Craycroft Road - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 28, 2021

Craycroft Road

Here’s a surprise - it’s beautiful out this morning.  Our long spell of dreary weather is over!  We scrap the plan of just putting in another day on the Loop and opt for a new experience - a ride up into the hills northeast of town that I’ve been waiting for the right day for.  We begin with a new-to-us route out of the neighborhood, by biking east through the University on University.

Once we’re on it, I regret that it’s taken us so long to find this course.  University is a lovely street to ride on - smooth, which is uncharacteristic of Tucson’s inner streets - quiet, colorful, lined with well maintained upscale adobe casitas.  It deserves another pass through at a slower pace, someday when it’s warmer and I don’t have to be concerned with holding back my zippier partner.

On University, passing through the eastern side of the campus.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Shadow boxing.
Heart 1 Comment 0

After a couple of miles we come to Columbus and turn north to the Loop.  Columbus is a decent biking avenue also, and from its traffic looks like it must be one of the main routes to the Loop for folks that live further to the east than we do.

On the Loop finally, we bike familiar miles east up Rillito and Pantana washes, stopping at the first bench we come to to shed layers.  It’s only a few degrees warmer than yesterday, but having the sun radiating on your back makes all the difference.  When we come to Sabrino Canyon Road after a few miles we leave the Loop and turn north toward the hills.  We’re in new territory now.

It’s surprisingly beautiful today. It’s only a few degrees warmer than yesterday but with the sun out it feels much different.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Just another day on the Loop.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Like University Avenue, biking up Sabrino Canyon immediately makes me wonder why it’s taken so long for us to finally make it out here.  For the first mile or two we’re still on a separated bike path that parallels the busy street, with the Catalina Mountains straight ahead beckoning us in.  

Northbound following Sabrino Canyon Road, with an inspiring vision pulling us in.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Beside Morris Udall Park we pass through my favorite new urban art work. It will be worth coming back this way just to take another look at this.
Heart 7 Comment 1
Jen GrumbyThose arches by themselves .. cool enough.

The shadows, though, make them fabulous!!
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago

The bike path ends at Mo Udall Park and drops us back on Sabrino Canyon Road; but it’s still a fine ride with its eight foot wide shoulder.  In a mile we cross Tanque Verde Wash and start climbing, now following Ventana Wash as it climbs up into the yawning mouth of Ventana Canyon.  We’ll continue climbing until we finally top out near the mouth of the canyon, now in another of those exclusive golf course/estate neighborhoods that line the higher foothills just below the mountain.  Like the ride through Rancho Ventoso, the views are enormous. 

On Sabrino Canyon Road, but actually biking up into Ventana Canyon. Sabrino Canyon is on the other side of the ridge to the right.
Heart 1 Comment 0
That’s Ventana Canyon. Not as huge as Sabrino, but impressive enough. This end of the Catalina Mountains is chopped up by a series of these deep, forbidding canyons, all impressive. If you were a serious hiker you could spend a lifetime exploring this rugged range.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Nearing the top of the climb. It’s a shame Rachael’s been struggling so with these climbs, isn’t it?
Heart 2 Comment 2
Jen GrumbyWhere is Rachael now?
Only visible by zoom
In her zippiness!!
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyZippiness! Pretty sure that’s a neologism. The first of the year!
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Looking into the mouth of Ventana Canyon. I should come back and bike up one of these dead-end side roads to see if I can get a cleaner view.
Heart 2 Comment 0

At the top we find no public spaces - it really does seem like there could be at least a small park up here wedged between the golf courses and estates - but we do at least find a small bench beside the road where we sit down and enjoy our lunch in the warm sun.  Then, it’s all downhill for the next five miles until we get back to the Loop.  The first two are on busy but well shouldered Sunrise, but after that we enjoy a beautiful, quiet drop down Pototoc Road.

Two unequalled bikes, on Craycroft Road.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Video sound track: Here Comes the Sun, by The Beatles

Then, it’s back on the Loop again for the final 2 miles - first dropping into the wind as we bike northwest down Rillito Wash and then enjoying a push home when we double back and climb up the Santa Cruz.   Nothing new to report here except another surprise encounter with Kelly, this time right at the junction of the Rillito and Santa Cruz.

Kelly has something new to report though, as we’ll discover later.  Sometime during our extended conversation she apparently grabbed Rachael’s superpower, and on the way home saw a bobcat on the shoulder of the bike path - surely the wildlife sighting of the season.  Great job getting a few photos of it Kelly, but give back that superpower!

On La Cholla, crossing Rillito Wash.
Heart 1 Comment 0
At the scene of the crime. She looks so innocent here, doesn’t she? Thief! Hand back that superpower! Now!!
Heart 2 Comment 3
Kelly IniguezNice shadows!

I traded Rachael powers for a Bamboo tissue. Pretty good trade, eh?
Reply to this comment
4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezYes, but we’re ready to swap back now. Give us back her lightly used superpower, and she’ll give you back her slightly used bamboo tissue. Deal?
Reply to this comment
4 weeks ago
Kelly IniguezTo Scott AndersonJust rinse and reuse! No problem!
Reply to this comment
4 weeks ago
Not so calm today.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 46 miles, 1,400’

Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 1,128 miles (1,815 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 0