Saguaro Springs - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 27, 2021

Saguaro Springs

The day begins with me checking out my rear tire, validating that it’s indeed low, and removing the wheel in preparation for repairing the flat.  I’m not looking forward to this if you really want to know.  Slow leaks can be so difficult to find sometimes and I’m afraid I won’t find the cause. I’ll patch or replace the tube and then flatten again right away because I didn’t really resolve the problem.

A closer look at the tire though makes me realize how lucky I’ve been to not have flattened sooner, and at a worse time or location.  The tire, a Schwalbe Marathon, is well worn and obviously long past its pull date.  The green inner layer is showing through in a thin line along nearly the entire circumference of the tire.  Thinking back now, this could easily be the original tire that came when I bought the bike back in 2017.

I could patch the tube and put off getting a new tire for a rainy day, but that obviously doesn’t make sense.  I’ll have to wait for a bike store to open up before riding again.  Fortunately it’s a weekday and nearby Fair Wheel Bikes opens up at 9.  I’m in their door not long after 9 and considering my tire options.  They don’t carry Schwalbe, but they sell me a Specialized Armadillo Elite that they speak highly of.  And, as Rachael wisely suggested as I step out the door, I have them install it too.  I’m back to the apartment at 9:30, ready to roll.

But we aren’t ready to roll yet.  It’s too cold!  Not real cold, like people are suffering from in much of the continent right now - but cold enough that it makes more sense to wait another hour until it gets up to the high forties before stepping out.  And it never will get too warm today, staying overcast and topping out in the mid-fifties.  At least there’s no wind.

We’d better get used to this too, because Tucson is experiencing a cold snap that is expected to last through New Years Day.  The next six days all look grey, cold, and occasionally windy and wet.  Today looks like the best of these days actually.  

Rachael models her stylish Lifeline stretching strap while we wait. Hey, green and black is a pretty hot color scheme for her, don’t you think?
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Jen GrumbyStylish, indeed. A trend setter, I'd say!

A waterproof neck warmer that can also be used for stretching and strengthening!!
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7 months ago

And we lower our sights for a ride plan for the day.  We put off exploring the Catalina Foothills together which was our original thought for the day and decide to just put in the miles somewhere on the Loop.  We haven’t been out to Marana for awhile and it’s about the right distance, so we pick that.  We leave the room about eleven and head down 5th to Saint Mary’s, well layered and with our leg warmers on.  I’ve brought the camera along just in case, but I’m not sure I’ll break it out or even bother writing up the day.

Because that’s what I do though, I still stop a couple of times to help us remember what today was like; but otherwise we just ride straight through the twenty miles to the trail’s end at Avra Valley Road in Marana, keeping a brisk pace the whole way.  There are almost no other bikers out with us this morning, and nothing really to tempt us to stop other than a sharp-shinned hawk perched on the railing near Sweetwater Wetlands.  Unfortunately it doesn’t register what that bird up ahead is until we get too close and it swoops off over the wash and disappears into the trees on the opposite side.

It’s calm today.
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Crossing Rillito Wash.
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The view west from the most colorful spot on this part of the Loop.
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At the end Rachael decides that we need a couple more miles if we’re going to meet quota today, so we branch off onto a side road we’ve never explored before.  We find a nice short extension that passes through Saguaro Springs, a new subdivision under development that adds a couple of miles and gives us to a view of the north side of Stafford and Panther Peaks before it dead-ends at busy, unappealing Twin Peaks Road.  

On Lambert Road, a place we’ve never been before. An adventure!
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On Saguaro Highlands Road. Panther Peak is directly ahead, and Safford Peak (the Sombrero) is to its left.
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We double back to the trail and stop for a speed lunch at the traditional spot.  Kelly’s not here today to keep us company but a pleasant woman out for a walk stops by and joins us for a nice chat, telling us of her cozy arrangement - she’s a vertical migrant, living in Tucson in the winter months and moving up to Flagstaff in the summer.  Doesn’t sound like a bad model at all.

Those notorious scofflaws are at it again, biking past the no biking sign to their picnic spot. One of these times we’ll get busted for this unruly behavior, I imagine.
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Kelly IniguezI don't suppose you got the lady's name that you chatted with? A retired school teacher from home has a house in Flagstaff and another in Oro Valley - I wouldn't think she would be walking in that area, being from Oro Valley, but you never know. Maybe the Flagstaff/Tucson living arrangement is a thing?
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezNo, we didn’t exchange names. She did say though that she was over here because her son had a job in the area.
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7 months ago
Jen GrumbyAnderson Scofflaws
Flouting laws of the trail: "Ha!"
Jen Grumby: impressed.
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7 months ago

And then, it’s the twenty mile dash back to our warm apartment.  No reason to stop, until Rachael spots this great egret swooping up into the trees alongside the Santa Cruz as we cross Ina Road.  This is quite a good birding spot - it’s the same place we observed the triplicated black-necked stilts last week and saw an improbable jacana wading in the algae last year.

