to Mesa Arizona Bicycle Trip
20th through March
trip was the completion of the length-of-Arizona trip planned last
year. There were a few changes to the route originally planned, and
we traveled from south to north to take advantage of higher-to-lower
elevation differences, as well as prevailing wind directions. We also
planned it for a cooler time of year, to avoid the high temperatures
that ended the earlier Arizona trip.
In a way, this
trip was not as exciting for me, since there is no particularly
interesting scenery on the route. Still, it was necessary to complete
my goal of cycling a contiguous route from Canada to Mexico. And as
it turned out, the scenery had its own special charm, even though it
wasn't particularly out-of-the-ordinary.
Mountains, Contrasting With Green Fields, North of Picacho
When I planned
the trip, I kept looking at the 10-day weather forecasts for Nogales,
and it appeared this was going to be easy, since nothing but warm,
pleasant weather appeared in the forecasts. Yet, as the appointed
days for cycling got closer, all four days had rain forecast.
In the end, we
had to postpone the trip for two days to accommodate the worst
snowstorm of the year in the Flagstaff area, with rain and wind in
Even with the
postponement, the trip getting to Nogales (and the Mexico border) was
somewhat harrowing. We planned to pick up our son Laron in Grand
Canyon (south rim) where he works, but when we got to the gate, they
closed the road, and we had to go back to Highway 89, thence to
Flagstaff, without Laron.
There was 17
inches of snow in Flagstaff. It was the biggest storm of the year.
Flagstaff with the biggest storm of the year, and highways closed
road from Grand Canyon opened at mid-morning, and Laron was able to
take the Canyon Shuttle to Flagstaff, where he joined us as part of
the transport crew, and we resumed our journey.
postponement, we encountered no rain for any of the cycling, but we
had headwinds for the first two days, going into the 3rd
day as well. In cycling this, I found that a headwind is more
significant than a gentle slope. The headwinds slowed our progress
significantly the first two days.
The route itself
was complicated, due to following freeway frontage roads, which
sometimes ended on one side (but not the other), and sometimes ended
entirely. There was one section where there were no frontage roads
(or any other local roads) where we had to cycle the freeway. In one
case, the map showed no frontage road on the east side of the
freeway, but it actually was there, and went through all the way.
Here is an overview of
the trip (on the left), and links to the details and pictures
of each day of the trip (on the right):
route is somewhat complicated at first, and the maps don't cover
much territory. Later they're simpler, and more territory is
from the Mexico border (A) to a local road called Caballero
traveled north on the pre-freeway main roads for some distance,
then ventured east across the Santa Cruz River (at the suggestion
of Google Maps bicycling-directions), following Pendleton Drive.
This seemed a good choice as the miles ticked by, until we
discovered that the road to return to the freeway was a dirt road,
and that there was no bridge over the river!
we forded the river, and made it through, following the freeway
frontage roads northwards.
from Caballero Court (A) to Tumacacori (B)
through Tubac, to where the frontage roads ended
on I-19 to Agua Linda, returning to the frontage road to Amado
We stayed this very cold
night at the Amado Inn, then continued following the frontage
roads to Green Valley, and the old South Nogales Highway into
Tucson, which became 6th Avenue South.
through Green Valley, and into South Tucson
Avenue through much of Tucson, finally going west on Speedway
Boulevard to Main Street, which became Oracle Road, where we
stayed the night (in north Tucson), in a motel just north of
through Tucson to Oracle Road, then west to N. Silverbell Road
next morning, we went north to Wetmore Road, turning west past
I-19 and over the Santa Cruz River, to North Silverbell Road,
which paralleled the freeway on the west side of the Santa Cruz
River. We followed this road until it began to veer to the west,
where we turned east, to go north on a frontage road going north
on the east side of the freeway.
on Silverbell Road to where we took the freeway frontage road
here, the map covers a lot more territory, since we were able to
use the frontage road all the way to Picacho. There is a one-way
frontage road on each side of the freeway. The east frontage road
on the east frontage road, to Picacho
Picacho, there was a KOA campground, where we stayed the night.
From there, we went north on Highway 87 to Coolidge, then west,
and northwest, toward Chandler.
and West on Highway 87 to Gilbert Road, to Chandler & Mesa
entered Chandler using Gilbert Road, which we followed through
Chandler, Gilbert, and finally to Mesa. At Main Street &
Gilbert Road in Mesa, we completed our contiguous cycling route,
and also the trip.
out the links in the pane to the right of the maps for the details
of each day.
can view the trip statistics by following the following link:
of each day – click on
each link below for the pictures and narrative of that day.
1 - Mexico Border to Amado
2 - Amado to North Tucson
3 - North Tucson to Picacho
4 - Picacho to Mesa
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