Our family has just celebrated one year living in Tucson, Arizona. There are a lot of great things about Tucson, but as a cycling family, one of the things we have enjoyed most is the nearly year-round cycling season. Granted, our first summer was a bit of a rough adjustment (toasted bums on blazing hot bike seats, arriving at our destination dripping in sweat, etc), but overall, I’d say it’s been worth suffering the heat to enjoy the eight or nine months of glorious weather the rest of the year.
This past weekend, we participated in Tucson Cyclovia, one of the events that makes Tucson such a bicycle friendly city. This year marks Tucson’s fourth Cyclovia, and each year the route has expanded, and the participation has grown. If you aren’t familiar with Cyclovia, it’s an event that started in Bogota, Columbia, and has spread to numerous cities around the globe. City streets are blocked off, cars are detoured, and people are encouraged to bike, walk, or skate along the streets. Stores are open for business, food trucks abound, local musicians play, and there is always lots of local color. Not only is it a celebration of cycling and a great kick-off to the Tucson Bike Fest, but it’s a way for people to enjoy their city from a different perspective.
It’s amazing how a sense of community is created once people get out of their cars. We chatted and laughed with folks along the route, making new friends as we slowly made our way along the 5 mile loop. The route took us from downtown Tucson into South Tucson, which isn’t an area we generally go to very often. We found South Tucson to be a great neighborhood, with lots of restaurants that we’ll definitely be coming back to try.
Along the route, we saw a fantastic assortment of bikes – road bikes, folding bikes, cargo bikes, Xtracycles (with and without passengers), mountain bikes, BMX bikes, hipster fixies, custom low-riders, and lots of bicycle trailers. We even caught sight of a penny -farthing complete with a rider in period costume! As the day went on, more and more people arrived, and by the time we had finished the route, the streets were crowded with bikes and the route took on a festival-like vibe.
Speaking of festivals, the route had two amazing festivals at both ends of the loop. The first annual Tucson Hullabaloo, which is a celebration of music, fun, local food and beer, was at the north end of the loop. The Hullabaloo festival was born in our former hometown of Flagstaff, and was such a huge success, it migrated south to Tucson. While we didn’t attend the festival ourselves, we watched all the fun and enjoyed the music from outside as we meandered around on our bikes.
The Feria De Sur Tucson anchored the southern part of the loop, and was just starting to get going as we rode through. It had a fun, carnival-like atmosphere, with local musicians, food, even a petting zoo.
In order to capitalize on Tucson’s amazing weather and get even more folks involved, Tucson will host a second Cyclovia in November. The fall Cyclovia will be along a different route, and we’ll definitely be out celebrating cycling in our new hometown!