Looping Tucson Mountain - South of Tucson - CycleBlaze

January 1, 2019

Looping Tucson Mountain

A storm moved in last night . . .

Wait, I'm supposed to start the journal with the coughing report. That must mean my cough is better if I didn't think of it right away. Finally.

A storm moved in last night and was lingering this morning. The phone said snow, although we saw only rain. We were the last ones at breakfast. Jacinto wanted to go to the buffet next door, but I told him this was included, we should at least eat something. I guess his cheapskate-ness is rubbing off on me. He did negotiate the buffet for tonight. Out of all of the places we could eat in Tucson, I don't think this is going to be so tasty. But it's next door and a buffet . . . . both of those would rate the restaurant pretty high on my list in a small town.

We made a few Happy New Year phone calls and then decided we should get going if we're riding. I had made Jacinto a route last night with as much climbing as I could find close to the motel. It was 42 miles with 2,500 feet of climbing. I then cut all of the loops off of his route and ended up with a 27 mile square that I thought I could navigate.

The short version of the story is that navigation is much easier when looking for streets rather than bike paths. I did stop and few times and double check the phone, but that's all. I didn't get lost, or even semi-lost.

Traffic on the first part of my route was delightfully empty. We've ridden Mission Road several times, but usually down by Valencia. I'm sure it was because of the holiday, but the four lanes of Mission had only the occasional car. I enjoyed the wide bike lane and how respectful traffic was.

I negotiated two major turns on my route and started up S. Kinney Road to Tucson Mountain Park. I was looking for climbing today, I didn't realize I was routing us up into the cactus forest! Score one for me. I had tried to talk Jacinto into visiting the Sonora Desert Museum. $24.95 each. I wasn't successful. I"m going to try again. I think it sounds interesting.

The further I got up the road, the heavier the traffic. Before I thought there wasn't much traffic because of the holiday. Now I"m thinking there's extra traffic because of the holiday. The Desert Museum had increased prices over the holiday, so this must be extra popular right now? All cars waited for a chance to go around. I could see a big tour bus behind me. Luckily a pull out quickly came up. The driver gave me a friendly toot, toot when I moved over so he could pass me. He had a big string of cars behind him. Not far down the road, at Old Tucson, the road split into a divided road, giving some relief to the traffic. I took a right on Grants Pass Road, which was a narrow two lane with no shoulder and almost constant traffic. Considerate traffic, thank goodness.

I stopped several times and took photos. The sky had been heavily clouded over. I was a little worried about rain, the clouds were so dark. I had rain gear with me. I did finally admit I needed the heavy gloves and got those out during a photo break. I was happy on down the road when the clouds broke up. I had a 1,000 foot climb in front of me and I thought that cloud might sit on the mountain and rain. Whew. I was lucky.

What you see is what you get with Tucson Mountain. There's one switchback and the top that's visible is the actual top, there's no little curve with a further climb. It does curve, at 15 mph, but then it's downhill. By the time I was going down, the shadows were starting to lengthen across the road, making it difficult to see the big heat cracks in the road. This wouldn't have been fun on the P-38 - the Stratus took the unexpected bumps in stride, but I did keep the speed down.

I was perhaps two miles into the descent when I saw a cyclist coming up. It was Jacinto! We were amazingly right next to a pull out, so we could stop and talk. Jacinto gave me a bar, since I'd eaten mine. We took a couple of photos. From that point I had ten miles to go. He was going to make the loop up to the Museum and then return the way I came.

I didn't enjoy the downhill. First because of the cracks I couldn't see. It was also cold, so I didn't want to go fast. But I'm still battling mental issues from my struggles with the P-38. I don't quite trust descents yet. That's when the P-38 would shimmy violently. The Stratus has never given me issue one. I'm learning to trust the downhills again on the good bike.

