said "it's an easy spin to the top" ... it wasn't. Frigging liar.

So, we started at 6 am at Liberty Park in downtown Salt Lake. Tim had organized this ride to show off some of the cycling available in Utah and it served up about 850 miles of pavement, dirt roads, and some single track. As I write this back at home, several guys are still hammering away. Some 21 riders started and 12 of us scratched in the first day, along with yours truly.

Had a burrito at the hotel for breakfast, some juice and coffee, then scored a latte across from the Park right before the start. Because of Corona, there wasn't a group start but a set of small groups and I rolled with three or four others at 6:15.

Thru some neighborhoods, then along a few surface streets and some bike path that took us high above Salt Lake City heading south. We got to where 210 started and there was a straight up-ish grade .. harbinger of things to come.  We did a few miles on some nice single track to the right of the main road in Little Cottonwood Canyon .. I rode most of it, but a few places were rocky enough and the grade was enough that I just quickly walked over the rocks.  Then got onto the pavement and I was climbing pretty well and I continued with a few out of breath stops into Alta.

The Entrance to Something

Alta


I thought there was a place to eat and looked around and found the Goldminers Daughter and waited about 10 minutes for it to open and fix me a burger. It was good, but I only ate 1/2 of it, and drank a couple of Cokes, then packed up and headed up. 

Think this is where the e-bike guys zoomed by

When I got past Catherine's Pass I had forgotten we still had to go to Sugarloaf .. couple of minutes later the reality dawned on me. Then I caught up with Jason and Jennifer.  The four of us climbed and walked and rode a little bit and pushed some more. Someplace in there I forgot to just stop, drink and eat and I started burning matches I didn't have. After the e-bike guys passed us we finally got to the top. I sat in the Alta lift chair and forgot to take a required selfie and started down the back side.

Sitting in the chair at the top of Sugarloaf ... felt good right then :-)

I walked a little steep downhill section and then looked way in the distance and I saw the e-bike guys going up another big climb way in the distance. I really, really thought that was our route and it let all the air out of my sails ( and there wasn't much there in the first place ).  I sat down, found a little shade and chilled for a bit. Jason and Jennifer passed me, then Kymberly passed. Decided to get up, tried to eat a GU and threw up.  Laid down for 5 minutes and felt better and decided to head on towards Midway.

I rode some, walked a couple of little steep places and was feeling pretty good till I got to Mineral Basin Road. To be honest, it was like some 4WD vehicle torture test site. Big burly boulders, places to get tires stuck, water under rocks, did I say boulders ??  Steep descents, feet sliding out. Totally outside my riding ability by an order of magnitude.  Surprised my ankles held up.

I finally got to the bottom where it turned into a regular road, and I got to a little turn with a sign for Midway and the GPS showed a big climb. At that point I was maybe 38 miles into the thing, and I needed water. So I stopped at the American fork River, filtered a bunch of water and then found a place to setup my tent for the night. I was totally fried, bonked, exhausted and went right to sleep without eating and frankly I could not eat.

Woke up around 9:30 or so and wanted to get some food in, so heated up some water and had a cup of soup. Couldn't eat the noodles, but the broth was really good, and then back to sleep. Was pretty nice except for the ATV's that wanted to drive up and down the road, but they gave it up around 11:30 pm

Got up, packed up and started up the switchbacks and I had nothing, Absolutely nothing in the gas tank. Ate a GU and some candy, still nothing. I had coffee earlier, nothing. So I walked pretty much the whole damm climb. Got to the top and my ride down was wobbly due to exhaustion, but was getting it done.

Midway is a pretty little town, stopped and got some breakfast, but the legs were dead. Tim had FB posted about it being dry ahead. Then I looked at trackleaders and saw Kymberly had stopped and that Jason and Jennifer were in town, and then looked up and there they were riding by !

Figured I would have to lie around Midway till the next morning to be able to tackle the trail and I simply didn't have the desire. I sat in Midway Park, got on the phone, scored a Lyft ride and a rental and at 3:30 was rolling out of SLC airport in I-15 headed south.

Stopped at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, loved it, walked around a bit and to be honest, I was exhausted on just a short little walk ... huffing and puffing and sweating and wondering what is wrong with me ???  When I was doing that I was glad I wasn't stuck on some mountain south of Midway.

North Rim Sunset 


Tim did a nice job setting up a challenging course, but it's a bit much for me. I know some of the guys just rode right on through all of that .. there are some really strong skilled riders still out there.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

That Didn't Happen

My first DNS ( did not start )

Was pretty pumped to go ride Stagecoach 400 this year. Signed up, packed the bike in the car and drove to Idyllwild. Took the scenic route up S2 so I could see what some of the desert areas looked like. It rained a lot on the drive over, in lots of places where I've only seen hot dryness.

Got into Idy, checked into the hotel and listened to the rain at night. Up the next morning, scored some breakfast and went to a shop there and bought some rain pants ( since I forget mine .. lying on the chair by my desk ! ).  Loaded up the bike and went out in the rain and up the first big hill just like I had done before ... windy, rainy, sloppy, water all over the place ... I had a good time actually !  Was fun to see the route on my new Wahoo Roam.

Back to the hotel, dried off some and went for a burger. I think my stomach was already a bit "off", remember eating maybe 2/3 of it.  Went back to the hotel and napped.  Didn't feel all that great, putting some of it to "butterflies". 

Went to the rider's meeting, met a bunch of other riders, talked about rides and stuff, that's always fun. Brendan and Meg talked about some of the reroutes we'd be doing because of the rain. Wasn't clear exactly where those would be, just figured if it wasn't passable, we'd bail for pavement.

Back to the hotel and I didn't feel good. Slept a little and then woke up and just barely made it to the bathroom. After a couple of trips my system was empty. Started thinking "do I have the freaking Covid ?" ... lots of worry.

Got up weak and empty on Friday morning for the Grand Depart .... and decided to bail for home. Got my trash in the car and drove home to Tucson, all 420 miles of it. Took a nap, had a tiny bit of soup and then went to bed for about 15 hours or so with a little fever. Better to be sick at home than some hotel room in another state.

Went out in the garage a few minues ago, and my bike is sitting there all ready to go, but I wasn't.  Watching trackleaders and wishing I was out there. Looked like it was a really hard, cold, wet ride and would be memorable for all that started it.

Good Luck everyone.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bellbreaker 2020

"Where are you headed" he says
"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.

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.