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So I took my bike out to Tuscon, AZ and rode my bike up Mt. Lemmon (pics)

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

So I took my bike out to Tuscon, AZ and rode my bike up Mt. Lemmon (pics)

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Old 03-19-12, 07:05 PM
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So I took my bike out to Tuscon, AZ and rode my bike up Mt. Lemmon (pics)

I was invited to travel out to Tuscon, AZ. about a month ago by some of my friends who are local NYC racers for their training camp out in Arizona. I am just a recreational cyclist but I like to climb and they assured me that there would be some climbing so I took last week off to go out there.

I was pretty tired from work stress, life stress, and not riding like I used to for 2 months so I was not sure how I would fare. I started to train again on February 11, 2012. I restarted my TrainingPeaks WKO+ profile from scratch.

Somehow, last week I ended up in Tuscon, it all happened. This is the story of how I remembered it.

The first night, I could not sleep. I was sore, dehydrated, and plain irritable. I went outside at 1:00AM to shoot some pictures, the desert canvas illuminated by the full moon:


The next morning, after eating some oatmeal and two bananas, the team gathered for a group photo. We even had a support driver/mechanic/photographer. He was awesome in handing off bottles, nutrition, etc. I'm the cyclist that is not wearing the team kit.


We rode out to Gates Pass. It was a 65+ mile with 2500+ ft. of vertical. It seemed a lot harder than the numbers since we were not acclimated to the dry heat. Here are some typical adobe-style homes along the route:


Climbing Gates Pass:


Here is the team with the team car on McCain loop:


Me, pretending to know what I am doing:


The next day was Madera Canyon:


87+ miles with 4,300+ ft. of climbing, again, seeming harder than the numbers said.


Apparently, there is this ride called The Shootout that climbs Madera Canyon. I guess every town in every state in America has a version of this ride. It's basically the ride that people hold on for dear life without any prize money at the end.


Except that in AZ. you are in a friggin desert. If you get dropped hard on The Shootout, you are still in a desert.


To be continued...

Last edited by kimconyc; 03-19-12 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 03-19-12, 07:08 PM
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Nice pics. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-19-12, 07:11 PM
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No cell phone connection. No phone a friend.


At least you have the road to yourself most of the time. You can ride ride with no hands, wave, say, "on your left", and it won't matter because the only one listening will be the howl of the desert and the buzzards flying overhead, searching for shelled riders.


The next morning we were pleasantly greeted by a 38mm long scorpion. My friend killed it about 10 times. It was still attacking after the third death. I wonder if the 80mm scorpions sting harder.


Our bike storage (a.k.a. the laundry room):


We were crushing the water on the rides. The dryness of the desert and the heat of the sun made the rides challenging but rewarding:


Because every time we came home, we were welcomed to vistas and bursting colors such as these:


And these! Now I know how they came up with the idea of the Arizona State flag:


To be continued...
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Old 03-19-12, 07:17 PM
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Here is the final climb of The Shootout Ride at Madera Canyon. It reminds me of Monte Zoncolan. Of course, nothing is like the Zoncolan, but this had that same pitch and slap-in-the-face-type challenge, especially after riding 50 miles to get to the actual climb:


This is the backside of Gates Pass:


Here are some rollers on Gates Pass:


When we were descending, the impossible happened, Shimano Di2 completely exploded (best way to describe it). Chaingate pales in comparison to this! Look closely and you will see that the chain links are completely bent and warped. Not only did the chain drop, it warped around the bottom bracket!


That's some pricey swag right there. It's not mine, I'm running Campagnolo. That Shimano crank right there costs more than my entire groupset! Was the mishap rider error or does Shimano need more "issimo"?


To be continued...

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Old 03-19-12, 07:22 PM
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Good night legs. We would need it for tomorrow's Mt. Lemmon Climb:


We were staying at Milagrosa Hills, about 50 yards away from Mt. Lemmon!


Amazingly, we only climbed Mt. Lemmon once the entire trip even though it was right in our front yard. There were too many other exciting climbs and rides out in Tuscon!


But I have to say Lemmon is a really nice climb!


It has a lot of scenery and open roads. It's not that steep or technical so you can really ramp it up if you want to, either on the way up, or down, or both!


Motorbike, surprisingly a rare sight. There are a lot more cyclists. Tuscon is bike crazy. There are so many cyclists and active people every day of the week on the roads.


More Mt. Lemmon, up, up, and away...


To be continued...
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Old 03-19-12, 07:27 PM
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wow, nice pictures.
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Old 03-19-12, 07:32 PM
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So here is a story from Mt. Lemmon as we are climbing...


I'm riding tempo, 3.9-4 w/kg, which seems pretty OK for a non-racer. I've been passed on climbs by people like Amber Neben, World Time Trial Champion, while doing climbs like Palomar. I've been passed by local Cat. whatever racers. That all makes sense.

I'm just doing my thing, looking at the awesome scenery...

Spinning, spinning, spinning...



All of a sudden, this guy on a Masi bike just flies past me. Remember, I get passed all the time. I'm talking about this guy "flies" past me.


It turns out, he races for Kenda Five Hour Energy, the team that would go on the win the Old Pueblo Grand Prix a few days later. Apparently, there were a lot of teams training out in Tuscon and getting ready for races. We spotted them and also Foundation, a solid CRCA team.


Lemmon is not too technical on the descent...


So you can catch some good speed on the way down!


We still had to climb this nice pitch to get to our house after every ride...


To be continued...

