This is a ride I have done several times before but only decided to do this year after a last minute change in plans. I like the route which is generally pretty flat but follows great rural roads with some excellent desert scenery. If you like ancient ruins, desert peaks, saguaro cactus and 70 degree temperatures in January then this ride may be for you.

I was somewhere at the front of this group.

About 50 riders gathered for the 7:30 am start, and after RBA Susan Plonsky gave us our pre-ride pep talk we got started. Surprisingly, riders stayed mostly together for the 30+ miles to the first checkpoint. It was a pretty strong pace but not so much that you couldn’t chat with the other riders. It was great to catch up with some old friends who were also riding today. The first check was at Casa Grande National Monument whose ruins date back to about 1350 AD. The rangers stamped our cards and after a quick snack we were on our way again. We formed a good group of about 7 riders for the next leg of the route and covered the miles quickly. We pulled into the second checkpoint, recorded our times and headed out again. The next section is an out and back leg which passes through the Tohono O’odham Indian reservation. The route is characterized by gentle rolling hills covered with giant Saguaro cactus. The pavement is excellent with wide shoulders and traffic is very light, consisting mainly of Border Patrol vehicles and a few motorcycles. It is about 36 miles out to our turnaround point and once we get there we are treated to Susan’s famous homemade wraps and cold drinks. I always appreciate the extra effort she puts into providing support for her riders. Thank you Susan! Following our route back in, the groups of riders were much smaller. Most were keeping their own pace in groups of two or three and were in cruise mode. Of course my observations were from the middle of the pack. I suppose the “A” group was pressing hard and looking for a sub 7 hour time but we’ll have to wait for the results to be posted to find out how they did. I rode back in with my friend Alan from Tucson and we just missed the 8 hour mark, coming in at 8 hours and 2 minutes. I was pleased with this result, and with time included for self support and recording the route this was pretty good for an early season event for me.

Full results should be posted at www.azbrevet.com .

P.S.  For me this year, this was my Clair Jensen Memorial ride.  At the finish of the ride for me it had been almost exactly 2 years and 2 days since we lost him. Many of Clair’s Arizona friends were there and there were some fond memories exchanged.  I believe it must have been Clair that arranged for the nice weather and light winds we enjoyed that day. Thanks Clair!

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