East Saguaro Park - thwarted - My Bicycling Bliss - CycleBlaze

December 22, 2021

East Saguaro Park - thwarted

Jacinto's ride today. He says it's a good route that he would ride again.
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My ride goes to East Saguaro Park, but not past the Visitor's Center.
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jerry witherspoonYou gots bike path itis; the inability to get bord riding a city trail daily! I’d go bonkers…. Sorry they wouldn’t let u into the park, but the ride, the view upbto it was just as good if not better. Pretty steep clmbing Kelly; you go, girl!!!

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2 years ago

I think perhaps I'm getting old enough (59) that I can't take two weeks off riding without suffering the consequences. I walked or hiked almost daily during that time frame. It wasn't enough. I have been extra tired, sleeping hard at night (the one good thing), and my legs are  fatigued. I'm surprised I'm so tired.

Nonetheless, I am riding a climbing ride today. I've streamlined Jacinto's route from yesterday to hit my desired 42 miles. It's going to be mostly road riding, on roads he tells me have bike lanes. Virtually all of my Tucson riding has been on The Loop. We shall see how I like my foray into city riding. Jacinto's photos from Saguaro Park were gorgeous. I hope for more of the same. 

Last night I wanted veggies. We ate dinner at Jun Dynasty Chinese Restaurant. Jacinto ordered Spicy pork belly. The spicy part is what hooked him in. Now we know that pork belly is uncured bacon. He won't be ordering pork belly again! That was a giant plate of bacon (cured or not). The restaurant was very busy, with both people inside and to go orders. Service was slow. They had a help wanted sign on the door. All of the help wore masks. Surprising to me, many of the to go customers wore masks also. I don't know if it was in deference to the restaurant employees, or personal preference. I didn't notice any of the people dining in wearing masks as they walked across the restaurant. 

I've seen a few people each day on the bike path wearing masks. Yesterday, the first people I saw on trikes were a couple riding towards me. I was prepared to greet them with a big smile. Perhaps even a wave in solidarity of our recumbent-ness. As the man approached me, he studiously turned his head, and looked to the side the entire time he passed me, as did the woman. Both wore masks. I was taken aback. Were their positions a defense of sorts to my non mask wearing? Surely we were far enough apart and passing each other so quickly that I posed no risk? Plus, not being in direct face to face contact, did turning their head help in any fashion? Remember Edna? As she and I made our return, hours later, we passed the same couple. The man now didn't have a mask on. Both waved, and greeted us. It must have been because Edna was riding a trike. That's all I can think of? 

Later - At least my route map today looks interesting. Jacinto has been nagging me since last year to ride something besides the loop. I like the loop! I like the smooth surface, people watching, and riding more mindlessly than I can on the road. I can't ride like this at home. Tucson is my only opportunity. 

But, Jacinto has been telling me on a daily basis what great riding there is in the Catalina Foothills - that I need to expand my horizons. What finally hooked me in was his excellent photos from East Saguaro Park yesterday. I do like cacti. A lot.

I wasn't so sure about the road riding around here. We do plenty of highway riding. The large majority of that riding is on lightly trafficked western highways. I studiously avoid cities of any size. Tucson is large! The infrastructure is bicycle friendly. There are marked bike lanes on a majority of the roads. Drivers are used to working with cyclists. It will be fine. 

I made a 42 mile modification of Jacinto's first day route. It included a little more bike path the he used, but kept the majority of his road route. He made sure I included Freeman Road and Old Spanish Trail. 

Off I went. I enjoyed my six miles of path riding before turning onto Tanque Verde Blvd. It was very busy, and noisy. Jacinto had assured me that traffic quickly drops off, and the riding becomes more fun. This is a  more upscale area of town than we are in. There are all sorts of gated communities. Businesses and buildings looked cleaner and newer than where we are. I saw Anytime Fitness. Jacinto belongs to that gym at home, and had brought his fob to use here. That was his plan for the morning. He had considered bicycling there, but wasn't sure where he could secure his bike. 

I was riding gradually uphill. The Catalina Foothills were scenic. I don't know just when all of the cacti started to show up - perhaps when I got past the city development? This is a very Arizona part of town. In what other state can you see cactus forests? So cool.

Marilyn had mentioned that she was glad they drove to the East Saguaro Park, because she thought some of the climbs were so steep, they would have had to walk their tandem. My enthusiasm for that sort of cycling is low. Jacinto assured me there was nothing in the park that was worse than the steep part of Harvey Gap at home. That's doable. Still, as I approached the gate, I ate a Hammer Perpetuem tablet in preparation for hard work. I stopped at the visitor center and used the bathroom. OK - ready for the challenge. I hope it isn't so tough that I don't enjoy the sights.

Jacinto said yesterday when he cycled up to the entry gate, he had his ear buds in and music going. He couldn't quite hear what the attendant said, but the man waved him through.

Today I rode up to the gate, money in hand. The attendant asked if I had a pass. No. It's $15.,  which is good for 7 days. No cash accepted. Well - this is a problem. I do have the money, but cash. No card with me. No apple pay on my outdated phone. I said, "I guess I have to turn around then." I was hoping he might tell me to go ahead, but he said nothing at all . . . . around I turned. 

