Monday, August 24, 2009

Biking Saguaro National Park, East

Ryan on the Scenic Road, with the Rincon Mtns in the background.

Its been a few years since I've been out to Saguaro Nat'l Park on the East side of Tucson, mes amis--and this was a rare weekend op for Ryan to ride with me. I suggested we ride from his house about 10 miles, out to the Park, do a few laps on the Scenic 8 mile loop, and figure out what to do from there. Rain was forecast for about 11:00 am so we figured we'd see how it went and try to get home before the Monsoon storm.

Charles--as a younger man, was a NYC bike messenger--now getting his PhD at University of Arizona.

As Ryan and I were making our way through the deserted streets of Tucson early that morning, and as we neared the Park entrance--I spied Charles up ahead making his way to the Park's Ramada. He joined us for the first lap on the Scenic Drive. The Ramada is right inside the Park, and there's cold water and the visitor's center has restrooms. All the locals meet here to get water and take a break before they head up to Colossal Cave or Pistol Hill or ride in the Park. The Ramada is not on the Scenic Road, so you can use it without having to pay the $5.00 to bike into the park--that $5.00 is well worth it, Gentle Reader. Most locals have a seasonal pass.

The Rincon Mtns. The Eight Mile Scenic Road is just a small part of the entire Park.

Inside the Park, you are overwhelmed with the serenity of the desert--everything slips away and you are gliding into a dream. This is a special place--ancient and mystical, with a timeless sense of beauty.

The road is one-way and just recently re-paved. My photos don't do justice to the colors and the sweet desert air and the sunshine.

This is the closest thing to Bike Heaven that I can imagine.

Charles and I start the Mile Climb which is about the half way point on the Scenic Road.

Charles is a power-house--quick and fast, and he handles a bike like a pro. But like me, the hills are a challenge. Big guys don't climb fast, as you probably know, so we ease into a groove and enjoy the beauty of the Park. Working on a PhD is a lot of work so Charles has not ridden as much as he used to he says.

The Scenic Road in Saguaro National Park, East. There were no cars on the road for our first loop.

Ryan is in his element--he's fast on the rollers and can climb well.

We have to be a bit careful because there is a speed limit in the Park--the Rangers are tolerant, but you don't want to get a fine on Federal Land or in a National Park--very expensive so I hear.

This in on the second time we went around I believe--that is Mt. Lemmon in the background with Monsoon clouds starting to blow in from the Gulf of Mexico.

My friend Ryan--mountain biker now becoming an excellent roadie as well.

With my friend Charles just at the base of the Rincons--the City of Tuscon is off in the distance behind us.

We say good bye to Charles who is off to ride home--Ryan and I ride out of the Park and out to the Farmers' Market on Old Spanish Trail. There's a friendly local store and gas station there, and its a good stop to get a snack or cold water. The locals will go on out to Colossal Cave, which is quite a challenging long and gradual climb. The best part is the way back because its a fast and furious seven miles home with an awesome tailwind. We decide we'll do that next time when its not so hot--plus there's a lot of wind coming our way with the Monsoon beginning to move over the Rincons. We decide we'll do another loop in the Park and probably beat the rain storm.

See you on the Road, mes amis!

After the Park, we have to contend with the stirring Tucson Sunday Morning traffic on busy Broadway Ave. The bike lane is also the bus lane, so its wide and we can ride side-by-side. Still, the traffic is fast, and there's a lot of businesses that motorists are pulling in and out of--and most of the time they're not paying too much attention. You have to be on your toes and stay alert. As its a slight descent, the 10 miles back to Ryan's house is fast.

Cheers, Bruce


Big Oak said...

Saguaro NP looks like a great place to ride. Merci beaucoup pour le photos!

Michael McKisson said...

Gotta watch out for that 1st hill though. It got me a few weeks ago.