Our last four days in Tucson were unseasonable compared to what we’d been experiencing. They were warm. I mean, it got all the way up to 71 degrees! It was like being…..being….being in the desert Southwest. Who’d a thought it? We took full advantage of the switch from highs of 46 to get out and get on our bike.
Wednesday we connected up with Ernie and Pat from Iowa. They are snowbirds who have recently purchased a place in Sun City. Ernie is a former teacher who also runs a bike repair shop in W. Des Moines during the spring and summer. They also ride a tandem so it was a treat to ride with them. They led us round and round and down and up. The down was the entire first half of the ride, the up was the second half. Oh well. The sun was shining and we zipped along most of the time. It was 39 miles of bliss.
We left them to visit a couple of cohousing communities in Tucson, sharing a “bring-your-own” dinner at one of them. Lots of interesting discussions and food for thought as we get closer to finalizing our involvement with CHUC, our own cohousing plans.
Thursday we teamed up with our new best friend Susan again for the next two days. On Thursday we got together late in the afternoon for a 34 mile loop. We rode up Sentinel Peak where there is a huge A created with rocks then painted annually by the University of Arizona students. Then we toured around the west side of town ending with a long spell on a bike trail along one of the river washes. Temperatures were in the high 60s and we loved it.
Friday we left early enough that it was reminiscent of our cold days of riding. We had staked out a route which would take us to the East Saguaro National Park and toward Colossal Cave. Long-fingered gloves and tights gave way to short sleeves and short pants before we were too far into it. Riding around East Saguaro is a kick. There are screaming, twisty downs and a 2 mile climb on the back side of an 8 mile, one way loop. Tons of fun with nearly no auto traffic. We got way ahead on the downs but Susan caught us near the top of the climb. What followed was a cat-and-mouse game which eventually went to us as there were just a few more downs than ups.
From there we headed into a STIFF headwind for about 8 miles. It was hard, hard, hard and ever so slightly uphill to boot. The payback was spectacular. We rode effortlessly at 25+ for 10 miles or so with that big wind pushing us along. When we got back into town, we ended our ride with milkshakes at Lovin’ Spoonfuls. We were as content as we could be.
After visiting with Susan for a while, she had to leave and we began to make preparations for our return. While Sheila struggled to complete client work on this under-powered netbook, Spencer rather unsuccessfully tried to get the tablet to cough up route info. The frustration level in the casita was palpable. Eventually we got enough worked out to feel ready for the road.
The plan is to spend Saturday night with Spencer’s teaching friend Margo Fitzgerald in Palm Springs. Then we’ll get as far up I-5 as possible on Sunday, perhaps Redding. Monday we hope to make it back to Seattle. Hopefully the gods will be smiling on us as we make our way north. We’ll miss the sunshine and will surely return to this cyclist’s paradise.