South side industrial mission

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Nothing like riding for a reason or two. Today’s ride started around rush hour and found me doing the usual, zig-zagging the side streets, tearing through quieter passages, cutting into alleys, skirting the boulevards.

3 hours, lots of pictures, and one ‘special’ washer found.

Just North of Speedway, heading West from midtown
Just North of Speedway, heading West from midtown

Down Highland, a road I have been on 1000 or more times, but I don’t recognize it – they’ve done away with the fun, flooding dip and put in a new road.

3 million dollar bridge that gets little use
3 million dollar bridge that gets little use.

Tucson is fucked and likes ornamental bike infrastructure for the autos to see when they go through the underpass. Instead of fixing pot holes, they build super-art, and one eloquent tagger says it best:

Fancy smooth and carved bridge floor
Fancy smooth and carved bridge floor.

My mission path brings me through South Tucson and to the South side, and a little stop down on memory lane to one of the corner stores I used to buy beer at. On 9th. Today I bought a flour product and shared my change and a few nice and thin tortillas with the bum outside. He had some banging dance music playing on his ghetto blaster, and indeed, this is a ghetto that I miss living in. It beats the shit out of midtown.

Authentic South Tucson corner store on 9th - still open.
Authentic South Tucson corner store on 9th - still open.

Onward to one great Tucson resource, Bearing Belt and Chain on 22nd. They didn’t have my 30mm bushing/washer. I rode further south to Ajo, deep into Industrial South Side land, and found what I needed at Tucson Differential. Going North on Country Club, I find another one of those ‘bike paths’ that goes literally nowhere. It passes a lagoon, has a bridge, and then you gotta go back onto Country Club.

It’s a waste of time to even ride on them, when they end in one block and they end like this:

Nice bike friendly path ending.
Nice bike friendly path ending.

I didn’t even ride through it, I walked. Tucson – an embarrassment of intentional bike infrastructure while the good old side streets work out the best. Stop trying so hard for the decorative, Tucson. Shovel, asphalt – fill them holes. Widen the shoulders. Like Airman Sheets once said: “FDS – fuck the dumb shit.”

Onto 32nd, and tucking into a tool outlet – pulled my bike through their doors. Wow, a tool supply with no bullshit – these are the kinds of places I love.

fuck a Home Depot - this is a real tool supply for ya.
Fuck a Home Depot - this is a real tool supply for ya.

The tracks and train yard go Southeast, and all roads must abide. I came up to the tracks and instead of going counter-South and up the overpass, I went across them, riding in gravel through the tar-stench.

Crossing the yard
Crossing the yard.

And onto Alvernon straight North. I hammered, and had to stop at EVERY red light. This urban riding is destroying both my knees and my brake pads. Tucson is full of wall art. The character of desolate urban environment is counterpointed by these little visions that you find all over, and what makes Tucson special.

Another dive is passed as the tires roll along
Another dive is passed as the tires roll along.
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About littlejar

5 - Learned to ride in paved alley behind liquor store in Lowell. 16 - Road bike riding alone while peers do soccer practice. 18 - First new road bike bought with winnings from Project Graduation. 20 - Burlington VT. Nuff said. 22 - Joined the Air Force. 23 - Joined team Fair Wheel in Tucson - rode the Shootout. 24 - Rode El Tour in under five. 26 - Toured to Quebec City 28 - Toured Oklahoma to Vermont 30 - Found my dream bike - a 1989 58cm LaBan (#22) 32 - Experienced Minneapolis and saw BIKE CULTURE. 34 - Building my first bicycle frame, with a self made jig. USA

12 Replies to “South side industrial mission”

  1. I love these posts. It almost seems like an Anti-Tucson message is being delivered, but I find this appealing because it’s authentic. I say “Anti-Tucson” because I am sure there are people who see pictures like the ones above and see nothing but redevelopment opportunities and messes that need to be cleaned up. Not me, dirt and decay are beautiful. In the end, dirt will always win.

