Friday – Tombstone to Tucson

It’s hard to believe the week is almost over and we are back in Tucson already, back where we started. But the tour has been great, with weather, riding and company that was better than you could ever dream of or ask for. I haven’t seen a cloud all week, and everyone is easy-going, fun and loves cycling as much as I do.

The best news of the day is that Brother Al was able to ride again. We rolled out early together, and he was able to be on his bike with little issues with his knee. Which was pretty great considering the ride was a rolling 85 miles with plenty of climbing too.

The first 20 miles was absolutely amazing – fast with rolling hills and breathtaking scenery. The weather is so perfect it’s boring to even mention it anymore. But I will anyway because it’s true and I spent the entire winter in my basement on a trainer and TOTALLY deserve this.

After the first SAG we joined the rest of our Canadian posse and rode out together. This section was a bit windy, so it was good to be in a big group and share the work out front. We also look pretty cool in our matchy-matchy tour jerseys.We have spent so much time riding together that we have started to get very familiar with each other’s backsides. Sometimes too familiar.

Speaking of too much information, Mother Nature decided to deliver an unpleasant and unexpected present to me this morning. Thanks Nature, I’ll remember that. As if there weren’t enough other logistics and physical unpleasantries to worry about.

We arrived at the small town(?) of Sonoita and had the rare treat of an inside toilet at the local gas station. It’s amazing how good this looks:

…when you have spent an entire week using facilities that look like this:

Today also had one of the funnest and fastest descents. Apparently my Mother had a total heart attack when she saw the video of the last one, so no video of that. But suffice it to say it was safe, responsible, and completely danger-free. In fact, Brother Al and I did the entire thing encased in bubble wrap. (Oh, and Mom, the “snake bite” wasn’t really from a snake, it was from his bike.)

The downhill brought us right into lunch, which was hot and windy. We are now only about 25 miles from Tucson and dreaming about a dip in the hotel pool and a nice cold beer. Susan has been kind enough to dedicate one of the tour coolers to the sole purpose of keeping our beer cold.

Susan and Lon are awesome, as are the entire crew that keep us fed and happy. When my cleats blew yesterday, not only did Lon put the new ones on for me, he gave me a pair of cleat covers. I will treasure them – not everyone can say they got their cleat covers from the very first winner of the Race Across America.

We rode together for a while and then Ben and I went ahead and rode in to Tucson together. We are “smelling the barn”, an expression we often use when we kick up the speed in anticipation of our destination. Apparently livestock do this, Ben tells me. I am a city kid, so I have to take his word for it and try to believe he is not just hammering because he enjoys ripping my legs off.

Back at the hotel we regroup and congratulate ourselves on an awesome week of riding. People start packing up their bikes to ship home, including Donna and Dave, who will leave on Friday. Here Dave gives me his best “blue steel” while schlepping Donna’s bike box.

Here is a picture of the crew, along with Zach on the far left. Zach is 21 years old ad has downs syndrome. He rode all week on a tandem with his Dad Greg, and has melted the heart of everyone here. He doesn’t speak, but uses a complex system of signs and sounds to communicate with his Dad. He loves to be in a paceline, and gives high-fives to everyone at every opportunity he can. His Dad is an incredible rider, and I’m told has done a number of solo trans-continental rides. The control they have on the tandem is nothing short of amazing.

The best thing about being back in Tucson is being able to go to a nice restaurant downtown. While the food has been good all week, having an extensive wine list to choose from is a treat. As are vegetables. We crammed all eight of us into a taxi van for the 20 minute drive downtown. Dave takes the opportunity to snuggle with Brian.

– but made sure to snuggle with Donna at dinner, so she wouldn’t get jealous.

We are all tired, some are a little burnt, but we are all very happy indeed.