Deconstructing the Tucson Loop - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

December 15, 2020 to December 16, 2020

Deconstructing the Tucson Loop

As you know by now, The Loop is Tucson’s best known, most popular cycling attraction.  You’ve seen it here before, but here it comes again.  It’s the most accessible option for day rides near the core, so I suspect we’ll be out riding it a few times every week we’re here.

Which will be four weeks, in case you’ve forgotten already or weren’t paying that close of attention before.

Monday

The Loop is large enough that it works well to break it into chunks, riding just a part of it at a time.  Today we took an out and back to the southeast.  The route I mapped out turns back at Rita Road, the southeast corner of the circuit where Rita crosses Julian Wash. 

This is the coldest day of the week, and colder than any day in the upcoming two weeks.  We don’t get started until after noon, staying around our comfy casita until the day warms up about as much as it’s going to.

No pics, we’re just out for a ride.  It’s a 40 mile round trip to Rita Road, which won’t quite do.  Rachael breaks ahead and adds a mile, just because.  It’s nice that she got her 42 in, but it wasn’t so nice that it kept us out an extra ten minutes because as soon as the sun starts dropping the temperature drops quickly.  We were back by 5, a half an hour before sunset, but that was too late.  The last five miles were cold and quite windy, and Rachael was pretty hypothermic when we arrived home.  

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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 700’ 

Tuesday

Our plan today is to take on another chunk of the Loop - this time we’ll ride out Oro Valley, a nice 42 mile option that meets with favor when I describe the plan.  We decide to get started by 11, because we want to be sure to get back before the temperature starts dropping.

But we don’t.  11 rolls around and we prepare to leave when I discover I have a flat tire.  I can’t find the flattening agent, which is always worrisome; but in the interests of time we decide to just put on a new tube rather than finding and repairing the leak.

That takes time, and also uses up our last spare.  We don’t want to ride without one of course, so we change our plan.  We’ll go east instead and stop at Fair Wheel Bikes on the way through town to resupply ourselves.  It’s a shorter ride, which is good because we’re eating away the day dealing with the flat.

My turn this time. We’re so lucky, once again - it gives us chills imagining repairing a flat last night near sundown when we were half frozen already.
Heart 1 Comment 0
A word should be said about the streets of old Tucson, but not a very good one. Many of the inner city streets look like this. A surface just a cut above washboard. Rides from home start and end with a slow, irksome mile or two bouncing along roads like this.
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A bouncy mile or so later we’re at Fair Wheel Bikes.  They have our tubes (20” Schroeder) in stock.  We take two, and also pick up two Pedro tire levers and a patch kit so we can each pack protection.  Jacquie can quit worrying about the fact that one of us has been riding exposed now.  Now, Rachael’s fine.  Even if she can’t replace a tube herself, she has all the raw materials available so that she can just bat her eyelashes at some passing Good Samaritan type.

The ride goes fine.  We get our miles in, we get home well before dark.  We stop for a lunch break, see a few birds, a lot of cacti, and 4,000+ military aircraft.  Just the usual.  It’s shy of 42 miles, but that’s fine with me.  I don’t mind storing up a few extra miles in the tank for that special occasion.

Lunch stop, along Aviation Parkway. Mount Lemmon ahead. We’re in an off-road biking area called the 100 Acre Woods, which seems odd because there really aren’t any trees here.
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There is this awesome cactus wren though. I forget for sure, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen one close enough for a decent shot of it.
Heart 4 Comment 4
Bill ShaneyfeltTheir nests are interesting, always tucked away in the protectie apparatus of a cholla.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI’ll watch for that. Also, I still hope to see one peeking out of a hole in a saguaro.
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3 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltYou are likely to find them about anywhere, but they don't nest until March or so. Some nests are surprisingly large. If I remember right, you might find nests in palo verdes or other thorny trees also. Neat birds.
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3 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltYou are likely to find them about anywhere, but they don't nest until March or so. Some nests are surprisingly large. If I remember right, you might find nests in palo verdes or other thorny trees also. Neat birds.
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3 months ago
A bit later, and we rustle up a pair of vermillion flycatchers, certainly about the most flamboyant bird around these parts. This one is perched atop the goal post of a football field. With that black mask, it looks like a cartoon character.
Heart 3 Comment 3
Jen GrumbyA flamboyant bird with a mask
Catching flies is its task
Bright orange is its cape
Black mask tied at the nape
"A cartoon?", you may want to ask?
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3 months ago
Jen GrumbyAlso, I've been keeping copies of these Scott A-inspired limericks .. and you have the photos.

Maybe a fun project to compile them all when you're in Minnesota?
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyWe’ll have to work on Jeff to add a poetry corner to the website. This could be the initial offering.
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3 months ago
I was stunned biking past this huge array of military aircraft. It just went on, and on, and on. I mentally calculated it must contain about 4,000 planes, which turns out to have been a pretty good estimate.
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Mr. Gumby knows what this is, and has been advising me to visit it. This is the Airplane Boneyard, the largest inventory of decommissioned military aircraft in the world. It obviously merits a longer look, so I’m sure I’ll be back now that I know where it is.
Heart 2 Comment 5
Jen GrumbyOh, Ron will be jealous!
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3 months ago
Ron SuchanekGlad you found it. I can't wait to get back to Tucson so I can visit.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekIt should still be here. Don’t forget to stop off and ride the River Mountains Loop Trail on your way down.
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3 months ago
Mike AylingWonder why the gummint doesn't sell them for scrap?
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Mike AylingI wondered that too. I don’t really know anything about this site yet, but will try to learn more when I go back for a proper look.
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3 months ago
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Ride stats today: 37 miles, 800’; for the tour: 875 miles, 33,800’

Today's ride: 79 miles (127 km)
Total: 873 miles (1,405 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Jacquie GaudetGlad to hear you will both carry spares. Sort of like bike lock keys when you're on a trip--best to have two sets carried separately, just in case.

But do you both have pumps? I carry a Lezyne Micro Floor Pump for touring since it's much easier to use than the typical minipump.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetOf course we carry two pumps, and have ever since we started touring together. Not to make sure we each have one though but to make sure we have a backup in case one fails.

I forget what makes we’re carrying now (they’re different), bit they’re both minis, small enough that we can carry them in the under bag. After years of relying on frame mounted pumps we finally gave up on them because they’re so prone to water damage.
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonTouring solo, I wonder about what I would do if my pump failed and I had a flat. I've had both happen, luckily on different trips. My new bike has tubeless tires, though, so I carry a CO2 inflater in case I needed it to reseat a tire.

My Lezyne pump has been mounted on my frame through some really nasty rain and still works fine. I prefer to have it there for when I ride unloaded--same for my tools in my seat bag. I know myself. My mother used to say it was a good thing my head was attached...
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3 months ago
Kathleen ClassenTo Jacquie GaudetOh my word Jacquie, you gave me such a chuckle. That was my mother’s favourite comment to me, and justifiably so. Unfortunately it seems to get worse as I get older...
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3 months ago