Friday, January 24, 2014

Tucson BICAS and Ride Around

The Santa Cruz River Trail
I'm still quite a bit behind on my photo processing and ride reporting... one in particular held many new things to me back in November in the wonderfully 70ish degree city of Tucson, AZ.  Boy do those temps seem attractive right now!  I suppose I can very tenuously claim a partial bike industry visit credit here as well because I visited and rented a bike from the Bicycle Inter Community Art & Salvage (BICAS).  Given the amount of time I've spent volunteering and hanging out at my own nearby Velocity Co-Op I was intrigued to see a different approach.

BICAS is pretty impressive, it has a massive space mostly in a basement of an old light industrial area...literally on the edge of the train tracks.  Great steampunk kind of atmosphere.  The 'Art & Salvage' part of the Co-Op can't be minimized, the amount of creative scupture and decor created from bikes, and the number of somewhat rideable franken-bikes they have inside is impressive.

From the more traditional Co-Op side the availability of quality parts is pretty few and far between.  Great place to find that finishing touch on a beater but if you are hunting for diamond's in the rough I'm not sure you'll be satisfied.  If you are looking for full bikes from which to start a project on the other hand there is a ton on hand.  Again mostly lower end stuff but I thought most of it was semi reasonably priced, and there may be negotiating room.  The other striking thing to me was the number of volunteers on duty, it seemed like there were at least a dozen both times I stopped in.  Very cool.

As for the bike Rental, it was pretty straight forward.  They had a couple of single speed, coaster brake, steel bikes available and once you pick one out you can get it for about $10 an hour.  A volunteer runs through a full maintenance check on the bike (takes some time) and helps you adjust the fit if needed.  I thought I picked the best of the bunch but it was still a pretty rough ride. There was one MTB for a little more and I wish I had just gone for that in retrospect.  Being able to rent a bike on short notice and in good proximity to some decent local riding was a great thing either way!

For the ride I used google maps to scout out and asked around a bit at Bicas settling on as much of the Santa Cruz River Trail as I could do before my dinner reservations.  Turns out a 16 mile loop was in order and I got to see a fair bit of the excellent bike/mixed use trail that covers both sides of the dry river bed.  I guess the river bed floods at certain times of the year, during my visit it was dry as could be.  I saw plenty of apparantly homeless camped out in the river bed... seems like an odd choice.  Another highlight was seeinga couple of smallish falcon/hawk type birds that kept perching on the bike path railing. My 28mm equivalent lens was no match for their size/speed but it was cool to see them so relatively close.  I wrapped up the ride when I got close to the mountain w/ the University of Arizona  'A' on the side...  Tucson has a ton of bike infrastructure and I saw plenty of people on bikes at all hours of the day and night. I'd love to spend more time and even get out to one of the many off road trail areas.  Enjoy the pictures!

So many cool bike-monsters... I've never seen anything like all the mongrelized (in a creative fun way) bicycles!


How cool is this!

I ate well in Tucson, but had to come back to Nico's Taco Stand for the Carne Asada Fries... so deliciously awful for you. (no bike content here... yum)

My steed for the day... one of the least comfortable bikes I've ever ridden, the left pedal cracked at the spindle (about halfway through) during my ride but I got it back to the co-op.  Overall it could be a decent bike but the size was a bit small for me.  Got the job done and me off my but in the hotel room though!

Single-speeding in AZ!

You can just make out this falcon-like bird on the railing ...there were a couple of them circling the dry river bed and I never got much closer than this, the 28mm equivalent lens just didn't cut it for allowing me to isolate the bird.  Check out that skyline!

How's this for bike infrastructure!  Great repair stand with tools, a bike stand and air pump.

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