Tucson - Benson, AZ - The cat named Chevy won't stop this tour, and neither can COVID - CycleBlaze

May 30, 2020

Tucson - Benson, AZ

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1,849 elevation gain

I slept a ZQuill aided sleep until 3 AM. Then I was awake off and on and finally gave up at 4:25. I sent Tom a message at 5 AM. He was already awake. I've been living the relaxed life, with school being canceled. I haven't been awake at this hour except to make a bathroom run for months! Speaking of bathroom runs - I made sure to drink plenty of water all evening. With these triple digit temperatures, I want to start the day hydrated. You know what that means? Yep - what goes in must come out - all night long . . . .

I probably have too many liquids on the bike. I have one Liquid IV (electrolyte drink), one Spiz (meal replacement drink), and four waters. Two of the waters have ice. I hope this is too much, or at least enough.

Steve suggested we ride Marsh Station Rd. starting at Vail, as a chance to get off of the interstate for a few miles. Interestingly, Jacinto isn't even considering the idea, but plans to ride right down the interstate. I'd like to give it a go. Tom has the wise answer - he's going to see how he feels at the turn.

It's 77 degrees and not even light outside! Wish us well. It should be a fairly easy first day. We are lucky that we can get into our rooms early.

BTW, the best thing about yesterday's drive was seeing all of the saguaro cactus flowered out. They had bonnets of pale yellow flowers on the tops of each arm. Unfortunately, these were seen on the drive. By the time we got to Tucson, there were few blossoms. It must be the difference in altitude? Jacinto was quite amused at my enchantment.

I wheeled my bike around front promptly at 6 AM. Tom was there unloading his bike. Joan had an upscale plastic cup for me. I was hoping for a convenience store reusable cup and I received an insulated cup with a lid! It has already been filled 3-4 times this afternoon. Hydrating . . .

Tom and I pulled out at 6:07 AM. I discovered that I, once again, had not looked closely enough at the route. Bertha was set to go straight down Valencia and get on the interstate. No bike path. Tom said I got to lead because he's not familiar with this part of town. After consulting the map, I felt fairly confident about where to turn. We were on Valencia until we went under the highway, then we took a jog to the left, and a turn to the right, and we were on the bike path. Those who have bicycled with me will understand my pride at being able to navigate that. I know it's simple for almost everyone, but I am navigationally challenged. Given that fact, I should pay more attention to the route. I have already looked at tomorrow's route carefully.

We spent six short miles on the bike path. I requested a bathroom break when we saw a restroom. There was a sign on front that said emergency use only. There were a lot of people with emergencies. It wasn't yet 7 AM, but the bike path was busy with bikes and pedestrians. The better to beat the heat!

I saw one velomobile zip past me. I didn't have time to raise a hand. Following him was a man on a trike. I had a chance to give a big wave to my compadre.

We reached the end of the bike path at Rita Road. Then we were routed onto Old Vail Pass Road. The road quality there left a lot to be desired. It had huge heaves every few feet. Tom gave up and rode on the sidewalk, but it also had giant heaves. So large and pointed that I wondered if my recumbent would scrape bottom. No joke.

We had the opportunity to stay on the side road to the next interstate exit, but agreed that the road quality was so miserable, we'd rather deal with traffic. To the interstate we went.

It's hard to look around and enjoy the scenery when riding on the interstate. The shoulder was wide. Traffic was no issue at all. But there are ALL KINDS of retread tire wires to avoid. In some places it was impossible to avoid them. None of us had a flat today. I wonder if some sneaky little wires will work their way through our tires. It will be a miracle if one of us doesn't get at least one flat. Tom calls the wires 'alligators'. I had to laugh.

We had our first break at mile 20. Tom allowed that he hadn't trained enough. Jacinto says that's the same thing Tom says every year - but he's always out front! I could tell it was heating up. Way too hot for this mountain girl.

The road had a steady upward grade. On one hand that was good, because the higher we are in elevation, the less heat. But the slight uphill combined with the slight headwind was making for a slow day. The next time I caught up with Tom, he was leaning against a guard rail eating an apple. I had gotten behind when I stopped to chat with a loaded bicycle rider. See Lobo's photo below. It's interested that the man named Wolf is riding a pink girl's step through bike.

I also had an apple to eat. I leaned against the guard rail with Tom. Neither of us had much to say. I was feeling a little dizzy from the heat. I had finished off a Liquid IV and the Spiz. I mixed another Liquid IV. I'd had about three bottles of liquid at this point. I think I'm hydrated. It's just too hot and I wasn't used to heat. I dug around and found some Hammer Anti Fatigue tablets. I took two and tucked two in my pocket. I don't know what out of all of that worked. Maybe it was the good old fashioned apple instead of all of that fancy supplement type stuff - but I did feel better after our break. I think Tom would have waited longer, but I really needed to get out of the sun.

We didn't take Marsh Station Road. It wasn't plainly marked from this side. The far end was marked. Bertha did tell me to turn, but I didn't see a turning spot. Tom wasn't interested in taking it. Jacinto said he rode it last time and wasn't that impressed. I would be impressed to get away from all of these alligators . . . but at this point it was hot and I just wanted to make town.

I mentioned to Tom that Bertha had me routed into town proper, and then heading north to the motel. We could stop and get something to eat? Initially, that sounded like a good idea. We were riding gradually uphill, uphill, uphill. One of those slow ascents that makes you think you're riding through mud. Tom said we would have a nice downhill into town. I held onto that thought. We had just crested the climb when we came to an exit with a Subway. We stopped. I think I was slightly sun addled. Right there, just a block away, was relief - cold drinks and food. AC and shade. Did we stop? No. We agreed that we wanted to get to our motel. Three downhill miles away. Let me say, I was sad we weren't staying at the Comfort Inn - it was right there next to the Subway!

