Napa Valley Register

We recently received some California press. Napa is pretty darn nice, so it's quite the compliment that our bike tour was listed in their publication. An excerpt from the article:

Looking for a sunny escape from winter? Tucson, Arizona’s winter daytime temperatures range from the low 50s to the high 70s, so now is a great time to visit. Here are a variety of fun and interesting Tucson activities ideas that are guaranteed to fill you with sunshine.

— Enjoy a bicycle tour through Tucson’s historic neighborhoods:

Get rolling! Learn about the Old Pueblo’s people and places from a knowledgeable guide as you cruise the quiet streets of Tucson’s colorful barrios. This fun tour lasts approximately three hours and covers 9-10 miles of flat terrain through downtown Tucson.

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Congrats to BICAS for being named Best Bike Shop by Tucson Weekly. It's not really a bike shop though. It's more like a community center for urban bikers. It's where I learned how to fix bikes two years ago. Great classes, great folks, and really cool art. 

Coming soon . . . The Loop

Tucson is rated as one of the most bike-friendly towns. The streets are generally quiet and drivers quite relaxed. Plus, our tour routes choose bike lanes and low traffic side streets for the most part. Tucson also has colorful historic neighborhoods and great history. The combination has worked. People have loved the tours, as evidenced that Tucson Bike Tours is already rated as the #4 Outdoor Activity by TripAdvisor. We're coming for your Reid Park Zoo!

Yet still . . . 

Some people just want a pleasant ride down a bike path. As it happens, The Loop around Tucson is one of the best urban paths in the USA. So we're going to start offering tours on the best section of The Loop, the Rillito River path. Tucson Weekly readers pretty much name it the best place to ride every year.

Stay tuned. We're getting an additional location set up.

Tour details are already known: 7 miles of flat riding along the very diverse section of the loop. Plan on 1.5 hours. Prices are a great value: only $30 for adults and $20 for youth.

Back to the future?

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I was at the Pima Air and Space Museum and came across an old photo of a WWII airbase in England. So many bikes! Bicycles were the most efficient and cost effective way for servicemen to get around. As everyone from millennials to retirees return to city centers, which is where most urbanites lived prior to WWII, a strong case can once again be made that bikes are the most efficient and cost effective way to get around. Pretty darn fun too.

El Tiradito

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El Tiradito is a tiny shrine in Barrio Viejo. It doesn't look like much at first glance, but it actually saved the neighborhood. Residents of long ago and today visit El Tiradito to submit their wish on a piece of paper. After shoving them into cracks along the wall, they must burn a candle through the entire night. Legend has it this is the way wishes get granted, but that isn't how Barrio Viejo avoided being bulldozed to make way for a good as done freeway expansion. Local resident Anna Laos didn't make a wish, she filed paperwork. Using paper of the uncrumpled sort, she led the campaign to get El Tiradito designated as a historic and cultural landmark. 

Sonoran Glass School

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The bike tour heads down 18th Street almost daily. It's a long but very slight downhill grade, so it's perfect for looking around. I'll admit, unfortunately, that the industrial feel of that stretch doesn't make it postcard pretty. It is an interesting stretch though. 

For starters, there is a great view of "A" mountain. Then there is water intake plant #1. Not sexy, but just about the important piece of infrastructure in Tucson. Then there is Sonoran Glass School. Located in an old auto repair garage, it's easy to ride right by without taking much notice. Inside, however, is a different story.

Due some pipeline work, 18th street has been closed right in front of Sonoran Glass School. While I've always pointed out SGS on my tours and describe the work they do, lately I've been taking folks inside since we are off our bikes anyway.

When you go inside, you see the finished work first. There is a display area in front with a variety of works from their flame shop, glass blowing setup, or kilns. They are a non-profit that offers classes, but I'm guessing the works on display are from folks who have honed their craft for quite some time . . . the stuff on display is really beautiful. Behind the display area are the actual workspaces. Despite having worries that I'll interrupt somebody doing a precise technique with molten glass, everyone inside is always very welcoming of visitors. So if you can't join a bike tour, at least check out the works of art and program offerings at Sonoran Glass School.

How Much?

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I like learning about Tucson's past and present. I've even enjoyed reading books about subjects that I'm normally not particularly drawn to, such as architecture. I now know how to spot a Transformed Sonoran, Queene Anne Revival, and Western Stick Style. However, I'm rarely asked about such matters. "How much does that house cost?" is by far the most common structure related question. Usually it's asked when riding through the mostly restored neighborhoods of El Presidio and Barrio Viejo. I've never been terribly concerned with house prices when I'm not buying or selling one, but the customer has spoken! Thanks to online tools like Zillow, I now know the general pricing of a few houses in each neighborhood. I still think my old pre-Zillow answer suffices for most bike by tire kickers: "If it looks nice, a lot. If it doesn't look nice, a lot to make it look nice."

Rolling into autumn

Rolling into autumn

The summer rains will be ending in 3 weeks or so. Autumn is almost here! We still have plenty of hot weather ahead of us, but some of the recent mornings sure have felt crisp in comparison to a month ago.

I'll be prepping my bikes tomorrow for a different post-monsoon tradition: adding more puncture sealant to all my tires. The dry climate here tends to end the green goo's effectiveness quicker than other places. Plus, we are entering peak goathead season. The tribulus terrestris goes by many names: bindii, caltrop, and bhakhdi all sound rather exotic, which it is. Besides goat-head (hyphen added because the computer keeps thinking I intended to type "loath"???), more descriptive names include tackweed, puncture vine, and your pick of devil's weed/thorn/eyelash. For cyclists, these names may be too civil.

The mountain bikers swear by tubeless tires with ample amounts of sealant. For us humble city cruisers with budgets that rule out tubeless setups, there are a few things to keep in mind this time of year. Sticking strictly to pavement helps a bunch. Don't expect to roll all the way home if you cut across that vacant lot. Like the mountain bikers say, tire sealant works. It can muck up your valve stem, so I understand why some people avoid adding it, but there's no doubt it cuts down on flats. So does the age old advice that gets overlooked too often: keep your tires properly inflated. Finally, when out and about, do not remove the goatheads until you get to a more convenient patch location. The leaks are usually slow enough to ride safely for a bit.

We are taking a summer break! We'll return around August 22. I won't miss the daytime heat, but I'll miss the sunrise tours for sure. It's always been a fun tour, but since adding a pitstop at Le Cave Donuts it has been an extra treat. I like them so much that I'm considering a new bike design, swapping the tires for giant donuts.