Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Biking from Tombstone to Douglas, AZ March 24

March 24.....59.35 miles in 4:47....The route was AZ 80 south, all the way to Douglas, which sits right on the border with Mexico. The ride out of Tombstone was rolling for quite a while, never really emptying off the ridge that tombstone was on, and always having a view of the valley, off to the right or left. I could see the town of Sierra Vista off to my right, eventually, down in the valley, about ten to twenty miles off in the distance. After about 15-20 miles, I too had a pretty good descent, only to begin a climb at about the 15 mile mark of my ride, that ascended for about five miles at 5-6%. I wish I could say my legs felt better than they did, but they never had that zip, going up this hill. The three bikers who caught me from behind near the top, had more juice than me, or I would have gone with them. When I finally did summit the mountain, at about 5800-5900 ft, the descent took me right into the Mule Pass Tunnel. I pulled out my camera and took a picture of the approaching tunnel as I rode no handed, and started to build speed pretty quick. That move caused me to drop my camera while going about 25 mph. It's the first time I've dropped it in 13000 miles, but it still pissed me off as it bounced and skidded down the shoulder. I slammed the breaks as I went into the tunnel, and walked back out to find the camera easily, but the memory card, about one inch square and very flat, shot out when the little door holding it in gave way. I had a lot of pictures on that card, so I decided right away that even if the camera was a loss, I HAD to find that card. I checked the lane of traffic as cars whizzed by me, to make sure it wasn't getting run over, then I could begin searching the shoulder, that was gravel, dead leaves  and weeds. I searched for about five minutes before I finally found the card, and I was greatly relieved. The camera took some body shots, and the battery door was bent and broken, but some pliers and athletic training tape fixed it right up (when I got to the RV), and it seems to be working. Whew!
The descent went on for about five miles, including the last mile, where I could see the copper mining town of Bisbee in a hollow (canyon) off to my left. The mountains I had just come through were rocky, and pretty big, making for some nice scenery. I did finally think of the fact that I could take some pictures with my phone, which I did, so not all was lost. I pulled off the exit at historical downtown, Bisbee, and spent some time riding through the narrow streets of this little tourist town, which was filled with little shops. After riding about a mile looking for a quick place to grab a bite, I settled on a Klondike Bar from a Circle K convenience store. As I was heading out of town, I came upon a support wagon from Wisconsin, that a large group of bicyclers had just departed from. I stopped and chatted, and the guy said that they were doing a big loop from Tuscon, and they took a different route from me, but were all staying in a hotel in Douglas tonight. Pam found us a place at the Cochise County Fairgrounds with water and electric for $15. (We were the only people staying there, so they gave Pam the key to the fairgrounds gate, and we locked ourselves in for the night!) 
Anyhow, as I left Bisbee, I rode right past the huge copper mine pit that was the main reason for Bisbee existing. It's now also the Cochise County Seat, having grabbed that designation from Tombstone, when Tombstone's silver ran out. The mountains near the mine were beautiful colors, but there were also piles of debris from the mine that were almost as big as the mountains, but more bland, you could even say ugly. AZ 80 continued on a gradual down slope all the way to Douglas, which exists because two copper shelters were built here. AZ 80 treated me right all day, as the shoulder was decent and the rode was mostly smooth. Ten miles from Douglas, the road turned to a four lane, with ten foot shoulders. As I rode into Douglas, a town of 18,000 mostly Hispanics, I began to see some of the bikers who were with the group from Wisconsin, as they were riding around the town, just checking it out, and getting some extra miles. I, too, chose to cruise the town, so I rode a few miles to the Mexican border, and criss crossed the town a couple times, before heading a few miles out of town to the fairgrounds. As I approached my destination, Pam was just coming back in the Jeep from a grocery store run, so she saw some of the town also, before we settled in.

The beautiful scenery

Pretty decent shoulder to ride 

Heading into Mule Pass Tunnel - before the camera wipe out!

POW bell in Douglas

Bike visits with a large soap tree yucca

The rock colors near the copper mine in Bisbee

Copper mine in Bisbee


Miner made of copper in Bisbee



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