Camp Tucson v1 is in the books.
12 or 13 riders showed up for the first ‘warmup’ day — a Tucson classic of Redington -> Chiva 4×4 roads -> AZT -> Milagrosa. Adam, Max and Aaron destroyed the Redington climb, right out of the gate. I caught back on due to not having a GPS and accidentally cutting my own route. Oops.
Throughout camp I took few pictures. This is “training”, right? It felt good to get some continuous pedaling, and not give the body a break from the constant abuse that AZ trails dish out. Something’s got to toughen me up from all this winter weakness.
I had to take a photo of at least a few of the flowers! I was surprised to see so many, high on the AZT.
Max was on fire on Milagrosa, hard tail and all. I couldn’t believe it. He finally relented and was standing in the last wash when Aaron and I rolled up. I thought for a minute he was going to run it non-stop and in less than a half hour. Ouch.
The last part of the chunk was at a bit more relaxed pace. 3 hours was enough hammering. We rolled out the pavement and I realized we had nearly been at race pace — we scorched the loop.
I think others in the camp had some trouble with Milagrosa. A disclaimer might have been a good call. The number of participants fell off after day 1.
Day 2 was a favorite, and one I can roll from home. Fun singletrack, fast singletrack, rubbley singetrack, chunk singletrack, scenic dirt roads, borderline rideable gasline hills, pavement… this loop has it all. We followed a few tracks of camp riders that started early, but I rode with Max on my wheel most of the day. We didn’t say much, except agreeing that this loop is one of the best anywhere, and agreeing that each section we had just ridden was just so much fun.
Chad was always nearby, blasting out a quick loop himself.
Max and I rode a swift base miles pace, only relenting in Sweetwater, where I decided my legs were starting to hurt and that I wanted to kick back and enjoy it a little more. Up to that point, pushing it felt good.
Camp Tucson and Eszter! Sadly she was still in recovery mode, so not able to join the Camp Tucson revelry. Luckily Jeny Jo also was in town, so she had the perfect riding buddy. The riding was on smooth trail only for Jeny (we actually do have some!) since she is still in rehab from knee surgery. Camp Tucson doesn’t *quite* qualify as smooth riding.
I sorely missed riding with Eszter and Jeny all weekend, having to go beat myself up with the boys instead. Luckily on day 3 the girls started out with us, en route to ice cream in Colossal Cave. I was so happy to see a long line of my friends riding ahead of me in the AZT.
Aaron, Max and I turned off the AZT onto chunderrific powerline, to attempt the Empire Rita loop.
The roads on this loop are scenic and quiet. You flirt with the electric green trees of Cienega Creek for a lot of the ride.
The first two days were both such beatdowns that I doubted the wisdom of an 85 mile ride. Who put this camp together, exactly? Max and I almost turned off for the major shortcut.
But there’s chicken in Sonoita! They were out of the famous fried chicken, but the hot wings hit the spot for me, along with ice cream cookie and butterscotch brownie.
We resolved to cut off some of the AZT, shortening down the loop to 75 miles. Though Aaron added a few more miles of AZT than Max and I took.
By the time I got into the thick of the Colinas hills, I was happy we had shortcut. My legs were fried, my back and all bike contact points sufficiently worked. Camp goal complete. Just one more climb after the Lakes Road, then…
… many miles of swoopy trail in evening light. I needed the 45 minutes of easy spinning to cool down from three days of brutal riding.
I also needed a big plate of mexican food from Mi Ranchito. Without that, and the Bobo’s anti-bonk breakfast, camp would not have been possible.
Look for Camp Tucson to continue, bigger and better in the coming years!
Finally, the next day, I got to ride with Ez and Jj. Sweetwater! Lucky me!
Sunshine, warm air, singletrack, short sleeves. Yeah, that’s more than enough to see this cutie smiling! It’s so good to find us both back in Tucson, riding bikes together. Even better to have Jj also out in the desert warmth, soaking up her first singletrack miles for months. It’s been a long winter of no riding for her.
It’s just the beginning. For now, we’re going full moon bikepacking, AZT300 reconning and, well, out to enjoy love and life.