I will try to not make this a habit, but once again, I did not participate in this particular adventure. I have gone bike riding with mom and dad before, but this trip was a long drive and a hot day. Let me share.
Mom and dad put their bikes on the rack and drove down to Tucson, which is about a two-hour drive, with their goal being the Rillito Bike Path. To get there, take I-17 south to 1-10 and follow signs to Tucson. This stretch of I-10 can be dangerous with high traffic, tons of trucks and possible dust storms so be careful. Once you are on the outskirts of Tucson, look for the Orange Grove Street exit and head East or left. Take your first right onto River Road and keep an eye out for the Circle K on your right and turn there onto LaCholla. Take another right onto Curtis, and you will see a park on your right. Drive to the very back of it, and the Rillito trail begins there.
Mom and dad joined friends, Jim and Dana, and they got on the path late morning. It was already warming up, so I was glad I wasn’t there. Instead, I enjoyed the cool tile floor and ceiling fan with my brother, Edmond. Our neighbor, Dee, was kind enough to pop in mid-day and give us yummy treats. Thank you, Dee! You are the best – woof!
Anyway, Rillito in Spanish means “littler river” and the flat, paved path follows what used to be the Rillito River. Around 1930, though, all the water was used up for the development of Tucson, and it is now a dry river bed. The path follows it and goes through Tucson for about 50 miles before it connects to other trails for a total of 100 miles of paved path.
The city of Tucson has done a nice job of landscaping the path with lots of trees for shade and neat bridges that offer access to restaurants and shops. The path can be used by walkers, joggers and runners – no motorized equipment allowed. Dogs are welcome on leashes, and mom missed me every time she saw a canine. There are actually two paths, one on each side of the river. Both paths have two-way lanes, meaning you can go in either direction. This helps break up the path traffic. Mom said it wasn’t busy at all.
At mile 8.5, there is a rest area with bathrooms. Mom took the opportunity here to sit in some shade and drink water. She got overheated with temps in the high 90s. Mom always reminds me to stay hydrated, but I guess no one reminded her! From there, they went back the way they came until they saw Campbell Avenue. They took the bridge over the river to the Union Shopping Center and found a great little place for lunch called Proof Artisanal Pizza and Pasta: 4340 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85718. Apparently, you can find just about any kind of food off the path if you use your phone to search.
The service was extremely slow, but mom didn’t mind. She appreciated the air conditioning and endless cold water. Besides pizza and pasta, they had some great sandwich and salad options, which is what everyone ordered. When the food finally arrived, it was tasty. Thankfully, mom did cool off enough to finish the ride back to the car.
Note: Even though 90 percent of the trail is a dedicated path, there is a section between Campbell and Curtis where you have to go on a busy street, cross over and ride through the mall parking lot. Mom didn’t like it as it was very busy. Keep that in mind and be sure you have your bike helmet on!
All in all, they rode 17 miles, which isn’t bad since they haven’t ridden their bikes in while. Back in our Colorado days, mom and dad would ride 30 miles at a pop. Anyway, mom hydrated the entire two-hour drive home and finally felt cooled off when I saw her. It’s a reminder once again that the heat changes things. The ride wasn’t hard, but the heat was intense.
The hot season has arrived much earlier this year, so be aware and get outside earlier, especially if you have your dog with you. I was glad I didn’t go as I would have been miserable. Sometimes the best adventure is my own couch! Stay cool.