Shortly after this glorious sunrise we hopped on our bikes and headed toward Ajo. I had scouted out a 20-mile route the night before on Google Earth. It was a faint line across the desert that after about ten miles joined a dirt road with a name – Bates Well Rd. It’s hard to tell what a desert road is really like from a satellite photo. Could be sandy; could be rocky; could be rutted; could be smooth. That uncertainty added a bit of drama to what lay ahead. Depending on the conditions, this could be a fun ride or a slog. We packed three water bottles and three energy bars each. With a forecasted high of 80 and sunny, we could count on being thirsty.

The Google route was great: smooth surfaced and relatively flat. We encountered a few areas of deep sand which stopped us cold but they were only minor nuisances.

Outings always seem better when there is an objective. The objective we set for this ride was to visit the open-pit copper mine (no longer active) in Ajo. We rode up to the pit and were regaled with a plethora of facts by an elderly volunteer who lies in wait there in a little museum. This was once the biggest copper mine in the United States he told us:


On the ride back we took what we thought would be a shortcut. Well, you know how this story goes. Our “shortcut” turned a 19-mile ride into a 22-mile ride. So, after 42 miles of hot, hard riding we got back to camp, ripped off our sweaty clothes, grabbed some cool ones (sodas) from the little fridge, and plopped into our reclining yard chairs. Once shaded from the afternoon sun and cooled by a gentle breeze, the last bit of energy dripped from our fingertips and we slipped into a zombie-like stupor.

“Good, hard ride, eh?” I questioned Mary from beneath closed eyelids. No response.

“How do you feel?” I peristed.

“Rode hard and put away wet” was Mary’s barely audible response.