A baked land of chaotic hills and valleys

A Dry Wash near the San Pedro River

A Dry Wash near the San Pedro River

The annual Desert Training Camp for 2015, conducted by Pacific Atlantic Cycle Tours (PAC Tour), began with the Historic Hotels Tour during the last week of February. This year marked the twentieth season that PAC Tour has conducted a winter training program in the Southern Arizona desert.

In addition to Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangela, owners of PAC Tour and record setting ultra marathon cyclists in their earlier years, two participants in the 2015 Historic Hotels tour participated in that first Desert Training Camp twenty years ago. A member of this year’s crew had been Lon’s training partner even before the PAC Tour company was organized to train long distance cyclists and has ridden or been crew on 40,000 PAC Tour miles. One of the cyclists registered as a rider for the inaugural week in 1996 and he has participated in Desert Training Camp for seventeen of its twenty years.

The first season was only one week long, and its emphasis was upon the middle word in its title: Desert Training Camp. It was pitched toward young cyclists still in active training for competitive events, especially long distance rides. Well-known coaches and trainers were part of the attraction, and daily rides included practicing techniques such as riding in pace lines. Since Lon and Susan were still in their thirties, their own exploits on bicycles were clearly part of the draw.

When I first read about these weeks in the Arizona desert, the descriptions emphasized the training opportunities, which was one of the reasons why this program attracted my attention. By that time, the winter program had been extended to more weeks and the clientele had begun to change: fewer young racers and an increasing number of middle aged touring cyclists who could ride 100 miles a day, although in a recreational rather than competitive mode. The continuing emphasis upon fast, long distance touring was the primary reason I chose PAC Tour when I decided to try riding with a touring company rather than exclusively as a solo cyclist.

The Historic Hotels Tour for 2015 shows the full transformation from hard racing to recreational touring. Daily mileage for the week ranged from 47 to 67. Twenty-seven cyclists were registered: six in their 30s and 40s, six in their 50s, eleven in their 60s, and four in their 70s and 80s. Twelve were women. Nearly half of the riders had done previous trips with PAC Tour, while others were riding with Lon and Susan for the first time.

Half or more of the group were confident that they could handle the distances, while others were apprehensive, two or three because they had done very little cycling like this and several others because they were overcoming injury or were uneasy about their current level of physical readiness for rides this length. Susan, and the other members of the support staff reassured riders that they would do all that they could to help us enjoy the week cycling through this high, dry plateau in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert,” a “land of little rain,” to use Mary Austin’s descriptive phrase. Read more….Baked Land of Chaotic Hills and Valleys


Fairbank, Arizona

Fairbank, Arizona

2 Responses to A baked land of chaotic hills and valleys

  1. Liisa Fagerlund says:

    Keith, I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for adding the info about your average speed. I was just wondering that. It sounds like the roads were rough but the hotels and support made up for it. I know you will be back for another tour. Great writing

    • Liisa, I’m glad that you enjoyed my essay on this year’s bike tour. And you’re probably right that I’ll be back again next year. Is this a ride that you and Jerry could imagine making? Keith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: