Stats: This was a seven day bicycle trip with a travel day on each end (from and back to Maryland). On the ride, Neil and I carried everything we needed to survive, save meals along the way (i.e. self-supported). Our total ride distance was 334.7 miles. Our total elevation gain (climbing) was 14312 ft. For the most part, weather was cooperative with sunny to partly sunny skies every day, usually with mild to strong breezes. Day time temperatures ranged from low 60s to, eventually almost 80 by the last day. Night time temperatures were in the low to mid 40s. We had almost no rain (a sprinkle or two on our way to Bisbee on ride day 5). Our highest elevation was achieved in Bisbee at 5889 ft, our lowest in Tucson at 2209 ft. There were no issues with motorists, detours, bad roads or animals. Sunrises were around 6:30 am and sunsets around 6:30 pm. Because of limited daylight during March, ride distances were designed to be completed each day by mid-afternoon (except for day 5 which was a long ride day).
Tuesday, 3 March 2015: So if you don’t want to hear about the nightmare that was our flights out, skip this paragraph. Scheduled months in advance, the plan was to take early flights to arrive in Tucson in time to get our bicycles. The bicycles were shipped in advance to Broadway Bicycles. They received our packaged, partially disassembled bicycles. The mechanics at Broadway Bikes re-assembled our bicycles and had them ready to roll several days prior to our intended Tuesday, March 3, 2015 arrival. While Broadway Bikes did their part, Southwest Airlines was not able to keep their end of the deal. Very early on the morning of March 3, we learned that our flights out were canceled – not due to weather, but to a screw up with Southwest Airlines. There is no way to make this long story short, because this was just the start of a most challenging travel day. The best we could do to get into Tucson on March 3 was to book flights through Austin Texas, arriving in Phoenix. From Phoenix, we would rent a car in Phoenix and drive to Tucson; an added cost, however necessary at this point. So we did this. Any hopes of getting our bikes on March 3 were gone, but at least we could get ourselves and our luggage there on time. Problem solved, right? Not really. Midway to Austin, the pilot informed us that Austin was fogged in and that we would be landing in Dallas. Thankfully, we were allowed to de-plane in Dallas, but without any information on how to resume our travels. Our luggage – all that we would be carrying for the next seven ride days – was still on the plane. After a couple hours of wondering what the heck, Southwest announced that they would re-board us on the same plane and fly back to Austin. This we did, however arriving just in time to miss the connecting flight to Phoenix. It was scramble mode again and it was getting late. The remaining choices were either a wide open flight to Tucson via Los Angeles, or the last flight of the day to Phoenix. The boarding agent informed us that if we chose Tucson via Los Angeles, then we would risk voluntary separation of our luggage. The Phoenix flight did not suffer this, but it was nearly full. Thankfully, we are able to get on the Phoenix flight. In Phoenix, we rented a car, incurring a draconian fee for returning the car to another location (Tucson). We arrived at the Baymont Inn and Suites somewhere around midnight. We would pick up our bicycles the next day when Broadway Bicycles opened their shop.
Wednesday, 4 March 2015; Day 1 – Tucson to Tucson Mountain Park, 38.5 mi, 1390 ft climbing:
After a fine continental breakfast at the Baymont Inn and Suites, we check out, and then returned the rental car to the Tucson Airport Dollar rental car return. The rental agent noticed several tiny dings in the windows which were not perceptible in the dark of the previous evening and which I certainly did not incur. No further word on that at this writing. We took an expensive cab ride from the airport to Broadway Bicycles where we were happy to finally see our fully assembled bicycles – and a fine job they did. The folks at Broadway Bicycles were outstanding, agreeing to store our bicycle shipping boxes and empty luggage for the duration of our bicycle tour. Our tour would end at this shop seven days later, and the fine mechanics there would rebuild, clean and ship our bikes back to Maryland.
