I have taken to suggesting that our winter week-in-the-sun happen in a place where there is also randonneuring. When we planned this year's escape, I picked Tucson. Friend Susan O had ridden the Arivaca 210km perm, and recommended it. Husband: "see if you can find someone to ride with you!". Well, ok. Joined the AZRandon google group and advertised. And got a response!
After some email exchange finding a mutually agreeable date and time, Susan R and I registered for the counterclockwise version of the route - she doesn't like riding on Ajo Rd after dark. Something about heavy traffic and junk on the shoulder. Either way was fine with me.
Our respective spouses dropped us off at 6:45am at the McDonalds. Bought some cookies, put on my summer shoes, said goodbyes, and headed out. It was still quite chilly; I was wearing arm warmers, knee warmers, a windbreaker and a wind/reflective vest. The shoulder was pretty yucky - expansion bumps and debris. It improved after 5 or 6 miles, and the traffic dropped off as well.
I had fiddled with the adjustment on my new saddle, and there was some unfavorable interaction with the saddlebag and the rear wheel. Several pauses to try to get it to that sweet spot of comfort and non-interference. The Rachet Rocket got much use. Susan wants one.
After 15 miles of headwind and saddle tweaking, we arrived at the first control. Still not warm enough to remove the jacket. Consumed a banana and some V-8. I made sure I had plenty of water, including an extra bottle. Susan offered to carry it, because my saddlebag was still having issues. We had 45 miles of desert and no services.
We were now out of the headwind, heading toward Mexico. If we missed the next turn... Lots of desert, and views of Kitt Peak Observatory.
I was hoping to see a road runner, but it was not to be. We did see many Border Patrol vehicles, and passed through a Border Control checkpoint. Cleanest portapotties ever.
A couple more saddle adjustments, as well as a bottle refill. I was drinking Skratch (husband: "what is that?" me: "artisanal Gatorade") and Perpetuem. Started out with Caffe Latte mixed with coffee. Went to Orange Vanilla later. Ate my sandwich.
We stopped to get a picture at the turn, and wave at the Border Patrol guy sitting there in his vehicle. Then nine miles of rolling on to Arivaca. There is a store, but no public restroom. We stocked up (Greek yogurt, banana, V-8) and relocated to some "shade". The local restaurant has bathrooms off their patio, and are very nice about people coming in to use it.
After a not overly long stop, we continued rollering along. Susan said the next batch of rollers were pretty fun, and, once we summitted out of Arivaca, they were indeed great fun. Lots of cattle guards, too. Bzzzzp!
It was easier riding into the wind there - air is drier and thinner.
Another Border Control checkpoint. We stopped because the sign said Stop, and chatted up the staff. They were interested in the ride, and probably thought we were more than a little nuts. More exceptionally clean portapotties. Shortly after that we came up to the I-19 frontage road, and paused for a water refill.
Then north, and then west and north again through Green Valley. Nice pavement, wide bike lanes, because they were meant to be shared with golf carts. Susan's rear derailleur checked out here, and we pulled into a golf course parking lot to poke at it. A guy came over and poked as well, and he got it unstuck and working again. The last on-course control was a few miles further north - another Circle K. Their Circle K stores are so much cleaner and nicer than I remember the ones here in Oregon. Of course, I haven't stopped in one since forever, probably because the last one in Salem was so grubby.
More bananas and water and nuts. Then we popped out on Duval Mine Rd, right by the Titan Missile Museum, which Fitz and I had just visited the day before. There were really big trucks, and not very much road for a few miles. Then a cyclist came by who knew Susan, so they chatted for awhile. I was not in the best place, mentally. The road was going up, it was the hottest part of the day, and the snacks had not yet kicked in.
Then we turned onto Mission Rd. Nine more miles of climbing, and then Susan promised me an awesome descent. The food kicked in and my mood and pace improved. We were riding along the back side of the Asarco open-pit copper mine. Impressive huge piles of mine tailings. Watching the miles tick by, and soon we were at the top. I was still plenty warm, and didn't need to add any layers.
It was a great descent - nice pavement, not steep, but enough that I could keep well above 20mph most of the way down. Eventually I could see the San Xavier Mission (we'd been there the day before as well), and knew that we'd be running out of downhill soon. Darn.
Still not dark, but it was thinking about it. We kept on Mission Rd for several more miles, before turning onto something else, where it finally did get dark. Susan couldn't read her cue sheet or see her computer. I could do both, so was calling out distances, not that there were many turns to the finish.
After the last turn onto Calle Don Miguel, I could see the McDonald's up ahead. Whee!
Fitz was inside waiting; tapped on the window, then went in to get a Coke and fries. Kirk (Mr. Susan) was there also, and we visited and snacked for a bit before heading out.
Very fun ride, and quite different from riding here in the Northwet.
130 miles/12:12 elapsed. Wasted a lot of time with the saddle adjustment; I'll have to get it right when the bike goes back together.
Aftermath notes: while the saddle was not yet perfectly adjusted, I had none of the customary post-ride sore spots. Not a one. That alone is worth it. The shoes on the other hand... Maybe my feet are not the intended demographic for those shoes.