Through a break in the weather - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

January 25, 2021

Through a break in the weather

We’ve been experiencing unusually harsh weather lately - at least, unusual in the context of a month straight of mostly blue skies.  We experienced a few brief squalls yesterday, one of them forcing me to hide out in a bus shelter for about five minutes to avoid getting drenched.  Last night it rained, and more is due by early afternoon.  There’s a winter storm advisory for southern Arizona, with snow expected in the higher elevations.

After a day off the bike though, I’m antsy to get some miles in and curious to see what the world looks like after a bit of precipitation.  It’s too cold and windy for Rachael’s  liking, so she’s taking another walk again - but I decide to head southeast down Julian Wash, the same ride I was eyeing yesterday until my flat tire forced a change of plans.

I don’t have any set distance in mind when I roll out of the Lost Barrio, though the number 42 nags in the back of it somehow.  It’s about 10 in the morning and 45 degrees on a day that isn’t expected to top 50.  I’m well-layered and comfortable as I push into a mild headwind on my way out Aviation Bikeway.

Looking across one of the reservations at KERP, the Kino Environmental Restoration Project. The Tucson Mountains are visible, and that blue band beyond is encouraging.
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Gregory GarceauKERP sounds like a radio station,
But its an environmental restoration,
And it is indivisible
From the Tucson Mountains visible
Out there in nature's creation.
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1 month ago
Looking north from KERP, the upper elevations of the Santa Catalinas are socked in. If you look closely you can see traces of snow in the gloom just below the cloud line. Not the day for a ride up Mount Lemmon, I’d say.
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I’m off to a pretty slow start, and thinking 20 might be a pretty respectful  number for a day like this.  I’d feel no shame in such a short outing - after all, there is almost no one else out on the bike path with me this morning.  Why bike today, when you could stay inside, keep warm, and just wait a day or two?

Conditions gradually improve as I bike though.  The sun starts breaking through and bringing some warmth, and it looks like my weather window is widening.  I take off a layer, pick up the pace, and continue on.  Mentally I count off the miles, doubling them to recast my total distance for the ride.  I’m doing 20.  Now 25.  30!  What the hell, I’m going for the whole 42 mile enchilada.

Southeast on Julian Wash, the sun breaks through. It’s turning into a fine day to ride, at least for a few hours.
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Patrick O'HaraLooks like a special riding day, Scott. As always, I look forward to reading about your adventures before bed. Thanks for all of your work on it. I appreciate how much effort goes into keeping a journal going.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraThanks, Patrick. Nice to know that you can count on me to put you to sleep.
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1 month ago
Patrick O'HaraLOL, Scott. It's the highlight of my day........and, I don't mean sleeping
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1 month ago
A different angle on the Santa Rita prickly pear.
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Tanque Verde Peak tops out at just over 7,000’. It looks like we must have gotten snow down to the 4 or 5 thousand foot level last night.
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This is what I was hoping for really, and why I came out. A much different look to the world than we’ve been seeing so far.
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I bike to the end of the bike path - past the end of the Loop at Rita Road, past the extension to Houghton, and to the end of the line where the path ends in a mound of dirt near the I-10 freeway.  20.5 miles.  

Not quite enough.  I turn back toward home, but decide to poke my nose down the first paved side road I come to: the Vail Connector from the street sign, but it’s Nogales Road on the map.  It’s somewhat interesting, but it dead ends after only a half mile when it nears the rail line.  The Vail Connector is an odd name for a road that doesn’t connect to anything, but maybe in the past it crossed the tracks and continued on east to Old Vail Road. 

For my purposes though, a half a mile each way is perfect.  And, it was worth coming out for a look.  There’s a small, scruffy developed area out here - remains of an old quarrying operation from the looks of it; some sort of salvage operation; and, most enticing of all, a paintball field!

Looking back west from the end of Nogales Road.
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Looking north from Nogales Road, past relics of some old mining or quarrying operation. Yes, that’s definitely snow on the flanks of Tanque Verde Peak.
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So what’s going on out here on Nogales Road? This structure looks like a metal hogan.
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There’s some sort of junk yard or salvage operation out here.
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This wouldn’t have happened with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires.
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Bruce LellmanThere have been archaeological digs where they found a huge pile of rust that used to be a vehicle but the tires were in perfect shape. You guessed it; Schwalbe Marathon Plus.
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1 month ago

The downside to a ride like this in weather like this is that now I’m 20 miles from home under a sky that’s looking gloomier.   It’s time to get serious if I hope to arrive home dry.  Fortunately I have the wind and gravity on my side and make good time, flying west at 18-20 mph most of the way back.  It’s still dry when I roll up to the house, and I have that warm glow inside that I get when I feel like I’ve stolen one again from the weather gods.

Twenty miles from home, the question here is: how much window do I have left in this weather? Time to stash the camera, push the pace, and hope for the best.
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Ten miles on, and things at least look no worse.
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Back at KERP again. We can see more of the Santa Catalinas now than we could a few hours ago.
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 1,600’; for the tour: 2,468 miles, 79,600’; for the year: 20 riding days, 916 miles, 25,600’, and 2 flat tires

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 2,179 miles (3,507 km)

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