After arriving at the bike shop, we rendered the contents of our luggage onto our touring bikes, saddle bags (panniers) and rack loads. We both had four panniers (two front, two rear). In the panniers were our clothes, personal items, tools, sleeping bags, cell phones and chargers (including solar chargers) and snacks. On the rear racks were tents and sleeping pads – about sixty pounds of stuff that we would carry with us on our excellent adventure.
It was around 10:30 am. We started our journey by heading west on Broadway Blvd. We stopped within the first mile to add a layer of clothing. It was still cool out for riding with short sleeves. Broadway Blvd is a busy main road, but it was necessary to stay on it for a while before heading north, eventually finding “The Loop”. Kudos to Tucson for this dedicated bicycle path which we would take westbound along the Rillito River and across the northern section of the city of Tucson. The Rillito River is really a river bed. We were told this river and the many ‘washes’ in Arizona, fill with water during the rainy season (June and July).
The Loop is a superior bicycle path. Besides its terrific surface dedicated to bicycle traffic, there were bathrooms and water along the way and there was even a station with a built in bicycle pump free for anyone who wanted to use it. The Loop is extraordinarily well designed; almost without exception, the path would go under major roads allowing bicyclists to continue without stopping, rather than crossing busy streets. Clearly, Tucson has taken thoughtful measure to accommodate bicyclists.
In the cue for this day, the route was designed to leave The Loop at its most northwest point, then continue south on surface roads. It was just prior to this juncture that we met a most interesting and gregarious gentleman. Let’s start with the fact that he, an elderly chap, was clad in bright tie-dyed tights that almost hurt the eyes. Neil almost refused his initial offer of a free Tucson map, because Neil perceived that he was trying to sell something, jaded easterners that we are. Turns out, this old fellow was merely being helpful in the extreme - to complete strangers, no less. He was curiously reluctant to allow us to take a photo of him, but did give us a most detailed map of Tucson and great advice on how to continue south on The Loop so as to meet up with our west bound continuation toward Tucson Mountain Park. We bid a fair adieu to our new and unusual friend. The re-route was a bit complicated at first; however, acting on his advice, we eventually found the southbound continuance of The Loop. Shortly thereafter, we came upon a most unexpected convenience – a mini bike shop. Tucson Bike Shop has located a bicycle shop in a commercial shipping container just south of the head of the southbound Loop. We took a natural break there, took some photos, and bought a few snacks. We continued south on the loop until we reached Speedway Blvd where we would take a right to proceed west toward Tucson Mountain Park.
Once on Speedway Blvd, we knew that we had to find a meal option before Speedway Blvd became Gates Pass Rd and all manner of civilization would give way to the natural setting of Tucson Mountain Park. And in fact, we found amongst the last cluster of stores and restaurants a most satisfactory Italian offering where we both had a huge lasagna lunch/dinner. It was pleasant outside, so we sat on the patio with our bicycles in plain sight and enjoyed the meal. Most satisfying.
Speedway Blvd became Gates Pass Rd and was coincident with our first significant climbing of the trip. It was a climb of several miles, steep in places. During the climb, my saddle became loose so as to tilt upward. Suffice to say that it is amazingly uncomfortable to be riding a fully loaded touring bike uphill with the hard tip of Brooks saddle drilling ‘where the sun don’t shine’! I had to stop twice to get it adjusted correctly. I think we were both grateful for the stops anyway because the climbing warranted some breaks. The climb to the top of Gates Pass is so worth it. The view is spectacular. After peaking, the road descends sharply. As we rode our brakes down this remarkably steep and bending drop, we encountered a cyclist coming up the other way, G-d bless him. It had to be a remarkably difficult climb coming from that direction, although the cyclist seemed to be managing it nicely. After the steep section of the descent, we pulled into a lookout area. Neil took some pictures looking back at the descent. As good as photographer as he is, the pictures do not do justice to impressive severity of the downhill. In real time, it actually looked like cars were coming down at a 45 degree angle. Indeed, it was a stunning vista nestled amongst the mountainous beauty with cacti and indigenous plants and trees all around. And by the way, Neil was our primary photographer for the entire trip for which I am grateful (particularly since I am not a particularly good photographer).
