Burrr…it’s flipping cold! I moved to Tucson many years ago, not necessarily because of the weather; but now I have no desire to ever live anywhere cold again. This ‘February winter’ weather is way to early this year and my fingers and toes seriously quite cheerless about it. So, looking forward to this charity ride for the Arizona Trail; however less than excited about the “18F, feels like 11F” for the Sonoita start. Yes, it could be worse…it could be -11; but come on, its southern Arizona for heaven’s sake..don’t you know how thin our blood is now?!! I used to tease people like me when I first moved here 🙂 Let’s see if I can pull out enough clothes for this without overdressing… 2 pair gloves on, check. 2 pair socks, check. Undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, vest and jacket; check. Shorts, thermal tights; check. Fleece ear cover, check. Toe covers, check. Sounds like alot, doesn’t it?! It still felt like slightly less than enough at the start!
To help support the maintenence and building of the Arizona Trail, this charity jamboree is put on each year with the efforts of the Arizona Endurance Series (AES) promoter Chad Brown. A great reason to donate your money and/or time so we, the people, have a beautiful trail to spend time on. We need these trail advocates so we can continue to have such great places to ride and hike. After the awesome (and free!) shuttle by Southwest Trekking to the start of our ride at Box Canyon, everyone gathered and readied for the chilly ride back to Pistol Hill. The Trekkers assisted getting everyone’s bikes off the green bus and wishing us a happy adventure. They are a great local guide service that specializes in mountain biking and hiking throughout southwest Arizona…where sometimes you absolutely need someone to guide you.
A fairly big group starting the 35 miler, I think the cold actually deterred a few who had planned on doing the bigger event. This whole ride will be on singletrack…awesome! And if you look at the profile for the ride, it looks basically downhill…it’s deceptive. There was actually almost 3000ft of climbing from Box Canyon back to Pistol Hill. The first sections before getting to Lakes Rd (which is where we picked up the 25 milers) are the most technical and I got to practice some skills on trail that I am not so used to riding. I would love to ride these sections of the AZT more often, but it’s a pretty good drive from my house. Yes, I did a little hike-a-bike… After about the first hour of riding, I could start to feel my fingers again. I was pretty sure my right index finger was dead from frost bite up until then! Altho I had 2 pair gloves on, it was not sufficient and today I put my order in for some Specialized Deflect cold weather winter gloves..can’t wait for those! Luckily, my toes were actually pretty toasty. The double socks and Specialized warmers saved the day on that end!At the first ends of the ride, there was actually snow on the trail. I think I’ve ridden in minor snow once out at Willow Springs. I’m not sure how to take it…is it slippery? Is there ice under there? It sure looks pretty! It’s about all the snow I care to experience at this point…at least I’m not digging my car out of it! It really is a beautiful place out here. Mountains everywhere. Cactus everywhere. Views for miles around. Blue sky. Singletrack. Being out on your bike all day with like-minded people. Sounds of your breathing, increasingly heavier as the the trail inclines. The sound of your tires running over the dirt. The occasional bird call. The laughter in your head…ok maybe. Doesn’t it just make you smile, tho! Loving it. One of my favorite sections is near the three bridges; good rocks to get over, a bit of climbing, flows well and is a gorgeous view.
Somewhere near the half-way point, crossing Sahaurita Rd, the SDMB (Sonoran Desert Mountain Bikers) have a great sag stop set up. There is everything a mountain biker could desire…pizza, cookies, doritos, donuts…I think beer may have been involved, too. My GU is keeping me fueled thru the ride, but I can’t help in grabbing a couple of cookies. This is a fun ride afterall, we’re not racing here. And at this point, I still haven’t taken any layer of clothing off other than my glove liners. We’re not warmin’ up any here.
Finally with less than 10 miles to go and some flowy singletrack, we get back into rocks and climb towards Colossal Cave. I have finally taken off the vest and now my jacket is coming off. Bound towards the finish, I am at long last not cold…still wouldn’t use warm here, but at least comfortable. It only took all day…ha! Coming into the end of our ride and twisting thru the cactus back to the trailhead. A great 4 hour ride deserving of some tasty treats and recovery beverages. There is a small fire built by Chad and everyone gathers close together to chat about their ride, to eat, drink and be merry. What a great day it has been! Next year, I hope it’s warmer!…But I’ll still be here!