Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday Phoenix Ride: Washington Street to the State Capital

On Sunday mornings, Washington Street and downtown Phoenix are nearly deserted, which for me is an invitation to ride my bicycle there. Part of me, of course, wishes that our downtown wasn't so empty on non-business (and non-sports event) days, but it's almost all business, legislation, and court system down there. I did ride past some of the "occupy" protestors, who seemed relieved to see a sign of life on the streets. And it can be an odd feeling to have three, four, five lanes of street all to yourself on a bicycle, but I find it peaceful and stress-free riding, so it's welcome in that sense. 

Also, it can be a good time and place to practice riding in the streets, so I used it as an opportunity to do so. It's particularly good practice in this respect to ride east on Jefferson in front of Chase Field, where the Diamondbacks play, since the street is "interesting", in the sense that it jogs around the stadium, intersects with and includes light rail tracks, and has special traffic management features to direct drivers either onto the freeway or south across the Salt River bridge. You have to be on your toes to ride it on a bicycle, and that includes taking the lane that runs right beside the light rail tracks, and then eventually changing lanes all the way from the rightmost to the leftmost if you want to get into the bike lane when it starts up. See what I mean, interesting!

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It's been a while since I've ridden near the state capital and the memorial plaza in front of it, and since I recently visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl harbor in Hawaii, I thought I should go have a look at the anchor and mast from the ship which stand in the Wesley Bolin Plaza.

Arizona Peace Officer Memorial statue in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza (WBP) in Phoenix

Not only was the traffic on my side this Sunday morning, but the weather was outstanding, sunny and in the upper 80s, with a light breeze. When I got to the plaza, which is a large park with many memorials set up around it, I had it almost to myself, too, with just a few other visitors walking around doing the same thing I was, checking out the statues and plaques. In addition, I had recently run across a mention of the K9 memorial to canines that have fallen in the line of duty, so I wanted to check that out, too.

Arizona State Capital museum across from WBP

Nearly dedicated bike lane along Washington, nearly deserted

Sunlight filters through various phrases on the 9/11 Memorial and casts words onto the cement

Here's the K9 Memorial.
The K9 memorial has a web site, which includes this moving and intense account of how one of the K9s named Murph was killed in the line of duty.

USS Arizona anchor

Signal mast from the Arizona with the capital complex in the background

All this fluffy soft green grass was surrounded by yellow CAUTION tape. It did not look dangerous or risky to me.

This was a great ride, slightly over 20 miles on my road bike. On the ride, I encountered two (2) vehicles driving the wrong way down the one-way, limited access road with the bike lane in it along Jefferson, which I think is the first time I've seen that. Also, I found that the stretch of Jefferson between about 15th Ave and about Central Ave is the worse stretch of pavement I have ever seen in Phoenix, except possibly those which were already ripped up and under construction. In some ways, it was easier to ride on the street on my commute after the asphalt had been milled in preparation for resurfacing, because at least there I knew what to expect. On this stretch of Jefferson, though, there are unexpected potholes, tall ridges, and general destruction all over the place. 

As I was riding past and checking out the Pioneer and Military cemetery, trying to see if there was a way in or if it was all locked up behind the tall fence, my wheel dropped into the biggest pothole I've hit in a long time, and I feared for the mechanical soundness of my machine. It bang-floated through it just fine. Good thing I usually ride with loose arms, too, but it startled me nonetheless. I also stopped a few times on this ride to brush the glass shards off my tires, don't want one of those working its way into the inside. In the end, no flats, no issues of any kind, just a very good ride on a quiet Sunday morning in Arizona.



  1. Sometimes, when I leave my place in Phoenix at 5:15 AM on a Friday-lite commuting day, 24th Street north of Thomas Road all the way to Camelback Road is also pretty deserted. I have even ridden the left lane where the pavement is the best in some places.

    Doesn't have the same scenery as your downtown ride, though

  2. Murph was inspiring, as were the Arizona elements that came to their namesake state.

  3. BluesCat, 24th Street is an excellent example, similar to 7th ave, when empty is just eery, yet enjoyable to ride. Course if you keep going north of Cback, 24th gets purtty.

    Steve A, there are soooo many memorials at WBP, but Murph and the Arizona seemed like two I might connect with.


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