“Hey it’s only 99 degrees,” I report to Jonathan. “It’s a beautiful day to ride,” he replies optimistically. It’s 6 p.m. on June 14, at the popular Starr Pass trail head in the Tucson Mountains. But just because they’re mountains doesn’t mean it’s cool.
I met Jonathan through TucsonMTB.com, and I’m riding with him and interviewing him for an upcoming article. He created a new website for local riders, RocksNClocks.com, where you can post your times on popular routes and compare to others. Bragging rights are a bonus and trash talking is optional.
According to a recent New York Times story, warm-ups before exercise can be moderate and still be useful. My warm up was five minutes of riding (no intervals, no way), and remembering how to get over moderately rocky singletrack near the trail head.
After Jonathan demonstrates the proper Rocks N Clocks start (one hand touching designated sign or fence post or other trail head object), I discover how useless my warm up was. I'm immediately out of breath and my leg muscles seize. Jonathan, a good sport, slows his pace so I can sort of keep up.
Except on the descents which he cruises and I bobble. Jonathan is a self-described “techy guy” who likes technical, rocky, steep trails. Note to self: don’t take same line as Jonathan. It only takes me about ten minutes to ignore this mental Post-It, and follow him down an unfamiliar trail to the bottom of a wash. I descend fairly well, but the sandy wash bottom slurs my speed to almost nothing. I walk up the opposite bank.
Another wash. Repeat same.
We run into two riders who don't know how to get back to the Genser Trail Head parking lot. One has a GoPro camera atop his helmet so I’m sure they have some excellent footage of being lost. Jonathan directs them to the correct trail.
I enjoy chatting with Jonathan on flat sections near Tucson Estates. This is about the only time I can really muster enough breath for complete sentences. Otherwise our conversations are like this:
Jonathan: “So this is where this trail and that trail are located and this is what they’re like.”
Mary: “Yeah. . . . uh-huh . . . right.”
About mid-way through our ride, the trail turns back toward the parking area. We enter the shade of a Tucson Mountain minor peak and the temperature seems remarkably cooler at only 90 degrees. It’s a dry heat.
On the way back, I take some shaky phone video of the trail:
I should have a GoPro camera! Here's some slightly darkened sunset video of Jonathan on the switchbacks:
We return to the parking lot, touch the appointed sign, and clock our time at 1 hour, 8 minutes, 32 seconds. See our official result and comment (excuse) on the Rocks N Clocks Results page.
Here are my additional excuses:
1. I hadn’t been trail riding on my mountain bike since April 30 at the Whiskey 50. Rillito River path ambling doesn’t count.
2. I’m in my off season.
But I am so happy to be back on my mountain bike, back on local singletrack. Thanks for the invitation Jonathan! Even in the heat, I love these beautiful desert trails!