Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sunday's Urban Hill Climb

Kathy and John with the tandum, Sabino Canyon...

Last Sunday it was my turn to make up a route for the gang, so here's what we did. We left from the YMCA, and took my commute route up Ina (and I do mean up)which turns into Sunrise--at some point--I can't remember, and then we keep going all the way to Sabino Canyon. The plan is to climb all the way to Stop 9. Then we should have a nice descent to Broadway and Swan, where we will have breakfast at The Hungry Fox. My fellow cyclists have never been there--so it should be fun.

Well, John and Cathy ride John's tandum. I have seen it in his garage, but I don't think I've ever seen him ride it. Kathy and John on a tandum, and then climbing all this way will be challenging. I'm happy to report that they rode strong. Kathy had never been in Sabino Canyon and I know she really enjoyed its beauty.

Yours on the other hand--well it was pretty humid and I sweated like a dog--I don't know why I had no energy at the start? But when we got to the top of Swan and Sunrise, which is the intersection I then go south on down to my office--we had ridden 10 miles. Now we are going to keep going on Sunrise until we reach the entrance of Sabino Canyon.

On Sunrise, we will climb another 1000 feet to the entrance, and at this point there's many cyclist converging on this road. Its new and all paved with nice shoulders--but one has to keep climbing. I'm passing people and people are passing me, but everyone is content and cordgial. It has been many years since I've been out here and memories of when I live out here begin to come back. Mostly its the overwhelming beauty of the mountains--and since the Monsoons have arrived--there's the dampness in the air. Oh and its humid and I'm sweating a river.

Just when it seems it will get even more difficult--well there you have it--the hard part is over, and wasn't so bad--and here we are at Sabino Canyon!

Now the climb to Stop 9, which is I'd say about 3 more miles with the last mile a very steep ascent. I just take it easy and find a nice pace and start up. I actually wonder if I can really do it--it has been several years. But not to worry, I am fit and the climb is easy. I just have to watch out for the walkers and runners.

I do notice that the whole place looks beat to Hell. When I first moved to Tucson, I lived just a few miles away, and I rode up to Stop 9 before work at UofA. Everything had been repaved and rebuilt, as in 1999 rain and a huge flood destroyed everything--well, mes amis, this event repeated itself and much of the re-paved roads and areas were again destroyed. If not destroyed, they are crumbling.

I did reach the top of Stop 9 gradually. I passed all the canyon ranch people, and the runners and joggers, and on a strech to the top I was by myself. The only sounds were of my own heavy breathing going up. There was debris on the road and cracks and holes to be avoided--then I found myself at Stop 9. I was taken aback by the huge boulders that pretty much slid off the canyon walls and crushed everything--that would have been the new rest area up at Stop 9. Years ago it was beautiful and new and you could get a drink and take a pee. You can sit on a bench and take a minute to rest--all that and the new pavement they had put in was wiped away.

In no time we were at the Hungry Fox on Swan and Broadway because its just a nice fast steady down-hill coast. But we pushed ourselves and arrived at Hungry Fox at 9am--and there was no wait. I always tell everyone about how great the food is there--the food is fantastic and its like grandma's home cookin back on the farm--but you look around at the regulars and you see obese folks with canes and walkers, and they're dragging oxygen tanks with them. It comes from eating this kind of food--mainly fat and lard all their lives. And with no exercise, too much smoking and drinking--well, the regulars, which is about 95 % of the people in the place--its like we're in a fuckin nursing home dinning hall... Our food showed up about 10 minutes after we sat down. The Sunday brunch crowd was still in church so service was fast.

I put my chicken fried steak, biscuts and gravey,hash browns the size of a dinner plate--and my four eggs over-medium away in about six minutes. Four eggs you say, Gentle Reader of This Blog? The Hungry Fox has a motto: "Its no joke. We double our yokes."

Mes amis, I burned that breakfast off in no time. We rolled out and found ourselves in a steady headwind. We had to climb back up Swan to River Rd (you may recall I speed down this road for four miles on the way to the office) and then as we headed West on River Rd there was an even stronger head-wind. River is all repaved and smooth, and John had not been on this part of River as it has been under construction for years. Now that it is finished, you can quickly get across town by bike--but there is a constant gust of strong wind to make you work. So Larry, the tandum, and Yours grouped up and gained some speed and soon we were at River and La Cholla, getting ready to make the last long climb back to the YMCA where we began.

With only about two miles to go, I suggested we stop at a Circle K. I was almost out of water and what I had left was hot. I'm glad we stopped because I needed to rest. It was now almost 11 o'clock--and topping out at 102 degrees! We got water, ice in the water bottles and knocked off the last part of the climb to the top of Ina and La Cholla. Then we coasted for a mile to the YMCA and there we were at the cars. Whew! Time to go back home and sleep the rest of the day!

The ride was 48 miles, about 2/3's steady climbing. Fun...

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