My un-official Tucson training camp came to a close following a fourteen-hour marathon drive that started at 3am Sunday morning and ended in my driveway here in Boulder, CO. Why 3am you ask? Long story short, I set my alarm for 4am but after a restless night sleep (and by “sleep” I mean 3hr nap) I found myself wide awake at 2:45am--at which point I just said “f*&k it,” made myself a cup of coffee and got to driving. All in all, the drive was uneventful—or at least as uneventful as a 900+mile trek could be. The oddest part was watching the sunrise (an indication that the day is just starting) 5hrs after actually waking up. The worst part by far was having to follow up my 10 days of drinking gourmet Presta Coffee with that stuff you find next to the soda fountain at the gas station. As they say though, “it can always be worse” so I shouldn’t complain.
All-in-all, despite the travel, I have nothing but positive things to say about my time in the desert. Training went really well (I won’t bore you with details...that’s what Strava is for) and the hospitality I received was pretty amazing. Everyone in the local cycling community was very welcoming and more than willing to show me around. A few highlights—accompanied by photos—can be found below.
Here’s Curtis pulling me a shot of espresso at his new roaster. Given my inability to temper consumption, the first few days of this trip were spent in a nearly continuous state of over-caffeination. Eventually I wised up but it was hard to turn down something like this…
This photo does absolutely zero justice to what is actually being shown (in case you haven’t guessed, it's a sunrise). Given the length of the nights these days, I often found myself up before the sun and was greeted each morning by this view. The old saying “red sky at night sailors take delight, red sky in the morning sailors take warning” probably doesn’t apply here given 1) it’s hours away from the nearest body of water and 2) it was pretty beautiful each day despite looking like this.
Managed to take a few wrong turns during my time here. Most ended in dirt roads but some ended with the Arizona penal system. Can’t really say I’d know which one to go with if given the choice—both are so appealing.
This is a 1lb Snickers bar. While it isn’t Tucson specific, the fact it actually exists is absolutely amazing and therefore worthy of space on this blog. Just in case you were wondering, I did not buy it nor was I tempted to.
Shifting our focus to a different part of the food pyramid, Curtis made pizzas two of the nights while I was there. Both were delicious and coincided perfectly with big rides the previous afternoon (always a good combo). Stella and Curtis have perfected their baked potato, egg, truffle salt, and arugula pizza so much so that I’m still thinking about it. Unfortunately, given it usually got consumed immediately upon entering the house I don’t have a photo. Instead, I present to you this hot dog and French fry combo which (according to Curtis) is popular in Italy. Who knew…
And last—but not least—my final “sendoff” ride this past Saturday was a 126mile, 6+hr romp through the desert with the remnants of that morning’s “Shootout” participants. The route was a deviation of the standard Shootout and saw us ride out Mission road and up Box Canyon before turning back towards town. Given I had no idea where we were, I was a slave to the route (and pace) of the group. For those that don’t know, the Shootout is not your average Saturday group ride and can get pretty darn quick. This photo was taken after a 30km dirt section about 3hrs into the ride…we still had 3hrs to go.
At the end of day though, this was by far the most memorable day of all the ones I spent in Arizona. Great group of guys, tough route, strong pace—not to mention the cherry on top being I got to help Curtis move furniture 30min after getting home.
As much as I hate to say it, this final project was definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back. After an hour I was getting pretty grumpy—much to the amusement of Curtis. At least he was kind enough to make me a turkey and cheese sandwich before leaving. During the drive I couldn’t help but remark it was the greatest sandwich I’d ever eaten…I was serious.