I saw . . . . . four? . . . cyclists on Tucson Mountain besides Jacinto. Then a couple more on the bike path. No trikes, recumbents, or tandems. I wonder if I could get Jacinto to visit Ajo Bikes, the recumbent shop in Tucson. He went there for me years ago when he was in town watching the Rockies baseball and bought me a souvenir water bottle. See what a cheap date I am? Years ago on an Alaska trip one of the guys was looking for something for his wife. I suggested a t-shirt. Nope - we went to the art gallery instead and he bought a painting and had it shipped home for her. . . . . . I'm been doing things wrong all of these years.

There were large puddles on the roadway and the bike path because of the heavy rain. I didn't have any issues on the ~2 miles of bike path I did. There's signs everywhere saying not to enter if there is water. I did clean my chain last night, but probably splashed up enough water that it's dirty. I'm glad we have fenders.

This hasn't turned out to be the Arizona trip I planned, but it's been good riding. The high here today was 45. At home it was 4 degrees. No new snow, but the old stuff sure isn't melting at that temperature! That's cold enough to freeze the hairs in your nose.

Today I have the buffet to look forward to. Who knows? It might surprise me.

Added later - Jacinto had quite the ride today. Rather than taking the entirely paved route we had routed for him, at the last minute he decided to try the six miles of dirt at the top of Saguaro Park. He estimates he was three miles down the road when he came to a road closed sign. There was no prior warning. At that point he had invested so much effort in the dirt, that he went around the barrier. Jacinto said the sand was very thick. There were occasional patches he could ride maybe 50 feet at a time, but he was mostly pushing the bike for a couple of miles. He was not a happy camper. Jacinto said there were numerous bicycle tracks through the sand. It's impossible to say if those riders knew of the heavy sand in advance. Jacinto has 1.5 tires on his bike. Steve had fat 2.0's just for riding in sand. Jacinto's opinion is that even Steve's tires wouldn't be wide enough, perhaps a fat tire bike could ride that sand.

Jacinto did not take a photo the entire day. I was hoping for a photo of the sand, but lots of photos along the way, as I'm sure it was a memorably scenic day. No, not a single photo. Jacinto said it was a horrible day and he didn't enjoy it at all because of the cold. He felt like he was in Colorado the whole time and might as well have stayed home and ridden. Except we couldn't have been riding at home because of the snow and below zero temperatures. To add insult to injury, Jacinto hit a couple of areas of road construction that he had to navigate around. He was so late getting back that it was almost dark. Steve and Adele had decided against dinner with us as it was too late for them to eat. Jacinto was ravenous when he got in. We went to eat at Cheddar's (thank goodness it wasn't the buffet). Jacinto ordered a steak, not his usual. He all but licked the plate. I do believe he worked up an appetite!

Thankfully it warmed up and the sun came out. I did have to break out the heavy gloves. I brought them on the off chance and I'm glad I did.
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We aren't in Colorado!
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Look in the background and you can see the cars heading up the mountain. It's called Grants Pass Road, so perhaps it's a pass?
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My bicycle photos usually have pine or aspen in the background. Not today!
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The Buff was also included on the off chance. I've worn it the past few days. It makes all the difference in warmth.
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Looking back down the road as I approach the climb. I especially like the sunshine.
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Look who I met on Tucson Mountain. My smile is bigger because I'm on the downhill.
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I can't miss a chance for cacti photos.
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Back to the bike path for the last couple of miles.
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Here's Jacinto's route. He had double the climbing I had. I rode this route, without any of the curly parts.
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Seen on A Mountain.
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Jacinto's photo taken from A Mountain, looking down on the city.
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The fancy Mariott up Stars Pass Blvd. I checked prices. $199. a night for tonight, which is a 60% discount. I imagine you don't get that price if you book in advance. I bet it would be worth the money.
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Jacinto's photo on the downhill of Grants Pass. I like how the road undulates.
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I wonder how old this big saguaro is? Steve said they are 60 years old before they start to grow arms.
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Today's ride: 27 miles (43 km)
Total: 331 miles (533 km)

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