Thursday – To Bisbee

Somehow, even Tombstone looks pretty in the morning. We are up early again and head over to the Longhorn Restaurant for breakfast. I have come to the conclusion that it is mandatory for every town in Arizona to have at least one restaurant called The Longhorn. And for all of them to use as few grounds as humanly possible to make their coffee.

Today out ride was relatively short, only about 50 miles to Bisbee and back. This is fine with most of us, given the heat and the amount of miles we have been doing. It’s also over 2,400 feet of climbing.

Brother Al’s knee is still not good, so he decided to stay behind and do some hiking. Everyone feels crappy about this, but thankfully this is a short out-and-back ride and we’ll be back early afternoon. It’s also St. Patrick’s day.

The paceline splits apart early in the ride, because it’s hilly. Some people are good at climbing, some are good at descending. Except Ben, who seems to be good at both. Apparently the secret to winter training is curling and drinking beer. I may need to rethink my approach. I rode with Ben for a while after his map blew out of his jersey pocket and we went back to get it. Here is what it looks like to ride with Ben up a hill:

Nonetheless, the ride to the first SAG was rolling and pretty. I knew we’d be doing a goodly amount of climbing, so I was prepared to suffer on my own. There is a certain peace in finally running out of gears and just getting into a good rhythm. It also helps if you talk to yourself using as many swearwords as possible.

The climb on Mule Pass towards Bisbee is long and hard, about 1,300 feet over 7 miles. It feels like 1,000 of those feet are climbed in the last half mile. Getting to the top is a worthwhile, if not painful accomplishment.

The descent into the town of Bisbee is a hoot, a curving road that has enough rockslide issues that it is no longer open to vehicle traffic. So there are a couple of sections where I get to practice my new cyclocross skills.

Bisbee is a cool little town full of cafes, galleries and shops. Apparently this is the artist and hippy capital of Arizona, unlike Tombstone, which is the crystal meth capital of Arizona.

The most exciting part of visiting Bisbee was a visit to the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel, a bike shop that is as small and crammed full of stuff as it is awesome.

It is really more a bike museum than bike shop, and I could have spent all day there, but I was there with the specific purpose of getting a new pair of cleats for my shoes, which were so worn down and damaged from walking around on rocks and gravel that my foot slipped out of my pedal on the descent into town.

The owner spent the better part of 45 minutes looking through various bins, drawers and boxes, and eventually emerged triumphantly holding a ziplock bag with a set of gently used cleats, which he refused to charge me for. His payment policy is cash or cheque, and if you have neither, he says you can mail him a cheque when you get home. In the 5 years since he implemented this policy he has lost a grand total of $40, which he figures is pretty reasonable compared to the $400 it would cost to install a credit card machine.

I bid a hasty retreat so I could get some lunch and get back to Tombstone where I figured Brother Al was alone and watching Oprah in a saloon with a bunch of retired bikers. Lon helped me get the old cleats off my shoes with a hack saw and installed the new ones, which worked like a charm.

I left with a group of four guys who hammered us back the 25 miles to Tombstone in 1h35 minutes flat, with plenty of climbing. Brother Al was in the hotel room, having just gotten back from a hike. So we took advantage of the early hour to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in the traditional way, with a couple of cold pints of beer at the Four Deuces Saloon.

Tomorrow we head back to Tucson, 85 mile and 2,400 feet of climbing.

Bring it.