In Tucson: on the Loop again - Looking Back With 2020 Vision, Part I - CycleBlaze

February 7, 2020

In Tucson: on the Loop again

Today is our designated Do Your Own Thing Day, something we like to declare from time to time to give each other a bit of space and let us explore the world at our own pace.  Rachael’s thing today, big surprise, is to just ride like the wind, unhampered by a pokey boat anchor that keeps stopping for who knows why?

My thing today, big surprise, is a bit slower paced and looks about like you see below.

Rachael waits around with me to admire a coyote off beside the path, then disappears. We’re doing our own thing today, and we won’t meet again until hours later, back at the room.
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Ron SuchanekWe rode there!
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1 year ago
My thing today is to go slow, and hope something interesting turns up. This certainly qualifies as interesting. I think it’s the closest I’ve ever been to a coyote in the wild. Read the comments for a description of the encounter.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLast winter, after a Scout meeting during which it snowed, I got onto a local bike path on the way home near the border of our county and the next one over. It is a wooded area that parallels a major highway, and snow was still falling, when a coyote popped out of the brush about 50 feet ahead of me and trotted along at just a touch slower than I was going for about 100 yards. Was quite fun! Then it disappeared into the darkness of snow covered bushes.
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltInteresting, and very similar to this encounter. He led me for a few hundred yards too, ambling in the brush beside the trail just ahead of me. Then he crossed the trail, paused by the other side for nearly a full minute (I don’t know why I didn’t photograph this too), and then took the plunge down a steep slope into the wash. Ahead of me on the path was another cyclist on the other side of him, also waiting but with a concerned look about her. When she passed, I saw why - she had a bite sized dog in her trailer, just right for a midday snack.
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1 year ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Bill ShaneyfeltFun? I've been followed (stalked) by coyotes and that's not the word I'd use. It's happened to me more than once in the park near where I live which is pretty central to a large urban area.

I've also, with my dog, been surrounded by a pack--all keeping their distance, of course. This was in a cemetery near where I live, where I often walked the dog on early winter mornings. Why a cemetery? Better sight lines to see the damn coyotes! And Burnaby coyotes can be quite large, as big as a big German Shepherd. Not fun!
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1 year ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Jacquie GaudetThat would be an enormous coyote here. Yup, that would be scary.
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1 year ago
Bruce LellmanOur cat, the cutest and smartest cat in the world, was killed by a coyote a year and a half ago. A few days later I spooked an enormous one on our street just around sunset. He was German Shepherd size and took off down the middle of the street. I have never seen an animal run that fast. We live right in Portland and the coyotes are becoming more numerous and bold every year. More than 15 cats have been killed in our area that I know of.
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1 year ago
This mourning dove surprised me, scratching around in the dust with a dozen others. I’ve never seen them doing this somehow, and only noticed them flying or perched on wires.
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Lots of company on the Loop today, but everyone else is in more of a hurry.
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Ron SuchanekDid you ever notice how many bicyclists look rushed and frustrated, like they are training for Le Tour?
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekI don’t think there are many Tour candidates down here, but maybe once in the past. Mostly it’s surprising how many greybeards there are.
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1 year ago
Sweetwater Wetlands, a small sanctuary just off the Loop. Biking is prohibited here so I locked up the bike and took a short hike hoping to find something interesting.
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In Sweetwater Wetlands.
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Bruce LellmanIt's funny, this could be in Minnesota. I grew up with scenes exactly like this which means this photo speaks to me a great deal.
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanYou’re right! I recognize scenes like this from our loop up to Duluth two years back. Quite an unusual sight here though.
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1 year ago
Green-winged Teal, Sweetwater Wetlands.
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Pied-billed Grebe, Sweetwater Wetlands.
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Two takes on a Ruddy Duck, Sweetwater Wetlands.
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Here’s a safety innovation I really like: a protected island in the central lane of a busy road. Gives you a safe spot to land in the middle while you’re waiting for breaks in the traffic. Yay, Tucson!
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Jen GrumbyYay, indeed!

