Arizona Trail, Desert Southwest (CO,AZ,UT,NM), Trip Reports » Arizona Trail, Catalinas with Tim McCabe


Tim McCabe started from the Mexico Border on 3/14/06. He’s riding the whole trail in preparation for the AZT 300. I joined him for a day and a half as he crossed the Catalinas.

It was an early start, leaving home @5:40.

Sunday was our second winter storm. We left Monday morning. I asked Tim Sunday night if he was thinking of staying a day in Tucson to wait out the snow and cold. He hadn’t even considered it.

We ran into a southern AZ rarity: MUD. This is on the “side door” on our way over to hit the AZT (after climbing Redington).

And the AZT was good. Traction was so good it felt like cheating. Temps were perfect.

After miles of tasty trail, we began the hike-a-bike over to Molino. It starts here, at west spring:

Singin’ I love hike-a-bike!

Then we ran into snow, sweet!

After Prison Camp we begin the long haul up Lemmon, into deeper snow and much colder temps.

We stopped before the Palisades descent to add layers. I added a jacket, tights and warm gloves. It wasn’t nearly enough. I should have put on everything I had, including my sleeping bag. Something about the combination of 25 mph wind at 25 degrees (after climbing for 2.5 hours). By the time we reached the fire station my feet were gone with my hands following suit.

We had to stop for water since the Palisades spigot was shut off. It was also an excuse to bring our dismal core temperatures back into reason. The fire folks are always kind to freezing, stupid cyclists.

We had about a half hour of daylight left and no desire to sit out a night in the teens and on the snow. So there was only one thing to do: descend.

The AZT is on Oracle Ridge, but with 1-2 feet of snow it would have been a wet, slow and dangerous slog. I’ve ridden it with 3-4 inches before and it was one of the hardest, most dangerous rides I’ve ever done. We took the control road.

We asked, “how’s the control road, is it passable on a bike?”

“Nope. And we can’t get down there to rescue you if something goes wrong. It’s too slick.”

Not 50 feet down the road we ran into two vehicles that were stuck. One bozo, cigarette in mouth, approached me. “Be careful, it’s slick as snot.”

He got so close that I committed a cardinal sin on ice: I turned.

And I went down. I couldn’t stop laughing at myself.

We proceeded down the road with caution. A few more vehicles had slid off the road.

Eventually we transitioned to mud followed by nice dry road. It was a nice evening to be out.

A frosty night on the control road.

In the morning we filled up on water, then climbed back to the ridge at Campo Bonito. Sweet descending on the Cody Trail.

3 pound burrito at Casa Riveria filled the void in my stomach. Tim went to get a room at the A-frame motel as I turned west, directly into the wind. 30 of 40 return miles on Oracle RD were into a nice stiff wind. So it goes. I did hitch a ride behind a 6’6″ (at least) roadie who was cranking out the watts. He turned off (or got sick of me drafting, not sure) at Oracle Junction.

130 miles, 16,000 feet of climbing, great time out on the bike.

Comments (1)

Tammy RowlandSeptember 10th, 2007 at 10:33 am

I was looking for a charity event to be held in November and came across this. How intense, miraculous and couragous. Kudos Bikers

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