Today was supposed to be one of my "Short Days," meaning that I would ride my usual 17-mile trek from my house through Saguaro National Park and home again. But I had the day off, so I decided to ride a Metric Half-Century (50km) from my house to Colossal Caves and back.
This past Saturday the same ride had taken me a little over two hours, and I was hoping that I could improve on that and complete the ride in less than two hours. Sadly, this was not going to be possible. I discovered as I started out that I was riding into a stiff headwind all the way to Colossal Caves, which ultimately added six minutes to my total ride time. (Actually, it probably would have added more, but I intentionally rode faster than normal on my way back from Colossal Caves to make up for lost time.)
That being said, the strong headwind made climbing a lot of the hills on the road to Colossal Caves very difficult to negotiate, and I found myself having to downshift a lot to compensate; periodically I had to downshift while riding downhill just to fight the winds that hit me in the face as I crested the various hills that exist between the 10-mile and 15-mile mark on my way to the caves.
As I mentioned the other day, I have done this ride often enough to recognize most of the scenery along the way, so today I completed most of the ride with the screen turned off on my phone to conserve the battery. (Note: I turned on the screen once I hit the 10-mile mark so I could see how close to the caves I was getting, because the terrain between 10-miles and 15-miles contains the worst of the hills, and then I turned it off for the ride home.)
As I rode through the bottom of a wash at the 10-mile mark, I noticed a cow chewing its cud behind a fence off to the right of the road. I mustered up my best cow impression and I called out a friendly "Moo!" as I passed by, but she simply eyed me with contempt, as if to ask, "Why does everybody do that?"
On my way back from the caves, there is a certain point where I pass a sign which reads, "Tucson - 10 Miles." I have to admit, it is momentarily demoralizing to realize that you are on a bicycle in the middle of the desert and 10 miles from town.
- Distance: 31.2 miles
- Start Time: 9:43am
- Duration: 2:14:56
- Average Speed: 13.9 mph
- Peak Speed: 33.6 mph
- Altitude Gain: 2,152 feet [See Below]
- Calories Burned: 1,726 kcal
- Starting Temp: 90 degrees
- Ending Temp: 94 degrees
Note: Something appears to be seriously off with the altitude gain computation in my GPS application for my phone. I have done this ride several times, and the altitude gain is always well over 1,800 feet. For today's ride it said the altitude gain was 387 feet, which was totally bogus. When I analyzed the GPS data from my ride in an external application, I got the 2,152 feet that I listed above. So something is definitely amiss. Grrrrr.