Tuesday – Chiricahua

The town of Willcox Arizona may not have much, but they do have one thing that makes us very, very, happy to be here… a Starbucks.

Another early morning, this time headed 90 miles East to the Chiricahua Monument, then back to Willcox, with about 4,400 feet of climbing to do. So it was a relief not to have to pack up to move this morning. We have a surprising amount of stuff, including an ever-growing collection of lotions, potions and pharmaceuticals to either prevent or treat the ailments typical to long days of riding, many of which can only be seen with the aid of a hand  mirror. We have sunscreen, saddle cream, witch hazel, electrolyte capsules, Advil and lipbalm with SPF so we don’t burn our lips into beef jerky.

The early part of the ride was nice, and we rode as a large group, which made things easy. As the morning went on, the group split into smaller groups of 3-4 people until we arrived at the SAG stop at the base of the monument. The climb itself is about 8 miles, with an average grade of about 6%. Not impossible, but certainly a challenge. It wasn’t long until I ran out of gears and just had to soldier up to the top, concentrating on keeping my legs working in circles to use every bit of my pedal stroke to propel me upwards. This year was much easier than last, having two healthy legs instead of one.

Like all challenging climbs, the view at the top is generally worth the effort. Chiricahua was formed by volcanic activity some 27 million years ago (give or take a million) and is a pretty awesome sight to behold.

Almost as awesome as Ben.

Or Brother Al’s Arizona snake bite.

But not as awesome as the ride down, as this video taken by Brother Al’s helmet cam will show.

Judging from how quickly I was going, and how quickly he passed me as he took the video, I would estimate Al’s top speed somewhere around the speed of sound. Sometimes not having a computer to tell you how fast you are going is a blessing.

We finished the day with champagne in Ben and Brian’s hotel room, followed by a great dinner. We are keeping geriatric hours, and rarely up later than about 9pm. We fall asleep with full tummies, sore legs and the memories of another incredible day of riding our bikes in the desert sun.