Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bisbee and Mule Pass

Bisbee from the summit of Mule Pass

Today I would revenge Mule Pass. October 2007 I attempted the Cochise 252 mile ride leaving from Douglas at 2:00 a.m. but abandoned the ride at the top of Mule Pass after only 27 miles for medical reasons. Today I would climb and descend it and return to Tombstone--no problem.

Bisbee, is 90 miles southeast of Tucson. Bisbee became one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead and zinc that came from these rich Mule Mountains. By the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city in the southwest between St. Louis and San Francisco.

In 1908 a fire ravaged most of Bisbee's commercial district along Main Street, leaving nothing but a pile of ashes. It was rebuilt and is now a popular destination for tourists and home to many artisans.

The bumper sticker I bought at the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel, a vintage bicycle shop says it best: KEEP BISBEE BIZARRE-support the local fringe.

Bisbee Bicycle Brothel

Lunch in the parking lot of the Copper Queen

Final Desert Camp 2009 Ride--Back To Tucson

We laid our heads once more in Tombstone, but not until we huddled around the fire pit and watched the movie, TOMBSTONE with Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp. I actually slept in a motel room named after the famed Marshall who amazingly lived to be 81! Hard to do in those rough hombre days.

Some climbing out of Tombstone to Sonoita and then basically all downhill to Tucson and another 15 miles to Daniel's house.

Nearly all of us couldn't quite say good-bye so out to El Paso, the restaurant.

IMG_2354 IMG_2353

Next big, big one of 2009--Portland Transcon--July 5th to August 3rd.

Chiricahua Monument

Another glorious day. There is something about the desert, the rocks, the mountains, the grasses, the cactus that call and anchor me.


The Chiricahua Mountains are a range of inactive volcanoes that rise from the valley floor to over 9,000'. Violent geologic activity continued for millions of years forming pinnacles, columns,and spires of balanced rocks. The Apache called it "The Land of Standing-Up Rocks".



Lots of climbing for today through forests of rock formation and evergreens with a rich fragrance of Christmas conifers.

Never had to have my blood pressure checked before a climb before. But that was the operative at the base of the final climb that would take us to 6,800'. When I hit 5,800' my lungs went into spasm again, so I forewent the final 3 mile, 1,000' climb.

This is what my profile looked like MINUS the last 1,000 feet.

Chiricahua Mounument Route Profile
click on the pix to see the detail.

Desert Camp--Tucson-->Tombstone

Yesterday's ride up Gates Pass gave me pause about my ability to climb out of Tucson and arrive in Tombstone without respiratory support. I gave notice I'd do the best I could but I may need to SAG a few miles, if my respiratory distress became a ride stopper.

Route Profile_Tucson_Tombstone
Route profile--Tucson-->Tombstone--click on picture to zoom in.

The day was cool--I donned leg, arm, ear, and finger covers till mid-day. The sky was blue-blue and the wind was friendly. What more could a Midwesterner want after winter's relentless siege?

By rest stop #1 about 20 miles into the ride I was breathing hard, but was grateful I had seemed to have made some really decent recovery progress over the last 24 hours. Maybe I could make it after all. I pulled into rest stop 2 gasping and sucking air from wherever I could find it. Took 10 minutes before I could fill my water bottle and head out to lunch at mile 56.

Lunch was really scary. Thought I was going to pass out. Recovered enough to get back on the bike and ride the 20 mile downhill I had surely earned. I willingly accepted a SAG up the final ten mile pull into Tombstone.

Spent the evening doing body work and praying I'd be ready for tomorrow's ride to Willcox.

Alan Street In Tombstone

Mark and Jeff arriving in Tombstone ready to wash their bikes.

Desert Camp--Tombstone-->Willcox

Arizona blue sky; sun warming the night chill; riders weary from yesterday's ride, scuffing the dirt of Allen Street in search of morning coffee; and the welcome opening of the Long Horn breaking the fast before our ride from Tombstone to Willcox.

Breakfast in Tombstone
Breakfast At Longhorn's--the first of about 6 at this memorable establishment.

Today was pure delight, only half the climbing as yesterday, pleasant conversation along the miles, and despite 20 or so miles on I-10, I don't think any of us flatted as a result of the delaminants from truck tires.

Marlene before her morning coffee--click pix to zoom in

Lunch on the way to Willcox
Roger, Mark, Jeff, Rob, and Susan at lunch 20 miles out of Willcox

Gates Pass--Tucson

Chicago is in the 30's (real feel 20's); Eugene, OR is in the damp, chilly 40's; and I am desperately trying to recover from chills, fever, and bronchitis to ride in 500 miles in Arizona. Given that, there is nothing better than stepping off the plane to a blast of March Arizona heat--mid 80's. LOVE it.

Rebuild the bike and be ready for Rob from MN, Mark and Jeff from Wilmette to arrive at Daniel's for a pre-Desert Camp ride out to check out our equipment and see if last year's sunscreen still works.

Destination: Saguaro Cactus Museum via Gates Pass




Gates Pass, east to west, is not nearly the push as it is from the other direction, but I wheezed, huffed, puffed, and generally sounded like an end-stage ephasemic; but I made it--woo hoo!

Gage Pass
Rob, me, and Jeff

Gage Pass_M,J
Mark and Jeff

Here's the profile of our climb:Gates Pass Profile

Friday Before Eugene, OR

Oh my gosh, March 6th, 2009, 57 degrees! WooHoo. Cleared my calendar and rode to Kenosha, my longest ride of the year--85 miles.

Sounded like a good idea, but 30 miles into the ride I realized 57 degrees isn't so warm after all, especially with the cold wind blowing off Lake Michigan and as the temp steadily dropped to 50. By the time I got home I was chilled to the bone, a relentless chill that wouldn't warm; a relentless chill that turned into the flu that turned into bacterial bronchitis replete with chills and fever for 5 days. Bryan welcomed me into his home in Eugene, even though I was not very good company--so sick.

Ended up in Eugene's Urgent Care, excellent care. A script for antibiotics will hopefully give me an edge to being ready to ride 500+ miles with PAC Tour's Desert Camp in AZ beginning March 13th!

Desert Camp Launches The 2009 Riding Season

I won't do another winter like this one, no way, no how. Endless bone-penetrating cold and record snows that kept me indoors in the trainer for 3 solid months. While Kirk and I had an awesome January get-away on the South American/Antarctic Cruise, my life-giving training, indeed, took a hit.

Before the first snow blanketed Wilmette, IL, I had registered for week 4 of PAC Tour's Desert Camp--The Chiricahua Challenge--in Arizona.It's the best of all worlds--some point-to-point touring, but also several nights in the same hotel--about 500 miles.

Willcox-->Chiricahua Monument-->Willcox

I've ridden enough with PAC now that PAC is as much about riding as it is reunioning with good friends; this year 1/3 of the riders would be old friends, including Mark and Jeff who live just 3 blocks from me in Wilmette.

First group of riders ready to leave Tucson for Tombstone