I put together a winter bike tour that did a 550-mile loop out of Tucson, AZ. The route ran through deserts, mountains, Indian reservations, border towns, and a little bit of New Mexico. (See “Logistics” below for more details.)
The end of the 2011 got a little crazy for us due to work and other commitments, so biking (and pretty much all other forms of exercise) dropped off our calendars for a bit. Feeling the soft, fatty effects of this hiatus, we were looking to spend a week on the bikes and start 2012 on the right track.
We had mentioned our bike tour plans to our friends, Lindsey and Erik, and, after getting OK’s from their employers, they decided to join our “fat camp”.
Check out this short (2 mins), day-in-the-life video of our Arizona bike tour. (See see more pics below.)
Song in the video: The Crane Wife 3
Southern Arizona was ideal since we could drive there in one day, it offered sunny weather (we didn’t have a single cloud the whole ride), and the highways were great for biking (little traffic and good shoulders).
This was a credit-card-style tour and we were able to stay in a hotel every night. So, we loaded our road bikes with just the bare essentials (toiletries, street clothes, tools, and spare parts). The forecast was for sunny skies every day, so we didn’t even bring rain gear. Given that we were traveling so light, on a whim, I threw in a spare tire. I’m glad I did because, on the second day, I got a huge gash in my brand-new back tire and needed the spare.
Other than two long days in which we battled 10 to 15mph headwinds (heading East from Globe to Lordsburg), the riding was great. Even though we didn’t have as many hours of daylight, we had enough time to stop and check out interesting, small towns along the way.
A few trip highlights:
- Road tripping in Lindsey and Erik’s VW Vanagon listening to music and a great book about the Comanche Indians.
- Eating copious amounts of good Mexican food, especially “burros” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Burros are large burritos.)
- New Year’s Eve in Globe, AZ. It could win an award for the friendliest and most welcoming town in America.
- Staying at Linda’s bed & breakfast in Globe. She came across us at a small Mexican café in the middle of nowhere and invited us to stay with her and come to her friend’s New Year’s Eve party, which was amazing. Linda was a fascinating woman. For example, she started and runs a local newspaper and she convinced the local business to put QR codes in their windows, so people walking through the historic district could scan them with their smart phones and then read about the building’s history.
- Cruising in a pace line from Lordsburg to Rodeo. The scenery and roads were great and the people in the small dinner/store in Rodeo were fun to chat with. That 100-mile day to the border ended up being a piece of cake.
- Lunch in Bisbee. It’s a mining town that turned into a magnet for artists, writers, and progressives.
- Acting like total tourists in Tombstone. We were told that a reporter from Channel 9 in Tucson took a picture of us, spandex-clad with our bikes, walking down the main street past the gunslinger actors, horses, and saloons.
- Riding the steep grades in the beautiful hill country that stretched from Fort Huachuca to Sonoita.
- The heated pool and spa at the Green Valley Inn. This newly renovated hotel was the nicest place we stayed and we had it totally to ourselves.
- Staying with Dave and Linda, our warmshowers.org hosts in Tucson. A very sweet and fun couple that opened up their amazing house to us and let us leave our car with them.
- Touring Biosphere 2. What a fascinating, crazy endeavor…
- Days of riding: 8
- Total miles: 550
- Total elevation gain: ~23,000ft
- GPX files of Arizona bike Tour (zip file with daily tracks and some way points)
- Link to Google map of Arizona bike tour route