Day 1 – Mexico Border to Amado – Tuesday, March 20th

On this trip, we had a new person (my son-in-law Michael), trying cross-country cycling for the first time, on a new (from parts) customized cross-country bicycle, put together by Malcolm.

Michael's New Customized, Cross-Country Bicycle

We all traveled together to the starting point (Nogales, Arizona, on the Mexico border), where we were dropped-off to begin cycling the route to Mesa, 185 miles north. It took us two days to travel to Nogales.

My son Laron, and daughter Emily drove the truck, touring Kartchner Caverns and Seguaro National Park while we cycled, then picked us up at the end of the trip, eliminating the need to take two vehicles all the way down to Nogales.

The starting point of Nogales was chosen to take advantage of the terrain (going downhill to Mesa), as well as the prevailing wind direction (from the southwest). Unfortunately, with the recent storm system, we had headwinds the first two days of cycling.

The Mexico border is a secure area, so we had to unload some distance away.

Unloading, our transport crew (Emily & Laron) standing in the truck

The intrepid cyclists, ready to roll

We cycled the short distance to the Mexico border, where we had our picture taken, then began our bicycle-adventure, cycling north.

Starting the trip, at the Mexico border

We started out using the Google Maps bicycling-directions to avoid the main highway, but it was too complicated and time-consuming to follow the directions. We soon opted to avoid the complexity by using the highway, which wasn't a bad road to cycle anyway. Eventually the route took us to the I-19 east frontage road.

Going north on the freeway's east frontage road

After some distance, we followed Rio Rico Road east over the Santa Cruz River, to go north on Pendleton Drive (per Google Maps, bicycling-directions). We did this to avoid having to cycle the freeway when frontage roads ended for a ways. This seemed a good choice, and the miles ticked by as we watched for Caballero Court (the road which would return us the the freeway frontage road.

To our surprise and dismay, Caballero Court turned out to be a dirt road, and a sign informed us there was no bridge ahead - “Enter At Own Risk”... So much for Google Maps Bicycling-directions (admittedly in beta). Given all the miles we had come, we weren't about to go back, so it was time to get our feet wet.

Fording the Santa Cruz River

We carried our bicycles to avoid washing lubricant from the chain (and to avoid getting water in the bearings).

After this big challenge, we rejoined the freeway east frontage road, and continued without incident to Tumacacori State Historic Park, which we didn't stop to investigate. We tried a few times to get food, but there wasn't a lot of choices, and the restaurant was a bit more expensive than we wanted.

We continued northwards to Tubac, which seems to be a sort of shopping resort for art and unusual items. We ate our supper there, which was good, and reasonably priced.

Supper at the Tubac resort

Given how cold the day was, we looked into getting a motel there, but it was prohibitively expensive. We continued northwards, hoping to make it to Amado (where someone said there was a motel) before dark.

At Chavez-Siding Road, the frontage roads end on both sides of the freeway, and we cycled onto the freeway entrance, noting that there was no “bicycles prohibited” sign (as I had observed from Google Maps street-view during the planning phase). In Utah and Arizona, you are allowed to cycle the freeway if there is no local alternative (which was the case here). The wrinkle in the Arizona law, is that the lack of a bicycles-prohibited sign is your indication you can cycle the freeway.

So we cycled onto the freeway shoulder, coming to the border-patrol checkpoint a short distance down the road. We encountered no problem there, and continued along the freeway for a few miles to the next exit, where the frontage road resumed (so we left the freeway).

It was getting dark as we passed an RV park. Given how cold it was, we kept pedaling for the motel, which we finally found as it got dark. It was expensive, but not as expensive as the one in Tubac, and it turned out the included breakfast was really good the next morning.

On this day, we cycled 33 miles, at an average speed of 7.4 miles per hour.

Next Day

(Back to Main Trip Index)