But our three miles passed quickly, downhill. We did go through one huge area of blown up tire that I kind of had to close my eyes and ride over pieces. It was impossible to miss them all. I'm crossing my fingers that I didn't pick anything up.

We took our exit. To our left, under the interstate was a Dickey's BBQ. To our right was our Quality Inn. I told Tom now that I knew our lodging was close, I would go for food. No. He'd rather shower first. I get that. To the motel we went. We both stood outside, seemingly unable to enter the building. I don't know what was my issue. Sun addled - that's what I think. Finally I mustered what it took to go inside. The clerk did not have a mask. Interesting. We were soon checked in and off to our rooms right next to the pool and convenient to the ice machine. That's much better than last night where there was only ice on the third floor.

We have a nice room. It's large. Laminate flooring throughout. Clean. No holes in the walls. The bed is firm. The wi-fi is fast. $60. what a deal. No breakfast because of COVID. That's too bad. When we were here with Steve, they had a great breakfast.

I putzed around doing my getting to town things. Soaking clothes in the sink, charging tail lights, wiping the chain, etc. Then my phone rang. It was Jacinto. His seat had broken. ??? Could I check if there is a bike shop in town. Jacinto said he was 6-7 miles out and he would pedal that distance standing up. That would be a problem for most cyclists, but stand up is Jacinto's preferred cycling position. He says that way his butt doesn't hurt!

I googled bicycle shop, Benson. They did have a combo bike shop/coffee house, but it closed a year ago. I called Tom to see if his friend here might be a cyclist we could borrow a seat from. Nope, not a cyclist. But Tom suggested Walmart or a hardware store. Hmmm. I hadn't considered Benson might be large enough for a Walmart. Yep. I called and spoke to someone in the toy department. They have three adult bicycle seats. There we go. Something anyway. There is a bike shop in Bisbee, but tomorrow is Sunday. Look - google says the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel is open on Sunday 10-5. The last time we were in Bisbee, they were closed. I've read it's a great place to go in and look around. I wonder what their COVID hours are. We can call if Walmart doesn't have an acceptable seat. I think we will be calling.

Jacinto started at 8 AM, but arrived at the motel, broken seat and all, only 45 minutes after us. That part of the day was typical. We chatted a bit, he had some leftovers to eat. BTW, do you trust leftovers in 100 degree weather? Jacinto says no problem . . . Jacinto went out to get a refill of ice and was propositioned at the ice machine. A woman came out of the building and said, "Well, well, well - what do we have here?" Jacinto says that is called putting the dogs on someone in Spanish. He was quite happy with himself. I told him it was those sexy lycra bicycle shorts!

Jacinto went to the gas station and bought a pop to go with his pistachios. He brought me a V-8. Now he is off on a two mile walk (in flip flops) to Walmart. He invited Tom, but Tom thought a nap sounded better. Jacinto didn't invite me. I pointed that out - Jacinto laughed and said he knew there was no way I was going.

Jacinto just walked in the door right now! I can't believe he walked all that way and back already. He says he thinks he's going to have a blister from the flip flops. No kidding. Jacinto came back with a $20. bicycle seat that at least looks appropriate. It's not a giant tractor seat. That's what I thought he would have to buy. Jacinto says the Mexican restaurant across the street has people sitting inside, eating. That's for dinner.

Jacinto had some trouble installing the seat. It not only had the seat, with two rails under the bottom, but an attachment bracket already installed on the rails. It would basically slide over a bare post and clamp down. Jacinto needed a wrench or pliers to remove the attachment. Luckily the motel maintenance man was available and helped Jacinto. The seat is now installed. We shall see how that feels tomorrow!

We went to dinner at Rigo's Restaurant across the street. It was good. We've just started our travels. It is quite interesting seeing how different communities handle COVID. We've been to four businesses in Benson - the convenience store, the motel, the restaurant, and Walmart. At all of those establishments, none of the workers had masks. Not even the restaurant. But at the restaurant they served us on china plates with plasticware. That was odd. Real menus, not paper menus. Each community is different. Jacinto said some of the people in Walmart had masks, but not many. We saw quite a few people on the bike path in Tucson. Four women, riding together, all had masks on. I would have trouble riding with a mask. I need all of the air I can get!

Jacinto had his eyes cracked enough to hold the door open for me.
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Joan brought me a replacement cup. It was much fancier than I expected. Thank you!
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The official depart photo - for two of us.
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Sculpture on the Julian Wash Bicycle Path.
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This was my typical view for the day - just barely being able to see Tom in the distance.
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I could ride this bike path regularly - hint, hint, Jacinto!
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Our first rest stop, 20 miles in.
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I was happy I stopped at this particular plant. It had the most yellow flowers of any I saw today.Bill is on the job. This is the state tree, a Palo verde. They grow quite large. I saw a handful. They were all in the 4-6 foot range.
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We are headed for them thar' mountains.
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This is Lobo. He started in Sacramento and is headed for Belize. He plans to cross the border at Brownsville. I didn't ask him if he thought the border would be open. Lobo has an interesting variety of items. On his right side he had a big buck knife. There's a globe on his front rack. A broken push broom on his rear rack. A hair brush in his pocket, although he has no hair . . . .
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It was 81 degrees when we left Tucson and 97 when we arrived in Benson. That is far too hot for this mountain girl.
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The close observer will note that a seat rail is missing.
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Jacinto's one scenery shot for today.
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Today's ride: 44 miles (71 km)
Total: 109 miles (175 km)

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