First week in AZ

back in the land of the saguaro!

There has been SO much to see and do in Tucson.

First up, the Tucson mountains, right out the door.

I navigated us towards some good rocks to play on, but I don’t think either of us were quite ready for it.

The Tucson Mountains are a unique style of riding. The first time up Cat Mtn I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was riding on a slippery surface.

Which of course, I was, but not as slippery as it seems, with Colorado eyes.

It’s been so fun to show Eszter around, through the many twists and turns of the trailsystem. Seeing the trails through new eyes.

Seeing which parts are challenging for her.

And which parts aren’t at all.

She’s already picking up both the riding style and the memory map needed to navigate around out there.

Yep, unique riding style.

Unique beauty, and beautiful weather to match. We are in the right place.

A warm weekend and the desire to go somewhere new with Eszter brought us to the Galiuros and a spot I’ve long wanted to visit.

This time of year, in particular. I had heard from Abe Gold that colors were at their peak.

Eszter was skeptical there was any fall color to be had in Arizona. As we climbed up the 4×4 road towards Ash Creek, I couldn’t blame her. It’s a nice Oak Forest, but it was dry, and warm, and the mountains ahead showed no signs of color — not even the slightest hint. I tried to make the case that the light areas on the top of Mt. Graham were actually groves of yellow aspens, but it was hard to tell from so far away.

Subtle hints of changing trees led to outrageous color. Reds, pinks, magentas, yellows, greens, oranges, and everything in between.

Trail following error! No problem, just slide down the red maple slide!

Back to the trail!

Though you can ride the first 4 miles of the trail, we eventually hit the wilderness boundary and flipped it. With colors like these, it wasn’t a shame at all to have to do a dreaded ‘out and back.’

After a brief rest back at camp, we headed out again. Empty TD-esque dirt roads were the main surface. We went in search of open rock, instead of fall color, this time.

We did find the rocks I had spied in TopoFusion, just off High Creek, but there wasn’t too much to play on. We also couldn’t follow the road out of the rock area, and knowing that further connections on the loop I had drawn were even more dubious, we flipped it.

“I think this is the most continuous pedaling I’ve done in weeks.” Hmm, maybe a little bit too much rock monkeying and sessioning. Balance, balance.

It was a gorgeous evening for a pedal, with golden light showing us the way and paintbrush clouds showing us the curvature of the earth. As we settled in for sleep under the stars I would have put the likelihood of rain at less than zero percent. About an hour after falling asleep a skunk came by to check us out. He got within a couple of feet of me and just stared, sniffing. Not long after that I noticed I couldn’t see the stars anymore. Must be the moon washing them out, I thought. No way it could be clouds. The next time the skunk came by we felt a couple little sprinkles. Skunk and rain? Time to hit the back of the van.

It was a good thing, because it rained steady for a good half hour or more later that night. Thanks for waking us up, Mr. Skunk!

It’s a bit of a drive to the Galiuros, but I figured it was the perfect chance to also ride in a rarely visited but favorite mountain range of mine – the Dragoons.

rock people

The Cochise Stronghold trail cuts right through the heart of the range, through rock spires, hoodoos and incredible formations.

It’s easy to see how the Apaches were able to defend themselves here for so long.

It’s been 8 or 9 years since I’ve ridden here. For shame on me!

We debated about flipping it and just riding the singletrack out/back, but we’d done two out and backs the day before. It’s loop time!

The loop is a healthy ride, and neither of us really brought enough food.

We were both low on food, but I had eaten apple pie at Annie’s country store for breakfast, and also a subway sandwich the day before. Eszter’s calorie stores were already running low when she started the ride. So she bonked, pretty hard. At least we found dragon caves and saw rainbows.

mmm, fun hike-a-bike

Unfortunately I didn’t remember much about the return trail, nor had I ridden it for nearly a decade.

a fair bit of downhill HAB, everyone’s favorite!

To say the condition of the trail had deteriorated would be a gross understatement.

Had Eszter not been super-bonking and me fighting off a mild bonk, it probably wouldn’t have been that big a deal. But it wasn’t good timing.

She soldiered through it, impressively so. I’ve been there, and it’s not a particularly fun place to be.

Return of Tuesday meant a return to the Techy Taco trails for me.

What an absolute hoot.

You forget what a rocky trail really is. These trails quickly remind you that everything in CO that seems rocky…. well, it really isn’t.

The evening light, tricky moves around every corner, good friends.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

I had a pretty good first run at the place, at the trails I know so well. Chad was riding like he owns the place, and he pretty much does. A 100% clean run still eludes us out there. Maybe sometime this winter someone will crack it.

And finally, a hot date night Mi Ranchito ride. It was warm enough to break out some serious sweat. I followed Ez around as she zoomed through the desert, hitting turns and impressing me with how quickly she has picked ‘things’ up out there.

The tacos were just as delicious as I remember. Ah, Tucson. Look for the Ranchito ride to come back as a group ride for the rest of the winter!

On tap for tomorrow, the next in our early November tradition:

CDO Epic – 11/3/12 from Scott Morris on Vimeo.

The from-home, Lemmon Epic. Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait!!

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