Jason, The Bike Bandit
ROAD BIKING GREEN VALLEY, Arizona – Those of us who are Tucson area locals know some of the best “off the beaten path” road biking adventures and this is one of them!
(Note: ONLY do this road bike ride on Saturday and Sunday mornings early. The traffic is sparse and you are likely to find other cyclists doing the route. This would be a dangerous bike ride to do during the week.)
Depending on the amount of miles you want to ride, you can start in Green Valley to enjoy a 60 plus mile day, or you can park near the Cow Palace in Amado and do a 46 mile round trip. You will get some good climb on this ride as Amado starts at a hair over 3,000 feet and you will climb higher than 3600 feet before you descend into Arivaca.
The ride to Arivaca ranks as one of my favorite road bike rides in all of Arizona. If you start at the Cow Palace in Amado you will bike 23 miles west on this narrow, windy curvy road with some very healthy up and down hill climb. Generally, you get a tailwind on the way back when you zoom back to Amado.
Bike to Arivaca, set your mind free, enjoy views of desert cactus, ranches and mountains off in the yonder. After you pass border patrol check point, look for a Catholic shrine several more miles up on the left.
Border patrol and local ranchers will constitute the majority of the traffic on a weekend ride. Start at 6 or 6:30 AM. I bike this ride year round. The weekend traffic is pretty much the same. Generally, no more than eight cars will pass me – and most of the cars are law enforcement.
If you are making the drive from Tucson, you are looking at a 40 plus minute drive to get to Amado. It’s worth it.
Ready for a century ride? Ride Arivaca to Sasabe to the Border
Finish your great breakfast then head straight to Sasabe! This will be a 47 mile round trip. Go west until Arivaca Road stops at South Sasabe Road/Highway 286. Take a left, going south and you will see the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge on the left. Bike several miles there to get your century ride. There is no charge for entry.
The ride to Sasabe is a real gem. It is even more scenic than the ride to Arivaca. There is almost no traffic no matter what day you ride. There are no services until you reach the little convenience store in Sasabe. If you want to cross the border into Mexico, most border patrol guards will let you in without a passport. That is not true if you are a non-US resident. There really is not much to see, but a quaint, small Mexican village.
Cycling Arivaca: One of the Most Unique Southern Arizona Road Bike Rides
The ride to Arivaca offers some of the best and most varied desert scenery in the southern part of Arizona. The ride gives you some significant climb and doing a sub-50 mile ride will get the heart rate moving. There are three places to eat and drink that are very unique – and even historic. Cyclists tend to love coffee and if you do, Gadsden Coffee is the place to get your caffeine boost. Gadsden is one of the top roasters in our state.
Several miles before you get to Gadsden, you will reach the zenith of the ride. Enjoy the sweeping views of burnt yellow grass on rolling hills. You will be road cycling in an area with tremendous history.
Cool Road to Arivaca Video
Arivaca Has Some Cool Places to Eat
Arivaca has some cool honkey-tonkey places to eat. They are as unique. And the locals are…well, unique.
Sweet Peas Cafe – When in Arivaca, there are three great, unique little places to eat. Sweet Peas Cafe (.sweetpeasarivaca.com) is a colorful little restaurant that offers incredible homemade desserts and organic salads. They offer tasty breakfast and lunch menu. The deserts are so tasty, I had to temporarily ditch my diet. They are open Thursdays through Sunday 8 am to 2pm.
You will see a sign for them one mile before you get into town. Take a left and go east and you will go down a hill and practically coast to the restaurant.
Gadsden Coffee – Gadsden Coffee is the crown jewel of off the wall Arizona roasters They roast their own coffee and serve a simple, but incredible breakfast menu. I had four deuces, with coffee and two apple ciders for about $11. Gadsden is a motor cycle and townie hangout where you will meet ranchers toting guns, town carnival barkers and assorted local characters. Cyclists love this place. You will enjoy the view from the patio. Few places embody the wild west charm of Arizona and Gadsden Coffee is a shiny gem of Arizona roasters They are open Thursdays through Sunday 8 am to 2pm.
La Gitana – Located on the main drag of Arivaca, La Gitana is a famous Arizona landmark dive bar that has a rich, vibrant history. Perhaps the oldest bar in our state, La Gitana is the town meeting point where you will mingle with some of the most eclectic people in our state. The tap beer is tasty and they do indeed serve good burgers. The same crowd that visits Gadsden will be here. To say this desert town has a few characters would be a grand understatement. Enjoy a Budweiser on their patio and hang out with some very interesting people.
Before you go road biking to Arivaca:
Here Are Some Great Arizona Cycling Resources
The Arizona Bicycle Association (bikeAZ.org)
La Gitana: Arivaca’s bar has history, and heart
Nearby Bike Shop:
Green Valley Bike HubGreen Valley Bike Hub is the ONLY bike shop south of Tucson. They are a Specialized, KHS, Marin bike shop and very popular in the Green Valley area.