We continued onto the more gentle slopes of Gates Pass Rd, eventually finding the Gilbert Ray Campground on McCain Rd. Although primitive (no showers or electric), this campground was one of the most beautiful settings of the entire trip. Neil took several photos at this location. We set camp and settled into our tents for a rather cold night (low 40s).
Thursday, 5 March 2015; Day 2 – Tucson Mountain Park to Amado, 54.0 mi, 2063 ft climbing: After breaking camp, we proceeded south along Kinney Rd, eventually finding a breakfast option at the Coyote Pause Café. The food was good, but the service was horrendously slow, we learned due to short staffing. We both had omelets which included avocados and prickly pear cactus jelly for our toast!
After breakfast, we continued through Tucson Estates along S Kinney Rd, eventually reaching Rt 86 (W Ajo Hwy) for a few miles of eastward riding. We took a right onto Mission Rd on which we would cycle southward for about 25 miles and pick up over 900 ft of climbing. Mission Rd took us first through Drexel Heights (the last vestige of Tucson) and onto and through the San Xavier Indian Reservation (eastern section of the Tohono O’odham Nation). We took a brief detour on San Xavier Rd to see the San Xavier del Bac Mission, a Franciscan mission built between 1783 and 1797 by the Tohono O’odham tribe under the direction of Spanish Franciscans. Neil took some photos, while I peeled a layer since it was getting warm.
As we continued south on Mission Rd, it was hard not to notice that the mountains around us had been strip-mined, no doubt taking away from a more natural beauty that must have once existed. Mission Rd ended at W Duval Mine Rd and onto W Continental Rd, which turned out to be an exhilarating downhill jaunt after so much climbing. We proceeded into and through the town of Green Valley along S Camino del Sol in search of a lunch spot. We were fortunate to come upon a fellow cyclist for consultation on this matter; he directed us to the Coyote Grill (yes, another restaurant named with Coyote). We enjoyed burgers on the deck where we were also able to keep an eye on our bicycles.
After lunch, there remained less than 10 miles of riding for the day, all of it along Frontage Rd parallel to I-19. We arrived in Amado and made camp at the Mountain View RV Ranch. While the campground was mostly for RVs (like most in southern AZ), the facility was adequate and we were able to get long due showers. Our biggest challenge that evening was setting up our tents in strong gusty winds, that thankfully settled down after the sun set.
Friday, 6 March 2015; Day 3 – Amado to Lake Patagonia, 39.3 mi, 2295 ft climbing: Thirty nine miles and 2300 ft of climbing may not sound like much, but the climbing was extraordinarily challenging and the ride day was intentionally short because of that very fact. The ride was primarily elevation gain with steep climbing and some awesome descents near the end, so we took it slow and easy.
After breaking camp, our intention was to find breakfast. The town of Tubac is six miles south of Amado and was along our route, so we opted for Tubac Deli & Coffee Company. Tubac was an interesting blend of eclectic shops, retirement population and local Indian culture with an apparent rich history dating back many years. The town was beautiful and upscale. We enjoyed our brief stay there and our conversation with a local couple outside of the restaurant. They strongly encouraged us to take a tour around the town, but we really needed to make tracks on our route for the remaining day.
Leaving Tubac, the route continued south on the I-19 Frontage Rd for several miles, eventually onto Pendelton Dr. We were hoping to pass through Rio Rico around mile 20 for a snack or light meal break, but Pendelton Dr continued through unceremoniously without offering any evidence that we had passed Rio Rico – which we had. So we continued climbing up the rollers on Pendelton Dr. Along our southeast bound trek, we cycled onto River Rd which was much more gently sloped and offered a relaxing and beautiful ride. Interestingly, River Rd is not near any particular river as best as could be discerned.
