Saguaro East - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

January 15, 2021

Saguaro East

We’ve been here almost a month now, but somehow haven’t made it yet out to what has to be the most enjoyable riding experience in the region - the eight mile loop through the east unit of Saguaro National Park.  Well, I imagine the most enjoyable one must be the descent from Mount Lemmon, but that one comes at a significant cost that we’re still debating incurring.

The east unit, unsurprisingly, is off east of town beneath the west flank of the Rincon Mountains.  You’ll recall that we got a look at them a few weeks back when I took a hike through them.  The best approach by bike would be to follow the the Loop over to its eastern extent before continuing further east along Escalante Road; but from the center of town that adds quite a bit of distance.  Taking the direct route east, out the Aviation Bikeway and then Golf Links Road, cuts the distance down considerably; so we did that today.

Now that we’ve had that experience again though, I don’t think we’d do it again.  Aviation Bikeway is fine, as far as it goes; but it doesn’t go far enough.  The four miles on Golf Links Road (in each direction) are ones we’d just as soon not repeat.  Safe enough, but hardly pleasant.

I’m sure we’ll be back again before we leave though.  There’s nothing like the wonderful riding experience of the eight mile loop through the park.   Maybe we’ll bite the bullet and take a longer ride that follows the loop next time; or maybe we’ll bring the car, park at the Park, and take a loop late in the day.  It must be an astonishing place to see the sunset.

Found in the Lost Barrio. Looks like an interesting neighborhood to hang out in for the next month.
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Eastbound on Aviation Cycleway. We’re following the most direct route east from the city center.
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We’ve jumped past four uninteresting miles on Golf Links Road. We didn’t particularly enjoy them, so no point sharing them with you. Here though we’re on Escalante - a great cycling road, making a dramatic approach to the national park.
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And we’re here. These must be the best eight miles of cycling in the area.
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Bicycles are expected here. Nice to get advance warning of the sharp right at the base of the steep descent just ahead.
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Here comes the bend we were just warned of. It’s great that this is a one way road - you only need to keep an eye out for what’s in your mirror, and then take the whole road.
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Spectacular up close, spectacular further off.
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We’re here at a great time, with very few cars out on the road today; and those that are out here aren’t moving all that much faster than we are.
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With so many fine saguaros about, it’s hard to pick just one to feature. This one looks worthy of special attention.
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It’s mid-January. I’ve been keeping an eye out for harbingers of spring.
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There are several short, steep spots on the ride but there’s only one sustained climb, such as it is. Here, we break through at the top. Most of the way back to the visitor’s center from here is a glide.
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The Javalina Rocks are the most dramatic formation alongside the road. The last time we were here the spot was packed with gawkers, but it’s quiet today. We’d stop for a longer look ourselves, but we plan to come back for a hike through here soon.
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Saguaro and the Javalina Rocks, with the Santa Catalina Range behind.
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For such a little guy, he casts a wide shadow.
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In Saguaro National Park.
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In Saguaro National Park.
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Heading for the exit. This part of the ride is great fun, as your downhill momentum carries you over the small rollers.
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Video sound track: Bim-Bom, by João Gilberto

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Kelly IniguezHanks method of riding the East Park is to drive there, then ride the loop clockwise, turn around, and ride it counter clock wise. Which is still not 42 miles . . . but would maximize the vistas!

I've been looking at airbnb's!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezI wondered about biking it in reverse, and whether you’d be stopped for it. I haven’t seen any cyclists going the other way.
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1 month ago

Ride stats today: 42 miles, 1,900’; for the tour: 1,982 miles, 68,400’; for the year: 12 riding days, 532 miles, 16,400’, and 1 flat tire

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 1,923 miles (3,095 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 3
Jen GrumbyLove that video!

What a beautiful ride.
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonThanks. It’s a wonderful ride.
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltNice shots! Have you noticed the tiny cactus species? They are easily missed, usually at the base of trees/bushes. In monsoon season after rains, they have really nice flowers.

The species I like most is the fishhook cactus.

https://www.americansouthwest.net/plants/cacti/mammillaria-grahamii.html

Here is the link to a picture I took back in 07.

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1431535784516&set=a.1431522904194
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1 month ago