Since today was a typical Thursday, I went for my usual ride from my house through Saguaro National Park (SNP) and then home again. I had the day off from work, so I was able to head out whenever I wanted. Since we have had some recent rainstorms, the temperature was much lower than it has been in previous weeks, which meant that I could ride in the middle of the afternoon without feeling like I was riding through a furnace. (Actually, it was fairly cool for the entire ride – the average temperature was around 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which might be considered a prelude to winter riding in Tucson.)
As I mentioned in my blog from two days ago, there is currently a construction project underway on Old Spanish Trail. That annoyance had traffic backed again on my way to the park, which added to my ride time. Recent rain in the area had washed sand onto the road in a few places, and it also meant that the odors wafting my way from the various horse-owner properties was more pungent that usual. (Enough said on that.)
In order to help curtail the wrist pain that I have been enduring on my recent rides, I tried wearing my wrist braces for today's outing. My theory was that the wrist braces would help to keep my wrists from bending, but what was actually happening was that my hand positions were forcing the metal splints out of the wrist braces, so by the time I had arrived at SNP I removed the wrist braces and switched back to my cycling gloves, which I had wisely brought with me for this exact situation.
Another interesting item of note for this ride is that I was trying out a new bicycle mirror. I mentioned in earlier posts that I had to remove my existing mirror from my road bike, and I did a bunch of research to see what a good replacement would be. The mirror that I chose had great reviews on Amazon, and I think that it lived up to its reviews quite nicely; it was easy to install, it was large enough to provide decent visibility, and it stayed in position really well.
I made it to the park in good time, but I was forced to wait several minutes at the park gate for some out-of-state tourists who were asking the park ranger what seemed like hundreds of questions. (I really wish there was a separate lane for cyclists to enter the park. Darn.)
As I entered the park, I passed by several cars within the first few miles of the park, and unlike previous rides I never saw them again. One car in particular raised my ire – I wish that tourists would refrain from stopping in the middle of the road to take photos from their car windows. There are plenty of pullouts throughout the park, or they can pull off to one side rather than blocking traffic and creating a safety hazard for cyclists. (Grr.)
There was a bit of a headwind as I headed into the region of the park that I affectionately refer to as "The Three Sisters," which is an obvious hat-tip to a trio of volcanoes near where I spent part of my childhood in Oregon. In this case, I am referring a series of short hills in SNP that lead up to the Cactus Forest Overlook. I usually try to build up as much speed as possible before hitting the first hill, but the wind stole some of my forward momentum, and I was thankful that my bicycle's Shimano 105 drive train allowed me to downshift quickly under load as I crested the series of hills near the overlook.
Climbing the big hill on Riparian Ridge is never an enjoyable experience, but I intentionally took advantage of the situation to continue working on my "push-me, pull-you" pedaling technique. As a result, I climbed the hill a little faster than normal, and I tried to negotiate the hill in a higher gear than I would typically use.
As I made it to the Rincon Mountains Overlook, I was surprised to see a huge Gila Monster crawling across the road. He was around one foot in length, and even though he was slow-moving, I couldn't get out my cell phone fast enough to get a good photo of him. The best that I could get is this photo of him hiding in a Prickly Pear cactus beside the road:
I had to stop for the construction on my way home, and unfortunately all of my setbacks during the ride kept me from meeting my one-hour goal for the ride. That being said, I missed my goal by a mere two minutes, so I'll get there one of these days.
- Primary Statistics:
- Start Time: 3:01pm
- Distance: 16.9 miles
- Duration: 1:02:05
- Calories Burned: 659 kcal
- Altitude Gain: 823 feet
- Average Speed: 16.3 mph
- Peak Speed: 31.8 mph
- Average Cadence: 58.0 rpm
- Average: 67.8 F
- Minimum: 64.4 F
- Maximum: 73.4 F
- Heart Rate:
- Average: 155 bpm
- Maximum: 174 bpm