Saturday 11th March – A Spot of Acupuncture

Back to the trails. I didn’t muck around this morning, but had my breakfast, got dressed for riding and head off to a different trailhead for Mount Tucson after saying goodbye to Larry since I didn’t know if I’d be coming back to this camp for the night.

A got a bit lost on the way there but that just meant I got another tour of the neighourhood nestled in the valley of Mount Tucson. It was hard to find the parking spot because it was only a little alcove, not a popular trailhead obviously. It was already hotting up so I rode away pretty quickly. I’d only just got going before coming across two riders. When I stopped to let them by, one of them said he’d seen me the other day at the Stonehouse. Sure enough, I remember seeing him as well. Sean wasn’t riding with his son though, but with a mate Chris. It was clear we’re all riding addicts so we stayed exactly where we were on the rocky trail for a good twenty minutes, talking about the trails in the area and out of it, bikes and choice trails we had only dreamed of. They were on a mission to get 40 miles in before the sun parched them and I explained my plan to do a two-a-day with a ride in the morning and one in the afternoon. We eventually said goodbye so we could make the most of what was left of the cool morning weather, though it was around 10am and pretty much gone, replaced by the desert heat.

I crossed under the highway through a 6ft tunnel, which was a little cramped even when hunched over on the bike. I did a loop on some of the “Explorer” trails I’d touched before then looped back around to the highway. I was really loving these trails. They have a bit of flow and the rocks make it fun. At another trailhead by the highway, I met another rider, Wade, who was just about to get going. It was his first time on these trails so he was a little disappointed I wasn’t a local that could give much advice. We talked a while and I found out he was from St. George and he told me about some cool riding spots to hit there, as long as I keep them a secret. It is fast becoming a second Moab and the locals would rather the trails stay quiet! I wished him a good ride and carried on, crossing the highway again. This time through a 4ft tunnel which was almost impossible to ride, especially with the sandy washout at the end. I scraped my helmet on the roof of the tunnel more than once but it was something different.

After emerging from the tunnel and climbing up to my next trail, Chris and Sean appeared again since they were doing an opposite loop to me. We talked some more and I found out, after asking about mishaps with cactus that every desert rider carries tweezers in his pack, along with the usual bike pump, tubes, multi-tool etc. It is an essential tool. Ha ha. Great guys, would have been cool to shred with them, but we found each other on Strava so we’ll stay connected in that way.

At the top of “Flight Path”

I did an out-and-back to a trail called “Flight Path” which wasn’t really worth it since it had zero flow and a few too many boulder-style rocks, but coming back was a good run. Just after talking about cactus mishaps with the guys, I managed to scrape a Prickly Pear with my shin while I was climbing and ended up with a handful of spikes in my leg. I managed to pull most of them out, but my leg felt a little funny the rest of the day, something similar to what I imagine acupuncture to feel like. I’d done 20km by the time I’d looped back to the car and it was just past 11am, so definitely a good time to go find some shade. I was in high spirits as I got changed out of my sweaty riding gear and went off to find a Starbucks to chill out at in between rides.

This turned out to be a mission. I slowly drove north towards my afternoon trail network. I must have driven past at least four Starbucks’ and found that they were all nestled within a supermarket, so did not have any sit-down places to do some laptopping. What a mission! When I’d eventually found a stand-alone store, it had closed down! Just as I was thinking the universe was against me and I should abolish the Starbucks idea for a library, I tried one last spot. This one was definitely stand-alone and seemed to be open! Inside, I asked for a smoothie and Miss. Starbucks said “No.” Incredulous and much to her amusement, I said, “Why not?” and she explained that she didn’t have the strawberry element to make the smoothie. When her colleague said she could make one with banana and chocolate I said I would be thoroughly happy with that. When Miss. Starbucks asked about my incredulity, I explained my never-ending hunt and that the no smoothie would have been the last straw.

Smoothie in hand, I sat myself down at the outdoor patio where I enjoyed the slight breeze and good Starbucks tunes as I blogged away. After an hour or so, they turned the misters on, a hose that ran around the roof of the patio and let off cool water in a fine mist. I originally worried about my electronics getting wet, but soon found that it wasn’t quite wet enough for that, but a perfect cool down. Now I really was in the perfect setting. I had lunch there and whiled away a lot of time until about 4pm when I decided it was riding time.

I drove about half an hour to Honeybee Canyon, which had got good reviews by everyone I’d spoken to about it. After a couple of attempts at finding the trailhead, I was on my way in the cool afternoon air. The trail network was contained within a property absolutely full to the brim with cactus. It was a never-ending field of the bushy-style spikes.

I crossed a few fences to stay on the trail and had fun scaring off black cows that were lingering on the trail. The trail was super easy and for a split second, I considered turning around because it wasn’t about to change, but the scenery made it worthwhile and there were a few surprise rock gardens that satisfied my technical need.

At the top of the loop I found myself at a watering hole and I definitely take the normal path to find the trail on the other side of it, but I found it which is all that matters. The ride back was what made this ride really special. The sun had disappeared behind the mountains and the full moon had risen above the mountains in front of me. Mountains that soon turned red from the late sun’s glow.

The greenery of the desert came alive, as did the wildlife. I scared away hare after hare, scattered birds that seemed to be better at running than flying and made prairie dogs scurry into their underground holes. The run home was also slightly downhill so I let it rip. It was an absolutely beautiful sight that put me on a high.

I had my light on for the last twenty minutes or so, climbed one last fence, then meandered back to the car. I was thoroughly starving when I got back so made myself a snack which ended up serving as my dinner since it was so late. I wasn’t interested in sussing out a new camp when I knew where a good one was, so I just set my GPS for the usual spot and drove away, talking to Mikey on the way to share my riding experience with him. We were still talking when I got back to camp to discover that Larry had moved on, so I took his old spot.

I had a shower and relaxed in the cool night air, happy with another day of great riding. Thanks Tucson.

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