I seem to be climbing a lot on my bike lately. A ride up Tantalus is a great way to start a morning, so I try to get that in at least once a week. Add to that Boca Hawaii‘s bike clinic to prepare people like me to bike up Haleakala, and I can count on major weekend hill climbing. Kamehame Ridge, Alewa Heights, Sierra Drive, Waialae Iki and the infamous Hill Hell Day are all part of the fun.
People who know me and Rick know that we like to take trips. Many times our trips are just long weekends when we leave on a Thursday redeye and return on Sunday. That gives us a groggy Friday afternoon and evening to explore, a full day Saturday, and sometimes Sunday mornings. Last month, we took a long weekend trip to Tucson Arizona. Why Tucson? No particular reason except that we like the southwest, airfare was affordable, we’d never been to Tucson and we’d heard it was a nice place. And once we made the decision to go, I checked out the possibility of going on a bike ride. I like exploring a new place on a bike when I can.
My internet research showed that there’s an active cycling community in Tucson, both road and mountain types. And, there were some nice options for a bike ride, including a climb up Mt. Lemmon to 8200 feet. As it was described, it seemed quite doable and so there you go!
I reserved a Trek Silque for $75 (size 52, equipped with a compact 11/28) from FairWheel Bikes–a well-equipped shop near the University of Arizona. We picked it up Friday afternoon and the guys were welcoming and enthusiastic. When I told them about climbing Mt. Lemmon, they said it would be awesome and told me where to start the ride. With my pedals on and the seat adjusted, we put the bike in our rental car and went to our hotel.
Hacienda del Sol looked great on hotels.com, and it is a very beautiful and historic property and our room was quite nice. Unfortunately, I think we got the room that was the most poorly located. No view, unless you count the view of the parking lot and people walking by your ground floor “view” sliding glass door. We kept our drapes shut much of the time. Don’t get a room in building F, especially #100.
At around 7am Saturday morning, we hit the road for our 25 minute drive to Le Buzz–THE place to start a ride up Mt. Lemmon. Le Buzz is a friendly cafe with an extraordinary array of baked goods and yummy breakfast choices. Most of the crowd inside was dressed in cycling kits and most looked pretty darn fit.
I started my ride at Le Buzz, just like everyone else. It was a chilly 44 degrees at 8:30. Starting at around 2500 ft, a flat 5-mile spin on a wide, well-maintained shoulder got me to the base of the climb. I had decided to simply spin, not race, up the mountain–to enjoy the scenery and the beautiful clear day.
It was a truly beautiful ride and I recommend it to pretty much everyone. Wide shoulders, a consistent grade that’s not too challenging, perfect temps and incredible evolving scenery and vistas, from cactus to snow. Carry plenty of water and nutrition as there isn’t water along the way. Lucky me, I had Rick to support me on the way up. While biking down was a great option, sharing a car ride with him on the way down was just perfect.
Where will we go next?