I left work early, excited to hit the urban dirt trail that TucsonVelo.com recently promoted. The weather seemed warm, after baking inside my car on the long drive home, so I wore shorts and a jersey. Jammed the arm warmers and windvest in my jersey pocket just in case.
With lights on my bike, I rode on the paved Rillito River path to Brandi Fenton Park. Short cut through the park up to River Road headed west. At Alvernon, I tunred north and looked for "the wash." Found it, rode into it, and got stuck in sand.
Hoping the entire trail wouldn't be in the bottom of this shallow wash, I rode a little and pushed a lot and looked for harder ground.
Found the hard pack on the upper edges of the wash and rode happily along toward the beautiful Catalina Mountains, pink in the setting sun.
This is what bike riding felt like when I was a kid, racing through the desert on my banana seat bike. Like then, I just enjoy the ride, no real destination because I know darkness will catch me soon enough. I weave around palo verde trees and creosote bushes. A rabbit bounds across the trail then races in front of me before diving into the underbrush.
Video, without rabbit, below:
The light is fading on the trail but the mountains are bright and happy. I reluctantly turn back. I ride more of the wash this time. I'm happy for lights on the major roads, and very happy to be back on the Rillito River Path.
It's getting cold and I put on all my clothing. My top half is fine, but my knees feel the chill.
I meet up with Lisa and we ride together in and out of cold patches (the river bottom) and hot spots (cement bridges) along the path. My light illuminates runners, families, dogs near Brandi Fenton Park. It's great to see so many people out enjoying the warm winter evening in Tucson.
Night riding is fantastic, our senses are heightened and everything smells fresh. The sliver of a moon and stars brighten as the last rays of sun fade.
I'm looking forward to my next urban dirt trail ride, exploring a little more up into the foothills perhaps by day. But preferably, at sunset.
For a map of the entire trail in the foothills, click here.