As we turned left to head northeast from River Rd onto Rte 82 (E Patagonia Hwy), our location briefly became the southernmost point of our tour – about 5 miles north of the US/Mexico border. With about 10 miles remaining, there was no more gradual climbing. The route was predominantly uphill, steep climbs with a few steep descents. After taking a brief snack and rest break at mile 35, we took our final turn – a left onto Patagonia Lake Rd. It was most challenging but also rewarded us with incredible mountain range vistas and eventually a view down into the Patagonia Lake area where we would be making camp for the night. The last mile of Patagonia Lake Rd into the campground/lake area was a steep downhill. Before descending, Neil took a few photos looking down to the lake. It was a beautiful setting – a lake with a campground, surrounded on all sides by mountains. It was not lost on us that climbing out would be our first effort for the next ride day.
Patagonia Lake, Arizona’s largest manmade lake, was impressive, particularly considering how little water we had seen along the way, but the campground was crowded. We were so isolated all day (everyday), it seemed like – heck, where did all these people come from? In any case, we had a decent camp site very close to the lake. Neil had to move his tent because sap was dripping from a mesquite tree onto his rain fly. After showers, we walked to the general store to get sandwiches (our dinner). A bit later we went back for ice cream. While we were settling in, a kind fellow camper (an RV camper) offered us some free firewood. We had a nice, albeit small fire for a while to close out our evening. It was a most pleasant way to end the day. At night the camp ground became noisy, mostly due to a few rude individuals who did not take seriously the quiet after 10 pm rule. However, we were tired from a hard day of climbing so were able to get some reasonable sleep.
Saturday, 7 March 2015; Day 4 – Lake Patagonia to Whetstone, 49.9 mi, 2295 ft climbing: We woke up thinking we would get a quick bite to eat at the general store before climbing out on Lake Patagonia Rd. Unfortunately, the store did not open until 9 am, and we were not going to hang around for an hour for that. In fact, it may have been a better idea not to have eaten before the hard climbing that was the start of Lake Patagonia Rd. As we pedaled out, we found ourselves in casual conversation during the early climbs. Perhaps we were finally acclimating to all the climbing. At the end of the four mile stretch that was Lake Patagonia Rd, we took a break before turning left to continue northeast onto Rt 82. We met a couple on bikes who were out for a 40 mile casual ride. Turning onto Lake Patagonia Rd was not in their plans.
Our plan was to ride 11 miles (starting from camp) and find a breakfast spot in the town of Patagonia. Slight digression - during our wonderful flights in, we met a couple – the Johnsons -who were actually heading to Patagonia. They told us about a restaurant there called The Gathering Grounds. We entered Patagonia. It had an old west look with interesting shops and modest homes along the way. We eventually found our restaurant and had a good breakfast. Interestingly, we mentioned the Johnsons to our waitress who said, without pause, that she knew them. We asked her if she would mention to the Johnsons that the two cyclists they met on the flights stopped in on their suggestion. It’s fun to think that perhaps she remembered to do so.
After breakfast we doubled back for a few photos and then continued with some steady climbing, finally reaching Sonoita. Sonoita has a full blown rodeo and so it was evident we were in rodeo/horse country. The mountains gave way to actual grass lands and flat farm areas as we continued east en route to Elgin. Elgin is Arizona wine country. We crossed a small bridge at a fork in the road and continued north onto Upper Elgin Rd where we saw several vineyards, replete with what must have been thousands of acres of grape vines in neat diagonal rows as far as the eye could see. In planning this ride we had discussed briefly stopping into one of the vineyards, perhaps to do some wine tasting. Rather, we opted to take pictures and continue to enjoy the pleasant ride along Upper Elgin Rd.
As the vineyards disappeared behind us, Upper Elgin Rd continued through federal lands. We could see for 30 miles in any direction, not a sound to be heard, no buildings, cars, people or even animals. The world was huge and we were but mere specks on the planet. Nothing but beautiful mountains and valleys would accompany us as we eventually turned eastward, again on Rt 82 and into Whetstone where we would make camp at the Mountain View RV Park.
