Monday, May 31, 2010

Horsing Around at the Start of Summer

The Boss climbs up La Canada as we ride through Oro Valley.

Horseback riders crossing La Canada to go ride in the Valley.

The time is just right for the Century Plants--I think they're a type of succulent that grows in the Sonoran Desert--the grow quite tall very quickly!

Enjoying the sunshine and cool morning--and all joking aside, planning our summer training schedule, mes amis.

We're on the way home from a 30 mile fast loop on the Northwest side of Tucson, up almost to Catalina, then skimming past my place up in Dog Mtn, and then through Oro Valley. This is Pusch Ridge in the background, and on Calle Concordia, part of my long commute route to work.

Have a good Holiday, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Heart of Tucson

School is out, the Snow Birds are gone--it's just the Desert Rats enjoying the hot Tucson Daze, Gentle Readers of Blog.

Le Tigre and I are rolling up the backside of Gates Pass--he says, "Me thinks I saw some Team Jerseys back there..." I turn around, and see Stef coming up the road. Okay, mes amis, Capt'n iCandy is in the House.

Heading up Gates Pass, which was an old Mule Train route from the 1880s.

Mule--Clydesdale, what's the difference, mes amis? Le Tigre has never been up the backside of Gates Pass, nor has he climbed Sentinel Peak, or what we call "A" Mountain. iCandy says he's with us!

I'm messing with my camera, which I think on its last leg (most of my photos didn't turn out) so I get dropped--no matter, we're having fun and enjoying the perfect weather.

At the top of Gates Pass, there's a turn out with a parking lot and a rest room--no water however. Its also a good place to re-group, as some riders are better climbers than others. Le Tigre gets encouragement from Capt'n iCandy and they make the turnout with no problem.

Stef, aka "Capt'n iCandy" help me set up this blog way back when we worked together at the University of Arizona. The jersey he and I are wearing are one of the many designs he has created for Team Mooney, a local team of triathletes.

Up here at the top of the pass you can see Old Tucson Studios. This is were many of the Hollywood Westerns were filmed back in the 1950s through the 1970s. The reason the saguaro cactus is such and icon, I think, is because we all saw the cowboys, outlaws, and law men, riding into the town or riding out on the range, with all these millions of saguaros hugging these very mountains.

We're riding through Saguaro Nat'l Park, on the smooth fast rollers that snake through the desert.

We'll ride South, to the boundary of the Park, and then head through the ancient villages of the Pima Indians at the base of A Mountain, and then ride to the top of Sentinel Peak.

Love you back, Stef...

There's been no car traffic this morning, Gentle Readers of This Blog--the road is blissfully smooth as we glide through the Park.

Le Tigre and iCandy--the Capt'n knows a route that will add a mile or so, but will take us off busy Ajo Hwy to Mission Rd.

Stef takes us on a recently completed bike and running path that I've never known about.

This area is were the native people lived, and where Tucson first took up roots.

We'll first have to ride around the Peak. It's rugged and ancient and always seems to breathing the hot Tucson Sun in and out, like a big sleeping lizard.

Up yonder we spy "The Old Pueblo" what the cowboys nick-named Tucson.

Riding through the Barrio to the entrance of A Mountain.

Here we go!

Sentinel Peak, and then about 1901, there after known to the locals as A Mountain.

On top of A Mountain. That's Interstate 10, and Downtown Tucson to the East of the Freeway. Mt. Lemmon is there to the left, and then Stef's house to the left and in the middle of the photo...

Here's the A Mountain story: about 1901 University of Arizona students got together, and to show school spirit for the up-coming football game, probably road horseback, went by Model T and carriage--with I'm sure a few wagon loads of iced cold beer and barbecue grills--and built the A. It was painted white and you could see it from everywhere. UofA rival football team, Arizona State University would always come and somehow paint it their colors, red and yellow. And it would get painted white again soon after.

After 9-11, the A was painted red white and blue. Many people were opposed to the war, and really just wanted it to be white, like it had been for 100 years--and there was a lot of yelling back and forth.

In the meantime, on St. Patrick's Day, some fun-loving pranksters painted the A green--holy shit! The A had been guarded by the police so just that sort of thing wouldn't happen--but it got painted right under their noses! Ha ha ha ha we all laughed.