I felt bad. I'd bicycled uphill on city streets to go see all of the cactus, psyching myself up the whole way about the hilly climb. For nothing. Hell. Research after returning home is that a yearly pass is $45. It might be worth it, vs $15. for 7 days. 

My immediate thought was needing to find eight extra miles to reach my goal. Then I thought about how I didn't take any scenery shots along  pleasant Freeman Road, thinking I'd be stopping a lot in the park. I had to admit to some relief that I wasn't going to be doing a lot of climbing in the hot sun. Perhaps I should have gotten an earlier start. I'm not used to worrying about overheating in December . . . 

I had seen many cyclists coming and going from the park area. This is  a popular ride. Today is a weekday. Imagine a weekend? All were very thin and fit. Few appeared to be around my age. Which I thought a little odd. Shouldn't there be more retired people out on a weekday?  I did not see a single recumbent or trike. 

I did have a couple of cyclists say "nice bike" or "comfortable looking bike". The passenger in a car this morning rolled down his window at a stop light and asked if I had made that cool looking bike myself. As if. 

So - what do I do with myself now? I decided to ride down Old Spanish Trail as planned, get on the path, and overshoot Dodge Street by four miles. Then I could return, getting in the extra eight miles I wanted.

Old Spanish Trail is a delight, heading downhill to the west. It is a fast, smooth ride. There is an adjoining path, but it is sandy in spots, with grass overgrown along the way. I got on it for awhile, but decided the grass was so overgrown, and the sight distance short enough, that if another bicycle were coming the other direction, we would crash. I got back on the smooth, ample, shoulder. 

There were several places I could have turned towards the path. I chose 22nd Street. This is a major business center, with plenty of places to eat. I debated stopping at a Panda Express. It was 12:30. But, I wasn't hungry. I kept pedaling. Looking at the map, I expected to be on 22nd Street for a distance, but with the continued downhill, it didn't last long. The shoulder was good, traffic treated me well. Road riding in Tucson has not been a problem for me, the few times I've tried it. I don't have any real reason not to do more road riding, except I like going round The Loop! The could be worse things to enjoy. Perhaps I will get tired of people watching. Who knows? There's a bigger variety of bicycles on The Loop. That's for sure. 

Right at the edge of the entering bike spur on 22nd street, there's a couple of food trucks. A taco truck and a Mediterranean food truck. So, so convenient. I'm still not hungry. 

I entered the path, and turned off my blinkie light. I'm back on familiar ground! In the home stretch, I pick up the pace some. Nearing my wash cross over spot of Tanque Verde, I took a phone call. Rather than stop, or try and talk while crossing the bridge, I turned around and went back. As long as I get the miles, it doesn't matter where. 

You know what? I decided I was hungry after all! I finished my call and kept going to 22nd street. I looked at the Mediterranean menu. Too many wraps with wheat. I went to the taco truck and ordered two tacos. $5. for two. You can't beat that price. They were excellent! I can see this becoming a regular stop. They had a nice covered picnic table area. The only downside was no bathrooms or place to wash my hands. There was The Pitstop, on the edge of the picnic area. Possibly they had restrooms inside. But I hadn't purchased anything from them.

I had made up a few miles. I still need some more. I decided to ride a couple of little spurs that I knew were dead ends, just to get the miles. 

I arrived back home, not hungry, but warm in the 77 degree sunshine. Yes! I'm loving that. It's supposed to rain here Friday. At home the weather for the next ten days shows snow/rain the entire time. As in most places out west, we've been in a drought. Ten days of moisture would be a gift. 

Jacinto lifted weights in the morning. Then he went for a 40 mile ride. He said the day was too nice to waste inside. I'm watching him on the live tracker. He's not far from home. Let's see where we go to dinner tonight.

A crested saguaro! Spied close to the intersection of East Speedway and Freeman.
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Scott AndersonThanks for spotting a new one! We’ll have to bike over and check it out.
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2 years ago
marilyn swettGood eye Kelly!
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2 years ago
A close up.
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Dual purpose decorating?
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Keith AdamsHmmmm... I wonder if this is a new "thing", that I've missed hearing about? I've seen the same sort of decoration this year at a few locations here in Maryland.
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2 years ago
This gate has many details.
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To the left of the above gate.
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My consolation prize for not getting in the park.
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Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 130 miles (209 km)

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Scott AndersonThat’s a real shame that you couldn’t get into the park. I forgot to mention btw that there are a few short but really steep spots on the loop, just so you’re mentally prepared when you go back, as you should. If you can talk Jacinto into it you might drive over and start at the park and then make a loop down to Colossal Caves and back. Much more interesting than the streets.

And Jacinto’s right - the Catalina Hills have some great cycling. I was up there myself today.
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2 years ago
Mike AylingRe proliferation of masks - given the way that Omicron is going through the world I am not surprised.
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2 years ago
Wayne EstesI wonder if the National Park entry station has had robberies? Amazing that they don't accept cash.
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2 years ago