Orientation day includes a shuttle from Tucson south to the community of Green Valley for our bike fitting and orientation dinner. Our first day of riding will get us warmed up as we enjoy a gentle climb up to the small, historic town of Arivaca, full of artists, makers, and growers. Day 3 starts with a flat ride as we work our way north towards Tucson. We get our first taste of the extensive, paved bike path network found through the city. We include a loop in the Colossal Cave area that has hosted a local road race for years, and an optional stop at the famed Pima Air and Space Museum.
Our warm up days have ended as we tackle an ascent on Day 4. We take the Catalina Highway up Mt Lemmon to Summerhaven. During our ride we travel through seven life zones in the Coronado National Forest. Saguaro Cacti give way to hoodoos and balanced rocks during the day. For anyone looking for “bragging rights”, the Sky Island route is the longest ascent in the state. By the end of the day we will have climbed over 6000 ft of elevation. As a reward for the climb, we will be spending the last two nights in the luxurious Loews Ventana Canyon Resort!
The Old Spanish Trail is a historical trade route, which connected the northern New Mexico settlements with that of southern California. However, our ride on Day 5 is connected only in name with the historic trail. We start the ride via many of Tucson’s paved bike paths along the arroyos and out to a loop through Saguaro National Park East. Our return ride is on the Old Spanish Trail road, a striking route that travels along the foothills of the Rincon Mountains highlighting the merging of desert and city. The route includes rollers and three moderate hills.
Our last day might have the greatest concentration of cacti scenery of the week. We will travel to Saguaro National Park West and ride the Gates Pass loop. It doesn’t take long to get into a forest of Saguaros along this spectacular stretch of the Sonoran Desert. A final, exciting decent from the mountains brings us back to the city where we will have our traditional celebratory lunch before returning to the airport.