Mid-November, we expected 70 degree F. mild biking conditions. Not a chance during the 4th year of drought in Southern Arizona. It was 85 degrees HOT at the border with Mexico, and even hotter climbing long, slow hills. I had never been on a supported bike trip before with a “sag wagon” to carry our luggage, and scrape us off the side of the road when we needed a lift. We were a very fun, fit, and congenial group of 5 Canadians, 3 Californians, and our 2 biking guides. Our first dinner together, we realized that 7 of the 8 of us were Jewish; what’s the odds of that? We were all over 60 years of age except for my fabulous roommate, “Gene, the Machine”, and the young bike guide Noah, both screaming up hills on speedy road bikes. She won the yellow jersey (like the Tour de France) EVERY day. That’s Sally riding in #2 position…in the catch-up group that is. (photo credit, Gene Jones)
Having fallen from my bike and torn a ligament while training for this trip, I used the sag wagon (and the ice onboard) more than anyone else.
However, there was something about the advice I received on the first day when I asked for a ride on the killer hill, “Watch out for snakes, when you stop to wait for us”. It made me ride more, and stop less. We met this guy behind glass at the Desert Museum.
I also learned that biking guides are big fat liars. In our morning meeting they would routinely describe each day’s ride as, “flat, with a few rolling hills”. As we rode each day we learned that phrase really translates to, “very steep, long hills that will hurt like hell but won’t actually kill you”.
We enjoyed late afternoon “post-ride” tourism in Tombstone, the site of the OK corral shoot out. We grabbed shotguns and dressed up in period clothes for a photo with my two regular riding partners and best pals since 1978 from Palo Alto, CA and my new pal Gene from Sault St. Marie, Ontario.
Saguaro (pronounced “saw-WAR-oh”) National Park (featured image by David Ehrlick) makes people posture with yoga “cactus arms” because it feels like you are surrounded by tall people with weirdly long limbs and torsos. One of the best parts of a week long bike trip, besides the camaraderie and new terrain, is the fact that you get to eat like pigs for a week! This was especially true our last night in Bisbee, AZ which had galleries, coffeehouses, bars, restaurants…and chocolate infused with red chili pepper! Viva Mexico! Viva Hidalgo! …Also nice to be WALKING around town, giving our sore butts a welcome break from the saddle.