Tangerine Road - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

January 12, 2022

Tangerine Road

We leave Tucson and start working our way back north to Portland in less than two weeks, so we’re starting to knock off items on our short-timers list.  Prioritize the rides we want to fit in before we leave town.  Prioritize the restaurants we want to revisit.   Plan out a last grocery shopping list. Take the Raven in for an oil change and routine servicing.

I make an appointment with Larry Miller, the VW sales and service shop up close to the Loop, and am impressed with their integrity when they look me up and see that we’re in their book already (of course, since that’s where we bought the car last winter) and tell me I’m in luck: the previous owner had purchased a package of oil changes for the car, and there was still one remaining.  I’m getting a free oil change!  That’s worth even more than the Thanksgiving Turkey I won in November from the drawing at our storage unit.

My plan for the day is to drop off the car and then take a loop out Tangerine Road, one I’ve been eyeing for awhile that’s a bit on the long side - 56 miles if started from home, but it’s only 48 starting from the VW shop so this is the perfect opportunity.

Not Rocky though.  Once it warms up enough she’ll be off on the Hank Aaron Ride.  I hope she doesn’t refer to the ride east along the loop and up Harrison Wash in this way when she’s chatting with the locals, because they’ll think she’s a bit off and start edging away.  For some reason though that’s how she remembers this ride, the one we took last winter as an homage to Hank Aaron’s passing.  His uniform number was 44, so we added two miles to Rocky’s standard 42 in his honor.

The appointment is at 8:45, and when I wheel out of the lot a few minutes later I’m rueing the fact that I didn’t request an appointment for about an hour later.  It’s only 45 degrees still, and cold enough that after a few miles I’m riding one-handed on my way west down Rillito Wash toward the Santa Cruz, alternating which hand I’m trying to warm up in my jacket pocket.

My reward for being out so early comes a few miles later when I look up and see a hawk perched on the railing a hundred yards up the line.  I come to a fast stop and pull out the camera just in time to catch him take flight and disappear into the trees.

So close!
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Exciting, but just another near miss.  I don’t get enough of a look to identify him, and I’m not even that sure of his size.  Around the next bend though I’m surprised to look up and see him on the railing again.  He must have just circled back and took a position further on and out of sight.  I’ve seen him soon enough this time so that I can get a shot of him before scaring him off again, and then start slowly edging closer a few steps at a time for a better shot before he eventually takes wing once more.

This happens three more times, him moving down the line and me stealthily pursuing him like a paparazzo.  I probably spend fifteen minutes in this way, but it’s hard to tell because time stands still for me when I’m doing something like this.  Eventually he disappears for good, but not on my account - he’s startled by another biker coming the other way that zips right past him.  

It’s my reward for being out so early.  This is the first cyclist I’ve seen on the path with me for a quarter hour.  I really should get out early more often, before the bike paths start filling up.  I’ll add another outing like this to our short-timers task list.

Easily the best look I’ve ever had of a sharp-shinned hawk.
Heart 9 Comment 3
Gregory GarceauSharp-looking dude poses before he flies,
Sharp beak, sharp talons, sharp vision, sharp eyes.
He's a little sharper than his raptor kins,
'Cuz he's the only one who has sharp shins.

Great picture.
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2 weeks ago
Suzanne GibsonGreat picture!
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2 weeks ago
marilyn swettWonderful picture!
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1 week ago

Nothing will compare with that for the rest of the ride, but I am pleasantly surprised by what a fine loop this is.  I ride south toward Marana along the Santa Cruz until I come to Twin Peaks Road and leave the loop there to traverse east along Tangerine Road to Oro Valley.  

I have pretty modest expectations for Tangerine Road, which I view as just an on-road connector between the two northern arms of the Loop network.  I envision biking on the shoulder of this road, which looks wide enough for safety at least but unlikely to be particularly pleasant.  Really, today’s ride is just an experiment to test out a new ride option.

I’m wrong though.  Tangerine Road is a surprisingly good ride, and virtually still part of the Loop.  For nearly the entire way there’s a separated bike path of the same high quality as the other newer parts of the Loop.  From today’s bike traffic it appears really as popular as other parts of the system.  It suffers only from being close to busy Tangerine Road and new suburban development the whole time so it’s never really quiet; but as compensation it gives great views north to the Tortolita Mountains and an amazing head-on view of Mount Lemmon that you bike straight into for five miles.

So this ride goes on the short-timers list too, bringing Rachael along next time.

Twin Peaks Road. There’s about five miles of this angling northeast from the loop up to Tangerine Road.
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The bike path along Tangerine Road. Mount Lemmon ahead. Very nice - the surface is so smooth that it feels like it hasn’t been here for all that long.
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Some colorful creeper threaded into a palo verde.
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Bill ShaneyfeltA globe-mallow for sure. Of the 9 species I find in the area, the leaves match Emory's globe-mallow best.

https://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=3805
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltIt sure looks like one alright, although it’s growth pattern intertwined with the palo verde surprises me.
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2 weeks ago
The view north to the Tortolita Mountains.
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Another view east, somewhere around the outskirts of Oro Valley. It’s really a nice angle to see the Catalina Mountains from, far enough back and high enough that you get a good look at Lemmon rising above the foothills.
Heart 1 Comment 2
Kelly IniguezI have not been up this way. Are there many road crossings on the path?
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezNot many at all. I’d definitely give it a try to see what you think.
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2 weeks ago
Those Tortolita Mountains again.
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Gila woodpecker, checking out the giant saguaro in the frame above. If you zoom in on that photo you’ll see him perched at its very top.
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I snapped these guys flashing past on impulse, thinking they might be the Swetts who are camped out nearby. But they’re not.
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Lunch stop. Snakes or not, it was time to check out the leftover pizza Rachael saved for me.
Heart 1 Comment 3
Bill ShaneyfeltSome might get "rattled" by that sculpture.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltNot Roddy though . He has nerves of steel.
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2 weeks ago
After lunch I looked up and saw another sculpture at the opposite end of the row of benches on this pullout. From a distance it looked like a cello or double bass, which seemed like an odd subject out here.
Heart 0 Comment 1
Gregory GarceauWho would make
A rattlesnake
With a bird growing out
Of the rattlesnake snout?
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2 weeks ago
But no. The whole rest area is one giant rattler, an integrated roadside work of art. Reminds me of the giant serpent in Borrego Springs.
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Ride stats today: 48 miles, 1,200’

Today's ride: 48 miles (77 km)
Total: 1,554 miles (2,501 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 4
Bruce LellmanI can't believe how lucky you have been of late. Turkey, oil change and bagel, all free!
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanYup. On a roll! And thinking about that bagel, which is coming up soon.
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2 weeks ago
marilyn swettIt was you that we passed on Tangerine! Don heard you say my name and I called out to you as we zipped past each other, but you kept going. I wish now that we had both stopped to visit a bit.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo marilyn swettDang it, I thought so. It was right after those two in yellow passed by. I called your name out just in case, but assumed it wasn’t you or you didn’t hear me.
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1 week ago