Day 47 - Tucson, Arizona

Pan (16K)

Today was a ridiculously easy day of riding. Ten miles of easy rolling terrain, and then 40 miles all downhill to Tucson. Spectacular scenery coming down out of the mountains. I got to Tucson by noon, and had a huge lunch at a truck stop.

I am lying on Jerome's couch. Jerome works at the local bike shop, and also has a recumbent ant tours. Jerome offered me his couch as repayment for the hospitality others showed him on his own bike rides.

The local bike shop, Ajo Cycles, I heard about from Ron the recumbent nut in Sierra Vista. They are big on recumbents there, and they were working on another T-Bone that one of their customers had bought off the net.

TBone (305K)

This is a very strange T-Bone. It's a 26-20 frame, but it has overseat steering and dual 26 wheels. I wonder what the history of this bike is. I think the previous owner made a lot of modifications.

There was another customer in the store, with a Vision 40 outfitted for touring. This guy was named Vincente, and he was from Mexico and spoke no English. I went out for pizza and beer with Jerome and Vincente. Jerome acted as translator. Vincente had pictures of his rig. He uses a rack with panniers on the rear, and also pulls a BOB trailer.

I had a lot of questions about touring in Mexico. Vincente has gone coast to coast, and down to the tip of Baja California. He says the roads are generally good, but narrow, and the traffic is unaccustomed to bikes on the road and is generally hostile. He says there is some risk of crime in the cities, but the countryside is no problem. He generally rough camps in the desert, but you can also spend the night in "pensiones", which are like hostels or old hotels where there are rooms and a common bathroom. Pensiones cost only a few dollars.

Jerome says that it is impossible to get high-end bike components in Mexico, and a lot of their business at the bike shop is Mexican. They have regular customers who come up from as far away as Mexico City to get parts. That's what Vincente was doing there, he is from Hermosillo, Sonora, which is about 150 miles away.

Vincente was a very interesting person. He is currently working as a firemen, but spent eight years working as a rodeo clown! He said his nose was broken three times while he was on the rodeo circuit. Here is a picture of Vincente, showing off his rodeo tattoo.

Vincente (190K)

Jerome is a "recovering academic". He is way overeducated to be working at the bike shop. He got tired of being an academic, so he got on his bike and rode away. I had a good time talking to Jerome. He is originally from Cincinnati.

I have this theory that New Mexico and Arizona are analogous to Vermont and New Hampshire. Vermont is rural, agrarian, and leans Democratic. New Hampshire is industrial, and has little farming (the Granite State, it's rocky), and leans Republican. My theory, which is based on no real information other than a couple visits, is that New Mexico is like Vermont, and Arizona is like New Hampshire.

Jerome tells me this: New Mexico is much poorer than Arizona. New Mexico has a much larger Hispanic population. Both states have historically had a lot of mining and ranching, but both of these industries are fading. Florida produces more beef than anywhere in the United States; you can only raise about 3 cows per acre in the desert. New Mexico is very big on the nuclear industry and nuclear research, while Arizona is very big on military bases and defense contracting. Arizona has a long history of people moving there for the climate due to health reasons, and this is still true. Call centers are a big business in both states now.

Neither of us have a theory on the irrational abundance of art galleries in New Mexico. Maybe it's a boom waiting to go bust. There are still art galleries in Arizona, but not as many. Green chilis on every item of food stopped at the state line, though.

I had a very productive day, and I accomplished many chores. Tucson is very bike-friendly, and the bike shop gave me an excellent bicycle map of the city. Tucson is great.

Here is the map for today. It looks like I was on I-10 for 20 miles, but it was really only 9 miles, and the rest was frontage road.

Actual47 (243K)