Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mt Lemmon

My chest was wrecked when I awoke Wednesday. I wasn’t even going to ride. Alex was intent on doing at least one really big climb on the trip, and he wanted to do a classic one. That of course would be Mt Lemmon. It is paved all the way to the summit, so one would have to be a bit whacked to climb it with a full suspension MTB.

Mt Lemmon was perhaps the only ride Alex could do without route guidance. I capitulated and decided I would at least start out with him and maybe ride just to Summerhaven. Alex was intent on hitting the summit above 9100ft, the highest he would have ever ridden.

We parked at Sabino Cycles in town on Tanque Verde. The five mile ride out to the base of the climb was easy enough on my virus plagued body. Then Alex cut loose and rode away from my like I wasn’t moving. I think his words were he wanted to “crush this climb.”

A constant stream of roadies were coming down, having already finished their climb. Most won’t even acknowledge fat tire riders. Do they even realize my Camelbak weighs more than their bike? My bike weighs twice their bike. That makes for serious, albeit slow work.

After an hour-plus, I caught up with Alex. He was having hip issues and stopped to stretch. I was having knee issues. Perhaps the brutal hike-a-bike on day one did some damage. We stayed together after that, a couple of cripples heading up the mountain. At least my chest was a little clearer.

Upon reaching the turn-off to Ski Valley, I decided to make a summit run with Alex. The steepest part of the climb is from Summerhaven to the summit, another 1300ft of climbing. I figured I could just turn around and coast back down to a cookie if I ran into trouble. I was never one to err on the side of caution when trying to recover from illness.

The temperature dropped precipitously as we climbed above the ski area. Lots of snow up there too. A hiker took a shot of us at the observatory, then it was cookie time. The Summerhaven cookie shop has to be world famous. We each got cookies the size of paper plates fresh out of the oven and 7” pizzas. Perfect fuel for the 32 mile descent.

We thought about hitting the Bugs/Molino trails on the way down, but our late start and waning daylight suggested we should call it good. This was the first time I descended Mt Lemmon without needing long layers. One year it thunder snowed while Dave and I descended. We got back to the car with 72.4mi, 7900ft and 5:21hrs on the Garmin. I definitely was not getting over my cold. Neither was my wife Cathy, who was getting lots more rest than I and came down with this nasty bug at the same time. How do you not ride when purpose of the trip was to ride? This is the first time I got sick at the beginning of a trip.

1 comment:

Scott said...

In Colorado, ride from Fort Collins to near Crown Point. It's largely dirt, very quiet, summits above 10,000 ft (there's an extended rolling stretch at this elevation), with somewhere around 12,000-13,000 ft total climbing, and is a very easy route to follow.