Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cycling in Tucson

This is one trip  I did not expect would include a bike ride.

I got a call from a client 20 minutes after the shooting Saturday asking how quickly I could be at the crime scene.  As it happened, I wasn't able to get there before mid-day Sunday, some 24 hours later.

Since then, I've been working in Tucson and experiencing a community that is in a genuine state of shock and grief. I've been around a few hundred homicides in my career, but I've never seen anything like I'm witnessing this week.  It seems that everyone was touched by this tragic act of violence. 

I've lost count of the conversations in which it has dawned on me that the person to whom I'm talking was intimately acquainted with one of the deceased victims or was actively involved in rendering aid to the wounded.  While the rest of us talk about shooting in an almost academic sense, the people of Tucson are talking about it as though they were members of the same family. This tragedy happened to all of them and they're feeling the shock and grief and confusion in a visceral way.

To be honest, I still can't get my head around the scope of this crime.  Tonight, I met with 30 or so people who were at the scene of the crime.  Watching them hug each other and cry left me stunned with the realization that each of them would lead lives forever changed by 30 seconds of gunfire on a random Saturday morning.  Moreover, each of their families will forever mark time based on what happened before and what happened after Saturday.  Hundreds, no, thousands of lives were changed in that tiny burst of time Saturday and this town will be different forever as a result.

But back to bikes.

It was a very pleasant surprise to see that my hotel offers free loaner bicycles to guests.  When I found a quiet hour or so around mid-day, I decided to take one for a spin to the nearest store to buy a few things I needed.  In particular, the Arizona desert air made lip balm a vital necessity.

My ride was a rickety Huffy cruiser.  Calling it a bike-shaped object would be flattery.  But nevertheless, I truly enjoyed the half-hour of freedom and breeze that came with riding it along an arroyo and into the parking lot of Trader Joe's. 

Here (if it works) is a moment of my ride.  Prepare to be bored for 25 seconds... but the dead-dry arroyo is kinda cool in its own way.

They say that it's good to go back to familiar things when confronted with new and confusing circumstances.  For me, today, that meant getting to ride a bike for a little while and remembering how much goodness there is in the world.


  1. Great post! That bike-shaped object sure does sound rickety!!! Its really cool that your hotel had it though... Glad you were able to squeeze a ride in on your trip, especially since it was to TJ's. :)

  2. I spent some time down in Tucson a few years back. There's some good cycling down there! They've got quite a bit of bike lanes down there, though most are along very busy (4-6 lane) streets. Never managed to get out of town, though.

    Hope you are hanging in there. This is definitely a tough time.

  3. I just found your site. I live in Tucson and have a 75 Schwinn Collegiate. It is nice, but I confess that I still prefer my 2009 commuter, which is geared up and pretty much bullet-proof. It's nice to have both.

  4. Cassidy, the Huffy "cruiser" was definitely no Worksman, but it rolled, so I was happy.

    Welcome, Adventure and Big Clyde. Thanks for stopping by. I really liked all that I saw of Tucson and hope to be back someday under happier circumstances. I'm sure you have unfriendly people there somewhere, but you had them very well hidden this week.

    B.C., your city remains in our prayers.

  5. Wow. Having been in similar situations myself, events like this are undescribable unless you've experienced them. Looks like a bike ride was a much needed de-stresser in your case.