Sasabe Road - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

December 27, 2020

Sasabe Road

We didn’t take our preferred ride today.  We woke up wanting to bike out to the East Unit of Saguaro National Park and ride the eight mile loop through it.  We’ve ridden it before, and it’s really a magical experience.  Then we remembered that it was Sunday, and a poor choice for a visit.  Why go out there when the road will be most busy when we can go any day of the week?

We’re ready for a change from the Loop though, so we scanned our inventory of candidate rides and came up with Sasabe Road.  This is a north south minor highway through the desert that ends at the town of Sasabe at the Mexican border.  I targeted this road after staring from our lunch stop on Aravaca Road at what we thought (incorrectly, as it turns out) was Kitt Peak off in the distance.  Afterwards I went back to look over maps for other roads that would give us a closer look.  If you’re fixed on pavement as we are, Sasabe Road is your only choice on this side of that range.

So, as good a day as any.  We throw the bikes in the hold and drive twenty miles west out the Ajo Highway to Three Points, the northern end of Sasabe Road.

The look over the neighborhood this morning. We keep forgetting to look out the window until it’s too late and we missed the show.
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Southbound on Sasabe Road. That pinnacle framed by the yucca is what we mistakenly thought was Kitt Peak a few days ago.
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A nice mailbox collection, on the outskirts of Three Points. This is just about the final sign of civilization we’ll see for the rest of the ride south.
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The living and the dead.
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Bill ShaneyfeltSoaptree yucca.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_elata
Nice chainfruit (jumping) cholla off to the right.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cylindropuntia_fulgida
And lots of olive drab leaved creosote bushes in the background. One of the most interesting plants around.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larrea_tridentata
The little bushes in the foreground might be any of several difficult to ID little desert bushes... (unless they are blooming).
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4 months ago

It doesn’t take long to realize that we were wrong last week in thinking we were looking at Kitt Peak.  The real mountain is lower elevation, more rounded, and it’s easier to imagine it having a road that you can bike up to the top.

So that’s the big discovery for this ride.  That’s about it though.  Before taking this ride I did some research and couldn’t find any descriptions of it as a biking route.  I think we know why now - it’s not the most interesting ride.  20+ miles of an almost imperceptibly slow climb through barren desert, followed by a matching descent back to the car.  Freshly surfaced chip seal, no shoulder, light traffic about 70% of which are Border Control vehicles.  

The mountains make a nice backdrop, but are always well off in the distance.  No place at all really to pull off and stop anywhere for a break -  we had our lunch standing up, leaning against a gate staring at the real Kitt Peak.  And almost no bird activity at all - one raven, one meadowlark.  One ranch, one horse, three cows.  

So, definitely a one and done kind of ride.  Not bad, but not compelling enough to come back.  I think we would have enjoyed it much more with a smoother road surface, but 40 miles of chip seal does wear on one’s sit bones eventually.  It is nice though to know what the real Kitt Peak looks like.

Oh, THIS must be Kitt Peak! It wasn’t visible from our perch on Aravaca Road. The pinnacle is at the opposite end of the next range south.
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The road south looks pretty much like this for the next 20 miles. Quite pretty actually, especially with this sky.
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Andrea BrownI'm loving the sky in these photos.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownIt really was an attractive sky today. The best part of the ride, really.
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4 months ago
So is this an organ pipe, or just an unusual saguaro? If it’s an organ pipe, we didn’t see another like it.
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Bill ShaneyfeltSaguaro. Branches of organ pipe arise at the base. They are also a bit smaller.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/FAQ_Answers-g60924-d143229-t1377022-What_is_the_difference_between_pipe_organ_and.html#:~:text=3%20answers&text=The%20saguaro%20(Carnegiea%20gigantea)%20is,tallest%20cacti%20in%20the%20world.&text=Saguaros%20grow%20their%20%22arms%22%20high,its%20arms%20from%20the%20base.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI assumed so. It didn’t really make sense to see just one out here. It’s unusual to see one with so many branches radiating from the bottom though.
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4 months ago
Just some cactus, and the real Kitt Peak. A giant jumping cholla, I think. It looks like it’s jumping days are over though.
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Bill ShaneyfeltAgreed, however some rain might improve its performance.
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4 months ago
Another, fresher jumping cholla. Amazing how dense the vegetation on this plant is.
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A close-up.
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Bill ShaneyfeltThe fruits never ripen... They just make more fruits.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltSad. Such a fruitless existence.
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4 months ago
Another look back at Kitt Peak, from further south. From this angle you can see structures from the observatory at the summit.
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It’s not all a straight road. You can’t fall asleep at the handlebars.
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I liked this sky. It almost looks like a fault line running through it.
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Here’s our one ranch. Is this a fence, or a wood stock?
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Bill ShaneyfeltNot really efficient in either case, but I'd lean toward fence.
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4 months ago
Horse of the day. The only horse of the day.
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Jen GrumbyA lone horse stood still at the gate
And asked me if I like to skate
I got out my board
From where it was stored
In the pannier next to the bait.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonVery nice. So this will be added to the poet’s corner of course, so we can keep track of all of these fine opera. I’ll go back and ferret out all the historical ones, but do you want to add the newer ones yourself so people can reply to you on them? I’m sure you have many fans who would love to shower you with praises.
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4 months ago
And, to clear up any confusion: that is NOT Kitt Peak ahead. We’re looking at a different range that’s almost contiguous with the Quinlan mountains and Kitt Peak just to the north. These are the Baboquivari Mountains (what a neat name!), and the high point is Baboquivari Peak. At 7,758’, it’s nearly a thousand feet higher than Kitt.
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And back again, facing the La Guijas Mountains this time for a few miles. We’ll bend left soon, never getting close to the formation.
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Video sound track: Bad to the Bone, by George Thorogood

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Patrick O'HaraLove the George Thorogood. You guys are 'bad to the bone.!'
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraIt seemed fitting. We’re both a bit saddlesore today.
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4 months ago
Kelly IniguezHave you visited Organ Pipe National Monument? Wayne Estes camped there a few years back and has some amazing photos. We bicycled in 2017 from the town of Ajo to the town of Sonoyta. I would have loved to ride the loop through the monument, but it was sand and not going to happen with my bicycle.

I'm enchanted with all of the cacti and would love to go back for a visit.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezNo, we haven’t; and you’re the fourth or fifth person that’s mentioned it in this blog as a can’t miss site. We wouldn’t bike there either because we don’t do dirt; but maybe we should plan a drive by on our way west when we leave here. It’s so far out of the way, but still.
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4 months ago

Ride stats today: 44 miles, 1,000’; for the tour: 1,339 miles, 47,500’

Today's ride: 44 miles (71 km)
Total: 1,319 miles (2,123 km)

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