Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Path of Least Resistance

Other places have more bike paths, or more developed bicycle infrastructure than Phoenix or Tempe, but these cities do possess some notable cycling advantages. The weather, for one thing, along with some excellent cycling paths and bike lanes, too, with more on the way. One of my favorites runs along the Crosscut Canal, which is one of the legs of my fantasy commute to my ideal job as an apprentice to Paul Davies at the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. Today, the ride down was a bit of a challenge with a steady 10 to 20mph headwind. But the return trip was boosted by a 10 to 20mph tailwind, which rocked--my tires were singing on the pavement on the ride back north.

The video above starts on the bike path as enters the tunnel and skirts Papago Park. In the center of the path is a work of art called "Centerline" by Arizona artist Barbara Grygutis (moar Grygutis! moar Grygutis!). It's made from green granite from Lake Superior cut with a freakin laser beam, and set in patterns to complement nearby features, like the triangles near Hunt's Tomb (the white pyramid on the mountain by Papago Park). I thought showing the work from a bike in motion would give a sense of its flow and rhythm. The end of the video is down by the Salt River and Tempe Town Lake, with water still going over the rubber dam, as well as a little plunge at the end. The latest SRP daily water report (hola canal boffins!) has the Salt River reservoir system at 99% full from all the rain and runoff, with the Verde pretty full as well. Any more water in the system will be coming this way. It looks like we currently have 737,565,621,454 gallons of water in the bank.

On the way down, I really felt the wind in my face and the effort that it took to ride against it. On the way back, I felt the push at my back, and noticed how clear the air can be when the pollution is blown out by the wind. I did a 180 and the world seemed like a better place. Imagine.

I'm Drawn to Historical Plaques Like This One


Here's a second glance at "Tree of Life" by Marilyn Zwak. The leaves of the cement trees are spaces to put the names of people who donate to a program to greenify the area, and it really needs it, as you can see in the video. I hope they xeriscape it to greenify it, but at this point even painting the dirt green would help. There's a lot going on here: a linear construction site that will be a park-like setting some day, beside an artificial lake which becomes a river at the push of a button or pull of a lever, under some soaring concrete arches of bridges which cross the lake/river, in an area where the Tohono o'odham dug canals and grew their desert-adapted crops a thousand years ago, stands a concrete sculptural expression of "tree" featuring a list of people ("leaves") who donate money to plant stuff. They should plant some tepary beans and mesquite up in there, as part of an exhibit of how the Tohono o'odham lived. Get up. Go ride.


  1. Awesome video!
    I like the bent light posts!
    The granite installations you rode over were cool too. What was with the three tree looking thingys?
    Man, that path rocked!
    Puts our paths here to shame.

  2. Those tree thingys are called "Tree of Life" by Marylin Zwak. ZWAK!!! I may put together a little video with them, but I haven't looked at that footage yet.

  3. Was that video there yesterday?
    That area is gonna be freakin cool when they get done with it. I mean it's pretty cool now!
    From a bike riders POV, it's pretty sad that we don't have wide open spaces like that here.
    I mean we do, it's just covered with water.

  4. Hmmmmm.
    The secret word I had to type in to post that comment was

  5. Just added the video this morning. Which may still have been "yesterday" for you. So it's a tricky question you pose. I'm hoping they go "riparian in the desert" for their landscaping theme instead of "boat club by the university". We'll see. And good thing your secret word wasn't "shrimpchips." :)

  6. riparian
    Learned a new term today.

  7. Tepary beans!


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