Monday, October 8, 2012

Wouldn't It Be Cool If ...

Endurance sports can be a lonely endeavor.  There are very few people I can call and say, "Hey, I just rode Gold Hill in under 15 minutes," and have it mean something to them.

Of course the internet has made it less lonely, and I could share with internet friends, "Hey, I had a PR or KOM."  But, unless they're ridden Gold Hill, they don't really understand.

This is a view from Gold Hill
Lately I've been riding with a friend of mine who is new to the sport, but eager to get into it.  I've been showing him my favorite local routes and when he pauses to appreciate some view or vista, it makes me see it all over again.  And living where I live, one of the biggest pluses in the cycling category is the stuff you get to see!

Last night I bought a bottle of wine, to celebrate and reward myself for a monster week.  I put in over 230 miles on the old bicycle this week and am feeling very great.  As wine often does to me, I woke about 3 AM.  I wasn't sick or hung over, just not sleeping.  Ugh.  I started on of my favorite hobbies under such conditions, imagining different routes and courses.  I got to thinking, what about a Tour?

You know ... a tour, like several days, covering the challenging and scenic routes in the county.  Maybe it could be a week long, maybe spread over a few weekends.  I started thinking and planning, how would it work, wondering if it would work, wondering if I really cared that it would work, it might be awesome to do alone anyway (though company would be better).  It would be a come one-come all type of thing, amateurs would really be the focus.  I remembered reading in a magazine how people were getting very tired of spending $120 to run or ride a race ... yeah, it goes to charity, supposedly, but whatever.  The article was showing how there was a trend of small groups getting together and running their own events at the actual cost of the support for the event.  Applying that idea, here's what I came up with:

  • The Santa Cruz County Cycling Tour would take place over four weekends, including seven total rides and a party.
  • Minor support would be provided, but each rider is essentially responsible for themselves. 
  • Riders could participate in any portion of the rides, but a point system will be assigned.
While it would be a Santa Cruz County Tour, not all rides would be 100% contained inside the county.  After all, this is the smallest county in the state!  Here's how it would work:

Weekend 1:  Date:  TBD
Ride 1:  Pena Blanca to Kino Springs to Josefina to Pena Blanca  (90 miles)

This ride obviously needs a better name!  This ride contains some incredibly scenery and challenging terrain and quite a bit of climbing.  The ride begins at Pena Blanca Lake, which includes a Cat 4 climb, that is way harder than any Cat 4 I know of!  After the Cat 4, it's a fast and smooth downhill for about 7 miles, before hitting some rolling hills and then Gold Hill, which is a Cat 4 climb as well.  This would undoubtedly be a much higher category if it weren't for an incredibly steep quarter-mile down hill right in the middle of the whole thing!

After Gold Hill, there's a fast downhill for another 5 miles or so before the winding Cat 4 climb heading past Kino Springs Golf Course to the village.  Then the ride shoots down the very fast and smooth River Road before entering the Rio Rico area where the ride hits a Cat 3 and a Cat 2 climbing on Camino Josefina.  The ride finishes by returning to the starting point at the lake.
Elevation Profile, Categorized Climbs Inaccurate Here

Weekend 1, Ride 2:  Patagonia - Elgin (50 miles)

Day 2's ride is shorter and easier than the first day's ride.  The ride starts in beautiful and historic Patagonia, Arizona, loops through and around Sonoita and Elgin and then back to Patagonia.  There are no categorized climbs on the day, though the scenery is stunning.  Sonoita and Elgin are rich in agriculture including livestock and vineyards.  On a lucky day one may spot prong horn!
Weekend 2, Ride 1 (3rd total):  Whipple Visitor's Center to Madera Canyon (63 miles)

The second weekend of riding will begin at the Whipple Observatory Visitor's center, as pictured above.  The ride will begin very fast as the course will drop down to the valley below some 300 feet in about 7 miles.  Then the ride will make it's way up the most significant climb of the entire tour as it winds up Madera Canyon (category 1 climb).  It's common to see wild turkey and sometimes coatamundi in the canyon.

The route will descend from the canyon and return back up to the observatory's visitor's center, which is a category 2 climb.

Weekend 2, Ride 2 (4th total):  Tumacacori to Tubac Loop (22 miles)
Time trial!  Flat, fast and beautiful!  Tumacacori and Tubac are beautiful and very interesting.  After the short ride there's plenty to see and do. 

Weekend 3, Ride 1 (5th total):  Amado to Arivaca (46 miles)
This out and back begins in Amado, goes to Arivaca and returns.  This ride weaves in and out of Santa Cruz and Pima counties.  The route is full of winding road, rolling hills, interesting properties and majestic views.  The ride is challenging but fast.  There's one significant climb, though it is uncategorized.

Weekend 3, Ride 2 (6th total): Parker Canyon Lake (60 miles)

 This is the only ride I've not personally done, on a bicycle.  I've ridden it on a motorcycle several times, as well as in cars.  It's a beautiful ride.  There's quite a bit of climbing, several categorized climbs.  The software MapMyRide uses to calculate elevation is highly inaccurate, so I'm not sure exactly the nature of the climbs, but it's a hilly ride.  Certainly not as tough as some of the other rides in the tour though.

Weekend 4, Ride 1 (7th total):  The Santa Rita Mountains Loop (115 miles)
This route loops around the Santa Rita Mountains.  It is by far the longest ride on the tour.  It's a beautiful route, lots of rolling hills and scenery, including two very prolonged downhill segments!

By the time it's all said and done, the tour will have covered about 450 miles in seven rides

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