Then some self-righteous Tucson business man looking to make a name for himself said he would pay to have the red white and blue restored. But whomever he paid to paint the A, did the colors backward. Instead of being red white and blue, in the order, from the top to the bottom, it got painted red white and blue from bottom up. Ooops...

Stef sends a text to Angela that we're coming by the house.

Here we are riding into the Mercado, Stef's place in the Barrio.

Ryan, Stef, and myself all worked together at UofA--Ryan meets Angela, and we're invited to come in, get some water, have some coffee and visit. Angela makes us some smoothies--cool! Stef gives Ryan a tour of the new house, and Angela and I talk about Little Egypt's new job in Kansas.

Stef and Angela's house.

Quick shot of Le Tigre and Yours, mes amis...

That's A Mountain where we just were, from the neighborhood garden in the Mercado.

Ryan and I are rolling out, and Stef and the kids see us off--thanks for the good times Stef and Angela!

Some of the famous--and infamous--characters from Tucson's early days.

Adios, amigos!

Hope you all had a good holiday. Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hobo Wash

I'm in Hobo Wash, y'all!

Commuting on bike gives one a perspective on how things are layed-out. I noticed a long time ago that the washes in Tucson seem to connect and run through the city. These were runoff washes from the rain and snow in the Catalina Mtns. Looks like a long time ago they go cemented over. I drive and bike and walk over these washes all the time. I've always had this burning desire to see what would happen if I biked down one of 'em.

This is the wash as I'm walking over the foot bridge from the San's parking garage (taken after work). How do I get down there and how far can I ride, mes amis?

I'm meeting Le Tigre for lunch and on the campus bike.

Le Tigre and I have to weave in and out of businesses and such, and along busy Grant Rd along the sidewalk.

I've always noticed this dirt ramp just off Grant Rd as I've ridden by--and hey the gate is open!

I would never go down into the wash by myself--for fear of Taliban or North Korean Commandos--but with my school chum Ryan, I expect we can handle mutant alligators, anacondas, and hobo attacks. If one of us can escape these perils and survive, then the tale can be recounted for next of kin...

At lease one of us is wearing a helmet, so that betters our chances of skirting around Death a bit better.

Freedom from the office and desk chair and the bullshit, wind blowin' through my hair, Gentle Readers of This Blog!

I can't believe we're doing this! What an adventure--and Le Tigre's bike is an old Sears 3 Speed he bought on Craig's List--perfect for recklessly following me on a whim down into Hobo Wash!

Whoa--the wash is like some other world, wide and deep--and people have planted shrubs and trees to block the plain slabs of concrete. Now those shrubs and trees are growing wild--kind of cool I think.

No dead bodies or abandoned cars--just some juvenile graffiti in spots.

This bridge is Glenn Ave and right before one of the back entrances to the Desert San. We've come down about half a mile riding on the right side, and now I believe if we go the opposite direction on the left side, we will cut right through and ride on the Northern border of the San's campus.

I'm on my lunch hour. By bike, we had time to ride to the eatery, and then have 20 or so minutes to go exploring.

To the left is the parking garage, and this is the foot bridge I take over to walk to my office. The bridge further back is for cars, and I ride over it on my bike as I'm coming into the San from Craycroft.

We've ridden a very quick mile just about--that ramp up is right near the corner of Grant and Craycroft. We entered the wash from about Grant and Swan, a mile West from here.

This petroglyph's probable meaning is that this is the way to exit the wash.

But we decide to ignore the sign and go just a bit further--we cross underneath the intersection of Grant and Craycroft! This is cool because it is one of the busiest intersections in Tucson. Who could imagine that there's this whole other underground network of washes?

We could probably go further, but lunch hour is about over. We turn around and look for a way to get out back on the Desert San campus.

Le Tigre checks it out. This would be difficult to carry a bike up, but you could if you had too. Still, the wash is deep as you can see by the ladder he's going up.

Looks like the best way is to use the exit ramp as suggested by the petroglyph. There's a great deal of construction on this side of the campus, and lots of heavy machinery are just over the top of the wash.

Bikes can save the World.

Le Tigre is the consummate roadie, Gentle Readers of this Blog--just look at that form!

Back at the Desert San in no time by biking across campus.

Recon of Hobo Wash was a success, mes amis!

More adventure to come, Gentle Readers!

Cheers! Bruce