Experiencing the Loop

 

The 110-mile, smoothly paved loop is a new addition to Tucson, Arizona that serves as a multipurpose, bike path and allows for people to go through and around town in a whole new way. Pima County Administrator, Chuck Huckelberry, was the main mover and shaker of the loop and oversaw the financial aspects of the loop as well.

Elizabeth Kinney and Amanda O’Brien were assigned to ride the entire loop and report on how their personal experience went for a Journalism class, Reporting Public Affairs at the University of Arizona.

Riding the entirety of the loop took Kinney and O’Brien approximately 6 hours. They expected the loop ride would only take about 3 hours, but when they were 10 miles in, they quickly realized this would be a whole day adventure.

Little did we know that only having street-bike rentals, backpacks full of snacks, and go-pros strapped to our heads would lead to an experience of a lifetime.

We started our adventure on the Rillito River Parkway on Campbell and headed northeast. We just kept riding and riding until we completed the entire loop. This was an all-day excursion, taking a total of six hours.

Taken by surprise, we noticed that a diverse group of people utilized the path: people of all ages, dog-walkers, professionals, families and locals. The path was busiest during the morning for exercising, but the bike shops, coffee shops, small businesses and little markets all along the path were most popular during mid-afternoon. We personally stopped at the Mercado San Augustin, Tucson’s only public marketplace, to give our legs a break and enjoy a coffee and ice cream. While we were at the Mercado, we had the opportunity to converse with professional bikers who loved the idea of having the loop in Tucson, and use it to train on almost every day.

Although the path has many signs along the way, multiple parts of the path were confusing. At one point we got lost and ended up at a dead end zone in a random parking lot near the freeway. The path veered off in two directions and without any signage it was hard to decipher which way to go. After a few twists and turns we got back on track!

We had a couple of concerns: one being how there were already cracks in the “smoothly, paved” road, and secondly, the upkeep of the beautiful landscape. We were wondering why there were already cracks in the newly paved parts of the path and if the landscape would over-grow, causing even more cracks in the road, or at some point would the landscape look run down? For now the landscape looks great, but will this be the case forever?

Waking up the next morning, our triceps and legs were so extremely sore, but part of the reason behind that was due to having oversized rental bikes and no experience riding that high of mileage ever before.

In conclusion, we both agreed that we would definitely ride the loop again and stop at more places along the way. The loop is a fantastic place to exercise, hang out with friends, or simply go on a walk to enjoy the fresh air. It can be used for many purposes. We had the time of our lives riding the loop and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an active, fun-filled, adventure.

Elizabeth Kinney and Amanda O’brien are reporters for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact them at elizabethkinney@emailarizona.edu, obrien3@email.arizona.edu