Wednesday – Willcox to Tombstone

There was a beautiful sunrise over Willcox today.

Today was another hot day, and we rode from Willcox back to the charming yet Starbucksless town of Tombstone. After a delicious oatmeal breakfast prepared by Susan, we rode off for an 80 mile ride that promised to be flat and somewhat easier than the last three days.

Our first 23 mile stretch out of town led us through agricultural fields and seemingly deserted industrial stretches. Out here they grow pinto beans, pecans, and pistachios. I even came across this company that grows gin. How awesome!

Lon makes it pretty clear during our orientation that we shouldn’t travel in packs of 3 or 4 at the most.

In case it’s not apparent in the photo, this morning we had a pace line of about 15 people. Math is hard. So is following directions.

It was a very relaxed pace, so at the first SAG stop when a small group (including Scott and Ben) started talking about doing a longer loop to lunch, I jumped at the chance.┬áThe longer loop added 8 miles to today’s route, and we had a fast group of 6 riding a single line, allowing adequate recovery between pulls. Joining Scott, Ben and I were Bob, a retired dentist from Bakersfield California, Mark, a forensic pathologist from Oregon, and Christophe, Lon and Susan’s son-in-law. It was smooth and efficient, a really enjoyable ride.

The extra milage meant this leg was about 32 miles, the last 10 of which we rode at about 37-40km/h, even with hills and some wind. (excuse the flip flopping between imperial and metric). Unfortunately, Brother Al’s knee has been giving him some grief, so he wisely decided to take the van for part of the day to allow it to rest. At some point we all take the “ride of shame” (I did last year). Ultimately we know it is the smart thing to do, but it doesn’t make it suck any less. In true form, Al helps out with set up and tear down, and helps out with gear at the hotel, something I am sure the tour ladies enjoy immensely.

At lunch we ate well and made sure to do some good stretching to prepare for the afternoon. Here, Scott demonstrates proper technique (and excellent posture):

We rolled out after lunch to scorching and dry desert heat, an unpleasant feeling when combined with full stomachs from lunch. So when we came across Mark on the side of the road with a flat, we were all to happy to stop and wait for him. We Canadians are so polite.

The ride all the way back to Tombstone was windy, with a gradual uphill, and pretty straight. I’d even say boring if it didn’t make me sound ungrateful. If not for the heat and the mountains in the distance, I’d swear we were home.

In the mid-afternoon it is hot, very, very hot and dry. We do what we can to cool off at the SAG stops: sitting in the shade, and filling our water bottles with ice to apply to areas of our bodies that are suffering the most.

Back in Tombstone, we cleaned up and wandered around town. Some went for ice cream, and Ben and I visited the OK corral, the original site of the famous gunfight between the Earp brothers and some outlaws. A pretty interesting place, with some pretty interesting characters, like Grizz the blacksmith from Oregon, who we chatted with for a spell.

Dinner was followed by a walk to the boot hill cemetery in the dark (the gate was closed) and then back to the hotel for a nightcap and some great conversation.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we are doing an out and back ride to Bisbee, a small and interesting hippy town inhabited by draft dodgers during Vietnam. Lots of climbing again, but we may ride as little as 50km, depending on the wind, which is forecasted to be somewhere around 40km/h. But if there’s anything we Winnipeggers are used to riding in, it’s wind.