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Routes in Tuscon

Old 12-13-21, 02:14 PM
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Routes in Tuscon

Hi

I will be in Tuscon for a week of Christmas to NYE with my road bike. Staying near Morris K Udall Park. What are some good hour and a half to three hour routes? So like 30 to 60 ish miles?

Thanks
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Old 12-13-21, 03:11 PM
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Common misspelling, but it's Tucson

You'll be near an entrance to "The Loop" which is a great shared-use path that circles all of Tucson, plus has a ton of splinter trails. The complete Tucson loop is about 65 miles and of course to can do shorter out and back rides, OR part of the loop, then cut through town if you're comfortable riding in traffic. Mountain Ave, 3rd St, and Pima St are bike friendly, Avoid Speedway Blvd and Grant Rd.

https://webcms.pima.gov/government/the_loop/
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Old 12-13-21, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by squarenoise View Post
Common misspelling, but it's Tucson

You'll be near an entrance to "The Loop" which is a great shared-use path that circles all of Tucson, plus has a ton of splinter trails. The complete Tucson loop is about 65 miles and of course to can do shorter out and back rides, OR part of the loop, then cut through town if you're comfortable riding in traffic. Mountain Ave, 3rd St, and Pima St are bike friendly, Avoid Speedway Blvd and Grant Rd.

https://webcms.pima.gov/government/the_loop/
Ah, my bad.
Thanks for recommendations. When I think "shared-use path" I am thinking tons of stops for street crossings and full of walkers. So speed is low. Is that the case for this also?

Also are there any spirited group rides?
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Old 12-13-21, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
When I think "shared-use path" I am thinking tons of stops for street crossings and full of walkers. So speed is low. Is that the case for this also?

Also are there any spirited group rides?
Actual stopped street crossings on The Loop are fairly minimal. The majority of The Loop runs alongside different wash systems and you get to dip under every major street crossing, so there are only a handful of foot downs.

Foot traffic wise, it varies a bit on time of day and location. The lower portion has the least amount of walkers, with the Rillito River section being the busiest. Not too bad on weekdays, pretty busy on the weekend. Overall, I feel like you can usually maintain a fairly good pace and honestly slowing down for a dog walker here and there beats all the traffic light stops if you ride anywhere off The Loop.

I'm not a group rider so don't have much input there, but you'll be close to Sabino Cycles (https://www.sabinocycles.com/) and I know they've hosted rides. I've also heard of the "Shootout" group ride, but not sure if that's still a thing or suspended due to Covid. I bet the people at Sabino Cycles would know.

If you're looking for some serious climbing, you definitely want to check out Mt Lemmon.

If you want milder elevation gains, check out the ride to Colossal Cave and make sure to hit Saguaro National Park (East) on the way out there.
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Old 12-14-21, 02:41 AM
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hit mt. lemmon uphill as far as the weather allows. the sweet spot turnaround is around the 16.5 mile mark altho rode all 28 miles to the top in april.

as mentioned, the east side saguaro national park 9 mile rolling loop is phenomenal. do it at least twice because you'll regret it if you don't. both this and the mt. lemmon hillclimb are prob the best two rides in the entire area of tucson. if you have more time or location, the west gates pass rd ride is sweet as is sentinel peak. can do both same ride. kitt peak hillclimb is roughly an hour’s drive south but def worthy. the “loop” is def your best bet to get in decent miles if not hitting anything not mentioned above. the "loop" gets you to a few of those destinations.




top of gates pass




two pics of the loop westside-near dtown tucson




the awesome, must see "cycling chapel" at the sw corner of the n. granada ave/w. davis st intersection...just north of the w. st mary's/w. 6th st area and a short distance from the loop.






four pics of the mt. lemmon climb



saguaro national park-east unit and the one-way 9-mile loop.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 12-14-21 at 02:20 PM. Reason: picture locations
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Old 12-14-21, 07:41 AM
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Ah, my hometown! I'm loving seeing those pics. With the weather being what it is in the PNW right now, I've been dreaming about a Tucson trip. Yeah, Mt. Lemmon, if you're up for some climbing.
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Old 12-14-21, 09:17 AM
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Great looking pics. Going to look them up. Thanks
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Old 12-14-21, 02:31 PM
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more tucson pics:



climbing gates pass...i think.

