Return to Tucson

The first photo on this blog has been, for the last month, a photo of my green Lenzsport Mammoth. The bike was leaning against a ledge of that beautiful white rock on Gooseberry Mesa. Sadly that bike was stolen soon after we returned to Southern Arizona for the winter. It had seen many a mile, been pushed up many a mountain, and traversed the CDT. It had a good life and it served me well.

I’m not one to get sentimental over bikes (i.e. possessions), but it was one of my favorites — and probably the most capable and versatile I’ve yet owned. The loss made me feel less like writing here. The fact that my camera got stolen along with it may have had something to do with it, too.

But… the blog must go on. The diary is some 12 or 13 years old now. Yikes.

We recovered from Southern Utah adrenal fatigue with some local rides.

And runs, too.

photo by Eszter Horanyi

Friends converged on Little Creek Mesa. My photos of the rides and hanging out with Alexis, Denny and the crazy dogpack are lost, but it was a great weekend. The growing November cold had us deciding that tent season was closing in Utah.

Time to head to…

The Sonoran Desert! Let tenting season continue!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to work Picacho Peak into a northern/southern migration, but it’s never worked out. This year, with nowhere to ‘live’ in Tucson set up, it was an easy choice. Good camping, and a silly fun hike out the door.

That top singletrack still calls for wheels. It’ll be a task to get a bike up there, though!

Overcoming fear can largely be a function of familiarity. The more time spent in situations like this, the better.

Bikes got stolen, so we turned our attention to other activities.

Like hunting for birds!

Not that kind of bird. Have you ever seen cattle be rounded up by helicopter? I can’t imagine the number of cowboys rolling over in the graves.

Crazy beak deformation on this northern mockingbird.

Bikepacking was out, so backpacking was in. For Thanksgiving we hiked up to ‘our’ saguaro on Ripsey, ate slices of pizza and watched what seemed like the longest sunset either of us had ever seen.

Backpacking has a beautiful simplicity to it, I must say.

For “#optoutside” day, we went to check the mail at Picketpost.

The picket is an entertaining scramble.

It seemed so much easier than last year, especially for Eszter.

We had just enough daylight to check out the nearby Arboretum. We need to go back… with far more time.

A fall color “Us-ie” inspired by Chad and Kendall, who were killing it in the Usie department while in Japan. Thanks for letting us crash your house while you were away, guys!

I pulled a bike out of storage — a Tucson appropriate bike, as it would have it. I joined Chad for his singletrack commute on the 50.

The only bike waiting for Eszter was a decidedly non-Tucson-appropriate one. This ride was fun, though. She’s taken the opportunity to focus on running instead.

So happy to be back, and near my favorite Tucson trail system.

Lee put together a Canelo ride slash trail scouting party. He’s the new regional steward for the first six segments of the trail.

The Little Outfit! Lee and I stayed a night at the ranch during our 2005 thru-ride of the AZT. The stay was complete luxury — with swimming pool, WW2-era tank tour and delicious food. Not all of our nights on the trail would be so glamorous…

Regional steward at work! Our biggest task was to figure out the nasty areas and make the trail easier to follow.

I always enjoy riding in the Canelos. But without fail, you’re always glad to get to that last hike-a-bike before the descent to Patagonia, knowing the Canelos are behind you.

The early December weather in Arizona was simply ridiculous, with temperatures warmer than anything we’d experienced since… August? Tent season was back full on. At Harshaw road, then Patagonia Lake, where we found a Green Kingfisher, among many other interesting birds!

It’s really fun to be on the steep upslope part of the curve on a new activity. We are learning so much, and having so much initial success, all while spending copious amounts of time outside. Birding, check it out….

Next hot spot was Madera Canyon, where the camping is good and the birding even better.

The riding? Leaves a little to be desired. Elephant Head is an old favorite of mine, but it has been all but swallowed by monsoon-fueled grass. I flipped it earlier than I would have liked, after getting stuck in a monster catclaw bush I was trying to trim with my little snippers.

The good doctor J-bake organized a big crew of chunk-riders for what can only be described as a TMP beatdown ride.

Wormhole, Krein, Wormhole again, Wagonwheel, Hooligan, Hidden.

It was *such* a fun ride. I wasn’t riding in midseason Tucson form, but was waaaay more confident than the reciprocal ride last year, upon return from the CDT.

Ancient rock art, well protected courtesy of the US military.

Lee and I had a bit of an ill fated attempt to ride the AZT, from Sierra Vista. For years I’ve been curious how Sierra Vista riders get through the mountains to connect with a section of trail (Sunnyside Canyon) that is rarely ridden otherwise.

We made it to the crest of the mountains, but it was too cold/snowy to want to continue. We froze descending back down Garden Canyon.

The main objective of the trip was to pick up our new home — a 13′ little Scamp! We purchased the little guy from a small time fisherman from Homer, Alaska who winters in Bisbee.

Lee was kind enough to offer his truck and expertise so we could get it back to Tucson. We have some stuff to learn about pulling stuff and keeping batteries charged, but we are super excited to ‘move into’ the Scamp.

It’s funny that people seem to ask us how living out of it is going to work — it’s so small, right? But really, it’s an upgrade for us. We spent ~7 months living out of just our minivan, with a tent.

We’ll spent another month renting the tiny house we’re in now, then move about Southern AZ for the rest of the winter…. if all goes according to plan.

Last year’s return to the Techy Taco ride was full of ignominy — and not just for me. Both Chad and J-bake got reamed out there, so much so that we almost abandoned it for the whole season.

But this, this is a new year! Trails are in better shape, and the tacos were damn tasty this go round. It’s back in the regular rotation, I’d say.

Who remembers these? It’s pretty funny the crazy old things I still had lying around. Part of the Scamp transition is to pare down things even more, and it’s a good feeling to be trimming down.

Agua Caliente should also be a part of the regular rotation this year. So much fun out there!

We’ve had a little bit more time to squeeze in some local adventures before heading north for the holidaze. This day was a good one. I ran up to the saddle on Hot Water Hill, then switched to ride up nearly the same distance. Then we both went to the spring fed lake to hunt birds.

Vermilion flycatchers are one of my favorites.

It’s good to be back in Tucson — so grateful to be here. I can’t wait for the rest of the winter.

2 comments to Return to Tucson

  • Randy Harris

    Just terrible news about the thieving. 🙁

  • You must be getting old, not satisfied to sleep on the ground anymore (just kidding, we bought a pop-up camper). Our friends have a Scamp, they love it, they actually downsized from a bigger model Scamp to the one you have, said it was the best trade off between comfort and convenience. Bummer about the bikes; what were the circumstances, a moment of inattention, or some really determined thieves? Yes, I remember ZIP discs, used to run my backups that way…..

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