Day 6: Tombstone to Bisbee - Southeast Arizona 2016 - CycleBlaze

April 1, 2016

Day 6: Tombstone to Bisbee

Today will be part tourist day, part travel day. Only 26 miles to Bisbee.

I found that it's hard to get breakfast in Tombstone. Most visitors drink all night and get up at noon. Finally found the OK Cafe open. Afterwards I walked another 10 blocks to the post office to mail the vase home.

The sign uses extremely polite terminology to describe murder.
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Tombstone early in the morning.
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The old county courthouse is now a museum. The county seat is now in Bisbee.
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By the time I walked back to the motel I was tired, so I went back to bed for an hour. No worries about check-out time when the manager is out of town.

Then I wandered around town for an hour or more. The bright sunshine was a huge contrast to yesterday's gray sky. Few visitors before 11 AM. It's easy to take good pictures in Tombstone.

The Crystal Palace Saloon anchors one prominent corner.
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Inside the Crystal Palace Saloon.
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The main tourist strip is 3 blocks long. Closed to traffic, but cars can cross on every cross street. The overall appearance is quite rustic, making it easy to imagine an 1880's silver mining boom town.

The carriage rides and costumed walkers add to the atmosphere. Many stores have people dressed in period costumes. Somewhat contrived and over-reliant on the O.K. Corral gunfight theme, but I like it. Worth the visit.

Tombstone hires people to walk the sidewalks in costume.
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This may be the biggest tourist attraction.
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Restaurant side of Big Nose Kate's.
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Bar side of Big Nose Kate's.
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I got away from Tombstone just before 1 PM. Climbed a hill leaving town, then descended 600 feet before beginning the main 1300 foot ascent to Mule pass.

Three touring cyclists passed by while I was at a shady picnic site up a hill from highway 80. Dragoon mountains in the distance NE of Tombstone.
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The Huachuca mountains were in front of me but far away to the southwest. The sun angle for seeing the mountains was bad at first and got worse as the afternoon progressed. They're almost as big as the Santa Rita mountains. My route goes into the Santa Rita and Chiricahua mountains, but not even near the Huachuca mountains.

Pedaling south from Tombstone to Bisbee. Huachuca mountains in the distance to the southwest.
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The weather was very pleasant. Gentle north tailwind. Temperature in the 60's partly cloudy.

Still many ocotillo plants.
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Traffic was light to moderate. Highway 80 has a usable paved shoulder. Not bad.

Climbing into mountains again.
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Scattered oak trees begin at 4800 feet (1450 m) elevation as the road gets into a canyon.

Oak trees appear.
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The grade steepens to 7% for the last mile before the summit.

Oak forest ahead. Flowering agave on the right.
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Mule pass is 5900 feet elevation (1788 m), highest road elevation of the tour (I hiked much higher in two places). After the pass highway 80 gently descends for a mile before entering the Mule mountain tunnel. 2800 feet long, a little more than half a mile. Well lit, steep downhill when going south. Unfortunately the roadway is grooved concrete that causes the tires to squirm from side to side. I braked to stay at 25 mph but could have coasted 35 mph if the pavement was better.

Mule Pass tunnel. Half mile long, all downhill when going south.
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The road continues to descend from the tunnel to Bisbee, 5300 feet elevation (1606 m). Highway 80 is on a ledge high above town with great views.

First view of the edge of Bisbee after the tunnel.
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Looking down on Main street and downtown Bisbee.
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In town it was easy to find the 1902 Copper Queen Hotel, one of the biggest buildings in the middle of town. Bisbee is squeezed into steep mountain slopes. The roads are mostly 1-way 1-lane. The entrance to the hotel is a stairway from what looks like a driveway.

I stayed 2 nights at the Copper Queen hotel in the middle of town.
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I got my reserved room. $139 per night for two nights. Most expensive lodging of the tour by far. A small queen room on the 3rd floor.

The hotel doesn't allow bikes in the room. They stored my bike in a locked meeting room.

Brewery Gulch. Fancy brewery on the right. Seedy bars up the street. Note that the street is 1-way 1-lane.
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Dinner was next door at the excellent Santiago's Mexican food. Fantastic dinner, and it was nice to soak up the atmosphere. I ate at the bar and spoke to a woman from Alliance, Nebraska. A little-known town, but I biked through it last year!

Bisbee is much more liberal and eclectic than most of conservative Arizona. Many artists and counter-cultural types. Kind of like Marfa, Texas or Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Distance: 26.7 mi. (43 km)
Climbing: 2005 ft. (608 m)
Average Speed: 7.9 mph (12.6 km/h)

Today's ride: 27 miles (43 km)
Total: 214 miles (344 km)

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