The 11-34 ride - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 15, 2021

The 11-34 ride

[Note: don’t be surprised or concerned if we skip over quite a few days here and there while we’re in Tucson.  Folks have seen a lot of the Loop lately anyway, so we’re likely to treat our stay here as a winter vacation and step back from the blog a bit.]

Conditions are harsh in much of the country right now.  Killer tornados, intense winds, massive power outages, downpours, floods, cold, misery everywhere you look.  Not to make light of that at all, but you should know that folks are suffering down here in Tucson too.  It’s overcast and chilly this morning and almost feels like a winter morning in Portland.  It’s cold enough that our host messaged us last night to point out that there’s a little space heater in the closet if we need a booster.  And tonight will be even colder, dipping down into the mid-thirties after the skies clear up and we lose our cloud blanket.

So we’re in no hurry to hit the road this morning and are content to sit around our new home and wait for the day to heat up enough that our poor little faces and fingers won’t get too chilly.  Which finally happens by about 10:30.  

We have different rides in mind, because Rachael wants to just ride but I have an errand to run that I’ll get to shortly.  We leave together so we can make sure both bikes are in working order after being unloaded from the drive, but soon part ways just a block from the house.

Leaving the mansion. We’ll bike together for a block or two, long enough to confirm that both bikes are in working order.
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Rachael’s bound for Julian Wash, a favorite of hers we’ve ridden many times by now; but since it’s the first time out this winter she decided to capture a video of it.  The big news from her ride is that she saw a large rattlesnake writhing it’s way across the bike path and had to swerve to avoid it.  Do you think I should have stopped for a photo, she asks when we talk over the day later.  Duh.

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Rachael’s pretty impressive ride stats today: 45 miles, 1,200’

I have other plans though.  I’m bound for the Bicycle Ranch up north of here to pick up a new cluster for my Bike Friday that’s still back in Portland hanging from the ceiling at REI waiting for parts.  You’ll recall that both our bikes needed a new cluster when we arrived back from Rome and took them in for servicing, but we were lucky to find just one at the time because of the shipping backlog that’s resulted in a nationwide component shortage.  Rachael’s bike of course got priority since she wanted to bring it down to Tucson with us, but I’ll need mine before we leave for France in the spring.

Anyway - it’s a long story on a not particularly interesting topic, but Rachael found us a second one here in Tucson, at the Bicycle Ranch.  They had only one in stock so Rachael bought it yesterday morning and they’re holding it for in store pickup.

The Bicycle Ranch is about nine miles north of here, on busy Oracle Road.  I could bike straight there, but that doesn’t look like much fun so I come up with a longer roundabout route that stays on the Loop for much of the way.  I bike east on Fifth Street, cross the dry Santa Cruz River at Saint Mary’s, and head north on the Loop. 

On the Loop again, just can’t wait to get back on the Loop again.
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It’s quiet this morning, and I only pass a handful of other cyclists as I head north and downriver and then north east up the Oro Valley.  I have the trail to myself, along with a lot of grackles, doves, quail, a roadrunner and even a coyote running off into the open pit hollow north of the confluence with the also dry Rillito River.

Looking west toward the north end of the Tucson Mountains. If I’d been more observant and quicker with pulling the camera out we’d be seeing a coyote in this frame.
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First of the season!
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Kelly IniguezI don't know how you manage to get any road runner photos. They are too quick - I don't even try . . .
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezLuck and patience.
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1 month ago
marilyn swettSome of these guys are quick out on the trail but the ones we saw in Catalina SP were so used to people that they would eat out of your hand!
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1 month ago
Looking northeast up the Cañada del Oro toward the Catalina Mountains. It’s only been about ten months since we were down here, but it’s wonderful seeing these familiar scenes again.
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And another first of the year. I’m enjoying getting reacquainted with these species that I haven’t seen since last winter.
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Jen GrumbyLove that fuzzy head .. and the color!
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1 month ago
marilyn swettWow! What a shot and a find while biking! I had a difficult time taking pictures of the ones at our feeders as they kept moving. In for a sip, then gone. Do you know the type it is? We had Anna's and Black-chinned ones at the park.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI do too. I was surprised at how well this came out, because the light wasn’t the best. He’d be more iridescent from a different angle.
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1 month ago

About fifteen miles into the ride I leave the Loop and start navigating through the neighborhoods, working my way south to the shopping mall where the Bicycle Ranch is positioned.  I wasn’t looking forward to this part of the ride, so it’s a surprise to find out how attractive some of these residential streets are - the streets are wide and quiet, there are fine close up views of the northern end of Mount Lemmon, and as usual in eccentric Tucson the streets are full of surprises.  

Especially delightful is a white plush puppy, plaintively stranded fifteen feet up a saguaro and wondering how he’s going to get down again.  I pull out the camera to take a shot when a man working in the yard walks over to ask what I’m taking a picture of, perhaps suspicious of unsure of me.  I smile and point up at the dog, and he does too.  Is that your dog, he asks.  He obviously lives here, but is surprised to see it there.  I wonder how long it’s been perched up there without him being aware of it.

Back at you, Graham!
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Graham FinchI'll keep my eye open, but it's doubtful there's anything over here to top that.
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1 month ago
And another. Looks more like munitions than a mailbox.
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Bench; or possibly three birdhouses?
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A close up look at the northern snout of the Catalina Mountains.
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So how did he get up there anyway?
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Andrea BrownA mean older brother, of course.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonSaid the voice of experience?
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyTo Andrea BrownIf that's true, he belongs on the Naughty List!
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1 month ago
And another! A fertile neighborhood for mailbox hunting.
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I have some trouble finding the shopping mall and add a mile or two, which is handy because later I’ll get bragging rights when Rachael and I compare notes and we find that I racked up over a half mile more than she did today.  I biked 45.52 miles, just enough to round up, but she only biked 44.9.

After making my purchase I head straight back to Cañada del Oro and the Loop and make quick time for the last 20 miles home, stopping only for a few essential reasons.  The sun has broken out and it’s warmer now, and many more cyclists are about.  It makes me feel like a Tough Guy, getting out on the road so much earlier in the day than all of these softies.

I’m glad I’ve taken this loop today. It’s the first time I’ve seen this great view of the Catalinas, dropping back to the loop from the north end of La Cañada Drive.
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First Gila woodpecker!
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marilyn swettYep - we had lots of these in camp. They were such bullies to the other birds, even trying out the hummingbird feeders!
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1 month ago
And the second, his mate.
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A weathering steel bridge, not an uncommon sight on the Loop.
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Three chairs and a hammock; or perhaps one is a bench or loveseat?
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Graham FinchThat green one would make a great snap!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Graham FinchWe’ll be biking past this spot fairly often so I’ll see if I can get a more focused shot of it one of these days. I wonder if the sun ever hits that north-facing wall.
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1 month ago
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Scott’s even more impressive ride stats today: 46 miles, 1,200’

Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 590 miles (950 km)

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Rich FrasierI think if we had a Tough Guy Olympics, you (and most of the rest of us) would come in behind Greg. The only perso I think could challenge might be Dodie. :)
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Rich FrasierNo doubt. I just threw this in to get back on Greg for dumping on me earlier this week. You’re next on the list.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Rich FrasierNot so tough. Just spent the night whimpering and confused. Poor Steve is sooo tired today. Claims the "baby" kept him up all night.
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1 month ago