Best cycling atmosphere - Phoenix or Tucson- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best cycling atmosphere - Phoenix or Tucson

    So what metropolitan area in AZ has the best cycling "atmosphere" (or vibe or community or whatever you want to call it)? Phoenix or Tucson?

    From what little I know about Tucson from my 1 year of living there, I would have to say Tucson takes the prize. It's a much smaller city yet the cyclists there (road or MTB) seem to be a lot more organized and fervent about the sport. Phoenix has a lot of cyclists, but for some reason we don't seem to be as passionate here.

    Thx...Doug

  2. #2
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    On the surface, Tucson is much more biker friendly, in particular road biking. From my understanding, all new roads are required to have a biking lane, or at least a wider shoulder, they have bike/bus lanes (an entire lane for either a bike or a city bus [or a lane from which to turn right]).

    Phoenix has a lot of damn cars.

  3. #3
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    If by atmosphere, you mean...

    ..the air we breathe, Tucson wins. But seriously, I lived in Phoenix off and on for 28 years, about 10 as an avid cyclist. I've been in Tucson about 6 months, and I've already seen enough to say its got the more vibrant scene. Its really not about comparing T100 to TMP, South Mountain to the Catalinas, who has more miles of bike lanes, or how many people ride fixed-gear bikes. Its just an overall feeling, or vibe as it was put. And, like any subjective measure, its open to endless debate.

    The Valley's best (only?) feature is its parks. Can you imagine what it would be like if some folks didn't have the foresight to have set aside the City and County parks we all ride in now? Take away South Mountain, White Tanks, Estrella, Usery, Cave Creek, Phoenix Mountain Preserve, McDowell, San Tan, etc and the Valley would be intolerable. Protect those things, folks.

    Now what if we threw Flagstaff into the debate? Now THERE is some cycling atmosphere, with Nordic skiing thrown in for good measure. And we can't forget that Prescott is the sleeper favorite.

    In the end, I'm just happy to be living in Arizona, period.
    Last edited by AZBound; 04-07-2004 at 12:40 PM.

  4. #4
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    we're not a gang we're a club esse

    As a recentish transplant from the old pueblo I have to say that riding is much more supported by the city in Tucson (bike lanes and more people riding on the streets in general). Phx certainly does have a good and strong bike communtiy but it is...well its kinda underground. Not much in the way of orgainzed advocacy and clubs. The more I ride here tho the more people I meet and the more I find out about how strong the culture is here and where the secret gatherings are. Now I must disavow any knowledge of said groups.
    This is just need to know information: Am i supposed to enjoy the irony or pity the sincerity?

  5. #5
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    Sad to say, but since the Mt Lemmon fires, the answer is

    Phoenix. Hopefully regrowth to rideable conditions won't take too long up there.

    Phoenix probably has more core trails close in, but Southern AZ has access to a lot of cool, funky, remote places for fall, winter, spring riding the Phoenicians wouldn't consider due to travel time, such as Kentucky Camp, Gardner Canyon, Sierra Vista, Chiricahuas, etc., not to mention cool road riding outside town.

    I love the fact that we share Globe/Pinal Peak in roughly equal drive time, making for some fun get-togethers.

  6. #6
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    Tucson is trying hard.

    There was an article last week in the paper about how Tucson was pursuing a national road race event as part of their plan to become one of the premier cycling cities in the US. So the city is behind it in that aspect in addition to having cycling friendly roads.

    Both places have excellent riding and cycling communities. But don't crowd a Phonecian on the trail or you might get the dreaded elbow or the nefarious "I had right of way take down" with, perhaps, some monkey poop tossed at you as well for mouthing off.

    Louis

  7. #7
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    Give me a break.........that's only if you are coming downhill :-)

  8. #8
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    the best place to ride is where you are. the best trail being the one you are riding.

    i have been known to say, 'a bad day riding a trail is better than a good day elsewhere.'

    Rita

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    You've obviously never been to Chuck E. Cheese.

