148 miles and 18k of climbing over the course of two days.

6a.m departure from Tucson. Cold and lightly raining. The forecast shows cool temps but the rain was supposed to stop by mid day. By the time we got to Sonoita, it was full on snowing…

20 riders at the start line at Parker Canyon Lake. Photo thanks to SirenMary. Wet conditions forced a lot of pushing but made navigation through the Canelo’s pretty straight forward. Brendan and I settled into a good pace and after many hours we were able to refuel in patagonia and head back out towards our camping destination, another 30 or so miles down the road.

We rolled into camp sometime around 9pm where a few other riders also decided to stay. They all got up and back on the bikes at 1am as we kept snoozing. We woke up to flashlights in our eyes as border patrol decided that we might know about some  ‘aliens’ that might have been coming through…I’m guessing the aliens they were talking about were wearing spandex and riding 29ers.

Saturday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, and drank hot coffee (yes HOT coffee) and headed up to Elephant head. The warm sunshine was nice and the singletrack was tasty into Proctor road then on to Madera Canyon where we sat, drank more coffee and refilled water.

Elephant Head singletrack through the Ocotillos

The next section was big and open, riding through box canyon and onto AZT singletrack by noon. We ate lunch, talked to a tucsonan that was out for a standard saturday ride on AZT and got moving again. This section on the East side of the Santa Ritas was simply amazing. We ended up riding singletrack from that point almost completely through to the end of Colossal Cave just outside of Tucson. Along the way we ran into a few guys shooting BIG guns right across the trail, thankfully they held off for long enough for us to clear out…

Somewhere out there, I said to Brendan, “It would be cool if we ran into Lee Blackwell out here somewhere. I knew he was  somewhere nearby but not sure where. Not 5 minutes later, he came right up behind us out of the blue. The three of us had an excellent time riding back into Tucson. Collectively we were able move at a good pace taking turns and have a good time on some primo singletrack.

We crossed under I-10, refilled water in the Colossal Cave picinic area, and headed out for the final section of singletrack for the day. Lee said something about a Subway sandwich shop at Broadway and Houghton and that put all of our minds towards the emptiness in our stomachs. We got to watch an amazing sunset in the Rincon valley and did a bit of ninja training on the final 4 miles of singletrack before getting on the road.

Dinner was tasty and after stocking up at the Safeway for the next few days, we made camp near Broadway. Unfortunately, this was the end of the road for me as my hip was bugging me all day and in the middle of the night it decided that my time was up…

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Amazing few days with good friends and miles of Sonoran desert. Next time….