On Saturday, April 15, three Golden Goose truckers and a visiting friend attempted a mountain bike ride, Assault on the Back Side of Mt. Lemmon. Stan Watkins, probably the top mountain biker in SaddleBrooke, led our group on the ride from Oracle up Mt. Lemmon and back. Joining the adventure were fellow Golden Goose truckers Pat Barry, Mike Buckley and SaddleBrooke visitor Marc Colbert. We were assisted by Goose trucker Fred Norris as our support driver extraordinaire.
The ride began on a beautiful spring morning at 8:00 a.m. on the Mt. Lemmon Road just outside Oracle. The first 14 miles of the ride was over a well maintained gravel road through gently rolling hills. This was encouraging and gave us hope we could indeed conquer the mountain! The only nagging thought was we had gained over 1500 feet of accumulated elevation, but we were at the same altitude as the beginning of our ride.
The day continued to warm as we rode ever higher and the road became much rougher. Breaks became more frequent and the necessity to drink lots of fluid became evident as cramps started to affect some riders. Our SAG driver Fred saved the day by giving out electrolyte solutions and encouraging us to continue consuming extra fluids.
Stan and Pat continued leading the pack, but Mike and Marco started to lag behind. As the road became much steeper and the rocks larger and more numerous, these two occasionally had to dismount and walk their bikes over the more difficult sections. However, with encouragement from Stan and Pat in the front and Fred guarding our rear, 5 ½ hours and 25 miles after we started, all four riders emerged on to the paved road at the firehouse on Mt. Lemmon!
Mission accomplished? No! We still had to ride back down! Marco decided to enjoy Fred’s company in the SAG Wagon, while the three determined truckers decided to tackle the descent down the mountain. The ride down was much easier, but also much more exciting! The first 14 miles barely required a turn of the pedals as we sped down. The main concern was gaining too much speed as we dodged large rocks and negotiated numerous very tight turns. Finally, we arrived at our starting point less than three hours after starting our descent.
Over 49 miles of riding with over 6000 feet of elevation gain all accomplished in 8 ½ hours. We reflected on our day while replenishing our fluids with a hoppy beverage and all three truckers agreed the extra conditioning we get from working on the Golden Goose truck helped us accomplish the ride.
Consider volunteering to be a Golden Goose Trucker if you would like to improve your conditioning and enjoy the camaraderie of a bunch of great volunteers. Orientation is at the Goose on the third Monday of each month at 3:00 p.m.