Mt. Lemmon, Tucson
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  1. #1
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    Mt. Lemmon, Tucson

    This is my first post on this forum, but I have enjoyed other's pictures on this forum for quite some while. I finally bought a camera small enough to take on rides with me. My first ride was Mt. Lemmon in Tucson. It starts in Tucson at just under 3000 ft and climbs to around 9000 ft in 25 miles. The last 4 miles of the climb rolls and we finally see some trees. I did the ride on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving before I had to take off to pick up my wife and head for her family in Iowa. The weather was 56 F when I started at about 7.30 but it was cloudy and overcast. Almost perfect riding. I hope the pictures download now.
    Picture 1: The start of the climb after one long straight road to the base of the mountain, all climbing from now on.
    Picture 2: About mile 2-3, lookin back down the road. The climb isn't very steep. I would guess it averages less than 5% with very little much steeper than this. I don't have any specific numbers but it really is a great climb with little traffic and lots of riders on weekends.
    Picture 3: A vista at mile 9
    Picture 4: The view from about mile 18/19 I think. It is the viewing area above Windy Point. I stopped here as it was pretty cold now and the rest is pretty rolling into trees and I figured it would get colder. The bike is a Colnago C-50
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  2. #2
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    Nice pics

    Looks so peaceful ,good riding thinking kind of road.

  3. #3
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    Picture 5: Looking down on the road at mile 18/19
    Picture 6: This is mile 18 again, you can see Tucson in the distance
    Picture 7: Not sure where this is but you would ride it as there is only one paved road up to Summerhaven.
    Picture 8: A scientists lame attempt to mimic the artistic shots that I see on here. I did want to take a picture of my computer on the decent but I was too scared to try to takeout the camera at speed.
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    More random shots

    Picture 9: Looking over to Summerhaven, there is a bit more climbing to be done but not a lot. I didn't do it - too cold.
    Picture 10: Looking down to see the base
    Picture 11: A shot from mile post 0, a hairpin with the road climbing
    Picture 12: Looking up from mile post 9
    Picture 13: My chicken legs and flipper feet, as my wife likes to call my cyclist's physique!
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  5. #5
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    Beautiful ride, great pictures. Considering it was 20F here in Chicago...
    Thanks for sharing

  6. #6

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    Ahhh, Lemmon. It has been a while. Thanks for the memories...

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the memories

    Quote Originally Posted by idris icabod
    Picture 9: Looking over to Summerhaven, there is a bit more climbing to be done but not a lot. I didn't do it - too cold.
    Picture 10: Looking down to see the base
    Picture 11: A shot from mile post 0, a hairpin with the road climbing
    Picture 12: Looking up from mile post 9
    Picture 13: My chicken legs and flipper feet, as my wife likes to call my cyclist's physique!
    I rode Lemmon from '98-2004. The first time I saw it I drove up it by car. My bike had been wrecked in an accident and I a week's use of a rental car paid for by the insurance company.
    I took many pics similar to yours. After that, I knew I had to ride it. Being young and foolish, the first time I rode it I rode up the entire 29 miles to the Mt. Lemmon cafe. It was the hardest ride of my life, but it was one of my most proud accomplishments.
    A year later, I was racing for a local team and we'd do regular Saturday training rides up to the 9-mile mark.
    After the team disbanded, I'd ride up to the six or nine-mile mark most Sundays. On hot days, it was so nice to start out early and have a nice cool ride up. Then on the decent, you could feel the temps rise, especially as you hit the bottom and rode back into town on the Catalina Highway. If I started out early enough, I'd be riding back through the city before most traffic had even woken up with their hangover. Those were some of the most peaceful rides.
    In early spring and late fall, I remember riding up later, just as it started to warm up. You could hear the galvanized railing ticking away as it expanded with the heat. As you'd climb up you'd pass different climates, geology, and plant life. Starting out with the saguaro's, you'd be in brush and rocks for many miles before hitting the pine forest and the different campsite turnoffs. Because the climb is so long, I could never differentiate between simple long climb fatigue and possible high altitude oxygen fatigue.
    The decents were all the payoff for the climb. If I was feeling energetic, I'd try to top my last top speed. If I was feeling peaceful, I'd just cruise no handed for miles.
    I remember riding all the way up to the top during a construction phase. The rode was all dirt and gravel from about the 18 mile mark up to the top. I had a brand new pair of SpeedDream lightweight wheels and I was worried I'd trash them, but the held up fine.
    When they had the big fires that destroyed part of the Mt. Lemmon cafe and many cabins, I wanted to ride up and see the damage, but never got around to it.
    On one of my last rides, it was a very very cold day. I thought I was the only one on the mountain when I saw Gord Fraser and Mike Sayers on their way down at about the 15 mile mark. I decided to turn around and catch them. I did only because Mike flatted. We cruised down and into town together and hit up a local coffee cafe' and chatted. I didn't eat anything on the way down or in the cafe, and after we parted ways, I bonked on the way home. I had ridden up in freezing cold, decended with two top pros, and now I found myself crawling along Sixth Street on my way to my university apartment.
    Anyway, make Mt. Lemmon a regular ritual if you can. It's always there, never closes, it doesn't play politics, and always ends in a downhill.

