Zen On Dirt

How to spend a week in Tucson

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Life has settled into a happy little routine around here in the desert. After six months of wandering around Colorado, even I’ll admit that it’s sort of nice to have all my clothes put away in drawers, to have all my bikes in one place, and to wonder what happened to the bin of stuff that contained my extra pair of gloves, gray knickers, arm coolers, and passport. My hunch is that it’s sitting in Winter Park, but I really have no idea, nor will I know for a while. But asides from preventing trips south of the border until I go back to CO for some holiday time, I’m not too concerned.

I’ve always had this dream, that’d I’d be able to spend my mornings being ‘productive’ by most standards of society, and then spend the afternoons riding, exploring, doing ‘real-life’. I think this existence, at least for the next six months, might be the closest I’ll ever get to that dream. I’m not taking it for granted. It’s like the time period when I was working as a TA for the physics department at CU the first time around while not actually in grad school, working not a whole lot of hours, making enough to pay for rent and food, and having a ridiculous amount of time to do what I wanted.

Some people value money. I value time.

With my free time, these are the things I got up to this week.

After having my confidence shaken on my ability to ride bikes at all over the weekend, I asked Scott for the GPS file for a ride that I could just cruise on. No big techy sections, just fun trails. He sent me out over Starr Pass to the backside where everything turns golden as the sun drops in the sky.


I saw my first tarantula in the wild. I got to add it to the list of AZ wildlife that I’ve seen: Javalinas, coyotes, quail, road runners.


I don’t think I’ll even get tired of watching sunsets from here.


On Tuesday I teamed up with Alexis for another Starr Pass area loop. I was in charge of getting us to the trails via Scott’s network of trails, Alexis was going to take over from there. Without a GPS, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with myself for navigating the network of random trails to get us to where we wanted to go.


Who says I have no sense of direction?

Wednesday was date ride night.


Scott took me to the base of a climb and offered me $100 if I could clean it on the first try. Apparently this is an offer that he’s handed out many times before and has never had to pay out. I rode all except for one move…and that was close.

To be fair, I did have Scott’s line to follow, which might have been cheating.

Alas, no $100 for me.

Added a new loop of trails to my Starr Pass database, tried in vain to have Scott help me pump up a tire that was losing air, but he insisted that he’d done enough by providing me with a mini bottle of Stans and a pump that actually worked.

There was some truth to that statement, as much as I hate to admit it.

Thursday was the Mi Ranchito ride. While normally a group ride, we didn’t get around to inviting anyone else, so it ended up being a Scott and Ez Mi Ranchito ride. Scott let me navigate after we’d planned out a route and I’m proud to say: Not a single wrong turn.


The network of trails around there is as confusing as in Ned, so I’m more than a little proud of being able to recognize and navigate some of them. 

I was a little worried about being able to find Ez-approved foods at Mi Ranchito, but it turns out there’s plenty to eat. Staying away from the corn chips is pretty brutal though.

Friday I set out solo again with the intention of figuring out how to navigate to one trail head, ride trails to a second, and navigate home from there. I’m determined to put together an accurate map of the area in my head that I don’t need  a GPS for.


Another beautiful sunset. Another section of rocks that I struggled on a week ago went cleanly in a quarter as many tries.


All in a weeks work. There’s something special about this place, and I’m determined to never let it get old.


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