Sunday 12th March – I’d Rather Eat Dirt Than Cactus

Another day in beautiful Tucson. I had a sleep in and set up my outdoor camp for the day. My neighbour offered me her hammer when she saw me struggling to hammer a tent peg in with a rock. Even with the hammer I had no success, opting in the end to use rocks to stay my guide ropes. I had another visitor before breakfast, a nice lady who offered me some strawberries and blackberries which went well on my cereal.

I sat in my outdoor chair by my table for the rest of the morning. I watched some TV, then moved on to reading my book. By about 11am I was napping in my chair like an old lady. The breeze at least was trying to stick around and the shade under my tarp made for perfect nap conditions. When I woke up properly around noon, I had that wretched sleepy feeling so I staved it off my taking a turn about the campgrounds. I climbed up to a highpoint to get a good view of the camp city below me. I think I easily had the most modest set up of everyone there.

Back in my backyard, I made lunch and settled down to watch a movie, “Contact”, which I was watching because it was filmed partly at the VLA in New Mexico that I’d visited. It was a long one and I had to cut it short right at the climax because my second battery could no longer sustain my laptop’s battery. My solar system had done well having worked without any extra input for six days. That was after 3pm, so it was time to go riding anyway. I packed up and drove off to the Fantasy Island trailhead about half an hour away, all the while charging the second battery off the main one. I drove right past the air force base which employs a lot of the people in Tucson and it was hard to miss thanks to the rows and rows of planes and jets lined up on the tarmac. There were hundreds! It would definitely be a sight to see them all scramble in an emergency and take to the skies one after another.

There were a few others parked at the trailhead which is always a good sign. I’d got the act of getting ready to ride down to a fine art so I was off within ten minutes. I ended up catching up with everyone I’d seen in the carpark, even the teenagers that rode off just after me, looking for a shock pump because a rear shock had just blown out. When I said a shock pump wouldn’t help because that meant it was the seal, he admitted that he had been trying to just soften it up a bit when he let all the air out. A rookie mistake. I ran into a couple of guys in the airforce and the leader couldn’t talk more about himself, so I didn’t stick around them too long.

I ended up riding every trail within the Fantasy Island network. It is one of those networks that has been built by shovel-happy enthusiasts which means there is all sorts of memorabilia and crap everywhere, from car parts to toys hanging in trees and all variety of bikes parts strewn through the cactus. The riding was flat, but they’d built the trails well, with some fun technical bits, but it was mostly pedalling. I was glad with my afternoon timing again. When I hit the most technical trail of the lot, Bo’s Pit, I got caught out at the entrance to the “Half Pipe” and ate dirt. I stuffed up a drop-off, I think due to distraction of an animal out the corner of my eye and too many line choices and insufficient decision making. Whatever it was, halfway down the feature, I was a passenger. A kicking (not really) and screaming (yes, actually) passenger. I kind of went over the bars and landed heavily on my left side, knee then elbow. I also must have copped a rock in the back because my iPod suffered a serious dent where it had been in my jersey pocket. Better that than a direct hit to my spine!

I sat in the dust, looking back at what I’d stuffed up and couldn’t believe I’d binned it. Once I’d risen and dusted myself off, I went back to try it again, having no trouble the second time. The half pipe was a cool feature, ending with an “Over and Under” tunnel that was cool. It was a great little network which took me about two hours to navigate and the sun was only just setting as I drove back to camp. I think I’ve only got one more day of riding left in me.

Back at my trusty camp, I thoroughly enjoyed my warm shower and tried as best I could to get the dirt out of my elbow wound without wincing like a sissy. Dinner and relaxation until bed time.

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