It is amazing how quickly things can change in side a short span of time. Not to terribly long ago Brain and I were planing a long bicycle touring trip to Chile with a friend of ours, Katherine Glover. You can find her blog here http://www.katherineglover.net/chile/day-4-starting-the-carretera-austral/ She is currently in Chile doing the trip we sort of convinced her to do. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately for us life had a different plan for our future, like it so often does. So in order to keep things heading in the right direction we had to bail on Kathrine and change our direction. The trip to South America has been postponed until further notice, while we focus on other more immediate adventures in the spring of 2015. Those major changes are but not limited to, a big move West 900+ miles away from the place we have called home since 2006, making our way through the path of higher education, and a massive career change for not just one but hopefully the both of us. With so much ahead of us in the near term future it became increasingly difficult to justify a several month trip out of the US.
The problem with planning for many months an extended vacation is that suddenly when you decided that you are no longer leaving, it is so very hard to get that “going away” mindset out of your brain. The solution to that is… still going on vacation! But being that we couldn’t really afford the trip to Chile anymore, it wasn’t just the monetary issues but also affording such an extended time for a sabbatical seemed a little to extreme at this juncture in time. There needed to be a change in time frame and venue. Our solution ended up being a road trip to the American South West and instead of touring bicycles we traded up to Mountain Bikes. This change made it so we could still have a holiday away from the frigid North Coast and continue to travel with our bicycles in tow. Which for us is the only way to travel, bicycle touring long term has turned the two of us into horseshit sightseers/tourists.
This new journey began with a 12 hour drive south to Brian’s father’s home located in a suburb of Tulsa Oklahoma. No actual mountain biking was done inside of Oklahoma because they had been suffering from a winter rain storm which makes it just about impossible to hike the local Turkey Mountain let alone bike in that slippery clay. Instead we visited the Woody Guthrie Center and Prairie Home Artisan Ales trying to make the few days of visiting Oklahoma a little more bearable. This time we were pleasantly surprised with all the interesting things to do that have popped up in the last few years.
Since leaving Tulsa we made a short stop in Carlsbad Texas to see the Caverns and then made it straight towards Tucson for the first part of our actual Mountain biking. So far the two of us have managed to get in the better part of four different local Tucson trails in the three days we have been out riding here.
On day one we started slow on the beginner to intermediate sections of the Sweet Water Trail System, it was about 7.5 miles long. Being a bit out of shape for this sort of riding, it took us a lot longer then we expected to complete this section. Even so we had a blast, it was nothing like the trails we experience back home in Minnesota. Here things are less flowy, extremely rocky, sandy, more technical, and full of spiky hazards. So I personally pedal quite a bit slower and try to maintain a bit more control, hopefully that keeps me from falling into to many cacti and sharp rocks that littler the path. Later on that same day it was decided that we would keep on going and try out Pistol Hill on the Arizona Trail System, although after being on the bike for the first time in two months I was pretty beat and only made it up the first climb before I felt the need to turn back.
Day two had us heading west to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum in the morning for some cultural sights and then to the Tuscon Mountain Park Loop for the rest of the afternoon. Where we managed to get lost riding around and watch the sunset over the Mountains on the trail, it was hard but amazing. Plus Brian met a friend on his solo ride mostly up Brown Mountain.
Our last full day started out with a little rain and ended the same way. As early in the morning as we could muster Brian and I drove North of Tucson to the Golder Ranch trails and instead of following the easier route (The Chutes) we opted for the mostly hike-a-bike option of the Upper-50 Trail. Although we didn’t know it at the time but I ended hiking with my bike rather then riding it like we intended. As much as I like hiking and love biking much more, what I really don’t care for hiking with my bike. So this time it was a bit more demoralizing then fun, that was until we finally got down from the Upper-50 and followed the 50 Year Trail back to the car. Fast and fun, the hard hike-a-bike made me appreciate the rest of the trail so much more.
My run in with the local wildlife