I wake up early, but not early enough to make the 6:30 am start time for the Mt. Lemmon Ride. Happily, I run into Santa Cruz Valley Cyclists friends and make a 6:45 am departure with Chuck Hill. Almost ready for 6000 feet of climbing in 24 miles! We meander through the neighborhood instead of following route directions and hit a dead end. We soon make our way back to the neighborhood bike route and onto Snyder Road.
We obey the law and stop at the stop sign before turning left onto Catalina Highway. Then Milepost Zero and our climbing begins! As we switchback through Mile One, Chuck looks back down the road, across the drainage for Santa Cruz riders, but we saw none.
Onward and upward! Until Chuck needs to stop to put on sweatband. I'm already wearing mine, the early morning coolness of the desert doesn't fool me one bit. This gives Tom and Tim a chance to catch and pass us. Ha! I will not be dropped this time, and I soon catch up to them.
Tim and I talk Upjohn of Kalamazoo because he worked there, and so did my grandpa. But not at the same time.
We stop at the first SAG stop. Tony, Larry, and Chuck soon join us for eating and drinking and the collective "wiping of the brow." Eleanor, age 76, pedals up. There are a few Green Valley folks who started earlier and are ahead of us like mountain goat Bill Adamson.
I wolf down my hard-boiled egg that I was too nervous to eat for breakfast at home. Chuck cautions: "Are you sure it's hard boiled?" Hardy har har har. Also enjoy salty V8 juice and sweet mystery muffin supplied by El Grupo.
I glimpse my Southwest Hand Cycling teammates ride by the snack area without stopping, and I ride off to join them. Hello to Ron, Tom, and Jay!
I ride with them from Milepost 3 to Milepost 11 or so and the next snack stop. This section includes an all too brief descent before Seven Cataracts overlook where I use momentum to slingshot ahead of them and ride alone for a mile or so. Then they catch me. Then they pass me. Touché.
The V8 juice sloshes in my stomach.
I pass Bill Hill of Santa Cruz Valley Cyclists who was grooving up the mountain on his straight bar bike with Vibram Trex shoes upon his pedals. He eventually made it all the way to the top of the Mt. Lemmon Ski Area!
We all regroup at Middle Bear picnic area where I was happy to see my TriGirls teammates Joanie and Eve. Yay for watermelon. Tim of Kalamazoo squeezes some energy goo into his mouth saying "I like trying new things on these rides." I tell him, "That's sports frosting!" And I eat another piece of juicy watermelon.
I tell a rider wearing a Fat Cyclist jersey that I like his kit and I have it in pink. He goes on about how comfortable Twin Six shorts are. This discussion becomes tiresome. Look, bearded wire rimmed glasses man I met one second ago, I don't want to spend a lot of time hearing about the comfortable versus uncomfortable seams in your shorts! This is also not part of my anticipated mountain view.
I ride ahead to take some pictures of satiated cyclists riding away from the snack stop:
Southwest Hand Cycling teammates Ron, Jay (out of uniform), and Tom rolling out of Middle Bear picnic area.
Other riders enjoy the shade, including members of the best-ever team name for this bike ride up the mountain: OMG!
I remember from my last ride up this mountain that Milepost 12 to 13 is quite steep, and I realize I will not catch my teammates again if I keep taking pictures.
So I take a couple more pictures of questionable quality to capture the beautiful rock formations and blue sky and cyclists.
I ride through Windy Point and then there is a lovely descent to Hoodoo Vista Point where I take a chance on one-handed riding to shoot a video. At the end, you can see the road below that we climbed up:
Right after I turn off the camera, I hear this dialogue from two riders cruising by:
Rider 1: It's like spiritual, dude.
Rider 2: Dude, this is awesome.
Rider 1: Yeah, pretty spectacular.
One dude's bike had double barreled bottle holsters beneath his saddle, and he wore a TriSports.com jersey. Even triathletes can climb! Just ask Joanie, Eve, and Carolyn!
After this lovely coast to Hoodoo, the climbing begins again. I pass a man with a British accent who seems to be wobbling. I ask if he's ok, he asks how far to the next aid station. I guess about one or one and a half miles. A thirteen-year-old rider just ahead concurs.
I reach the next rest stop and various theories about the red-faced Brit are espoused:
13-year-old: He needs more fluids
Tom of Green Valley: He's used to sea level.
Me: It's too hot for him
I take some rest stop photos.
Now my legs are tired. I ride with Tim and Tom for awhile, and we climb on past The Palisades. Tom says he is happy for his granny gears, or something like that. I don't know exactly the cog numbers on my chain rings, but it's something like 39 x 20-something-not-high-enough. We have a lovely, if brief, descent near Spencer Campground for a couple miles, but I lose my concentration, and suddenly I am not riding with them. The climb to Loma Linda and the final SAG stop seems endless.
I pass the Loma Linda rest stop, wave hello to Ron who is heading down the mountain, and continue to Summerhaven. Is this a fatal error? My mood sours even has the road steeply descends with a rush of wind into the village of Summerhaven. It's an anti-climatic parking lot. I know I have to make a U-turn and climb out.
I am totally alone and totally tanked. I struggle up and out of Summerhaven. No ski area climb for me today, thank goodness I had already made that wise decision!
At last I return to Loma Linda, and some pie pie pie. Actually, I eat only one piece of pie, apple, and it is THE BEST. I also have some more fruit and sit on a surprisingly comfortable hard plastic chair. People talk in my direction about cycling and triathlons and whatever, I'm not interested and let their words float by.
It is time for the big descent! Yay. The main attraction. It is a fantastic world of speed! Another climb back up to the Spencer Campground, then a long lovely descent to Middle Bear where a picnic lunch with Lisa awaits me. So great to be going so fast. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!
I have descended from Middle Bear to Milepost Zero before, so I don't feel like I am missing anything by calling it a day here. My shoulders, tired from crouching, thank me profusely.
Bike in car, sandwich in stomach. A brief walk around the picnic area with Lisa to stretch my legs.
A nice long nap when I got home!