Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Way Out West - Camp Week
The Purpose: March 5, 4:00 p.m.: As I step out of Tucson International Airport, I am greeted by a dear friend … “sunshine”. Marianne points to Tara who is standing in a sunny patch on the sidewalk. I step next to Tara and roll up my sleeves, tilt my head up and take in all that I can. I feel the sun and a gentle breeze that touches my arms in a way that is familiar but not been felt in a long time. As cyclists, we enjoy so many sensations that add to the beauty and excitement of riding a bike. In winter, many of these sensations are muffled and bound by the cold and all the many layers we wear to fend off the cold.
Finally I was here in the land of sunshine, standing on the sidewalk with 100 smiles burning inside of me. As I looked around, I realized Marianne, Tara, Patti and I were all in sync with each other, in sync with our surroundings and in sync with our purpose for being here; 500 laughs a day, sunshine and riding our bikes.
The Riding: Tucson has some good riding, but most importantly, the weather in March is wonderful. This year the weather was a little funky. They had been having a bit more rain than usual and frequent snow down to about 4000 ft. Although these conditions made for some beautiful snow topped mountains, the run off of rain and snow melt was much more than usual. Our access out the back yard previously took us across a sand pit or a few trickles of water, but this year we had a full river with current. Each day’s ride began and ended with some sort of adventure and wet feet. Our first day, I may have resisted that concept a tad, but after some great riding, some sunshine and laughs, the doubts dried up as quickly as my socks.
We experienced a good variety of riding, from rolling to long climbing and from swoopy to big drops and technical. Some trails were popular and some secluded. Different areas had different vegetation. You could ride whatever you pleased, just don't get too close to the vegetation. Out there the plants have an attitude all of their own, and need to be respected. One thing I did learn is that if you hit the cacti past the apex, you are less likely to take on as many needles. The cholla are a PIA, and I only got two chunks of them stuck to me during the week. One chunk stuck to my little toe through my shoe. They are barbed, and when I went to pull it out, it just pulled my toe back in forth in the shoe, until it finally let go. Although the plants can be intimidating at times, the whole riding experience is a perfect mix.