21 Sep Tucson’s Most Dangerous Routes: Cycling Rides We Do Not Like
Tucson offers safe cycling, but these routes require caution
Tucson is indeed “The Biking Capital of the World”, but there Tucson and Southern, Arizona bike rides and routes that are quite dangerous to ride. And there are some Tucson area cycling routes that require more caution. We are quite dismayed that major bike tours such as Pac Tour and even Tucson cycling clubs such as GABA (GREATER Arizona Bicycle Association) actually do rides on some of these routes where incidents have occurred. Proper bicycling safety starts with cyclists making good choices. The safest area in the Tucson area is Oro Valley. Here are Tucson and Southern, Arizona road biking rides to avoid.
Highway 83 to Sonoita Road Bike Route
Highway 83 offers little in the way of edge forcing motorists into the other lane.
If only highway 83 was originally designed with a shoulder, this spectacular scenic highway would be a huge draw and a memorable Tucson area road bike route. It is not. This windy, curvy road has no shoulders and many, many hairpin turns. Border patrol and police are very much against road bikers using this road.
And unfortunately, this route is often a favorite of top national bike tours and organizations who take tourists on cycling adventures. This is a route to absolutely avoid. The locals resent cyclists who take this road because they force motorists to swerve into the other lane – potentially causing accidents.
Highway 83 is a white-knuckled with no edge and blind spots. Check out our video to learn why this is an accident lawyer’s dream ride. Sadly, GABA (GREATER Arizona Bicycle Association (GABA) and many tours have used this dangerous bike route for rides. Arizona Highway Patrol has warned cyclists to stay off this rode. It’s your legal right to ride pretty much where you want. However, this ride is at the top of our “do not ride” list.
Highway 83 to Sonoita is not recommended by police.
Patagonia to Nogales – Gorgeous Bike Ride With No Shoulder
For about seven miles from picturesque Patagonia to Nogales, this road has no shoulder and will force motorists to swerve into the opposite lane. This stretch has blind spots and local police and border patrol do not like cyclists on this stretch of road. Keep in mind the road from Sonoita to Patagonia is quite good, but bumpy in some areas. GABA century rides often go through this area so beware. They run the yearly Tumacacori Century Ride that sends bikers from Tumacacori (just south of beautiful Tubac) where they have a stretch of road on narrow, unsafe Pendleton Road to Via Frontera. Via Frontera is a county road which is fine with a pack of riders. Pendleton is a bad road. This bike club is not always safety minded.
There are better century ride options and we wish they would avoid this route. Very early morning is the best time to swing through this area. Patagonia, but the way, is a haven for must-do gravel rides. There are unlimited miles to be had via Harshaw Creek Road.
Says, Bike Mechanic Rick West of TucsonBicycleRentals.com, “I love biking the Patagonia area with a gravel bike on their vast dirt roads. If I was to do this road, it would be early mornings and preferably on a Sunday.”
Recommended Century Ride: Bike Green Valley or Amado, Arizona to Sasabe and back on a Saturday or Sunday. Arivaca to Sasabe has almost no traffic and is a ride to die for.
Check out more about this ride at:
Gates Pass/McCain Loop Ride of Tucson
This drop dead gorgeous and challenging ride is not a favorite of ours. This is a good ride to do during non-tourism season (especially early morning on Sundays). This is often a favorite of the famous Tucson Shootout. This is a top local ride that will have a horde of cyclists taking over the road, which makes for safer riding while really peeing off motorists.
We recommend this for experienced riders only. For almost the entire cycling route, cyclists ride without an edge and face blind spots going up Gates Pass coming up from Tucson.
Gates Pass of Tucson offers no shoulder
and the edge is now crumbling
El Tour de Tucson Bike Route– Avoid This Ride
Many people come to Tucson to bike The El Tour de Tucson. Their cycling route changes year to year. And many of these cyclists will simply download an old El Tour map and try to replicate the route. Bad idea! Much of their route is through some very congested areas in Tucson that you will want to avoid. Their routes are perfectly safe when the streets are closed off to traffic.
The best and most scenic of the El Tour cycling routes in the past went through Oro Valley, which is no longer featured by El Tour since the old ownership failed to make payments to the city for police support. Scrap this idea and go with one of our other Tucson cycling route suggestions.
There are much better century rides to be had in Tucson. A great alternative is the Amado to Green Valley/Arivaca to Sasabe Century Ride, which features a really intense climb and a fun ride to the Mexican border and back. Take this route ONLY on weekends as the rancher traffic is sparse. Biking from Arivaca to Sasabe is one of the safest Arizona bike rides imaginable as there is almost no traffic there and back.
Check out the Green Valley to Amado to Sasabe Road Bike Route:
Marsh Station Road Bike Ride – Tucson/Vail
Quote possibly the worse place to bike. While there is very little traffic on this road, this is a Tucson cycling route to avoid altogether. This road has not been maintained in years and has major potholes. It is a great place to try your hand at fixing flat tires while losing your fillings.
Again, there are some local Tucson road bike group and bike shops who offer shop rides that will take you on bike rides going through the above areas. And it all depends on your stomach for traffic. Those of you from the east coast, have a higher tolerance. You are definitely safer in numbers. We would prefer road bikers to avoid these routes. Doctor James Lunney, volunteer for BikeArizona.org, learned the hard way about biking Highway 83 to Sonoita.
“This was really a hell ride. Motorists made it clear we were not welcomed. The road itself is good, but there is no edge,” said Cindy Winkleman, director of ride safety for The Arizona Bicycle Association.
The Marsh Station road is a cyclist’s hellhole.
Tucson and Southern Arizona offers unlimited safe road cycling opportunities for bikers of all levels. You can enjoy any type of desert road biking you want. We recommend using caution and picking the best road bike routes.
For more information on road biking in Tucson, go to The Arizona Bicycle Association located at BikeAZ.org. For road bike or mountain bike rentals in Tucson, go to Tucson Bike Rentals.
Highway 82 has about 7 miles of narrow shoulder and blind spots.