saguaro np-east

saguaro np-east

saguaro np-east

west anklam road near gates pass
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Old 12-15-21, 02:09 PM
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How are some of those roads? Will I get run over if I try to cycle them at wrong time of the day?
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Old 12-15-21, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
How are some of those roads? Will I get run over if I try to cycle them at wrong time of the day?
have only done weekday morning rides in tucson and no issues during that time. seem to remember a tricky intersection downtown right by the hotel congress.
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Old 12-15-21, 03:48 PM
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Beautiful pics thanks for posting them. If you ever publish a book on cool roads to ride in the southwestern USA I'll buy a copy!
West
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Old 12-15-21, 07:09 PM
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Out Old Spanish Trail to Saguaro National Park and around the one-way, one lane, nine-mile loop drive is a classic Tucson ride. To do it again is my only bucket-list goal.


Saguaro National Park head tube badge

Bike path in Tucson

You can continue out to Colossal Cave through similar landscape. As others have mentioned, there are miles of bike paths. Mt Lemmon, Sabino Canyon (time of day restricted now, I think), and over Gates Pass to the west are good rides. Even up little 'A' mountain is an interesting pedal. Most Tucson streets are wide, with generous shoulders. Some are way busier than others, of course. I'm slightly jealous. My brother and I are hoping to visit Tucson again this next spring. Have fun!
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Old 12-16-21, 03:44 AM
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Originally Posted by 2seven0 View Post
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Beautiful pics thanks for posting them. If you ever publish a book on cool roads to ride in the southwestern USA I'll buy a copy!

West

thanx. wasn't happy with any of the saguaro np-east unit pics...it was a misty/drizzly morning and couldn't get any definition with the pics. it was a magical ride tho.


we've got plenty of cool roads to ride in socal and nearby spots (death valley np, paso robles, san luis obispo, etc). we tend to gravitate to what's close and that's

okay...gotta spread those wings once in a while tho and hit other stuff.


tucson's got enough to fill up a solid week for roadies without repeating (portions of) routes while still keeping it interesting/challenging.
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Old 12-16-21, 03:59 AM
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maybe this helps...maybe not...

https://www.strava.com/activities/2123829743

https://www.strava.com/activities/2126082247

https://www.strava.com/activities/5121837109

https://www.strava.com/activities/5126300140
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Old 12-16-21, 09:37 AM
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Nice! One of my wife's best friends from high school now lives in the Mesa area we'll keep these handy next time she's out there & takes her bike.
West
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Old 12-23-21, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
How are some of those roads? Will I get run over if I try to cycle them at wrong time of the day?
Even when traffic gets heavy, I've never felt threatened by automobile drivers around Tucson; they seem to be far more aware (or, dare I say, far more considerate?) of cyclists than drivers around, say, the New York tri-state area where I spend the other half of my cycling life.

otoh, the pavement on many Tucson roads leaves a lot to be desired. Frost heaves plague many routes that would otherwise be gorgeous cycling (e.g., the McCain Loop in Saguaro West is practically unrideable). Annoying and frustrating. But if you're patient, eventually you'll get to smooth tarmac.
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Old 12-23-21, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Even when traffic gets heavy, I've never felt threatened by automobile drivers around Tucson; they seem to be far more aware (or, dare I say, far more considerate?) of cyclists than drivers around, say, the New York tri-state area where I spend the other half of my cycling life.

otoh, the pavement on many Tucson roads leaves a lot to be desired. Frost heaves plague many routes that would otherwise be gorgeous cycling (e.g., the McCain Loop in Saguaro West is practically unrideable). Annoying and frustrating. But if you're patient, eventually you'll get to smooth tarmac.
Cool thanks.

