« Spray-On Love | Main | You're Invited: KREWE OF HELIOS-AZ MARDI GRAS PARTY & PARADE, PART 8 »

Team Limoncello Rides Again: Bike-N-Hike 2010


After spending 2009 overdosing on Vitamin B (for Bacon), Team Limoncello decided to kick the new year off right with some good, old-fashioned Vitamin D (sunshine) and Vitamin E (exercise): Bike-N-Hike 2010.

The plan: Depart from the Pat and Stacy World Headquarters (elev 593) at 11 AM - riding our bikes 5 miles straight uphill on Happy Valley to the Pinnacle Peak Trail Head (elev 779 feet). Dismount our bikes, lock them up, change shoes and hike to the summit of Pinnacle Peak (elev 2889 feet). After working up a sweat and a good appetite, we would roll down the road (0.4 miles) to Blu Burger Grill (elev 765) where we would enjoy tasty gourmet burgers and their full bar. Suitably sated, we'd roll back downhill to the Pat and Stacy World Headquarters. (Because we don't like to exert ourselves after we make pigs of ourselves).

As usual, things didn't always turn out as planned - but that didn't mean we didn't have a good time!


Rendezvousing with us at the Pat and Stacy World Headquarters were Jason Robert, Gina Canzonetta and the Balthazor Clan - Team Limoncello official Bike-N-Hike photographer Kelly, her husband Steven and two sons, Drivin' Drew and Can't Quit Kyle. At ages 16 and 11 respectively, Drew and Kyle are our youngest Team Limoncello members - and they more than earned their stripes as we rolled out, eastbound on Happy Valley Road.

Though it's named for the bucolic home of Penn State University, Happy Valley was a bit of a misnomer for the Limoncellites: It was the Unhappy Uphill of Unrelenting Ugliness. Into a slight headwind. Behold, our misery:


The photo doesn't quite do justice to the lung- and leg-burning angst generated by this insidious incline. What you need to know: Drivin' Drew scaled its heights on possibly the hardest gears on his mountain bike. Stomping the pedals halfway up the hill, Drivin' Drew managed to catch Pat and Jason who were locked in their own battle of wills to be "King of the Mountain" ... or at least King of the 180-foot Elevation Change.

Despite having legs about half the length of everyone but Gina, wearing jeans, battling a leaky CamelBak and being in the hardest gears on his bike - for his inaugural voyage on said bike - Can't Quit Kyle ground up the grueling hill, pausing only at Gina's insistence to take a water-break and let his Dad make some mechanical adjustments.

Here we are at the summit of Unhappy Uphill ... gasping for air / gulping water / posing for photos ... glad that we were no longer being bombarded by passing (speeding) cars:


At this point, Kyle was worse for wear and tear, but it didn't take much to motivate him onward ... and further upward: After all, he couldn't let his brother beat him up the mountain. So we rolled out for the penultimate ascent, from Alma School Road to the Pinnacle Peak trailhead - you can see the mountain to the left (the hike portion of the Bike-N-Hike):


Because the Bike-N-Hike isn't exactly a sanctioned event, logistics posed an intellectual challenge to complement our physical exertions. First, we had to lock up the bikes - which involved Team Sherpa / Photographer Kelly loading a big chain and combo-lock into her truck. With that and Jason's fabulous pink bike lock, we saddled our horses and re-shod our hooves in our hiking shoes and set off up the mountain.


At this point, some non-bikers joined the Bike-N-Hike - namely Team Photographer Kelly, Pat's sister Valerie, her boyfriend Tom and his son Dominic. Here Kelly leads her family as they gamely complete the second-half of our adventure:


We battled a crowded mountain of tourists in town for the Fiesta Bowl (TCU vs Boise State) and snowbirds enjoying a day without side-walk shoveling, winter boots or engine-block heaters. We summited at 12:13 PM - just in time to hike back down and roll over to our 12:30 reservations at Blu Burger.

Sadly, after a jaunty roll down the hill, we discovered that Blu Burger really was blue... or rather red, as in "In the Red" - for their doors were padlocked and their windows displayed the telltale notice of bankruptcy that is the bane of commercial real estate throughout Arizona. (It wouldn't be a Team Limoncello Adventure if we didn't have some kind of mishap befall us - GAH!).

Fortunately, the iconic Arizona outdoor eatery - Greasewood Flats - was right around the corner (and up another short, quarter-mile hill. Thus we were able to fortify ourselves with more Vitamin B - as in Bacon Green Chile Cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, cold beer, nachos, more cold beer, enough root beer to raze an old-growth forest and Ruffles potato chips - for the long, 5-mile roll home.

Suffice it to say, it took us 49 minutes to ride up the hill and about half that time to roll down it - and the descent was a lot more decent than the ascent. Just ask Can't Quit Kyle and Drivin' Drew.