October 22, 2011

Lemmon Drop

The posting was simple enough 'Lemmon Drop Oct. 22nd'. I checked my calendar and with that I was IN. I've done a few rides now on the outskirts of Tucson, but nothing up on the mountain. The proposed route down Mt. Lemmon would take us on virtually all the popular rides that I've been reading/hearing about.  We would rent a shuttle from Southwest Trekking to do some of the dirty work, dropping us off at the top at 9000', $10 well spent.

14 of us piled into the short bus!
The temps were cool, most of us had layers that were quickly shed on our descent of Aspen Draw. The upper trails were good for me, awesome views, a bit of tech thrown in and the changing leaves.
Some remnants of the devastating fire from a few years ago.
Yes, this is AZ in October
I was really glad to see so much red & orange
A young couple take advantage of the perfect day
Many borrowed photos from Seron

After we reached the Catalina Hwy, we had a short steep climb to another overlook, then the real 'fun' began on the Green Mtn. Trail. I struggled with the trail over the next 3 miles or so, it was a bit above my comfort level. I walked more than most of the other riders on this section, but I know my limits, 1 OTB was enough on this day.

For a shuttled downhill run, there was quite a bit of this
We were a small army short in our attempt.
Hall of Presidents
Rockin' the SS all the way!

Whew! What? This is the HALFWAY point!?!? I'll grab a beer then
Duncan was kind enough to leave refreshments in his car along with my second water bladder, sure was nice not having to lug that around all morning.  Next up was the HAB section up the beginning of Bug Springs. Put your head down, one step at a time, and 20 minutes later you're at the top.

So cool to ride through trails like this

Chain of riders
Catalina Highway
Bug Springs dumps you out into Molino Basin or Prison Camp for another fun few miles of downhill.
Prison Camp

Molino Basin
Another new section of AZT to ride!

Molino Basin dumped us out at the Catalina Hwy once again for the start of the La Milagrosa trail. This was our last point to bail out, or do another one mile HAB up the ridge to a very technical descent over the last 8 miles. We opted for a pavement finish on this day.  My entire body was spent, Seron's knees were hurting and cold beverages awaited in the car.  Plus, by committing to Milagrosa it meant another 3 hours on the trail in the waning light. We made the right call by taking the fast way down. Duncan and Daniel also joined us for the speedy 5 mile plunge back to the car.

Zooming down the Catalina Hwy at 30mph
Finish line in sight
Back at the car, brews were cracked open and stories of the day's adventure began to spill out. We were separated from a couple of newer riders on the way down, found them, then one, Brian, took a wrong turn again. We were really hoping he'd find his way out quickly or he was in for the long haul. To our surprise he came riding down the rode as we chilled carside! He ended up tacking on an extra 15 miles or so before finding his way out of one of the many drainages for a total of 40 miles!! Way to get it done Brian!

The Lemmon Drop ride is definitely not for the novice or really the intermediate rider. It has a bit of everything and requires your full attention and preparation. I'll be back next year, and hopefully can complete the full run down the mountain including La Milagrosa. Perhaps a side trip to sample that section of trail is in order so I know what to expect for next year.

A huge thank you to Duncan for putting this all together and allowing a couple of Phoenix guys to come down to the Old Pueblo for some shredding.  Great bunch of riders down in Tucson, they deliver the goods!  They even gave us a great post-ride food recommendation, El Guero Canelo for some of Tucson's famous Sonoran Hotdogs. So good.  Full photo album here.

El Guero Canelo

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