Looking forward to riding there. Hopefully united doesn't destroy my bike. I have Scicon AeroComfort Road 3.0 TSA Bike Bag. Will be first time using it.
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Old 12-23-21, 01:52 PM
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Great thread. My wife and I are thinking of taking our tandem down to Tucson for a few days in March or April and this is very useful. Are there local clubs or shops with route libraries or something that are publicly available?
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Old 12-23-21, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by samkl View Post
Great thread. My wife and I are thinking of taking our tandem down to Tucson for a few days in March or April and this is very useful. Are there local clubs or shops with route libraries or something that are publicly available?
on strava, there is a drop down menu under "explore." click "explore" and drop down to "local." from there, there are international cities/areas and domestic ones as well.
tucson is represented and posted below. clicking on areas i'm verry familiar with, there's a ton of room for improvement but it's a start. ofttimes, when in a new(ish) area, i'm
letting the senses, road and the legs dictate which way to go vs following a strict, pre-planned map. the best discoveries are by accident.

tucson:

https://www.strava.com/local/us/tucson/cycling

some of these are pretty decent reccs from my experience. seems to be all roadie stuff tho. perhaps the rides will get separated into mtb, gravel, roadie, mixed eventually but
looks to be all or mostly roadie for now.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 12-24-21 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 12-25-21, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
Hi

I will be in Tuscon for a week of Christmas to NYE with my road bike. Staying near Morris K Udall Park. What are some good hour and a half to three hour routes? So like 30 to 60 ish miles?

Thanks
please give us a follow-up post(s) re: what you rode and what worked or didn't. always nice to get a fresh set of eyes...er...legs on the scene.
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Old 12-25-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
please give us a follow-up post(s) re: what you rode and what worked or didn't. always nice to get a fresh set of eyes...er...legs on the scene.
I was thinking either doing Mt. Lemmon or The Loop tomorrow. Do you know what are the conditions up that mountain? Looking at weather report it seems like it was raining this week?
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Old 12-25-21, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
I was thinking either doing Mt. Lemmon or The Loop tomorrow. Do you know what are the conditions up that mountain? Looking at weather report it seems like it was raining this week?
weather in tucson for this last week of the year looks remarkably similar temp and rain-wise to san diego. highs in the low 60ís with rain at some point most of those days.

like i mentioned, you can go up the mt. lemmon climb as far as your legs and the weather allows. it hasnít been a super cold set of storms so you may be able to get up to that natural turn around spot on the climb 16.5 miles in. itís just before the trees start and where the road goes from skirting the edges of the mtn to actively entering it.

even if you only do five miles or so of the climb, it (and the surrounding area) will be worth your time/effort.
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Old 12-25-21, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
weather in tucson for this last week of the year looks remarkably similar temp and rain-wise to san diego. highs in the low 60ís with rain at some point most of those days.

like i mentioned, you can go up the mt. lemmon climb as far as your legs and the weather allows. it hasnít been a super cold set of storms so you may be able to get up to that natural turn around spot on the climb 16.5 miles in. itís just before the trees start and where the road goes from skirting the edges of the mtn to actively entering it.

even if you only do five miles or so of the climb, it (and the surrounding area) will be worth your time/effort.
Ah gotcha. I was mainly wondering where/if snow line starts, and if I need extra layers for descent.
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Old 12-25-21, 11:26 PM
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^would def pack some arm warmers, full finger gloves, a skull cap that covers most of your ears (if you have one) and a windbreaker/rain jacket if you start early, for the descent and if it doesn't warm up enough...

also...you may be enticed into riding farther up with all these items. would be a bummer (since you're coming from out of town) if you had to turn around because you coulda but didn't bring item x. nothing but regrets.

edit...looks like this next line of storms may be colder than the last wave so i'd strike asap concerning mountain climbing forays. you're used to this in the bay area and farther north. down here? not so much. the turn-
around point i previously posited on mt. lemmon is around 6,700 ft. that basically involves all your cycling clothing between/assuming an early start and current temps/conditions. the other locations mentioned in this thread like
sabino canyon (restrictions), gates pass, saguaro np-east unit, the loop are all doable whenever since altitude doesn't come into play. but as i said, even the first few miles of the mt. lemmon ascent are worth doing.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 12-26-21 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 12-31-21, 06:58 PM
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Thanks for suggestions.
I managed to ride up part way Mt. Lemmon on Sunday. Ended up turning around soon after 7k ft sign. Started with wind vest arm warmers, warm cycling cap, and leg warmers, and had to take all of them off by the time I hit bottom of Mt. Lemmon. By 7k ft my arms were starting to get cold. On descent all of it was put back on. Reason I turned around was mainly I didn't bring enough food, and I was only doing ~3h ride. Next time I am here will definitely ride the whole thing. Rest of the time I just rode on the trails that are part of the loop.
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