Riding 'The Loop' in Tucson - South of Tucson - CycleBlaze

December 30, 2018

Riding 'The Loop' in Tucson

We ended up driving to Benson for nothing yesterday. The plan was to drive to Sierra Vista, then ride to Benson, overnight, and ride back via Tombstone. Snow changed those plans, but we had a paid for room in Benson. Thus, we spent the night. The weather for today was still friendlier in Tucson. Steve and I decided to drive back to Tucson and ride the loop. Jacinto elected to bicycle the 51 miles to Tucson.

There was a heavy frost on the cars this morning and the lake of water in the center of the parking lot was frozen over. Steve doesn't even own an ice scraper, ice is so rare in Tucson. I offered to lend him mine, but he turned on the defrosters instead.

We paid $48. for a nice, large, updated room at Quality Inn. The breakfast wasn't so satisfactory. We were there at 8:30, they were out of yogurt, sausage, and any oatmeal flavor but plain. The breakfast room was packed and each time someone came in, the door didn't close. It needed to be shut. We had the table right next to the door, so we were the ones to freeze if the door was left hanging open.

Steve and I ate and were on the road shortly after. Jacinto stayed in the room until the 11 AM check out time. He gave me his coffee pot to take in the van, but kept his clothes, just in case.

It was a 40 minute drive to our motel in downtown Tucson. We picked it because it was close to the loop (perhaps one block away). At 10:30 AM, the clerk was ready to check me into the room, but the other people hadn't checked out yet. I let her know Jacinto would probably arrive before we got back and changed my clothes in the lobby bathroom. We were off. Temperatures were a little crisp, but the sky was blue and the forecast hopeful.

I tried to pay attention to the route so I could retrace it myself. I think it would take quite a bit of trial and error. I did figure out that in areas where the path crosses the road, it is painted green for the bicycles to follow. At virtually every intersection, the bike path goes under the roadway. There's no need to slow or stop for traffic. But that means at every intersection there was a path to the left, if that's where the cyclist wants to leave the path, or to the right, to go under the road. Once I figured that it, things were less confusing.

In no time at all we were near where Tom lives. We thought he was going to join us today, but he ended up busy and said he would join us another day. When we got to the northern section of the path, the path traffic got very busy with cyclists and walkers everywhere. Total for the path I saw four trikes and two recumbents. I also saw two tandems. Steve and I had agreed to stop and eat about halfway. We ended up at a Chinese restaurant close to his house. Steve said it was New York style Chinese, but I don't know enough Chinese food types to know the difference. Mine was tasty and generous with shrimp. I was happy.

We stopped for lunch at mile 25. After eating, my body thought I was all done for the day. It seemed like a long distance to ride yet. It's a good thing the wind was still calm and temperatures were warm. It wasn't too much suffering to ride another 30 miles. I could see the sun getting gradually lower in the sky. I wondered if it would be dark by the time we finished.

I needed to make a potty stop. We were getting to the far eastern end of the loop, at the high point. Yes, the sun was definitely getting lower. Steve said now we were headed downhill. This was in the Julian Wash area and there was hardly any bicycle traffic. I asked Steve if he thought it was because of being late in the day or just not as popular of a section of the path. Certainly it was far away from any houses. He thought the time of day and being a Sunday. I recognized this section from riding it last year on the start of the day to Sonoita. We passed beyond our motel from last year and were back in new territory. Steve had warned me that homeless people lived in the washes along the bike path. We saw a couple pushing a grocery cart. Besides the bags in the cart, they had a brown labrador size dog in the cart. I think it would take both people to get the dog in the cart.

Once we got over by the VA hospital, the path got very confusing. It was more of a sidewalk and crossed the roadways a number of times. I was hoping that there would be a clear, easy path from our motel at least one direction for me to ride on my own. Heading east is not the answer.

My hands were chilly by the time we got back to the cars. It was a great ride. It was enjoyable to not have to worry about navigating, but just follow Steve on the ins and outs of the path. I was happy with the warm, inviting day. 56 miles today helped make up for doing nothing but eating yesterday.

Jacinto was in the room watching the last minute of the football game. That minute lasted long enough for me to get unloaded and take a shower. Jacinto had a good ride, he got a little confused a few times, but doesn't mind figuring his way around. He arrived at the motel at 3:30.

We were both ready to eat. Jacinto googled a Mexican restaurant on his phone, but it was outside eating only. Too cold for that. The next attempt took us to a place right in the middle of downtown that was closed in the evening. We were on our way to the third attempt when we passed a Mexican restaurant called El Minuto Restaurant. It had 4.2 stars on google and the parking lot was packed. We thought that was a good sign, so we turned around. Neither of us were very impressed with our food. I don't know why it was so full of customers. Maybe because it was the only thing open in the neighborhood? Jacinto had menudo and had to pay $2.50 extra for the pata (foot). Horrors! Eating the foot is the whole reason for getting menudo. It was also served with toast instead of tortillas. This was not a Mexican restaurant for Mexicans.

We are back in our dated but spacious room. Tomorrow another storm is being blown in. The best the wind forecast shows is 22 mph at 8 AM. Then it gets worse. Even going for a hike doesn't sound good at 25+ mph. I don't think tomorrow will include cycling.

I've done something strange to my hip. We stopped for a break and as I stood up, my hip hurt in an odd manner. Cycling is no issue. But standing up, I can hardly put weight on that side and I can't cross my right ankle over my left. It is so odd. I've never had this kind of trouble before. It doesn't pain me if I walk a little bit, but getting up and down is difficult. I hope this is self resolving. I've tried doing some stretches and leg lifts.

BTW, I'm still coughing like crazy. I just read Jerry Harp's post about honey and cinnamon curing everything. I have a ten pound bucket of honey at home. Which is not much good here . . . .

There is a handy little trough for the bicycle wheels to follow going down the stairs.
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Steve served as my tour guide of The Loop. It's a good thing, routing was quite confusing in a number of places.
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This looks like a road, but it's the bike path as seen from a rest area.
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We were at the high point of the trail, at the far east side. It's all downhill from here!
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Jacinto's photo of Vail, AZ.
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Jacinto's liking the blue skies today.
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Today's ride: 56 miles (90 km)
Total: 264 miles (425 km)

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