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Southwest Arizona | New Mexico | Oklahoma | Nevada

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Old 02-02-12, 08:25 PM   #1
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I am visiting Arizona on the first week of May and am hoping to ride one of the big climbs there---either Mount Lemmon or Mount Graham. My wife will be with me so I will only have time for one ride!
My question: I am worried about the altitude of these climbs--around 9000'.
Being a flatlander living in Ontario, Canada I'm not sure it is a good idea to ride so high without acclimatization. The highest I have ever climbed is Whiteface Mountain in NY--about 4500'. I want to climb something while in Arizona--how about Kitt's Peak if the "Big Two" are out?

Thanks in advance
Brendan O'Sullivan
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Old 02-03-12, 10:53 AM   #2
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Where are you coming from? Kitt's Peak is going to be further to drive than Mt Lemmon. Mt Graham is even further from Tucson or Phoenix. All three are beautiful. Mt Lemmon is probably the easiest to access.

As far as altitude, I would say go for it but monitor yourself. If your HR seems to high think about stopping or turning around. It depends on what kind of shape you're in.

I take it your wife doesn't want to ride with you. Maybe you could talk her into support by following in a car. She could carry supplies and stop at strategic places on the way. Just a thought.

Good luck.
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Old 02-03-12, 12:49 PM   #3
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Thanks for the information Locolobo. I'll be coming from Phoenix.
I'm in pretty good shape-eg resting HR 45- and my wife was going to drive up the mountain ahead of me .
I think you have convinced me to go for Mount Lemmon---it's a ride I have always dreamed of doing.
Thanks again
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Old 02-03-12, 07:53 PM   #4
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Mt. Lemmon. Many people turn around at Windy Point which is at about 6K ft.
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Old 03-03-12, 09:28 AM   #5
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I hope I'm not replying too late.

On our first trip to Colorado that included bicycling, I found that the change in altitude makes a very big difference to me. Around where I live in Oklahoma the elevation is around 1200'. We decided to take the bicycles on a trip that passed through Colorado Springs and set out one morning to ride around the Garden of the Gods. (I highly recommend it!) The altitude at the garden is around 6500'.

I thought we were going to die. And there aren't any hills there. There is some small elevation change as you go around the park, but compared to the surrounding countryside, it is essentially flat.

Now, we're certainly not world class racers, but 20 mile rides during the work week and organized rides on the weekends of 62 miles plus, had us in reasonable shape for a leisurely ride; or so we thought.

We did get to see some fantastic scenery, and the U.S. Olympic Bicycling teams (Men's & Women's) blew by us on their morning ride through the park, which was thrilling to see. I'm just glad there wasn't a several thousand (hundred?) foot climb we had to make to have a successful day.

As our week-long trip continued our breathing efficiencies increased dramatically, and the rides were certainly easier for a week or so after we got back home! But I always deeply discount my "flat land" performance when traveling to the high country.

Last August we summited Red Cloud peak and intended to also do Sunshine peak (both are 14,000"+ peaks in close proximity) but ran out of time because we couldn't breath well enough to maintain hiking speed.

Your experience may be different of course depending on a number of factors, but until you know how you will react for sure, plan conservatively. And have fun!
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Old 04-01-12, 05:20 PM   #6
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Elevation in Phoenix area about 1,000 feet.
Tucson area: 2,000+ feet.
Mt. Lemmon is not overly steep but a steady +/- 6 %. However, that's 11 miles of UP.
Descent is great, however be aware you'll be reaching 30 mph speeds easily.
Just had one local rider wipe out on the descent at that speed: broken ribs, etc.
Have ridden the Lemmon; Kitt Peak (on my single + also on our tandem).
Yes, you'll feel the altitude; bring your granny gears, you'll need them!
Enjoy your visit!
Pedal on!
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Old 04-08-12, 11:42 PM   #7
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If you go to Mt. Lemmon, try to go on a weekday.

Weekends can be quite congested with cars, bikes and motorcycles on the narrow road.

This is especially true with the warmer weather coming on.
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