As I grow older, time seems to be a disappearing commodity. With my two sons active in various sports and activities, finding time to ride has become increasingly difficult. It’s necessitated a practice I used to scoff at – driving to the start of a bike ride.

I’ve always located myself in central Tucson. This enabled me to reach all of the region’s cycling routes with equal commuting time. Only twenty minutes of urban surface streets in each direction to access the beauty of Southern Arizona and its rural landscapes and quiet roads. In my younger days those daily 45 minutes of junk miles were accepted, now they are time, seemingly wasted.

Meeting a group on the eastside of town to climb Mount Lemmon or justifying 6 hour rides to Kitt Peak or Arivaca isn’t as open ended as in the past. Lately I’ve resorted to doing that thing I never thought I’d do — more and more I’m packing my duffel, tracking down my car keys and driving to rides to help save time.

I’m obviously not used to this new ritual. Upon arrival at the ride start it seems I always forget to pack something in said duffel. It could be major things like my Bonts or minor things like sunscreen. With time I’ve become more thorough in my duffel bag management. Nothing is more frustrating then wasting all the time you saved backtracking to grab your Bonts. Now the internal checklist is always running when I turn the ignition. Shoes, Poc, bibs, sunscreen– it’s a go.

Montezuma pass east side
Montezuma pass east side
Montezuma pass westside
Montezuma pass westside

Driving to rides has it’s perks. For one, lately I’ve driven to places I’ve never seen before.  After 25 years of Tucson rides, I’m starved for new vistas. I’m loving the increased range of cycling destinations driving to rides has afforded me. The past weekend I drove to ride Mount Graham. The last time I attempted it was twenty years ago where I loaded my steel team issue Eddy Merckx on the VW Rabbit only to be greeted by a snowstorm and drove home with my vow never to drive this far to ride again.

Mt. Graham looming
Mt. Graham looming

This most recent trip I exorcized the memory and enjoyed the most beautiful and difficult climb in the region. Afterwards I took a chance and parked at the base of the mysterious and little ridden Chiricahua mountains. However my luck ran out when I was told by park rangers that the road washed out and was closed to all traffic for repairs. It was like 1995 all over again albeit this time with a car with a/c and an iPod.

Chiricahua national monument
Chiricahua national monument

Undaunted I clicked in and clandestinely rode through the barriers and was greeted by cheerful construction crews descending to their tin lunch boxes. The next 5 miles of traffic free climbing was lined with towering rock spires and shady Ponderosa Pine trees. The summit would be best described as awe-inspiring and with the park’s road closed, the isolation felt surreal.

I’m slowly feeling better about driving to rides. It’s saving time and helping me explore new places. Today I’ll be riding from home on some of Tucson’s expanding bike path network called The Loop. I can’t find my POC helmet though. I’d better go check the trunk.

New section of The Loop bike path in Tucson
New section of The Loop bike path in Tucson
Gord Fraser

Written by Gord Fraser

Gord is a three-time Olympian with over 200 career wins. He retired from professional cycling at the end of 2006. He has been a Sports Director ever since, joining the team in 2014. He was inducted into the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame in 2016. Gord and Floyd were teammates from 1999-2001.

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