Last edited by kimconyc; 03-19-12 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 03-19-12, 07:37 PM
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That Di2 chain drop is brutal. I would assume it's possible to drop a chain even on Di2 if you accidentally backpedal, but by no means would I guarantee that was the problem. Must've been pedaling damn hard to wedge and bend like that... hope the frame is ok.
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Old 03-19-12, 07:37 PM
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One of the team riders knows how to cook. He made us Caribbean chicken with beans, rice, and veggies, yum! I normally don't eat too much meat but this was really good after all the riding we had been doing!


The fourth day, we took a recovery ride out to Saguaro Nat. Park. I spotted these amazing colors along the way:


This is your brain on drugs:


This is when you eat your Wheaties:


Saguaro Nat. Park:


We went to Miles Ahead Cyclery because all of our bikes had major issues. They were AWESOME!


We went down to 4th Ave. in downtown Tuscon.


To be continued...

Last edited by kimconyc; 03-19-12 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 03-19-12, 07:37 PM
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Impressive!
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Old 03-19-12, 07:38 PM
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Man!

Great post.
Awesome pictures.
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Old 03-19-12, 07:45 PM
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It's very bike friendly...


It's no joke, the trash cans all look like this:


And they have cruisers like this:


But being a Brooklynite, I felt really out of place. We have Williamsburg but the Tuscon hipsters are Brooklyn meets the Twilight Zone, another level--it's like trying to be uncool in order to be cool. We took a lot of inappropriate pictures but they have nothing to do with cycling so I will refrain from posting those...for now.

The next day we climbed Kitt Peak. This was an AWESOME route and climb!


Getting out there was a little sketchy because they were doing construction and there was no shoulder but once you got to the mountains the views were all there:


Total panorama:


This is actually probably one of the best climbs I've ever done. It's not over-burdensome and the length is just right for my ability and the scenery is amazing--this is saying a lot considering I've climbed on 3 continents and done most of the major climbs in the Giro d'Italia.


The next morning was our last full day:


I didn't take any riding pictures along the Old Spanish Trail:


So here are some from the sunrise:


To be continued...
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Old 03-19-12, 07:53 PM
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We went downtown to view the Old Pueblo Grand Prix, which took place on St. Patty's Day (I am not pictured here):


Great tacos here. My friend bought me a taco, cool!


The guy in the black, yellow, and red, raced the Masters and also the Cat.2/3. He was awesome in both races. He really knew how/when to go with a move and also just sit in the pack to save energy--plus he had the most unassuming bike/equipment there!


Jame Carney solo'd in the Masters until one other guy bridged but Carney won the sprint. He also raced in the pro race later in the day but finished with the pack in that race:


Announcer/referee Stand:


Nice commuter:


Empty Trainers:


Yawn:


To be continued...
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Old 03-19-12, 07:53 PM
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What an awesome story/pics. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 03-19-12, 07:58 PM
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Signing in:


PREDATOR (how true this is):


Womens Pro Race:








Handing out the cow bells; made in China, naturally:


Leah Kirchmann, winner of the Women's Pro Race:


Start of the Men's Pro Race (I only knew of Bahati and local Gavi Epstein before the race as I don't really follow racing):


Kenda Five Hour Energy controlling the race:


To be continued...
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Old 03-19-12, 08:04 PM
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Bahati was just sitting in, doing the ninja. I think he was actually chatting on Facebook at one point in the race, all while doing 40mph. Meanwhile, Kenda had their man James Stemper, who had a monster solo breakaway, but eventually got caught with around 2 laps to go (Kenda still won the race, however)






Ride-by shooting:




The Final Sprint:


To be concluded...

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Old 03-19-12, 08:05 PM
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This thread delivers. +1 interwebz
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Old 03-19-12, 08:13 PM
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I really, really didn't want to go on this trip when my friend first invited me. I didn't feel I was in shape to do any climbing at all, I had other things going on in my life, and was unmotivated to put is simply.

But after climbing stuff like this:


And soaking in the views:


It turned out to be a very memorable experience!

Here is my fitness profile before and after the trip. I rested for 3 days prior to the trip on 3/11:


Here are some power profile numbers for the Kitt Peak climb:


It's amazing what one week of pure riding in the desert can do for one's fitness! I had never even considered going to Tuscon, AZ. to cycle but now that it's probably one of the best places one can go, especially with a group of friends!

The End
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Old 03-19-12, 08:20 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. Wonderful pictures.
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Old 03-19-12, 08:20 PM
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Nice.

You're lucky you visited when you did. On Sunday it got really cloudy and cold and today there was hail... it's supposed to rain again tomorrow.
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Old 03-19-12, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by todayilearned View Post
Nice.

You're lucky you visited when you did. On Sunday it got really cloudy and cold and today there was hail... it's supposed to rain again tomorrow.
Yes, we left on Sunday and it was pretty weird not seeing anyone on the road. Is is bad that I wanted to climb Lemmon on a day like Sunday?
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Old 03-19-12, 08:35 PM
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Super pics, thanks for the thread.

What kind of camera took these?
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Old 03-19-12, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by kimconyc View Post
Yes, we left on Sunday and it was pretty weird not seeing anyone on the road. Is is bad that I wanted to climb Lemmon on a day like Sunday?
Don't blame you. The dry heat takes a lot out especially climbing up Lemmon for the first time. There's probably snow at Summerhaven right now (top of Mt Lemmon). I can see some of the Catalinas covered in snow right now.

Did you get a chance to go to North Tucson/Oro Valley? It's basically 1/4 the traffic and the bike lanes are car width everywhere.
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Old 03-19-12, 08:39 PM
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Thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-19-12, 08:39 PM
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Thanks everyone for the comments!

Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
Super pics, thanks for the thread.

What kind of camera took these?
I'm using a Canon S95. The pictures of me in the last post were e-mailed to me by my friend--it's a Sony point-and-shoot of some kind.
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