Mission Road, again - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 2, 2021

Mission Road, again

With just a week left before we leave town, we’re starting to feel the pressure.  After lazy weeks of waking up, considering our choices, and then opting to just take another spin along the Loop again, we find ourselves pressed for time to fit in all the outings we still want to take before decamping.  Why haven’t I gone out to Madera Canyon yet?  Why haven’t we taken a hike in the Tucson Mountains?  And why did we wait to the last minute to climb Mount Lemmon?

That’s the problem here.  That Loop - it’s so seductive, like comfort food or easy listening music.  It’s such a temptation to keep taking the easiest course.  Before you know it you’ve gotten soft on a daily diet of flat, easy 42 mile rides and wondering where you’ll get the legs for a 5,000’ climb up the big mountain to the north.

We won’t find out today though.  The longer I looked at the Catalinas yesterday, the less I trusted that thin layer of snow up top.  It’s hard to say how far down you might start running into residual ice on the shoulder, but with a week straight of sun in the future we might as well wait a few more days.  It’s really not because we aren’t eager for a 5,000’ climb today.  It just feels prudent.

Instead, we decide it’s a good time to drive down to Green Valley to ride up Mission Road again from the south.  This is the route we took riding back from Green Valley to Tucson last month.  It was a great ride then, and one of the the local rides we really want to repeat.  And as long as we’re down that way we may as well stop in for a late lunch at Quail Creek.

We have video today!  

Video sound track: Blue Guitar, by Susan Werner

Riding past the mine tailings, we climb west out of Green Valley up Continental Road.
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The usual out and back scenario. I’ll see her again fifteen or twenty miles down the road.
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Mount Wrightson towers above layers of open pit mine waste. For several miles here it doesn’t matter which direction you look - you’re surrounded by a ring of old mines.
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Looking south along Mission Road, we get a fine view of Mount Wrightson. There’s still quite a bit of snow there also. It looks like we made the right call today by waiting a few more days before challenging Mount Lemmon.
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Another last view of Wrightson before rounding the bend past the Twin Buttes. The conditions today are interesting - it’s overcast this morning, but warm. The day will top out in the mid-seventies.
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About a thousand feet above Green Valley we’re in a different vegetation band. Cholla and ocotillo predominate.
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A nice view east to Rincon Mountain, but the real point here is the sign. This is Hazards Month over on Cycle365.
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I remembered what an attractive ride this is, but had forgotten the details. Great close-up views of Helmet Peak, and a smooth, newly resurfaced road for about ten miles at the top. Fantastic cycling.
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Gregory GarceauIf a real helmet was shaped like Helmet Peak,
It would only fit a pointy-headed geek.
I'll tell you the honest truth,
I'd have named it the "Shark Tooth,"
Sharp, treacherous, unmerciful and sleek.
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3 weeks ago
Over the top, and beginning the long descent to Tucson. We’re dropping down a few miles this way before doubling back, just to get our miles in.
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The view north across Tucson to Mount Lemmon.
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On the way back, we cross paths with this friendly couple feom Michigan out on a day ride from their new home in Green Valley. We exchange details (they’ve biked in Croatia too!), discuss each others’ funny looking rides, and continue on.
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As we chat with the Michigan couple, several horses lazily walk along the mine tailings behind them. Free rangers, maybe? I think we’re passing through the San Xavier reservation here.
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On the way back, we get a brighter look at Helmet Peak now that the sun is breaking through.
Heart 2 Comment 0
I always feel just a bit guilty by how attractive I find some of these old mine tailings to be. A colorful hazardous waste site.
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I like this view of Mount Wrightson, with the Twin Buttes in the foreground mirroring its profile.
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Quail Creek again, for the last time this winter at least. Rachael’s having her boring old seared scallops again, so there’s no point showing them a second time - just go back to our Dec. 22 entry if you want a reminder. I’m branching out this time by testing out their seafood pasta.
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Ride stats today: 43 miles, 2,300’; for the tour: 2,460 miles, 87,500’; for the year: 27 riding days, 1,197 miles, 33,500’, and 2 flat tires

Today's ride: 44 miles (71 km)
Total: 2,461 miles (3,961 km)

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