Saturday, February 22 – Sitting at SeaTac waiting for our shuttle home.

What a difference a few hours makes. We used to be in sunshine and hot, now we’re sitting in an ice-cold parking garage, thankful that it’s not snowing. But first, a review of our last three days.

Wednesday we decided we needed a challenge, so we headed up Gates Pass.  We got a late start because it was so cold out, nearly 52 degrees! Once the sun came out and warmed stuff up, we took off. Gates is a low pass with only about 3 miles of climbing at a generally gentle pace. As we neared the top, it kicked up to 15% in two stretches. That felt like the work that real climbers do.

We flew down the backside of the pass and stopped at the Sonoran Desert Museum. We incorrectly thought it was part of the National Park so weren’t prepared for a hiking experience which cost money. So we settled for some baked goods and continued riding.

We were feeling peppier than ever so we stretched our ride out to the north and west, eventually returning to town along one of the river bike trails. We clocked in at 54 miles for the day! Now we’re riding!frog-mountain

That night we took Steve and Patricia out for dinner at a neighborhood Ethiopian spot. The food was good and the company was marvelous.

Thursday we wanted to stretch our legs one last time before I tore down the bike. This time we headed NE to Mt. Lemmon. It is a 25 mile climb averaging 6%. We weren’t going to do that since it took us 15 miles to get to the bottom. But we set our goal as the Babad Do’Ag overlook, 2.5 miles up. It was a tough, serpentine climb. The grade was about 6% most of the time.

We made it up without much hassle. Lots of younger stronger riders flew past us. I thought we must have looked like gramma and granpa to them. Sheila pointed out that in our helmets we just looked like fit riders, going slowly. Maybe I’ll get a mane of white hair for my helmet so they can tell we have a reason for our lack of speed.

spencer-packingAfter that we cruised downhill – what a blast! Stopped for a snack at Le Buzz, a bikers coffee shop. Chatted with some folks who were also in Tucson for sunshine and cycling. Then home and I started breaking down the bike. It was pleasant out on Steve and Patricia’s patio.

Friday Steve took us to the airport early in the morning so we could rent a car. We then drove to Phoenix to see our friends Gail and Tom.  It was a pleasant 2 hour drive in our brand new Chrysler 200 (a car big enough to transport our bike gear to the airport Saturday). We caught up with their stories and they ours. Went to lunch at a Thai restaurant downtown which was incredibly noisy. Evidently that is de rigeur for happening restaurants. Who knew? Later, Sheila, Gail and I went to see a Chihuly installation at the Desert Botanical Garden. While we’ve been to the Chilhuly at Seattle Center this one was all dessert specific art. Quite beautiful. We were walking through gardens of cacti, then suddenly there’d be a big arrangement of glass spikes or flowing glass spires. We enjoyed both the gardens and the installation as you can see in the gallery below.

Our evening ended with a return drive to Tucson, after which we got up early to begin our travels home. Not much to say about the flights. We tried to get bumped from our Seattle flight and would have gotten bumped had a San Antonio flight not been delayed. Then when we arrived at Seattle, they couldn’t get the jetway to connect, so we had to taxi out to a different gate. The shuttle we were waiting for arrived fairly quickly and we’re back.

Isn’t it nice to be home again?! Even if it is gray and 40 degrees!

Riding with a Seattle transplant
NW Tandem Rally 2014