Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saguaro National Park West and Colossal Cave

We ride up to Colossal Cave via Old Spanish Trail and Pistol Hill.

My old school chum, Ryan "Le Tigre" and I do a ride out to Colossal Cave--he suggested a place called Marsh Station--but we did Old Spanish Trail after making a stop at the Ramada in Saguaro Nat'l Park.

Plan B...

Le Tigre suggests we drive about five miles or so and park the car, as to avoid the afternoon traffic we would encounter on the way home. I recall how busy Broadway and other roads leading to and from and out around Saguaro Nat'l Park get--so I agree to plan B.

Tail wind to Rincon Market.

After a quick stop at Saguaro, we head out to Colossal Cave, which is a good place to turn around, and we find we've got a strong tailwind pushing us up the road.

Riding my 1977 Raleigh Super Grand Prix road bike today.

The sun is out, and the temps are great! The wind was not supposed to pick up until the afternoon, but it was quite breezy and still a little cold. We saw a lot of riders out and everyone had arm and leg warmers on like us.

Rincon Market is a good stop and bike friendly. Also a good place to observe local white-trash rednecks buying cigarettes and beer.

Le Tigre and I were good to go, Gentle Readers of This Blog, and we flew past the Rincon Market on the tailwind.

Rincon Peak with snow. I don't think I've ever seen snow up on the summit of Rincon Peak.

Tucson has received a lot of rain this year, and snow has been in the Catalina, Rincon, and Santa Rita mountain ranges for months. I have hiked up to the top of Rincon Peak twice. Its a pretty moderate hike, mes amis. One year I did it in one day--which almost killed me--the other time we hiked to Happy Valley Saddle and stayed at the campground, and the hiked up the next morning. Doing the hike in one day is not recommended. I was like crawling back on my hands and knees to the truck--ran out of water and it was pretty much a mistake on my part as I was not fit enough.

Pistol Hill.

Le Tigre was informed by a Park Ranger that bikes can take the back road into Colossal Cave and not have to pay the entry fee. The tailwind had made the ride pretty fast, and helped on the climbs. I have to say it took a few miles when we started up to Saguaro Nat'l Park for my lungs to kick-in, but I was rolling along nicely.

Still on Pistol Hill with snow on the Santa Ritas in the background.

Almost no traffic today!

"Le Tigre"

The back way.

So we do the back door road to the cave, which is pretty beat up but has fast rollers. Lots of saguaro and Ryan says he's seen deer and other wildlife. This area is remote and would not be fun when its cold--and would be very difficult when its hot--just the way the desert is out here.

There's some climbing, but we are out of the winds which are blocked by the mountain. We're on the other side of Pistol Hill.

Ryan says that some wealthy eccentric has built a castle up here. Yeah it looks kinda of weird--like some kind of Dr. Evil Hideout or something.

Really rugged out here but scenic...

More of Colossal Cave Mountain Park, mes amis!

The exit, and as you can see, we will have a fun and furious and speedy descent!


Best part is the trip back to Rincon Market--way fast!


Ryan "Le Tigre" pulled us almost all the way back to Rincon Market--we were riding very fast! There was a bit of a headwind, but I didn't seem to mind as I had the Tiger-by-the-Tail so to speak. At one point we reached the top speed of 41 mph on one steep grade, but the headwind picked up and we rode mostly 25 to 28 mph.

On Old Spanish Trail, heading back to Saguaro--Mt. Lemmon in the background.

As we make a big turn through the wash and head North on Old Spanish Trail, the climbing starts--and afternoon traffic has picked up. I'm getting some leg cramps--got to get that under control, mes amis--and I have to let Ryan go, as he's feeling strong today. We're only a few miles from the Ramada in Saguaro, so I'll be there with him shortly.

My Raleigh--although I use it mainly for commuting to work--its still an excellent road bike for a quick 40 mile ride like today.

The Ramada at the Park Headquarters is a great place to stop for a break and get water and use the restroom up at the Visitor's Center.

I took this from the Ramada--Mt Lemmon with all that snow! Cool...

Our ride back was only about five or six miles to the car. Ryan was right to drive the car and park because, mes amis, traffic was furious and people are hustling to get beer and cigarettes--or whatever! Five quick miles instead of 10 or 12 back to his place through a pretty dangerous part of Old Tucson. Thanks for stopping by the Blog!

Cheers! Bruce


Stefan Walz said...

I remember those hikes up Rincon Peak. Best day hike in southern Arizona. We should do it again!

Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Hey Stef! Once we went on your Birthday--the other time we camped in the saddle--I remember it was like 20 degrees and there was still snow up there! Yep it was fun, and easy to laugh about how I almost died and junk...

Anonymous said...

Killer hike, remote! Twice? Didn't learn your lesson the first time LOL. I don't think it would be considered moderate, but for me it was an "A" in difficulty. Something I will always remember getting up there. Twice means it wasn't a fluke, LOL. When I think I'm having a tough day on the bike, all I have to do is look at Rincon Peak and remember what a real hard day really is.

Dan T.