  10. #10
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    I spent 6 years in Tucson and 26 in Phoenix, Tucson is by far a more cycling oriented town, drivers are more considerate to roadies, lots of organized MTB rides through the local club (does Phoenix have a club?), the scene is very visible. Phoenix needs a major MTB club like SDMB or SAMBA to compete, the MBAA just doesn't cut it.
    I should be doing something more productive with my time!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunDog
    There was an article last week in the paper about how Tucson was pursuing a national road race event as part of their plan to become one of the premier cycling cities in the US. So the city is behind it in that aspect in addition to having cycling friendly roads.

    Both places have excellent riding and cycling communities. But don't crowd a Phonecian on the trail or you might get the dreaded elbow or the nefarious "I had right of way take down" with, perhaps, some monkey poop tossed at you as well for mouthing off.

    Louis
    Tucson already puts on the best road race in Arizona (IMO), and the Saturday morning rides up Old Spanish Trail are a roadies dream, I remeber huge groups of riders showing up for this ride (50-100 riders) every week.
    I should be doing something more productive with my time!

  12. #12
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    IMO Tucson has a very tight cycling vibe but Phoenix has a hell of a lot of riders and trails. The riders in the Valley are plenty fervent but they're disorganized -- you have lots of impromptu "clubs" (cliques, really) that are at least as passionate and committed as anything you'd find in Tucson. But Tucson's got not one but TWO active and formalized mtb clubs, well coordinated advocacy, bike patrol (unless it imploded like ours did in Phx) etc.

    Personally I think the biking vibe reflects the personality of the city. Metro Phoenix is big, anonymous, and decentralized. Tucson is more activist, small-town and true-to-your-school.

    All IMO of course. If I had to relocate based on bike culture, it may be to Prescott, which has the coolest biking vibe of all -- mostly because it tries less hard than Flagstaff to market itself as such.

    p.
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  13. #13
    Jm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B

    All IMO of course. If I had to relocate based on bike culture, it may be to Prescott, which has the coolest biking vibe of all -- mostly because it tries less hard than Flagstaff to market itself as such.

    p.
    BTW, that trail CAN be shuttled. I studied the topos and all you have to do is keep heading out on the road that the cars were parked on. Due to the nature of the roads though I can't see more than 2 shuttle runs being done in a day, but you definitely don't have to do runs down the same trails, there are options back there.
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  14. #14
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    Good overvations

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B
    IMO Tucson has a very tight cycling vibe but Phoenix has a hell of a lot of riders and trails. The riders in the Valley are plenty fervent but they're disorganized -- you have lots of impromptu "clubs" (cliques, really) that are at least as passionate and committed as anything you'd find in Tucson. But Tucson's got not one but TWO active and formalized mtb clubs, well coordinated advocacy, bike patrol (unless it imploded like ours did in Phx) etc.

    Personally I think the biking vibe reflects the personality of the city. Metro Phoenix is big, anonymous, and decentralized. Tucson is more activist, small-town and true-to-your-school.

    All IMO of course. If I had to relocate based on bike culture, it may be to Prescott, which has the coolest biking vibe of all -- mostly because it tries less hard than Flagstaff to market itself as such.

    p.
    Paul - I think you are pretty accurate in your observations. Phoenix is definitely much more "anonymous" than Tucson (reason for the many gated/walled communities we have), and that probably spills over into most other aspects of life here.

    I have always seen a TON of roadies and MTB'ers in Phoenix, but was surprised at the lack of a large cycling organization in this city. Tucon has Perimeter Bicycling (which puts on some of the coolest cycling events in the state) and GABA...we've got jack sh!t. Hell, even the "Tour de Phoenix", our premier roadie event, is run by Perimeter.

    I just can't believe that a city of 3.5M people can't scrap up a well-run, organized cycling group like Tucson has.

    Thx...Doug

  15. #15
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    Idea! Why no club.

    Quote Originally Posted by dgangi
    I just can't believe that a city of 3.5M people can't scrap up a well-run, organized cycling group like Tucson has.
    Which begs the question -- for what purpose?

