Archive for April, 2011
Tucson is blessed with what the locals call “washes” essentially dry riverbeds that channel water during heavy rains. In New Mexico (where I went to high school) we called them “arroyos“. I think they are one and the same.
Theoretically these washes perform the function of habitat corridors in an otherwise highly fragmented urban landscape. I’m not familiar enough yet with the city’s urban ecology to know for certain, but I’ll bet bobcats, javelinas, and other assorted critters make use of these.
This particular wash, bisects the bikeway I use to get to work. It was a partly cloudy day so I stopped and made a few pictures.
Here we have the results posted in the finish area. My time was 4:42, including stops for refreshments, photography, and a flat tire.
Bookman’s, the jersey sponsor above, is a Tucson institution. They buy, sell, and trade books, digital media, and other sundry items — including used vinyl (and while the selection doesn’t compare to the likes of Amoeba Records in Berkeley, I was happy to find some old Leonard Cohen and Sam Cooke records when I stopped by).
The only snack I wanted after this long hot ride was H2O-melon!
Here we have aid station #3, about 30 miles into the ride, which unbeknownst to me was about 1000′ away from the spot where I had my first mishap — a flat tire.
I expected a couple flats during the ride. I seem to pick up lots of cactus thorns in AZ. So I stuffed an extra tube, tire irons, even a patch kit into my TA handlebar bag. What I hadn’t expected was for my trusty silca frame pump (which I wrote about here and here) to fail me.
So I waited, and waited…and watched dozens of cyclists stream past before a kind gentleman (whose name I never caught) riding a recumbent bicycle offered me use of his pump. I lost about 25 minutes and was quite surprised to crest the next gentle slope and see this aid station.
This is the view of the mass start at about 6:25am for the 25th anniversary, 73-mile perimeter ride around the Tucson Mountains.
I started toward the very back — about 600 riders deep — amidst a sea of muti-colored and neon jerseys. It took about 3 minutes to actually cross the “start” line after the bell sounded.
I wore some traditional black wool bicycling shorts, a long sleeve white t-shirt, and my Adidas Chile ’62 shoes (because I like the way their knobby soles grip the pedals when I use toe-clips and leather straps).
Timed rides like this are usually not my thing, but I figured it would be a good way to get a sense of the local bicycling scene. I hope to post some more thoughts on that subject, and more pictures from this ride, soon.
Here’s the 3rd St. bike way (looking
east west) which is the bike path I take when riding my bike to work.
Near the University there’s some good infrastructure (like the special bike crossing above), but unfortunately as you travel east the bikeway ends at Wilmot (about a mile before my destination). I’m then forced to ride on one of Tucson’s mega-six lane boulevards (along a narrow stripped bike lane) for about another mile.
This (and the fact that I pedal directly into a glaring sun each morning AND afternoon — since I ride due east in the AM and due west in the PM) will be a test of how dedicated I remain to riding my bike to work.
I’m still getting settled here in Tucson, but I’m making an effort to sustain my 11-mile, round trip, bicycle commute to work (at least before the temperatures reach the triple digits).
Tucson’s beautiful Sabino Canyon is open to bicyclists after 5:00pm, which is where this image was made.
The subject seen here is my current favorite cactus: the Opuntia bigelovii or Teddy Bear Cholla.
Featured Comment by Laura: “It looks like it was a hard dry winter for that area, so not much of a spring bloom. It’s one of the great joys of the desert to see it in bloom, so if you’re there next year I hope it’s a good one! This site is useful for checking out what’s happening with the fleurs. http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html (lots of ads, but the info is good.) I have indeed removed teddy bear cactus spines with pliers. Not from my own calf, I’m happy to say–it weren’t pretty.”
Nathan replies: What a great website. It confirmed the two other blooming plants I’ve been seeing around Tucson. One is the Hedgehog (Echinocereus) and the other is the Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), which is my new, new favorite cactus — but it turns out it is not actually a cactus! (P.S. Laura is a talented botanist pursuing her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. I always appreciate her comments when I attempt to write about the plant kingdom).