Band of Bikers

The weather in Tucson has warmed up, but it's not quite hot enough to cause instant heatstroke yet. It's the perfect weather to get out, breathe in the fresh air, break a sweat and maybe swallow a few bugs. What's the best way to do it in this wilderness-blessed city? Mountain biking!

Now, if you're anything like my comrades and I, the thought has crossed your mind once or twice. You nobly seek out eager companions, discuss locations, maybe even work out an ambitious route plan--and promptly veto the trip in favor of an afternoon in the air-conditioned environs of your living room, watching Spike TV and talking about how the weather should be cooler next weekend. The cycle repeats until July, at which point "next weekend" becomes "next year."

Granted, not everyone has this problem. I shall not deny that my relationship with outdoor sports, while well-intentioned, does leave something to be desired.

But never fear, unmotivated would-be bicyclists; the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists will come to the rescue! (There is a joke lurking in here somewhere about the Superman-Spandex connection, but City Week takes the high road. That is, when we can be persuaded to take to the road in the first place.)

The group of intrepid bicyclists has at least one trip planned on most weekends, and two trips planned for every weekend in May. They ride near and far, with rides for all experience and fitness levels. Best of all, the rides are always free. There is truly something for everyone, whether it's a ride at a place called Fantasy Island (in southeast Tucson) or Dead Bobby Loop (near Florence). Both sound tempting, don't they?

On Saturday, May 8, there is the Tucson Mountain Park "Goose" ride. For advanced beginner and intermediate levels, this easy-paced ride covers 12 miles. To participate, meet at parking lot G-5 on Gates Pass Road, on the west side of the pass. The ride begins at 7 a.m., so be sure to arrive early. For information on this ride, call Dick Bryant at 299-9588 or 907-3782.

On Sunday, May 9, a "For Women Only" tour explores the 50 Year Trail at Golder Ranch.

"It's way out in the little town of Catalina, 20-minutes' drive north of the Ina/Oracle intersection," says Martha Lemen, the ride's organizer. "Even though the elevation is similar to the front side of the Catalinas, the terrain is totally different. It's really neat." For beginner and intermediate levels, the ride will be between five and nine miles long, depending on the group.

"It's absolutely fun," says Lemen. "It's rolling terrain, single track, nothing technical. We can do just about everything. A lot of people have apprehensions (about mountain biking), but no one is left behind. It's fun, instead of grueling."

If you'd like to carpool from the northwest side, meet at 6:30 a.m. at Trader Joe's (at Oracle and Magee roads). Those who prefer to drive on their own can meet the group at 7 a.m. at the Golder Ranch cattle guard parking area, where Golder Ranch Road turns to dirt. For details, call Martha Lemen at 400-9095.

In the next month, the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists have rides planned for Gardner Canyon, Willow Springs Ranch, Melendrez Pass and others. A couple of day/night rides are also on the schedule. Because the telephone number to call for information varies by the ride, keep an eye out for weekly ride information in City Week's sports listings. Helmets are required on all rides, with lights required on day/night rides.