To even consider a bike ride across the country, my training will need to begin long before Michigan winters even think about releasing the residents from its icy grips. So I packed practically everything I own into storage, moved out of my apartment and told my manager at work “you don’t need me anymore”, and drove to Tucson Arizona.
The temporary move to AZ was an adventure in itself, but that is another story maybe for another time. Once in Tucson, I needed to actually get the most important element of a bike tour and that would be a bike. My old bike just simply wasn’t suited for the task. Knowing what bike I wanted from all the research I had done, I just need to find a local shop that could get it for me. Arizona Bike Experts in Tucson would end up being my go-to guys. They ordered me a Salsa Fargo with a front shock, which is uncommon for this breed of steed.
Once I had the new pride and joy in my possession I started pedaling my keister all over Tucson, which to my delight is a bikers city with bike lanes on nearly every city street and miles and miles of trails. The bike however didn’t turn out to be the match made in heaven I envisioned. For a couple of weeks my back hurt between my shoulder blades after just a few miles, and I was painfully slow getting passed by little old ladies riding three speed Schwinns with creaky chains that hadn’t seen a drop of oil since the Reagan administration. It was more than a little demoralizing, because I worked out at the gym 4 days a week dammit, and able to back squat double my bodyweight. What the heck?
Before too long, things started coming together with the riding. No more sore back, only the pro bikers that winter in Tucson to train are passing me and I’m tackling rides that seemed way beyond my capability just a short time ago.
Just a few days before heading back to Michigan, I tackled my most ambitious ride yet… The Santa Catalina Hwy. Starting in Tucson the road is 27 miles long and climbs to Mt. Lemmon with an elevation gain of approximately 6800′. My goal for the day was to make it halfway up Mt. Lemmon to a place called Windy Point.
Well I’m here to say I didn’t meet my goal… I ANNIHILATED IT!!! Made it all the way to the top baby!
As the air got thinner, starting around the altitude of 6500′ (8000′ max alt), I was really sucking wind and had been pedaling in the lowest gear on my bike most of the day. In other words my feet were moving like crazy, but an old lady with a walker could have passed me. Saw about 70 other bikers that day riding (training) on the infamous climb to Mt Lemmon, but I was the only one doing it on a mountain bike.
After a couple of months of training in the Tucson sun, I’m ready to head back to Michigan with Mt. Lemmon proudly stuffed in my back pocket.