Friday, June 7, 2013

Chiricahuas or Bust -- Day 1

Tour de Cochise County

Not on this tour!
May 8, 2013
Day 1 – Tucson to Fairbank: Thank the Lord for a tailwind!
86.75 miles, 6:28, 13.4 avg

Pretty funny end to this first day. The site host here at Fairbank did not want to come out of his RV to talk to me. He must have some rule about after hours work. What if it was an emergency? Anyway, his partner happened to come home, so I spoke with her. Might be some good camp spots down the trail about a mile she tells me. Too bad I can’t camp right here in the ghost town. Nice tables and shade under the mesquites and water spigots galore.

So I head off down the trail, swishing through the sandy spots a bout a mile and half to a sweet spot along the San Pedro River. I’m thinking about Ramen for dinner and then realize I have forgotten the stove! Oh no. Toting around a pot and fuel bottle for nothing? Just as I begin to contemplate letting the noodles sit in cold water for a while, I remember! The stove is in the pot! (It’s been a long day.) Yee haw!

Oops. The bumpy trail ride out here has shaken the stove to pieces. Luckily the Whisperlite is easy to put back together again, even when you’re stomach is growling and you’re not thinking straight. Food is cooked in no time.

The river is mine for a night

It’ll be a long slog back out of here tomorrow morning through the mesquites and cat claws and sand. I put the tent right on the cow trail because there are sticks and grass everywhere. Also, not sure about the human traffic through here, so I opted to camp up in the bush a bit instead of right down on the beach. All is good though after the Brown-crested and Vermilion Flycatchers and Gray Hawk serenade me at sunset. Can’t wait for the dawn chorus tomorrow!


Getting out of Tucson was quite the chore, what with traffic and all. 30 miles to Vail is a long way! I chose HWY 10 over the shoulder-less Houghton to get down to HWY 83, and it paid off. No problem, smooth, wide shoulder and maybe only 7 miles. HWY 83 does have a little shoulder in most spots to my surprise, and traffic was very light. 

HWY 10 - I can follow that rule

Mt. Wrightson in background

Rosemont mine site
Great scenery, but I was getting tired already on this hilly road. After a couple of mandatory stops, I finally pull into Sonoita for a late lunch in the nice picnic area at the Shell station, out of the wind which has suddenly picked up big-time. I was pretty wrecked, then the woman there tells me the road ahead is not easy either. She also says I look too pale for a cyclist (sunscreen?), so I pay her no mind. I’m not worried. I see a massive tailwind in my future, and I don’t remember any big hills going this way.

BOOM! I’m shot out of a cannon and head down, down, then down some more, and it feels like someone has their hand on my back just pushing me along the road. This is bike touring at its finest! I’m checking out the scenery and barely pedaling at all with a strong wind out of the west. Great grasslands! Doesn’t even matter that this seems to be the truck route from Sonoita to points unknown. 

Holy grasslands, Batman!

I scream past the junction with HWY 90 and head still further down to the river. These might be the easiest 30 miles I’ve ever done! I go down some more. Makes me a little worried about climbing out of here tomorrow. Nice sighting of two Swainson’s Hawks copulating somewhere in here. Bet that would’ve been easy to miss in a car!

Gallery forest of San Pedro river with Dragoons in background


Mighty San Pedro...
A quick tour of the Fairbank ghost town, and here I am under the cottonwoods with a million crickets!

Main St., Fairbank

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