Our first impression of Mountain View RV Park was that it didn’t see too many ‘tenters’. All ground areas were gravel or concrete. We took an area next to the main building. It was somewhat less gravely, but had no picnic table. From the front of the building, we borrowed a bench which we dragged to our site. Despite the shortcomings, things ended up working out reasonably well. Being proximal to the main building, the manager left a door open for us all night, so it was just a few steps from our tents to a lounge with TV, a kitchen and a bathroom, not to mention a warm building. After setting camp and showers, we watched some TV, ate some snacks and eventually turned in for the night. It was a good night.
Sunday, 8 March 2015; Day 5 – Whetstone to Tombstone, 73.0 mi, 3328 ft climbing: If our intent was to go directly from Whetstone to Tombstone, it would have been only a 15 mile ride due east. However, we wanted to take in Sierra Vista and Bisbee. As such, our planned route took us south through Sierra Vista, then east, then finally north through Bisbee and into Tombstone.
So we broke camp and were pursuing a breakfast recommendation in Huachuca City called ‘Sunny D’s’. We found Sunny D’s within the first five miles of our ride day and fueled up with a good breakfast before continuing south into Sierra Vista. The main town of Sierra Vista offered all of the conveniences one would expect in a medium size city; shopping, franchises, malls, and restaurants, eventually blending into suburbia, schools and small park areas. Continuing into Sierra Vista Southeast, we came into areas with larger homes set in the foothills of a stunning mountain backdrop. How awesome it must be to wake up every morning to such beauty. During our trek south along S Equestrian Dr through Southeast Sierra Vista, an elderly cyclist joined us for a few miles. Neil spoke with him mostly, later indicating that the gentleman was a fountain of knowledge regarding the area. He informed Neil that the word Huachuca is the Hopi Indian word for Thunder Mountain. It seems that the rain clouds come across and stall out as they hit the mountain range, just offering thunder, but little precipitation on the other side.
At around mile 26, we started the ten mile stretch that is Hereford Rd. The suburban areas of Sierra Vista gave way to a rural countryside setting. The serenity of Hereford Rd was the calm before the storm as regards the significant climbing we would experience over the next 15 miles up to and through Bisbee. Already at 4500 feet of elevation, we would climb to 5889 feet by after lunch. Knowing this, we took it slow and easy approaching Bisbee. As we climbed, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and we even experienced a few sprinkles of rain. Approaching Bisbee, we stopped to don jackets. Bypassing the residential part of Bisbee, we continued on to reach ‘old town’ Bisbee. On our left, we came upon the Bisbee Queen Mine. Neil took some photos of this most impressive crater. One of the richest copper mines in history, the Bisbee Queen Mine opened in 1877 and eventually closed in 1975 because the depth eventually tapped into water which could not be removed to allow further mining. It is now a tourist area.
We pedaled into old town Bisbee. Again acting on a recommendation, we asked locals where the Santiago restaurant was located. When we arrived, the manager was gracious as to allow us to actually take our touring bicycles inside the restaurant. The food was extraordinary Mexican fare. We both had a wonderful lunch which was needed to continue the challenging climb through the remainder of Bisbee. To say Bisbee is an uphill affair is putting it mildly. If you are from the east, think Harpers Ferry. At the end of the climb was an entrance ramp back onto Rt 80 N and through a tunnel. The peak of our climb was realized at the tunnel exit. In hindsight, I probably should have turned on my flashing taillight. Neil, who was behind me, said I all but disappeared when I entered the tunnel, making me vulnerable to traffic behind me. The tunnel had lights, but they were not bright enough to illuminate the occasional meandering cyclist. I was lucky, but stupid.
Immediately after exiting the tunnel, we started the most exhilarating descent of our tour. We felt like we were on motorcycles, descending at 30+ miles per hour for well over four miles; no pedaling required. The descent was comfortable in that it was not a white knuckle, technical affair. Even after the first four miles, Rt 80 N offered a continuous downhill most of the way toward Tombstone…..most of the way.