    I don't ask this facetiously. I've thought about organizing a metro Phoenix club for years.

    You could say it's for camaraderie and community, but there are plenty of large-ish cliques of riders out there with organized events, email lists, gatherings, etc.

    You could say it's for advocacy, but MBAA does a pretty good job with that already. IMBA gave AZ an A+ rating in 2003, which is no small accomplishment (I know because my friends are involved in the process).

    You could say it's for recruitment into the sport, but I have mixed feelings on that one. More riders = more fistfights on Desert Classic but it also means more book sales for me. So it's a tossup. A club could be a source for beginners to learn where to ride and how to act, but honestly the bike shops should be doing that.

    The single most compelling reason I've ever been able to come up with is collective bargaining. A big enough club could negotiate some fat discounts on anything and everything in a cooperative bike shop, could probably get breaks to major events (festivals, races, etc.), lodging discounts, etc. That's quite a lot of work to negotiate, but it answers the "what's in it for me?" question better than anything else.

    The greatest obstacles to such thing would be time, and the very nature of the sport. I'm not a huge fan of huge group rides (although I organize about three of them a year, not including the Fling), and I KNOW many if not most other experienced riders are more solitary creatures.

    Now...if we could figure out a way for cute, single, available women to show up at the first few meetings, I'm sure it would be a runaway success.

    p.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B

    ...

    Now...if we could figure out a way for cute, single, available women to show up at the first few meetings, I'm sure it would be a runaway success.

    p.

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  17. #17
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    Cyclist representation

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B
    Which begs the question -- for what purpose?

    p.
    To me the biggest reason for a large cycling organization is representation of cyclist interests. Just like the NAACP speaks up for the rights of African Americans and the AARP speaks up for the retired community, we need a local voice to speak up for cyclists.

    Who puts pressure on the City of Phoenix and other locales to add bike lanes to roads?

    Who makes sure that MTB trails in our parks are protected for cyclists to use and enjoy?

    Who ensures that our rights as cyclists are not pushed aside for the benefit of developers and other interest groups?

    Many here commented that Tucson has not only a better cycling "vibe", but the city is more friendly to cyclists (i.e. more bike lanes). How did this come about? Was it because the cycling organizations down there made their voice heard? I'm sure that had something to do with it.

    Trust me -- I'm not looking to have a regular "bike hug fest" once a month. I don't like social gatherings of that nature (unless, as you add, there are some hot Bettie's there!). I have plenty of my own social circles for cycling on a regular basis.

    If we had a local organization that was powerful enough to influence local government decisions and hold nice events, I'd sign up as a member and send in my dues. I'd volunteer on an occasional basis as well. I'm very envious of Perimeter Bicycling and wish we had something like that here. They hold a lot of great events and I surmise they have a lot of influence over local Tucson government.

    I'm not trying to take anything away from the national organizations such as IMBA, but the fact of the matter is they seem to have little influence over local issues here in Arizona (especially Phoenix). I think a local group would be more influencial.

    Thx...Doug

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgangi
    To me the biggest reason for a large cycling organization is representation of cyclist interests. Just like the NAACP speaks up for the rights of African Americans and the AARP speaks up for the retired community, we need a local voice to speak up for cyclists.

    Who puts pressure on the City of Phoenix and other locales to add bike lanes to roads?

    Who makes sure that MTB trails in our parks are protected for cyclists to use and enjoy?

    Who ensures that our rights as cyclists are not pushed aside for the benefit of developers and other interest groups?

    Many here commented that Tucson has not only a better cycling "vibe", but the city is more friendly to cyclists (i.e. more bike lanes). How did this come about? Was it because the cycling organizations down there made their voice heard? I'm sure that had something to do with it.

    Trust me -- I'm not looking to have a regular "bike hug fest" once a month. I don't like social gatherings of that nature (unless, as you add, there are some hot Bettie's there!). I have plenty of my own social circles for cycling on a regular basis.

