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Friday, March 10, 2017

PAC Tour Desert Camp Day 6 - Sierra Vista to Tucson

The final day of Century Week had record setting hot temperatures in Tucson for March 10.  It really felt like summer.  I went with the route through Fort Huachuca, which followed the same course I used Tuesday as far as Sonoita.  The fort is named after the Huachuca Mountains, so this route is pretty tough with a lot of climbing in the first 30 miles.  Rest stops were further apart as well.  I did miss a turn, resulting in a couple of bonus miles before lunch.

The last 20 miles after lunch was shared with Victor from Ontario, Marsha, and Alice.  We ride at a similar pace so that made the final miles pass pleasantly.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

PAC Tour Desert Camp Day 5 - Tombstone/Benson/Kartchner Caverns

Gorgeous weather with low wind made for a very enjoyable 80 mile day.  We retraced the 19 miles back to Tombstone for our first rest stop, then rode about 24 miles to Benson and the second rest stop.  Riding was generally fast, although for me it was still usually solo (Elizabeth and I rode as far as Tombstone together).

Shortly after leaving Benson, there is a tough 10% hill of about half a mile, but then a turn onto Route 90 that has a wonderful shoulder - wide, smooth, and fairly clean.  Several miles of riding the mostly flat shoulder brought me to Kartchner Caverns State Park and lunch.  I elected to skip the caverns tour, having previously visited Carlsbad Caverns a couple of times, and headed out on my own after lunch.  The final 24 miles to Sierra Vista went well, with only some moderate rolling terrain.

Tomorrow is our final day for this Desert Camp Century Week.  Mileage will be about the same as today (80 miles) and it is supposed to be a pleasant ride back to Tucson.

First rider out in the morning

Lunch is over and Phil will be putting things away
Wash station - no touching of food until gloves are off and hands washed
Border inspection station - there are a lot of these places in southern AZ
A goathead - enemy of bike tires.  I picked this one up on my shoe walking back from dinner.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

PAC Tour Desert Camp Day 4 - Bisbee Gleeson Loop

Although there was a 70 mile option for today, I'm not sure it would have been any easier, as it required climbing back over Mule Pass from Bisbee, after just climbing and descending the pass.  The century route, which I chose, had its own challenges, specifically a 5 mile section of torn up road and a 12 mile gradual climb on Gleeson Road on the way to historic Tombstone AZ.

Mule Pass came pretty early in the day and is a tough climb through the Mule Mountains.  After a rest stop, we were treated to a fast descent into historic Bisbee.  Generous use of brakes was required due to the rough pavement, especially as we neared Bisbee.

Most riders took a break at the Bisbee Coffee Company before heading out for 30 miles to the next rest stop.  We encountered a 5 mile section of very rough road (N Central Highway) before entering Elfrida.  It wasn't even graded gravel, just old pavement that had been scraped down.

The aforementioned 12 mile gradual ascent on Gleeson Rd was followed by some fast downhills and rolling hills, which eventually brought riders to the lunch stop at mile 82 in historic Tombstone.  After lunch we had a fairly quick 19 miles into the motel at Sierra Vista.


Rough road
Fast crew caught me on Gleeson Rd
Historic Tombstone AZ

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

PAC Tour Desert Camp Day 3 - 200K Brevet Option

I signed up for the optional 200K as a way to snag my March R-12 ride.  This particular brevet is an out and back ride from Sierra Vista to the Nogales airport, and takes you through Fort Huachuca.  Miles 10-30 and 90-110 are the toughest, with a lot of steep climbing.  There are plenty of long grades in other sections, making this one of the more difficult 200K brevets I have ridden.

Weather and scenery were both outstanding.  One advantage of riding solo is that I can stop anytime I want to get a picture.  Four of us started the brevet at 7 am, but I could only stay with the group for a couple of miles.  There is a long gradual climb before entering Fort Huachuca, and it is best for me to just settle into a cadence and not worry about the other riders slipping off the front.

Tomorrow's ride is the Bisbee-Gleeson loop, with 70 and 100 mile options.

This tiny airport still rates the word "International" in its name.  This serves as the turn around point for the 200K brevet.
White tailed deer watched me as I stopped for a drink of water
Finished the 200K in daylight (just under 11 hours elapsed)


Monday, March 6, 2017

PAC Tour Desert Camp Day 2 - Nogales to Sierra Vista

Today's ride largely made up for the headwind battle of yesterday.  We had some steady climbing early in the morning until about mile 40, then it was 25 miles of enjoying a strong tailwind to the lunch stop.  The historic town of Tombstone came up 9 miles later, and after that we fought a headwind into Sierra Vista, with the final 12 miles being the worst.

We now get to enjoy 4 nights at the same place (Holiday Inn Express).  Not having to pack and load a gear bag every morning will be a big plus.

Tomorrow a few of us will ride the 200K brevet that is being offered, while the other riders have their choice of a couple of shorter routes.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

PAC Tour Desert Camp Day 1 - Tucson to Nogales

This first day of Desert Camp proved to be pretty tough, with 15-20 mph headwinds for 70 of the 80 miles.  No rain, but the wind and overcast skies kept the temperature in the 60s most of the day.

After passing by the San Xavier Mission as we rode south out of Tucson, we faced a 10 or 12 mile steady climb of 2% grade - the kind of climb where the road looks pretty level but your legs tell you otherwise.

I rode all day with Mike H from Indiana, who would have been on the Northern Transcon last summer, but was taken out by a pit bull two weeks before the tour.  The dog charged out so fast it knocked Mike off his bike and this resulted in a broken collarbone, cracked ribs, and a fractured sternum.  Mike rode strong so he has done well in his recovery.

There was one section of about 4 miles where we enjoyed a great tailwind that pushed us along at 25 mph, but the rest of the day was spent fighting a relentless headwind, as well as dealing with some rolling terrain.

Tomorrow we head northeast to Sierra Vista (93 miles), where we will spend four nights and ride different routes each day.

Getting ready to leave Tucson hotel
San Xavier Mission
First rest stop at 21 miles
Crew member Susie S checked off riders as they arrived at rest stops
Elizabeth and Mike enjoy the one tailwind section
Mexican poppies