Inhaling the creosote in the almost cool desert morning after a monsoon, I'm inspired to bike out to Sabino Canyon. I dodge sand and gravel pushed onto streets in the usual places by torrential rain.
After pleasant desert smells in my neighborhood, I hit the Rillito River Path, aka "The Loop," and the smells of hay and horse manure waft my way. Still a few ranches along the Rillito, with the standard inputs and outputs. The riverbed is damp, but there's no water running. Perhaps the river flowed during yesterday's deluge, but not now.
I expect some dirt and debris on the bike path, and find ponding and mud.
Tire tracks show some cyclists enjoy riding in the mud. I steer my road bike to the dry alternative hard-packed dirt and cement path.
I continue out River Road and Sabino Canyon Road, with the Catalina Mountains looking tantalizing close on this clear and cloudless morning. I reach Sabino and head up the canyon, dodging walkers and runners in the first mile or so.
I hear Sabino Creek before I see it, the sweet sound of water rushing through the desert! Water flows beneath the first stone bridge, and sweeps over the second bridge.
A runner high steps her way through the water. "Isn't it awesome to see water here?" I ask her. "Fabulous, it's just fantastic," she replies in a British accent.
Saguaro cacti abound on the canyon's slopes, above a mesquite tree:
The road follows Sabino Creek, crossing the swollen stream from side to side. The road gets steeper, my speed slows, but I don't care because I'm just enjoying the sound of water running over the rocks and through the cottonwood trees.
The video below is mostly about the sound (so turn up the volume!), but check for the sun reflecting off the brown silty creek:
The views up the canyon open onto the higher peaks of the Catalina Mountains:
I climb in easy gears above the creek and see waterfalls I haven't seen since early spring:
I reach the end of the road, and turn around to begin a fast descent. I heed the yellow signs that picture bicyclists crashing over handlebars and slow way down for the bridges. A few sand and gravel sections are ripe for wipeouts.
I splash through a few bridges covered in water.
On the way back across town through the foothills, I ride past great flowering bushes including this Texas Ranger that rained purple on the pebbles beneath it:
Here's a map of this Sabino Canyon and Foothills ride: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/114341715
So after the next monsoon storm, get on your bike and explore a fresh new Tucson!