2019 Ruta del Jefe Recap
Words and Photos - Martin Rodriguez
Ruta del Jefe’s name represents ‘El Jefe’, who is a Jaguar that has roamed the region widely recognized as Sky Islands in Southern Arizona. The recent appearance of another long-time friend of the region has provided our hosts, The Appleton Whittell Research Ranch, with hope of El Jefe’s return after his disappearance.
The course guides you through 125 miles of diverse regions around the Santa Rita Mountains. Their presence can be felt through out the ride as you climb 8,290 ft. of double track. The route provides you with only a few resupply spots, most of them located in small towns along the route. Sarah Swallow, the route designer, also provided us with a water cache at one of the trail heads along the route as extra support, and constantly warned us of the extremely cold climate for the night.
Upon my arrival at the property, I was immediately presented with a dirt road that my small compact car wasn’t exactly designed for. I slowly rattled my way towards the ranch but was soon too distracted by the amazing views all around me. Finally, I arrived at the ranch with the very well known Radavist truck tailing me. Had I not been in the way, their very capable truck would have arrived sooner. Luckily, we made it in time for a quick hour of “meet and greets”, and the energetic performance of Dan Levensen and The Cat Mountain Rounders.
For those unaware, besides bringing together a mass of like-minded cyclists to explore the Sky Islands the event also wanted to bring to light a few other topics of the region that need our attention and support. These topics were full heartedly presented to us by Cristina of Audubon, Steve of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, Catherine and Carrot of No More Deaths, and Turtle of the Northern Jaguar Project.
One of my personal favorite parts of this whole event is the befriending of like-minded people. From having a chat with a well-known cycling advocate as you wash your plates in the headquarter cabin kitchen, to riding with first time or experienced cyclists with the same urge for adventure. I made many friends and look forward to running into them again at other events.