Ride Notes for August 19th, 2014

Well, today was an interesting ride. Tuesdays are one of my short rides, and normally I do my usual 17-mile ride (home to the Saguaro National Park, around the park loop, and home again). But the weather was looking like it was going to be really bad, and all of the weather websites showed thunderstorms throughout the day. I looked at a lot of the radar images, and it appeared as though the storms were going to collide with the Catalina Mountains to the north of Tucson, and there was another system on the far side of the Rincon mountains to the east of Tucson.

However, Saguaro National Park is at the base of the Rincon mountains, which meant that a simple shift in the storm's direction would drop the storm on top of me when I was somewhere where I would rather not be in a thunderstorm. All of the storms seemed to be headed to the northeast, so I figured that as long as I stuck to the south, I should be okay. I therefore decided to head out to Colossal Caves, where there were a few opportunities to seek shelter if the need arose. That being said, the ride to Colossal Caves is 14 miles longer than my usual ride, which meant that I rode 31.2 miles instead of 17 miles.


It looked like the weather was getting worse as the day progressed, so I decided to ride earlier in the day instead of waiting for an evening ride like normal. With that in mind, I headed out shortly before noon, and I could see that the Catalina mountains and the northwest side of Tucson were getting slammed by serious thunderstorms. The trouble is, as I approached Saguaro National Park, I could see that South Tucson had a major rainstorm overhead, but I couldn't tell if it would be a problem later. Apart from that, the ride to the caves was uneventful, albeit a little slower than normal as I kept looking over my shoulder to see what the weather was doing.

As I was headed back, I could see that I was headed into a storm. While I accepted the fact that rain was a certainty, I saw several flashes of lightning that had me alarmed. (Rain = Acceptable; Lightning = Unacceptable.) I knew that the Rincon Market was at the 22-mile point, and I was somewhere around the 18-mile point as I suddenly found myself facing a serious headwind. (This elicited some serious yelling at nature on my part, all of which was utterly fruitless.) Knowing that I would shortly be drenched, I moved my cell phone and other important things into a small Ziploc bag that I had brought with me specifically for this possibility.

A light rain started to fall as I reached the market, and I pulled off the road briefly as I pulled out my cell phone to check the weather. The radar images looked like I would be skirting around the storm that I saw earlier, so I got back on the road headed home. Shortly after I hit the road, the rain started grew stronger. As I rode along, I kept reminding myself of each location where I could pull off the road if the weather became unbearable. By the time I was headed uphill from Jeremy wash, the rain was falling much harder, and the low areas around the wash were filling with water. My bike has no fenders, so I was throwing around a fair amount of mud as I rode.

When I reached Saguaro National Park, the rain had abated significantly, and it had ended within another half-mile or so, although that didn't help the mud situation. I made it home safely, though, and somewhat wiser about paying attention to large puddles that form on the roads.

Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 31.2 miles
  • Start Time: 11:43am
  • Duration: 2:15:38
  • Average Speed: 13.8 mph
  • Peak Speed: 28.0 mph
  • Altitude Gain: 1,334 feet
  • Calories Burned: 1,721 kcal
  • Starting Temp: 86 degrees
  • Ending Temp: 77 degrees
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