Early last November, I got an email from Scott. Getting a random email from Scott was never a surprise but this one made me pause and say, ‘Universe, this is interesting timing.’ In a nutshell, the email said, ‘I’m thinking of putting on a Camp Tucson a la Camp Lynda this spring. What do you think? Also, how are things?’
The next day, it snowed in Boulder and we struck up a conversation that started with, ‘It’s snowing. I’m coming to Tucson.’ Coming to Tucson was something that I’d been threatening to do for years, every time the summer of Colorado faded into fall, and then into winter. I was only half serious about actually making the trip in the same way that Scott was only half serious about hosting a Camp Tucson, a long weekend of playing on desert trails. But in the end, he held me to my threat of visiting Tucson (which turned out spectacularly), and I held him to his threat of hosting camp (which also turned out spectacularly).
Unfortunately, I was still in R&R mode when it came to riding this past weekend as it seems like I dug myself into a pretty big hole during the ITI. Fortunately, Jj was still in rehab mode after a double knee surgery and restricted to smooth, wide, non-dangerous bike paths. We made the perfect pair for piddle-pedal rides and the weekend was nothing short of magic from the moment we met up at the airport in Denver, to getting on the tiny little airplane to deplane in the warmth of the desert, to riding, eating, riding, eating, riding, eating, and then finally dropping her back off at the Tucson airport to return to the lingering winter in Colorado. We completely took over Scott’s house, adding to the stable of bikes, cooking giant breakfasts, and lounging in his front yard, watching the world go by under the rays of the hot Tucson sun.
We asked Scott for a GPX track for a two hour smooth ride on the first day to entertain us while he went off to beat up on the boys of the actual Camp Tucson. When he loaded a 28 mile track onto the GPS, I shrugged, thinking it hilarious that he thought that we could cover 28 miles in 2 to 2.5 hours. But there was a shortcut we could take if we were running low on time…unfortunately Scott forgot to load the shortcut onto the GPS in a scramble to get out the door. This fact was not realized until much later in the day.
We rode. We talked. We admired the cactus and the rocks and the flowers and the birds and the ocotillos. We reveled in feeling thirsty on a ride and soaked up the sunshine in a mad dash to produce Vitamin D. We followed our little red line.
Time passed. The shortcut option never came into view on the GPS. We scratched our heads, but had no option other than following our current path, knowing that it would take us to where we needed to be. And it was nothing short of delightful. Beautifully wonderful.
But in the end, we both knew that we were potentially pushing our luck, so Scott sent us to Fantasy Island on Day 2. Fantasy Island is a one by three mile strip of land with 20 miles of trail on it, including the famed Bunny Loop.
Part manicured trail, part amusement park ride, we laughed at the trail side art, giggled through the whoops and wash crossings, and had a merry old time for exactly an hour and a half. This is good for us, we reminded ourselves, but this isn’t mountain biking. Recovery and rehab, bah!
Luckily, Scott cooked up a better plan for us for Day 3. The boys had a giant 85 mile loop planned on the AZT just south of Tucson, and amazingly, from their start point, there was an ice cream shop just 10 miles down a beautifully smooth section of trail. With a goal like that, even I got excited about an out-and-back ride.
JenJ joined us after having done the previous two days of the real Camp Tucson. We rode with the boys for the first four miles and watched them disappear over a power line. From there on, we gabbed and gossiped, repeatedly got out of our brains excited about the trail, and all in all, had a merry old time. Colossal Cave came much too soon and we dropped down into the ranch just as they were opening up. We got our ice cream and lounged in the sun, petting Hagan the cat and enjoying the small desert oasis.
The return trip was equally awe inducing. Trail. Friends. Sun. Back at the cars, we loaded the bikes and headed straight to Mi Ranchito for tacos, for the third time since lunch the previous day, knowing full on well that as soon as the boys emerged from their adventure, we’d be meeting them there for the fourth time in 24 hours.
With one more day in the desert for Jj, we were determined to make the most of it and headed out to Sweetwater. I went and did my first set of intervals since pre-ITI and Scott and Jj went and rode for an hour. We reconvened for my ‘warm down’ and giggled our way through Saguaro City. We had to do our mini-loop twice…just because we could, and I wasn’t quite feeling ‘warmed-down’ enough.
We went back to Mi Ranchito for tacos, one final time, to cap off a weekend of desert goodness and love. A weekend of remembering what ‘real’ life is really about, of what ‘real’ trails look like, and what really good food tastes like.
Magic, rainbows, and unicorns. Smiles and giggles. Ponies and dirt.