From the desert floor in the heart of Arizona’s Santa Catalina Mountains rises Mount Lemmon, a climb of epic proportions and breathtaking beauty
Cyclist goes Stateside to embark on a ride from Arizona’s desert floor to the summit of the mighty Mount Lemmon that will steal your breath in more ways than one
I’ve been riding for two miles when it finally clicks. ‘Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner, but he knew it wouldn’t last. Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona, for some California grass.’ The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ is the reason why the words Tucson and Arizona seem so inextricably linked in my mind, possibly the only reason before this trip that I knew where Tucson actually was. In the two miles we’ve been cycling (we’re in the United States so imperial measurements rule) I’ve learned from my ride companion, Miguel, that Tucson is Arizona’s second city to Phoenix – population half a million – and Arizona is one quarter of the ‘Four Corners’, the sole quadripoint in the USA where four states butt heads, the others being Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.
Miguel tells me he’s spent the winter months training with the runner-up of Liège-bastogne-liège, Canadian Michael Woods, who is one of a number of ‘snowbirds’ – out-of-towners who flock to Uncle Sam’s southwest corner each winter for a slice of Arizona’s 350 sunny days per year. He also informs me that the cactus here are cactus, not cacti, and one such cactus is so proudly indigenous it is a protected species.
The saguaro cactus (pronounced sah-wah-roh) enjoys such a privileged status that when Miguel had some work