I received this email from contributor Jay Rochlin last week:
Kitt Peak is a great ride. There is very little traffic on the well maintained road and the 8% grade offers a tougher workout than Mt. Lemmon. I did the ride about a year ago. I got to the top and rode my bike right to the visitor center, leaned it against a picnic table, and went in. I bought a drink, some snacks and perhaps a souvenir. Many people asked me about the climb.
This year I was “greeted” by the sign. I nervously leaned my bike against the fence, wondered what was up, took a drink of water, and headed down. I’m surprised that Kitt Peak would “greet” bicyclists with such a hostile sign rather than bike racks and a ramada. Did something happen that caused a nutty over reaction? In any event, it doesn’t reflect well on either Kitt Peak or the Tohono O’odham people on whose land the observatory sits.
According to Rich Fedele, Kitt Peak’s visitor center manager, safety concerns prompted the observatory to limit the access bicycles have to the area.
“It is a working observatory,” Fedele said. “There are safety concerns and issues, so we had everybody leave their vehicles including bikes at the visitor center entrance parking lot where the general public disembarks.”
Fedele said the observatory added bike racks to the parking lot for cyclists to lock their bike to if they brought a lock with them up the mountain.
The visitor center is located behind the fence and would require cyclists to leave their bikes unattended to use the restroom, get water or buy something from the visitor center.
Tucson cyclist Chris Florko said he has ridden to Kitt Peak several times and didn’t think the restriction would bother him.
“I don’t really ride up it to visit the telescopes, I ride up it to ride up it,” Florko said.
Florko did say it would be a challenge for people who did want to stop at the top.
Have you been up to Kitt Peak recently? What did you think of the limitations?