Let’s see. We need to establish some sort of truth here. Bike Packing is pretty awesome. That much can be true. What is truer, is that Bike Packing is pretty damn hard. It can even suck, or does suck depending on personal levels of HTFU. Even across the best Arizona trail money can buy, being on the bike past optimum riding hours and occasionally wet and past resonable bedtimes becomes nearly unbearable. But it’s all in the mind. Compared that to a hand typing blog entry, or a single day race of a mere 3 or 4 hours, and civilization and couches and technology are awesome. I would like to thank all the forefathers for them. But when you make it past the worst thing you’ve ever experienced on a bike, you begin to love your bike for what it allows you to do.
We based the Arizona Party Series on the simple fact that this stuff is full of aches and pains, and rash and sunburn, so the rule is essentially the same for all of them: less pain, more party. Awake without haste, but move. Enjoy coffee, enjoy many breaks, enjoy camp fires and sunsets (and sunrises) as much as possible. On these ideals, we found ourselves on the Border’s front porch Friday morning, ready.
The Canelo Hills are the secret. They last for over a day, and there is no pleasure coasting. There are rocks and ruts and sun and burn both up and down hill. There are endless views in that time as well, so going back to the ideals, and it was good medicine to look around. It was the Arizona Serengeti plain. No wonder the jaguars hide here.
The bike setup was fairly standard except given the mild temps, no tents or bivy were needed. This made for extra light weight heavy bikes. We think this helped us save about ten minutes every day for an extra beer as needed. Flo’s bike, here, complete with no gears.
The first oasis is Patagonia. We ate big & healthy at the Velvet Elvis before restocking on frozen burritos and junk food at the local convenience store. Pedaling up into the foothills of Mt Wrightson for the night was work. We slept by Gardner Canyon springs. It got cold.
The following day would be marked by Kentucy camp for watter refueling. We looked onward towards Collosal Cave on the southern outskirts of Tucson as our goal. There would be plenty of water. Only after we setup for the evening did “the family” appear and proceed to invade us. I’ve experienced a few camp invasions before. It’s an odd and primal disobedience it seems, but said family was in fact, our trail angels for the night as dad came over with two nicely chilled IPA’s in exchange for their encroachment. And just like that, everything was fine.
The day following Colossal Cave would mark a slow (and reasonable) celebration of civilization as we spent the day crossing the boundaries of Tucson, then the climb up Mt Lemmon. We ate more food at the Rincon Market, caught up with Maad on the initial pitch of Mt. Lemmon (Had I not lived in Tucson long enough to get used to the size of that mountain, I may have not been able to comprehend how long it takes to summit) where he entertained us for a while until his training block was complete. We were passed by many PRO’s as well. I had the chance to chat with Chad Beyer who was preparing for the next onslaught of racing. At the top, we enjoyed a bomber of Coors and some Cheetos. We were cashed. Our next move was to descend the Mt Lemmon Control Road and arrive in Oracle. We coasted down to the A-Frames Motel and grabbed the last room in Oracle for the night. Two doors down, Scott Morris and Eszter Horanyi were enjoying similar luxury. They were on tour for the full 750 mile route.
From this point on, it got big. Really big. MEGA in fact, is how big it got out there. The last shot it took before technology forsaken me suggests what every mile between Oracle and Kelvin looked like.