I sought out the steepest climbs I have mapped out in the Phoenix area this morning (one hits 16%) and really hammered up one of them so I could stop long enough to snap this picture. I’ve always enjoyed climbing best, and though I am not genetically predisposed to be overly good at it (145 pounds and about 5′ 3″ would be best—and that’s not me!), I am still on track to climb an incredible 40 miles straight up this riding year. I actually much prefer the hard work of ascending to the hair-raising experience of descending. This morning I was coming down one of those steep climbs when one of the very prevalent desert rabbits decided that was the greatest time his tiny little brain had ever thought of to dart across the road. Impact avoided, thankfully, but just another reminder that at 35 mph on a downhill, even the smallest of items can ruin your day.

This was the first day back on the bike after my ride Saturday. I gave up on waiting for it to cool down here in Phoenix (highs 104-107 all week still!), and I really needed to do a long, long ride. So I jumped in my car early Saturday morning and drove up to Flagstaff, Arizona. Now, Flagstaff is beautiful. Pine forests and lakes and everything. But…my entire ride Saturday, which lasted just over eight hours on the bike, was between 6,800 feet above sea level and 7,255 feet above sea level. That’s not exactly an “oxygen rich” altitude. And the wind picked up as the day went along. And I ended up climbing 3,560 ft as well. So, the 130 miles I covered wasn’t half bad, given that I am normally riding at 1200 ft, not 7000 ft. I stopped on my last loop back to my car and snapped this picture of Lake Mary.

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