I'm not lost, I'm exploring! - Garfield and Tango Travel the Long and Winding Road - CycleBlaze

January 12, 2022

I'm not lost, I'm exploring!

Tucson ride take 5

We finally were able to hit it out of the park today on a long ride! Even though it was in the 30's when we woke up, it did manage to reach about 60 degrees by 11:00 which appears to be our sweet spot on starting our rides down here.

As we left the campground I found that it still felt chilly with the breeze and high clouds obscuring the sun a bit. Oh well, I had layers on again.

We headed north to Tangerine, then west. This time we stayed on the trail that was on the west side of the road just for something different to do. 

The numerous road crossings were annoying as Don had to slow down for each one and check to make sure that no one was coming. But the trail was more scenic as it rolled up and down, and curved through some desert between the road and the houses. As with most trails next to highways, they tend to follow the flow of the land vs the roads which are flattened.

At one point along Tangerine a cyclist zoomed by us going the other direction. Don said he heard the guy call out my name and I wondered if he was Scott? I turned in my seat and called out to him, but guess he didn't hear me. Neither of us stopped which was too bad as it turns out that it  was Scott and we missed our opportunity to see each other!

The trail was pleasant enough until we reached Thornydale Rd. where it ended abruptly and moved to the other side of Tangerine. Great, now we had to either walk the bike across the highway to get on the east side or head south on Thornydale which is what we chose to do. 

Or rather that's what Don chose to do! I would have preferred to cross Tangerine so we could continue on to Twin Peaks Rd. But tandeming is all about compromise so I tried not to complain too much!

Unfortunately, Thornydale was one of those roads that had no marked bike lanes or even shoulders to ride on. Plus it had a lot of traffic. People did move over for us when they could and no one honked which was good. But we did grumble a bit about the lack of bike lanes. It was fortunate that we were going pretty fast since it was downhill so didn't impede traffic too much.

We'd never ridden on this road before and did enjoy looking at all of the homes. There were fewer developments here and more custom homes built on large desert lots. 

But I still weren't sure how we were going to access the Santa Cruz River trail from this road. Our original plan had been to take Twin Peaks Rd which was still to the north of us. 

Don was just winging it as usual with no real idea of where he was going.  I finally had him stop so I could pull out our map and see if there was a cross street that could take us over to Twin Peaks. We spotted one that might work if it was paved (many of the side roads had been dirt).

A bit further down Thornydale took us to Linda Vista Rd which was paved and looked like to would go through to Twin Peaks. But it also had lots of traffic with no shoulder or bike lanes until we crossed into the town of Marana. I guess we were in no man's land along Thornydale.

Once we reached Twin Peaks we turned west toward the interstate and crossed over to get on the river trail. Ahhh, finally on a trail!

But our joy was marred a bit when the section we were on ended with no warning at a road. We were on the east side of the river and now had to cross over to the west side. That turned into a comedy as we could see the trail below us, but no clear way to get our long bike down to it. There appeared to be steps and a sharp corner which is impossible to do for us. 

So we continued up to a road that went north. Of course, neither road had bike lanes along with a lot of traffic! Frustrating! And there weren't any other cyclists around to ask directions. 

We were able to finally access the trail by walking the bike between 2 homes in a nearby neighborhood. 

Ok, now maybe we could relax and enjoy our surroundings. While we had seen lots of water in the river when we first got on the trail, now we were along more of a wetland section that had more trees. 

I'd been looking forward to seeing lots of waterfowl down here, but other than some coots, spotted nothing else. As we were on a bridge crossing the river, I couldn't even get a good picture. 

Of course, we had one more little challenge when the west trail ended at a road and we had to cross over to the other side. Once again, the signage was poor in this section. But we were able to get up onto the bridge and cross over one final time before getting back on the trail. 

I guess the more you bike these trails, the more comfortable you get with all the connections. Just like back home in Denver.

Now we were home free! It wasn't long before we were able to easily get onto the Canada del Oro wash trail and make the trek uphill toward home. 

Now on familiar ground we had no more problems. We easily cruised along uphill back to the park and reached home by about 3 pm. Time for a glass of wine along with some crackers and cheese! 

While overall we had enjoyed the ride and our route, we likely won't ride Thornydale or Linda Vista Roads again. At least Tangerine has bike lanes. But at some point, we'd like to ride the river trail to see how far it goes to the north. Something to try the next time we're down here. 

We love staying at Catalina SP but other than the Canada trail, it really isn't close to any other trails. So you have the choice of riding a really long ride or driving to the start of trail rides which isn't as easy to do. Oh well.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing a bit outside until the sun dipped down and it started to get cold. Sure glad we have a nice warm trailer to retreat to!

I believe this is a Cooper's hawk? But also maybe a Sharp-shinned hawk? Both are similar.
Heart 3 Comment 5
Bill ShaneyfeltMight be sharp-shinned. Hawks give me fits! They are so variable and similar, but the rounded head might be evidence to call it sharp-shinned... on the other hand, that might just be the angle of the shot. The tail does look kind of long...

I agree with you!

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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltIt looks like a Cooper’s hawk to me, but the main indicator is the size difference. The rule of thumb I’ve read is that Coppers are about the size of a crow and sharp shined about the size of a jay.

More importantly though, what a terrific shot! Where did you see this guy?
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7 months ago
marilyn swettTo Bill ShaneyfeltYeah - this was a tough one to ID
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7 months ago
marilyn swettTo Scott AndersonI kept going back and forth between the 2. It would have been nice to have one of each species sitting together on the same branch for comparison!
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7 months ago
marilyn swettTo Scott AndersonI spotted this guy along Tangerine as we were climbing the hill going west up to 1st Ave/Rancho Vistoso intersection. It was quite patient with me, just sitting there as I took several shots.
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7 months ago
So there IS actual water in the Santa Cruz River!
Heart 0 Comment 0
We stopped at this nice park along the Canada del Oro trail to use the restroom. It's a memorial to Christina-Taylor Green. She was born 9-11 and sounded like she was an exceptional little girl. She died when she was only 11 as one of the victims in the shooting spree that also injured Senator Gabrielle Gifford.
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Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 1,601 miles (2,577 km)

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Scott AndersonSorry we didn’t connect up also - this was our big chance! As far as continuing downriver beyond Twin Peaks though, you should try it sometime. The bike path continues about another three miles before finally ending at Avra Valley Road. It’s nice the whole way out, though a bit hilly the last quarter mile when it rounds a small formation.
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7 months ago
marilyn swettYes, it was too bad not to hook up. Oh well, another visit. Thanks for the info on the trail. We wondered if you could get to Tangerine on the trail or at least a road since we know that we can ride Tangerine all the way to the interstate and further west past the river. There is one section that doesn't have much of a shoulder but the rest is fine.
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7 months ago