Babad Do’ag, roughly translates to “Frog Mountain” in the O’odham language. This mountain is now commonly referred to as Mt. Lemmon, named after botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon who studied the botany of the mountain in the late 1800s. The imposing profile of the sprawling mountain range that lines the north and east sides of Tucson is impossible to ignore. While the paved road up into the range is the stuff of road biking legend there is a huge spectrum of unpaved roads that circle the mountain as well. While Patagonia, AZ has been an epicenter of gravel cycling in Southern Arizona, I wanted to bring some attention to a route that was more Tucson-focused.
This one is gonna be a simple write-up. Ally had a really amazing looking custom bike from a builder, Hoefer Cycles, I had never come across before. I asked Ally about the story behind the bike and she just responded, “I told him I wanted a sweet bikepacking rig that I could ride anywhere.” I reached out to Donald, the man behind Hoefer Cycles, and he corroborated the story and adding that “It’s really fun when someone comes to me with a request as open-ended as hers was and trusts me to deliver.” While handcrafting a detailed and intentional build such as this is nothing simple, the joy it produces is. Just look at that smile, Donald still remembered seeing Ally’s huge smile as she came back from the first test ride. After Ally had trouble finding something that truly fit, it seemed Donald had hit the bullseye.
When you become a parent you start to ask the really hard questions, like what kind of amazing bike am I going to build to haul my little kiddo around? Ben was lucky enough to snag this Rivendell Rosco Bubbe from Alex at Yellow Haus Bicycles when he was clearing out some inventory. This may look like your average Clem Smith, but nay, this is a Rosco Bubbe experiment. This frame was designed to have a longer top tube to accommodate kid carrier as we see here. The longer space makes room for the carrier and the rider to fit in the space between the saddle and bars. This bike is technically Chelsea, Ben’s wife’s rig but it luckily fits them both so they can both take Marcel out for a spin.
The first time I found my way across the train tracks and into the strange little courtyard parking lot of Citizens I was awestruck. It was full of rusty old sculptures of flowers and birds and beautiful strange shapes welded out of discarded bike parts. I knew that I had found something that felt right in that deep way that feels like home and an adventure all at once. It was love at first sight and it only got better as I walked down a makeshift concrete ramp into the dark basement. It took my eyes a few moments to adjust and focus on the chaos that surrounded me. There were folks with bicycles in all states of disrepair and disassembly. There were piles of wheels, rusty frames, milk crates full of thousands of derailleurs and brakes, and every bike part you could possibly imagine. Every surface was covered in murals and the bright colors were dimmed by the shadows of sparse fluorescent lighting. The staff was indistinguishable from the crowd and everyone seemed like they would be just as comfortable in a post-apocalyptic wasteland as in a basement in the center of Tucson Arizona, which come to think of it often resembles a scene from a dystopian novel.
Ya ever wondered if you could keep only one of your bikes, which would it be? At this point in my life I’d have to say my Fuji Sundance with a Crust Bikes Clydesdale fork up front. This is my “daily driver” that serves for commuting, errand running, Costco runs, carrying coworkers home, or just taking the dog out for a spin. Vintage 26” rigid bikes are the bikes that just wont die and continue to show themselves as being so damn useful, and nothing compliments that better than the Clydesdale fork.
Returning to Minneapolis from my solo bike trip in Scotland, the last thing on my mind was riding bikes. Turns out pushing your fat bike through rivers, bogs and pouring rain for three weeks makes you want to never look at a bike again. I needed a break and I had planned on recovering by a lake for the rest of the summer. That is until I received an email that my new gravel adventure bike was ready in Bloomington, Minnesota.
I’ve been a fan of Cjell Moné‘s bikes for some time, from seeing his custom TDR bike on the wall at Adventure Cycling HQ to him writing about brazing alongside masters for his production run of frames. Until recently, I had only thrown my legs over Kirsten’s personal frame at infamous Brush Mountain Lodge waiting out snow on the TDR. Cjell and I have quite a disparity in size thus making his personal bikes out of the question. A few weeks ago, Cjell let me know that Nate from Blue Dog Bikes in Tucson was purchasing his “demo” bike that was my size and that I should take it for a spin. I jumped at the chance, I was always too self-conscious to ask an operation as small as his to put together a bike solely for me to rip and review. But since someone else already had the bike and was nice enough to let me rip it for a few days, shred I will.