  2. Re-development results in housing and commercial buildings that are even uglier and more desolate than dirt. I took over 50 pictures today, and what you see is the prettiest of them.
    My point is that Tucson’s government ignores simple, cheap to fix problems in the ‘bicycle infrastructure’ and instead digs big holes on 4th North of Speedway, puts in traffic circles, and a sign proclaiming ‘bike/ped improvements’ while 4th ave, just South of Speedway, 4th is so bumpy, it is worth it to go extra yards and use 3rd. All that dirt along the bike path is totally contaminated with herbicide, as the city is still at war with all things that grow that weren’t deliberately planted. Is this an anti-Tucson message? I disagree. This is a ‘raise awareness’ message to see if someone else will sack up and address the issues with the council. I did, already, 10 years ago and I still see the same absolutely mindless bullshit.
    It’s just easier to take from a bicycle than through a car window, too.

  3. Oh I don’t want you to think I feel your post is an anti-Tucson message. I appreciated you for raising awareness and being “pro-reality-for-this-particular-piece-of-this-particular-place.” I said that because I have had many exchanges with people over how certain neighborhoods or even entire cities look and I get irritated when people interpret “New & Clean” to always be indicative of a better, safer, neighborhood or city, and therefore the people there must be better, saner people when the reality is so much more complex.

    I’m not saying older and dirtier is better either. I agree with the late great Mr. Rogers, “Deep and Simple is so much more meaningful than Shallow and Complex.” Most municipal beautification projects are shallow and complex AND expensive, but they lack in the Deep and Simple department. Will that new, raised and landscaped median really help the people of this community in the ways they need most, or will it just look pretty and inadvertently make the downtown parking situation even more difficult? All of the city councils in the places I’ve lived have chased the fancy fluff and ignored real and substantial changes that their communities are asking them to address.

    I agree with you in that the view of the world from a bicycle is the best. No insulation from the world breeds a stronger connection with your surroundings. Smarter people than me said all of this long ago, and better, so I’ll shut up now.

  4. keith, i like your slant. decay rules. i’d like to carve delicious wall rides over the man guarding la primavera’s shade. i’d like to wait to see somebody tag a rock sitting in bike path moondust. i like watching it all be so dirty and tar-smelling. when you can get a tallboy can to wedge up on top of your seatstays, that is some solid shit. thanks for the ’round towner, LJ.

  5. How do I love thee, Tucson?
    Let me count the ways.
    Shoot-out, Che’s, Guerro, 8th Street, Fair Wheel.
    Smiles, tears, of all my life!
    I shall but love thee better after death.

  6. In all of my moves through AZ, NM, CO and Cali I spent a some time in Tucson. I was there when I was a wee-lad. I remember my Dads apartment butted up against the desert and him telling me if you see a cool lizard don’t touch it. You could die. I remember camping somewhere near a Two story Mcdonalds with the YMCA. I remember seeing a Sims Skateboard halfpipe show. I recall people being nice and food being good. I remember the fucking horrible heat. I never thought of the city as dirty. But at that time I was actually living with my Mom on a farm near Pinion half way in between Colorado Springs and Pueblo. So as a kid Tucson was a step up. I hope that the city doesn’t go the way of cities out here. Where old building get torn down to put up apartments that all have that same peach off pink color so that all look like they were in Irvine. HB used to be cool now I call it Irvine on the coast. Fullerton has some crappy hugh and ridiculous apartments that are at 50% capacity because they are so fucking expensive. I love progress but removing the past to gain it is sickening.

  7. There’s a Guero Canelo being built right down the street from my house, but I’ll never know what the big deal is about because I’m a veggie. There are some other amazing joints in my hood though, like Taco Giro.

    Years ago I really loved Tucson and didn’t necessarily see myself leaving, but lately I’ve been growing tired with it. It’s not necessarily the heat or the politics. This will probably come off a bit shallow, but I’m tired of all the fucking meth heads and the crime. Maybe it’s because I work in a place where cluckers bring stolen shit to sell or maybe it’s because I live about 15 houses down from the hood, but it’s starting to wear on me. I plan on leaving in about 3 years and I’m excited, but until then I want to try and enjoy all the little things I like about Tucson. I love the pictures, LJ. They remind me of what I love most about Tucson – all the tiny little quirks that you can find all over town, of which I’ve probably only just scratched the surface on over the last 6 years of living here. I need to get out on more rides like this, just for the sake of enjoying Tucson while I still can.

  8. …i live in a house built in the 1920’s…for me, that’s a good thing…

    …we might not be drinkin’ amigo’s, littlejar & while i don’t live in the desert, i think i get ya…