Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wrapping Up In San Carlos, Sonora

What a delight to discover San Carlos! Close enough for an international, agua-vistaed getaway, but far enough away that it's not like the weekly, seasonal evacuation of Chicago to Lake Geneva clogging the already atherosclerosed interstates, increasing the the travel time across the WI border by 50-75%.

We experienced anew the meaning of Mexican Time in the bike rental process of Kirk's mountain bike for our couple of forays into the desert, or is it a jungle; I'n not sure. 

We learned about desert paths, or maybe they're roads; they are definitely unpaved. I learned that NWT'n 406x1.5's are up to the task of riding these "roads", albeit with much less aplomb than Kirk on his 27" knobbys.

We learned there is some great fish to be had in this community where 80% of the industry is of and pertaining to fishing. Ceviche has been my fave--lots of good protein unencumbered by corn and queso neither of which I can eat. 

We enjoyed La Palapa Griega, a fine place on the beach as you drive into San Carlos. And then there was La Playa de Cortez, an historic (1936) Hotel that envelopes you in restful elegance and gracious service. The food was OK, but not a "I gotta go back".
Monday, it was Charley's Rock. Not sure where that name comes from, but we sat just touchable feet above the Gulf of California almost able to touch snorkelers tethered to their buoy so as not to get gobbled up by the motors of local boats. 
Kirk's fresh fish pasta

Then there was lunch at La Manga, which means Sleeve. Now that was an adventure bouncing across the unpaved, rock strewn "road" hoping this was not one of the routes about which Travelers Advisory Warnings are written. This was the town of 115 souls mentioned in an earlier post where the Alcoholics Anonymous building, one of four in the village, stands front and center hosting its 3 meetings per week. The other 3 buildings are a church, a kindergarten, and a school.

Wednesday we bounced through the desert to the Nacapule Canyon on our bikes, a very challenging 19 miles, after which we celebrated at Arbolitos. Oh my, the grilled Octopus was to die for. Going back there on our way out of town.

The canyon was exquisite replete with wild horses.

We practiced being quiet, being grateful, and being ready to return to our more active and purposed life in Tucson.

Thank you San Carlos!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NWT'n in Sonora

Alcoholics Anonymous meets here 3x/week in a village of 115 souls
San Carlos at about 6:00; La Manga at the Red marker

Living in Chicago a trip to Mexico was a 3 hour flight to Cancun, same time zone. Living in Tucson a trip to Mexico is a 6-1/2 hr car trip to San Carlos, same time zone, replete with Mexican car insurance, visas, and high speed, 10'-wide, 2-lane national highways with no shoulders and often a 6" drop offs to the right of the right-side white lined lane edge.

San Carlos sits on the Gulf of California.

Unfortunately I'm an anxious, front-seat passenger. I date the onset of my unhelpful front-seat anxiety to right after my solo, 1,000 mile bike tour from Chicago to South Georgia. That trip, while nothing bad happened traffic-wise, I certainly internalized just how vulnerable I am as a cyclist on the open road. Sadly I carry that hypervigilance into the front seat of the car. I deeply appreciate Kirk's patience and tolerance. Sometimes I just close my eyes and pretend to take a nap to minimize my reactivity.


NWT'n came with us to San Carlos. He and I have been growing our relationship of respect and fun having, I think, found the sweet spot for his seat height and handlebar positions.

I am a more wary and wise international bike rider since my quasi abduction-rescue in the jungle of Limon, Costa Rica when my Bike Friday Tikit broke down. At worst I feared for my life, and at best I feared I would not make it back to the cruise ship before they sailed away without me. 

First order of purchase upon arrival in San Carlos was a set of his and her matching cell phones with a 12 minute plan that's good for 2 months. At least this time I can place an emergency call.

Armed with my pink, basic, very basic Nokia I headed back to San Carlos from Guaymas. Strong trade winds challenged my ride up and down the spiky bumps, NWT'n was up to the task.

Kirk rented a mountain bike so we could set off through the desert on an unpaved path in search of a restaurant in La Manga, which means "sleeve". 

Oh my. Kirk was faring well in the deep sand and boulders. NWT'n's 406x1.5" tires (and I) weren't faring so well. I kept having visions of jungle abductions and dehydration from all the Broder crossing books and documentaries we've been absorbing since living on the border and now we're south of the border!

But, I'm here to tell you we found La Manga, the red dot on the map at the beginning of the post. You'll notice too, it's off the paved road and in the desert, even at the end of the desert path. 115 souls live in La Manga in corrugated tin, plywood leaned up against itself somehow standing. It's been 7 hours since we had lunch and so far no Montezuma's revenge.

Sometimes you just have to go for a little adventure.

View of La Manga from the restaurant

Home to the better off

Home to others

Home without a roof

Kirk in front of La Manga Kindergarten 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Owl Head Butte

See the little "humps" in the background? Their known as Owl Head Butte

Saguaro in bloom on Park Link
Riding to Arivaca a couple of weeks ago (145 miles) was a great pondering op: how would I prepare for the World Championship Time Trial in November in Palm Desert? After a successful Calvin's Challenge in 2011 with 186.5 mi in 11:30, I believe 200 miles in 12 hours is viable.

In Palm Desert Kirk will crew for me so fueling and hydrating will be efficient; I'm borrowing some Zipp wheels from Dan Fallon; and I'll have spare wheels ready to swap in the crew vehicle. Between now and then I need to train to reduce my off-the-bike time, have enough fuel in my tank to sustain an average elapsed speed of 16.6. These things I can control. What I can't control are:

  • malicious and non malicious road-side detritus  
  • dog attacks
  • weather
  • mechanincals
  • body/medicals 
Tucson is moving ever closer to its hot season where being out mid-day and beyond is not wise. But starting at 3:00 a.m. or so could get the job done before it gets too hot. And, since I have not found anyone who want to join me on these treks, the Border Patrol and buzzards would be my only company. But, if Kirk could drive me out of town and and pick me up before re-entring town I could avoid heat exposure through the slowness of Tucson traffic lights. Yes, the Arivaca route would work if ridden like this.

Then I discovered another route option, what I call Park Link, named for the road that links I-10 with AZ Rt 79. It's 91 miles and I could ride two loops. The middle half of the route has no services and and is desert remote. Kirk has offered to crew for me on Loop 2 in the event that there would be some untoward. No one could ask for a better supporter in all life arenas.

Park link Route

I need to train with data to support my goal. Since I don't have a Garmin at this time I've been using Endomundo, Runtastic and other web-based apps.  But they gobble up my phone battery and  konk out at about mile 175. 

Let the training begin.