Alrighty, y’all today we are talking about the Rustler from Salsa Cycles, their new “ultimate trail bike” with 130mm of split pivot rear travel and a 150mm Rock Shox Pike taking care of business out front. Now that’s about enough for numbers for awhile, I ain’t no nerd talking about leverage ratios at an Interbike booth ok? We’re gonna talk about feelings today; how was your ride yesterday? How are you doing today, like actually? Go ahead, tell me what’s good below.
Ben has been regaling me with stories of putting this tandem together for quite some time, each time he was looking for one last little bit to make it all fit together. Before we met up for coffee outside the other week, he pinged me to ask if he should bring the tandem to which I responded: “Of course, coffee and cool bikes, duh.”
Colin’s Custom Knee Scooter
Words and Photos by Spencer J Harding
Now for something completely different!
Every once in a while the universe just has to just check you a little bit. A few months ago Colin was skateboarding and when he landed he felt that terrible feeling of a tendon tearing. Turns out he completely tore his Achilles tendon. Staring down a few months of recovery and physical therapy, Colin quickly looked at his knee scooter and saw an opportunity. Not being much of a sedentary person, he got to scheming about customizing his scooter for more practical use.
At the end of most trips, I end up with left-over photos or photos that don’t have a home in any one specific gallery. Yet, while in Tucson, I found myself carrying a camera and shooting photos on just about every ride, resulting in some pretty stout photographic documentation of a handful of rides. Without diving deep into the history or the meaning, I decided to simply present these routes with ample photographic documentation.
After spending close to a month in Tucson, I got a good handle on what the cycling community is like in that wonderful city. Well, in the winter anyway, summer is another story. One place I found myself stopping by frequently for events is Transit Cycles. With Spencer’s gallery being one of my favorite Shop Visits on this site, I didn’t feel it necessary to completely revisit Transit, photographically. While they did move to a new location since Spencer’s piece, many of the vignettes and textures are still relevant to Transit’s modus operandi. I did, however, feel compelled to check out their new space and hit some highlights, and as the title implies, to shoot the owner, Duncan’s, Black Cat All Road.
Our buddy Ty talks with Jeff about what it was like to leave his home base of Los Angeles, all his friends, and familiarities for a new city as an adult. Mountain bikes and bikes in general, can be a social catalyst for making new friends and it seems to be working great for Ty in Tucson.
Jeff Kendall-Weed has a new web series out, dubbed Local Loam, and focusing on localized trail stewardship. In this video, featuring Torca the Tucson Off-Road Cyclists and Activists, he sets his scope and lens on Tucson, the riding, and people that keep the trails fresh.
Over the years, we’ve featured many of Benedict‘s bikes here on the site. They’re always a lil bit of weird with a dash of kooky but the result of a lot of ‘pondering over a wooden pipe’ functional. For the latest build, which we dubbed the Warthog Wash Wiper, all the above applies.
In short, this bike is a desert bulldozer, yet not one you’d find Hayduke underneath with a 3′ wrench and a cheater bar. This is a bicycle, not a machine for destruction. The Warthog Wash Wiper, aka WWW, is an all-rounder dirt tourer, and it comes alive when the sand gets deep, where normal bikes become less than ideal trekking poles.
After spending New Years in Tucson, I had to come back for more before the season kicks up and I find myself on the road throughout the spring and summer months. It did not disappoint. From the Super Stoke Weekend, to the Ruta Del Jefe, and much, much, more. I got my fill of the Sonoran desert, those mighty Saguaros, and all the delicious food. Expect more coverage to come in the next few weeks!
Swing by Transit Cycles in Tucson tonight from 4pm-6pm for a Swift Industries Pop Up and an after ride to Dragoon Brewing.
267 South Avenida del Convento
Tucson, AZ 85745
The Holiday season is my favorite time of year. It gives me a chance to reconnect with friends, to travel, and to ride without feeling the need to take a camera with me each time. After a relaxing Christmas in Santa Fe, we headed South to the city of Tucson, where we spent five days Sonoran soaking! This gallery showcases a few of the places we rode and visited during our stay.