    If we had a local organization that was powerful enough to influence local government decisions and hold nice events, I'd sign up as a member and send in my dues. I'd volunteer on an occasional basis as well. I'm very envious of Perimeter Bicycling and wish we had something like that here. They hold a lot of great events and I surmise they have a lot of influence over local Tucson government.

    I'm not trying to take anything away from the national organizations such as IMBA, but the fact of the matter is they seem to have little influence over local issues here in Arizona (especially Phoenix). I think a local group would be more influencial.

    Thx...Doug
    I'm not sure they have much to do with the Tucson "vibe" SAMBA and SDMB are the IMBA affiliated clubs and hold events and rides weekly, Perimeter is a promoter of several events for charity like the El Tour de Tucson, I don't think they have much to do with politics or government advocacy.
    I should be doing something more productive with my time!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B
    But Tucson's got not one but TWO active and formalized mtb clubs, well coordinated advocacy, bike patrol (unless it imploded like ours did in Phx) etc.
    Unfortunately, the MTB patrol died a few months ago. Not enough participation/interest to keep it going.

  20. #20
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    Not to make this political, but there is a huge difference between Phoenix and Tucson on a number of fronts, including our leaders.

  21. #21
    Jm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skinny-tire
    Not to make this political, but there is a huge difference between Phoenix and Tucson on a number of fronts, including our leaders.
    Temp is about the same though.
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  22. #22
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    Anonymous Executive Decision

    That settles it. "GUMBA of Phoenix" (Greater Urban Metro Bike Association of Phoenix) is officially here. Dgangi will be the advocacy boss, making sure that cyclists' rights are preserved through offers that can't be refused. Paul B shall be the goomah boss, making sure all members have a hot bike chick and/or babe for a mistress. Skinny-Tire shall be the boss of payoffs, making sure that all Phoenix political leaders "support" GUMBA of Phoenix through the use of appropriate payments. I shall be the Boss of Bosses.

  23. #23
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    Cool - I'm an appointee...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirdir
    That settles it. "GUMBA of Phoenix" (Greater Urban Metro Bike Association of Phoenix) is officially here. Dgangi will be the advocacy boss, making sure that cyclists' rights are preserved through offers that can't be refused. Paul B shall be the goomah boss, making sure all members have a hot bike chick and/or babe for a mistress. Skinny-Tire shall be the boss of payoffs, making sure that all Phoenix political leaders "support" GUMBA of Phoenix through the use of appropriate payments. I shall be the Boss of Bosses.
    ...and my first charter is to turn every-other major street into a cycling-only byway. Oh the rush hour jams it will cause? That's somebody else's problem (the guys who advocate driving can deal with that mess).

    Second charter is to stop all of the highway deaths on the 101 in Scottsdale. That's easy -- it is now a cycling-only highway. I don't think a roadie on a Colnago can jump the barrier cables like an out-of-control car can.

    Last charter is "mountain bike hours" for all employers in Phoenix. Summer business hours start at 10AM so we can get our early MTB rides in. Winter business hours -- screw it, everything is closed in the winter so we can ride all day.

    Hmm....the "offer that can't be refused". I know -- nude cycling. That's right. Nudists on bikes. That should draw some attention.

    Oh wait...that could be painful. Have you seen how skinny some of the roadie seats are? Ugh.

    Thx...Doug

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirdir
    Paul B shall be the goomah boss, making sure all members have a hot bike chick and/or babe for a mistress.
    Dude...if only I knew where to find them...

    p.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirDir
    That settles it. "GUMBA of Phoenix" (Greater Urban Metro Bike Association of Phoenix) is officially here. Dgangi will be the advocacy boss, making sure that cyclists' rights are preserved through offers that can't be refused. Paul B shall be the goomah boss, making sure all members have a hot bike chick and/or babe for a mistress. Skinny-Tire shall be the boss of payoffs, making sure that all Phoenix political leaders "support" GUMBA of Phoenix through the use of appropriate payments. I shall be the Boss of Bosses.
    Obviously DJB would get the role of enforcer.

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