A few days before I left for Tucson, this is what I was doing. This is Nick, my 6 y.o., pulling his Mom around on a skateboard so I wouldn 't fall. Think I'm ready to climb Mt. Lemmon? We'll see... Despite the snow on our yard, it was in the high 60s that day. I was stuck on my trainer because my husband was on his own March trip in Florida. I set up my junk on the kitchen bar stool and enjoyed the ride out on the deck. Dreaming of Arizona warmth.....
Nick performed for me.
I was super proud of my bike packing job. It was the first time I had done it so I was very careful and cautious! There was no way my bike was going to get smashed up on it's way to Tuscon.
I travelled all day on Wednesday. I left home at 7:30 a.m. and arrived in AZ at 6:30, which was 9:30 Maine time. By the time I got to the house we all shared, it was close to 8:00. Pretty late for all the East coast crew so they were smart and had gone to bed before I arrived. I was extremely grateful that Mary stayed up and waited for me!!! Thanks Mary!
We spent the next hour or so unpacking my bike and building it! All by ourselves! Mary---we have come a long way in a few weeks don't you think! Not long ago we would stress (just a little though) over changing a tire. Now we're bike building pros. A few more campers arrived that night (Jon, Cheryl and Tracy).
We got settled and headed to bed. Day 1 was Mt.Lemmon day. A much anticipated climb.
I climb a lot here in Western Maine. But regardless of that fact, it is not a strength of mine. I prefer to ride fast flats. I seem to excel at that more than climbing. I am not a small person, so this is probably part of the problem. Maybe I can work on that.
We left our house at 8:00 under crystal clear blue skies. It was chilly, around 45 or so, but it promised to be a gorgeous day. I was absolutely savoring this weather. We've had a very mild winter this year but it's rare to have perfect blue skies any time of year in Maine.
This ride was only my 2nd time outside on the bike since October. I felt a little rusty. But I was very excited for the day. We rode an easy 5 miles to the base of Mt.Lemmon. After about 3 miles I turned around and realized the 2nd half of our group was gone! Where were they? Mary? I couldn't imagine. I'm sure she'll tell that story but let's just say she had a little mechanical issue that challenged her confidence. :o) She worked much harder than she needed to for those first few miles. But it allowed her to feel nothing but relief for the rest of the ride. read here: Mary (if it's not up now...it will be soon.)
Finally we were at the true starting point. Time to climb. Up we go....
I felt fine. Actually, it wasn't too overwhelming at all. I just clicked down into my easiest gear and settled in. The scene was so interesting and different than Maine. Pure desert. Brown landscape with cacti all around. Reddish-brown rock formations and mountains. I enjoyed looking around. The road was wide and easy to ride side by side for much of the ride. We had good chats along the way. The thing about Mt. Lemmon is that it's about 26 miles UP! Regardless of where you live, nobody gets an opportunity to challenge themselves with that type of steady climbing very often.
I rode along with Mary, Cheryl, Jen and Rich for most of the ride. We all took turns pulling each other. There were times that my breathing grew heavier and I felt the fatigue of the climb and other times I felt as if I could continue for days. The grade of the road rises and falls along the way...some miles are much tougher than others. I was feeling muscles that I hadn't felt in a long long time. When you climb in one position for so long you tap into places and tax them in ways that you don't normally do when the terrain changes. I think that was the biggest challenge of that ride.
We stopped at mile 14 for a break. Windy Point. Marco from Recovery Sock was our sag vehicle and had nice snacks for us there. Gatorade, granola bars, luna bars...it was a nice rest...until I started again. I'm sure the rest helped but it caused my legs to get a little bit cramped and tight and when we started again it hurt. This time, Jerome was leading us up. He is remarkable. He is the most easy going person I have ever met. He's a lot like my husband that way actually. Jerome is incredibly strong--an absolutely gifted athlete. He climbed the 2nd half of Mt. Lemmon with such little effort. Mary and I would periodically check with each other by asking this, "Are you breathing hard?" reply, "YES!" and then, "Ok, good! Me too!!"
On and on we went. As we got closer to the top, the scene changed and it was almost like home in Maine. Trees were growing and the ground was covered with snow! A lot of snow!!! It was chilly too so I was glad I had stuff a shirt and coat into my pockets.
The final few miles included some descents which felt great. Of course, we would have to actually climb a bit on our way back down the mountain.
A little picture tour
Here's Mary. This was on our way down. We stopped a few times to take pictures.
Mile 14 stop. Kari, Ange, Mary, and Cheryl.
Here's the entire gang at Windy point. At the top...check out the snow. This is Melissa in pink (checking her email? :0) , Jen and I think that must be Rich.)
The descent was not as scary as I expected. (afraid of heights....and going fast down hills because I have smashed into the ground while riding two times & both times I was seriously injured...it scarred me for life. (mentally) I was slow going down but that was fine with me. I braked on and off and just enjoyed the ride. Mary and Cheryl bombed ahead and a few other group members went by me too. All my competitive work fibers were gone by then and I just thought, "see ya at the bottom."
That was that. I climbed Mt. Lemmon and enjoyed the entire thing. I felt strong for most of the ride and honestly, I can't wait to do it again.
We rode back to the house and prepped for a quick Transition run.
I'll write about that...but right now I need to do today's workout!!