As we rode towards Tombstone, we experienced another first; we had to ride through a US Customs and Border Patrol checkpoint. Thinking that we would have to stop and open up our panniers, it was the just opposite as the officer happily waved us through. Evidently not too many smugglers use touring bicycles as a means of transport!
Miles 65 through 68 presented a significant uphill challenge approaching Tombstone. Already tired from a long ride day, we both barely endured this little treat. But of course, we got through it and finished the ride into Tombstone with nary an hour of daylight remaining. The 73 miles completed marked our longest ride day.
Entering Tombstone, our initial impression was that it was unremarkable. However, the main street in Tombstone, Allen St, was one block parallel to I-80, and sported all of the tourist trimmings to include an old west town, with shops, saloons, period actors in costumes, theme restaurants and daily gunfight shows.
We found the Wells Fargo RV Park Campground shortly after entering town. While registering, the manager told us that the Wells Fargo Bank actually sued for the Wells Fargo name, but lost the case because the original use of the name was in Tombstone as the Wells Fargo stage coach station.
We set camp as the sun began to set. After our showers, we walked into town, down Allen St in search of dinner. We found it at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon (named for a once upon a time lady of ill repute in Tombstone who was romantically involved with Doc Holliday). Our waitress (Jackie) was dressed in period clothing; she was most affable and we enjoyed talking to her almost as much as we enjoyed our meal. While we ate, the movie “Tombstone” was playing on several televisions in the restaurant. Apparently, this movie was on a loop and played all day, every day. After capping off our meal with vanilla ice cream (with chocolate syrup), we walked back to camp more than ready to call it a night after a long day in the saddle.
Monday, 9 March 2015; Day 6 – Tombstone to Benson, 26.5 mi, 251 ft climbing:>/b> Our shortest and well deserved easiest ride day was on tap. The plan for a 26 mile ride allowed ample time to mull around in Tombstone for a bit before heading out. We moseyed on into town and settled in for a nice breakfast at the Longhorn Restaurant. This oldest continually operated restaurant in Tombstone is located in what used to be the Bucket of Blood Saloon, amongst other names. The walls are replete with pictures of famous west characters to include, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Long Nose Kate and others. It was early and so the place was empty. We enjoyed our breakfast and then proceeded to break camp, pack our bikes up, and pedal through town. In Tombstone tradition, we went first up the sunny side of the street, then down the shady side. Neil stopped to talk to an actor asking, “Are you the Sheriff?” The actor replied, “I’m the Marshall; Sheriffs are corrupt.” We stopped in various shops, bought a few gifts and then got out of town. It was around 11am when we left, but we were in no rush with only 26 mostly downhill miles to Benson.
On our way out of Tombstone, there was the word “shalom” jutting out from a menorah atop the rocks along with a Star of David, a most unexpected apparition. I was struck by this seeming oddity so I researched it a bit (during this writing). Long story short, in 1983, the Tombstone City Council constructed the site to commemorate the Jewish pioneers who helped settle the west before the turn of the 20th century.
And so we started our short and easy ride. Neil said that he saw a lady come out of a side street on a road bicycle - seemingly out of nowhere. When we reached St David to buy some locally grown pistachios for sale by a street vendor, the lady cyclist caught up. She was out for her morning ride to Benson (and presumably back). We talked for awhile at the pistachio place before we left together. It was only a few seconds before she was way out in front and then long gone.
Even with our late morning departure out of Tombstone, we arrived in Benson early afternoon; just in time for lunch. Acting on a recommendation we received from a gentlemen we met at the Wells Fargo RV Park Campground, we stopped in the Horseshoe Cafe for lunch. It is a cowboy-style diner that has been in operation for over 40 years serving good, old-fashioned American comfort food. It didn’t take long for both of us to decide on their house burger. So here it is for you:
On a decent bun, add about 1/3 pound of deliciously seasoned ground beef cooked to your desired doneness. Add a generous slab of cream cheese (yes cream cheese), then some slices of pickled jalapeño peppers (I imagine it would be just as good with regular jalapeños). Add lettuce, tomato, pickle and whatever additional condiments you favor. Voila - awesome!
