Day four of camp was another lesson in adapting to adversity–again due to weather. We had some concerns the day prior, when the forecast called for snow in the mountains where we planned to ride, but on Sunday morning the bad weather seemed to have cleared. This was the day we were meant to climb Mount Lemmon, a milestone in any Tucson cyclist’s training program. The climb is a doozy–20 miles of ascent up to 9,000 feet, followed by a brief downhill respite to reach the ultimate mountaintop reward: a giant freshly baked cookie topped with ice cream served at the Cookie Cabin, a near-mythical landmark at mile 25.
We cruised the first few easy miles from our central parking spot to the base of the climb, only to find a roadblock set up by the sheriff’s department. The deputies reported snow and black ice on the road ahead and would allow neither cars nor cyclists to pass. But they did expect the road would reopen before noon. Plan B? Coffee and second breakfast, of course!
We retreated to Le Buzz, a favorite gathering spot where we had conveniently parked, to wait out the weather. Two hours–and several breakfasts, baked goods and espresso shots–later and we were cleared to ride. The start of the climb was promising, with sunny skies and warm temperatures. But as we rode higher, ominous clouds rolled back in. The faster cyclists did successfully reach the Cookie Cabin–after forging through thick fog and icy roads. They huddled there by the fire, eating cookies and drinking coffee (and accidentally locking the Cookie Cabin’s owner temporarily out in the cold) until they dared to brave the descent. Others of us stopped at the top of the climb, knowing that with the chill worsening and already being cold to the core, there was no good reason to continue. Instead we shivered and shook our way down the mountain despite having piled on all our extra cold weather gear. We had time for one more coffee or hot tea at Le Buzz before being reunited with the fast group, then together we tackled a three to four-mile transition run.
Sometimes I think it’s good to be thwarted from a goal the first time around; the failed attempt provides extra motivation to try again. I have no regrets about not yet making it to the Cookie Cabin–for now I’m proud of the 20-mile consistent climb. But someday I’ll return to Tucson and surely then I’ll stuff my face with hard-earned sugary goodness at 9,000 feet!
Sunday night was the final evening that all campers were in town, so we rushed home to shower and meet the pizza deliveryman in time for a group dinner at Hillary and Maik’s house. We ate, we drank, we socialized, we swapped Mt. Lemmon war stories, we watched the Academy Awards and we shopped! The power couple’s spare bedroom doubles as the warehouse for SMASH, Hillary’s line of women’s triathlon and lifestyle apparel. Despite being drained from the toughest training day yet, campers found a second wind when the warehouse doors opened and the shopping extravaganza began.
Quote of the Day:
“This is not ideal!” Marc from Phoenix, during the final icy miles up Mt. Lemmon, repeating a phrase often uttered by his coach (Hillary).
“Oh my god! I found out that one of my athletes went on a date and I sent her four separate emails about it!” – Hillary, on her holistic coaching philosophy and the importance of every aspect of an athlete’s life.
By the Numbers:
5 snowmen (the number I saw atop cars driving down from Mt. Lemmon–apparently it’s a Tucson thing)
5 pieces of pizza, 3 gluten free chocolate chip cookies, 2 glasses of wine (the tally I consumed after the ride/run brick)