I wish there were more of these in our Centennial CO neighborhood.
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1 year ago
Another thing I like here - the stylish bridges, nearly always adorned with some sort of art work.
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Heading east up Rillito River Park, we get one of my favorite views of Mount Lemmon. And actually, this isn’t just Mount Lemmon after all. The whole formation is the Santa Catalina Range. The nearest peak is Mount Kimball.
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Eastbound on the Loop, following the Rillito River along the northern edge of Tucson, beneath the base of the Santa Catalina Range.
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The miles along the Rillito River are the only ones we hadn’t ridden before today. I think they’re my favorite in the whole system, which is saying something.
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Still pedaling east along the Rillito River.
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Ron SuchanekHey, that guy on the recumbent is getting ahead!
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1 year ago
Finally, a halfway decent look at a Gila Woodpecker. There were three or four in this tree, taunting me with their loud, raspy calls while hiding behind branches or patches of mistletoe. Aggravating.
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Bruce LellmanI once had a girlfriend named Gila.
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1 year ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Bruce LellmanWas she a monster? :-)
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1 year ago
Bruce LellmanTo Bill ShaneyfeltActually no, she was a lovely person.
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1 year ago
Jen GrumbyI really like this photo. There's something about the branch shadow on the woodpecker's body ...
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1 year ago
Art! There’s a lot of it scattered along the loop, invariably indicated by helpful arrows on the path to bring your attention to it.
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Here’s some Art now. This is Extreme Batty Bikers, by Stephen Fairfield.
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Ron SuchanekThat's awesome!
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekIsn’t that great? I tried prying it up to bring back for your front yard in Silverton, but it wouldn’t budge.
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1 year ago
More Art! This is another Stephen Fairfield creation: Batty Biker’s Family. An interesting set of relatives Batty has there.
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Jen GrumbyBrilliant! Complete with tasty meal, parasol, and teddy bear.

All they need now is a nice bottle opener.
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1 year ago
I don’t think this is part of Batty’s family though. I think it’s just another mourning dove perched atop the sculpture, it’s ruff flaring in the breeze.
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The Art just keeps coming. This is Nature of Movement, by Joshua Weiner.
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I was going to describe Joshua’s creation, but he does a much better job of it. And he’s right - it is very interesting to walk around the whole work, looking at it from every angle. And yes, I feel much more perceptive from the experience.
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Is it Art? Must be - just look at the arrow. Good thing we have that helpful hint, or we mightn’t be sure. Maybe the artist wasn’t sure either, because he’s chosen to remain anonymous.
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Bruce LellmanMaybe it's the white line. I like how the sand is covering it in places.
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanThat’s surely it. Looking again, I see that the sand looks cemented into place. Good spotting!
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1 year ago
Many of the bridges are declared as Art also. This bridge has Art arrows pointing at it from both ends, so you won’t mistake it as merely a conveyance across the wash.
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There must be a few dozen washes entering the Rillito River, and each has a bridge spanning it. Nearly all have a decorative tile unique to that bridge branding it, one at each end. With practice, you could navigate the system by learning the logos.
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One last bridge shot. I like them all, but I think this rusting steel one is my favorite for some reason.
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Bunny! One of a frisky pair that chased each other back and forth across the trail three or four times. I was never quick enough on the draw to catch them both in the road, but was lucky enough to catch the pursuer just this once. Also, notice the Art on the bridge in the background.
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Finally, one paused to give us a good look so we can identify it. Yup, look at those ears - definitely a Bunny. Bill might have a more specific name for it, but for now Bunny is good enough.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMight be an antelope jackrabbit.

https://www.nps.gov/sagu/learn/nature/rabbits-of-saguaro-national-park.htm
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltMaybe, but he seems a bit smallish and his ears a bit too short. More likely a desert cottontail? Or then again, maybe he’s just a Bunny.
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1 year ago
Bill ShaneyfeltYeah, I wavered between cottontail and jack. Colors not right for jack, and ears not quite long enough either, but look too long for cottontail. Maybe juvenile black tail jack? Too many years since I left the desert (Dec. '70), and not enough time visiting since.
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1 year ago
Jen GrumbyFront legs look too long to be a cottontail.

I vote for the juvenile black tail jack.
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1 year ago

Ride stats today: 45 miles, 900’; for the tour: 1,705 miles, 79,600’

Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 1,705 miles (2,744 km)

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