After lunch, we continued to our campground, the Benson KOA, which was a bit north of town, but only a mile or so of easy riding off the beaten path. We took note of a Denny’s on the way that would serve well for breakfast the next morning (excuse the pun). The KOA manger was most gracious. He set us up in a soft grassy lot which we had come to appreciate as a novelty for southern Arizona campgrounds. We set camp next to an outdoor kitchenette which had electric and water (including a sink and countertop, all under a lean-to). Additionally, we were close to breakfast and the office/store.
Even after setting camp, we had a lot of daylight remaining. We took a long walk around the KOA campground taking photos and checking out the facilities such as the defunct putt-putt golf course. It seemed this campground had seen better days, however the current owners kept it spotless and cheery. There really wasn’t a lot for us to do. We did notice that we had a fire pit next to our camp site and it was already loaded with wood. Toward evening, our host (probably the franchise owner), came out with a butane torch and had a raging fire going in about no time flat. It was fun to watch him torch things up. We enjoyed the fire before settling in for the night.
Tuesday, 10 March 2015; Day 7 – Benson to Tucson, 53.5 mi, 2550 ft climbing: This was our final ride day. Our destination was the Broadway Bicycle Shop in Tucson where we would transfer our bags and tents back into our luggage and leave the bikes for the mechanics to clean, break down and ship back to Maryland.
Although the night had been cold, the day started its warm up quickly as we broke camp. We took in a big breakfast at the aforementioned Denny’s. The ride started with a smart climb on Octillo Rd just south of Benson before leveling out onto Rt 90 approaching the I-10 ramp. In order to get back onto surface roads toward Tucson, we needed to utilize the interstate for about 10 miles. Turns out, it was a safe, legal, and most pleasant endeavor, downhill for a couple miles at a time in places.
We exited off of I-10 and onto E Marsh Station Rd. Neil had his phone alarm set to ring off to remind us to do our mobile check-in for our flights the next day. We did this on E Marsh Station Rd, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, we had decent cell phone reception.
After we veered north onto E Colossal Cave Rd, Neil said “Let’s stop at the next mini-mart for snacks and water.” Believing that we were in the middle of nowhere, I replied “Neil, there isn’t going to be anything like that until we get into downtown Tucson”. A minute later, there was a mini-mart on our right. I was incredulous. We were both happy. After our mini-mart break, we climbed the remainder of E Colossal Cave Rd and onto S Pistol Hill Rd. This was the last of our climbing for our tour, save one tough spot on E Old Spanish Trail Rd. We saw many bicyclists on E Old Spanish Trail Rd. It is obviously a popular bicycle road with wonderful shoulders identified as a bicycle lane and mountain vistas. This was a great way to finish the last fifteen miles of our journey.
During our time on E Old Spanish Trail Rd, Neil contacted his nephew, Skye, who lives in Tucson and attends the University of Arizona. Neil coordinated with Skye who graciously agreed to meet us at the Broadway Bicycle Shop and take us to our hotel (the Baymont Inn and Suites again).
We reached the bicycle shop around 3:10 pm and rendered all of the stuff we had been carrying all week back into our luggage bags. We provided pre-paid shipping labels to the stellar, friendly and accommodating staff at Broadway Bicycle Shop. They would clean, pack and ship our bikes back to Maryland.
After Skye picked us up, we proceeded to the hotel. Skye was most gracious as to wait for Neil and me to shower up before taking us to a fabulous Mexican restaurant called The Guadalajara in north Tucson. The food was outstanding and the margaritas were appropriate for celebrating the completion of our journey.
After dinner, Skye took us back to the hotel. We thanked Skye, checked in and arranged for the free shuttle to the airport for the next day. We enjoyed a good night sleep on actual beds for the first time in a week.
Wednesday, 11 March 2015: We are pleased to report that we were able to fly home on the actual flights that we scheduled months ago, without delays or incident! We arrived back safely in Maryland late in the evening.
Pictures available in the gallery!