  8. #8
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    Very nice scene shots. Don't get those beautiful views here in Illinois.

  9. #9
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    I've done Mt Lemmon about 4 times on three separate trips. It's truly one of great American climbs. The grade never gets crazy and averages about 5% but it's loooong (25 mi).

    Thanks for sharing!
    steephill.tv bike travelogue

  10. #10
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    Great first post

    The pics are awesome. I bet it's really gorgeous in the late Arizona spring. I always love climbs like that. Hurt on the way up but rock on the way down.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  11. #11
    A Canadian in Sweden
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    Wow, it is really beautiful there. I had heard about Mt Lemmon, but through my experiences within the rock climbing community. The riding looks super. How cold did it become? Any traffic on the road? Finally, why did you have to keep ruining your posts with that horrible C-50 ;) ? Eeeesshhh.
    Cheers, Wayne
    Albert (5 years old) to Uncle Peter (family friend): "Why don't we play another card game, something you can win at."

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayneanneli
    Wow, it is really beautiful there. I had heard about Mt Lemmon, but through my experiences within the rock climbing community. The riding looks super. How cold did it become? Any traffic on the road? Finally, why did you have to keep ruining your posts with that horrible C-50 ;) ? Eeeesshhh.
    Cheers, Wayne
    Not too cold, definitely rideable. I have found that after 2 years in Tucson I am a right girls blouse when it comes to the cold. I noticed you are a Canadian in Sweden so you would laugh at the days I deem it too cold to ride. I am actually British, but have lost all my ability to survive as a cold rainy island monkey so I guess I will have to stay here.

    The traffic was pretty light. I would guess that perhaps 10 cars passed me on the way up, all giving me plenty of room. On the weekends you get a bit more traffic, a few motorcyclists and 'fast and the furious' type civics with those obnoxiously loud exhausts. I live on the north end of town and have ridded from my house the 120 mile round trip a few times. Tucson is a pretty biker friendly town. You just need to watch out for the snow birds, the older population that decend on Tucson during the colder months. I hate to stereotype, but old drivers are sometimes pretty sketchy.


    Sorry about the C-50. I have a Moots as well, I knew I should have ridden that. Moots seem to have a good following on this site, but honestly, I had just cleaned the Moots and didn't want to get it dirty and the Colnago was already dirty so that was my only option, they are my only two options, really life does suck.

  13. #13
    A Canadian in Sweden
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    Quote Originally Posted by idris icabod
    Sorry about the C-50. I have a Moots as well, I knew I should have ridden that. Moots seem to have a good following on this site, but honestly, I had just cleaned the Moots and didn't want to get it dirty and the Colnago was already dirty so that was my only option, they are my only two options, really life does suck.
    LOL! What a tough life. A C-50 and a Moots. Which one do you have? I'm riding a Vamoots with Campy. What is a "right girls blouse"?
    Albert (5 years old) to Uncle Peter (family friend): "Why don't we play another card game, something you can win at."

  14. #14
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    What a great climb. I kick myself for not riding that when I was out there this past summer - but it was always 110 degrees plus on the days that I could have ridden it. Just couldn't bring myself to suffer like that. Next time for sure. Great pics - thanks for sharing.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayneanneli
    LOL! What a tough life. A C-50 and a Moots. Which one do you have? I'm riding a Vamoots with Campy. What is a "right girls blouse"?
    I will ride the Moots on my next photographic adventure and include a shot with my chicken legs and flipper feet.

    A 'girls blouse' is the same as a 'big pink skipping rope'. You don't want to be called either.

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