What a great white heron! He’s about thirty feet up this tree. I like how this photo gives us such a good look at his enormous feet.
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Kelly IniguezThis must be the same guy I saw, below Ina Road.
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7 months ago
Jen GrumbySimian Bigfoot?
Not this one! Tall, white, feathered ...
Three very long toes.
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7 months ago

So now it’s only a fourteen mile dash to our warm apartment, with no real reason to stop - until seven miles later I see a hawk I don’t recognize in a snag beside Silverbell Lake.  I’m still griped at myself for not having braked for the sharp-shinned hawk earlier, so to make up for it I do stop this time.  Rachael continues on, and I assume at this point she’ll just keep going and we’ll meet at home.

It wasn’t worth the stop though - the lighting’s too poor, the hawk is too far off, and he’s looking away from me and won’t turn my way in spite of various whistles I try to get his attention with.

Not much information here. Any ideas, Bill?
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like maybe a sharp shinned or Cooper's hawk.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sharp-shinned_Hawk/id
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltToo large for a sharp-shinned, which of course you can’t tell from this photo. A Cooper’s hawk fits though, and I’ve seen them before in this area.
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7 months ago

Rachael’s gone on ahead and I’m stopped anyway, so I decide to leave the path and go over by the lake to see if I can see him from the other side.  When I get there though the snag is bare.  Instead what I get is Rachael, hollering at me from the trail.  Unexpectedly she’s doubled back to pick up an extra mile and rejoin me.  We disturb the peace by yelling at each other until I pull out the phone and dial her up.  After a brief conference she agrees to head home alone while I spend a few minutes looking around the lake as long as I’m here.

The view east to the Catalina Mountains across Silverbell Lake. And a coot.
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We’ve seen lots of herons, but I liked the way this one is framed by the reflections on the water.
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Grackles! I’ve wondered where they’ve been hanging out this year.
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I really like grackles - the way they congregate, and their musical sound.
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Jen GrumbyI think I've said this before in your journal .. these birds always make me laugh with their vocal repertoire that often seems intentionally whimsical.

I love the wide eye next to the big beak in this photo!
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7 months ago

Video sound track: Heavy Cloud No Rain, by Sting

I make it back before four, in plenty of time to head out for dinner.  We’re going tonight to Elliot’s on Congress, a bar and grill we haven’t been to before and the most appealing sounding option open on this Monday night over the holiday week.  We have no idea if they’ll be busy - and especially after having waited for nearly an hour to be seated at El Charro last night we want to get there early to make sure we get a seat.

It’s only a fifteen minute walk, and Rachael is set to bundle up and walk until I remind her that the Raven has heated seats, and we drive.  We needn’t have hurried though, because Elliot’s is nearly empty when we arrive.  It’s an OK place - I have fish and chips and Rachael a salmon BLT (and it really is a BLT, having both salmon and bacon).  And unfortunately they’re both generous servings that leave us no room for the tempting desserts and drinks on offer.

A tough choice. Can’t we get both and share tastes?
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Kelly IniguezI think you need to go back and give the chocolate covered bacon a try - for the sake of your readers.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezWe should! We could have an all-bacon meal: salmon BLT, chocolate covered bacon for dessert, and a chocolate-infused vodka chaser. Mmm!
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7 months ago
Kelly IniguezTo Scott AndersonHow about that horseradish one? That would clear your sinuses!
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7 months ago
Another tough one - the bacon infused vodka sounds to die for, but how about the horse radish?
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Jen GrumbyVomitous! Both of them!
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7 months ago
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Ride stats today: 45 miles, 800’

Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 1,082 miles (1,741 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 12
Gregory GarceauAn interesting day, from you guys openly flouting the law while eating lunch, to making a scene between the trail and the lake, to the white heron who seems to have opposable thumbs, to the other bird life, to a salmon BLT, to an infused-vodka menu like I've never seen before. (And probably hope to never see again.)

Tucson sounds too cold for me though!
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7 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauI agree with you completely, Gregory. These two are living on the edge! Pushing the envelope. Maybe even on thin ice.
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7 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Bruce LellmanThank you for your support, Bruce. Riding in weather like that borders on IRRESPONSIBLE! There might be children reading this blog, thinking it's okay to go for a bike ride in 40-something degree temperatures.
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7 months ago
Bob DistelbergI'm just not used to seeing either of you in cool weather riding gear!
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauYou’re right, it’s BRUTAL down here! Only those toughest of the tough guys survive.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauYou make a good point. Maybe entries should be rated, like films. R-rated if they include such fearsome conditions as these, or snakes.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergWe’re not either. It took me awhile to locate my leg warmers. Much more of this and I think we’re going to go shopping for indoor trainers.
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7 months ago
Rachael AndersonTo Scott AndersonNo indoor trainers, Weanie!
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7 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauRight! And basically telling children that it's OK to ignore Do Not Enter signs. Disgusting.
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7 months ago
Suzanne GibsonI hardly recognized you in your cold weather outfits. As they say there is no such thing as bad weather if you have the right clothes. Which would mean that you wouldn't have room in your panniers for anything else if you went out in even colder weather. What I wear for my short winter rides probably wouldn't fit in two panniers.
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7 months ago
Rachael AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonYou’re right about cold weather clothing taking up a lot of room. That’s why I like not having a home right now so I can go “Weather suits my clothes” but right now it helps also having a car so I can bring more clothes. I’m am very impressed with you getting out when it’s so cold. You are tougher than I am.
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7 months ago
Suzanne GibsonTo Rachael AndersonThanks, Rachel. But I really don't stay out long.
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7 months ago