Dennis Miller is making the move from Los Angeles to Tucson.
And it’s in large part because of The Loop.
The newly completed 131-mile trail connects all areas of Tucson, is off limits to cars and is perfect for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.
Miller, who is preparing to move from Los Angeles to Tucson, has been to the Old Pueblo many times. He’s participated in El Tour de Tucson since the 1990s. As his brother-in-law lives in Tucson, Miller, who rides his bike at least 5,000 miles a year, has been able to watch the progress of The Loop.
“I’d say The Loop was a pretty major reason why we decided on Tucson. It was a driving force,” he says.
“I’ve been retired for seven years and retirement as I pictured it in Los Angeles just hasn’t cut it,” he says. “I love riding my bicycle, but it got exceedingly dangerous here with a lot of disgruntled road-rage drivers. It became more stressful than stress-relieving. That’s just not how riding should be.”
He isn’t too keen on L.A: “Traffic, congestion and people’s attitudes have made it an island in the middle of shark-infested waters,” he says.
So, when he and his wife began searching for a new city to move to, they thought about cities in Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. The two Arizona cities in question were Tucson and Prescott.
“We can live anywhere in the world we want, so people ask why we picked Tucson,” Miller says.
Among their requirements were the availability of cultural events, hiking trails, low population, friendly people, a lower cost of living and, of course, good bike paths.
But the northern cities were quickly eliminated because Miller wanted to avoid the colder weather. That left Prescott and Tucson.
“While we love the mild four seasons of Prescott, the bicycle infrastructure is lacking compared to Tucson,” Miller says. “Tucson offers all that we seek.”
But among all other factors, Miller says The Loop was a major factor that drew him to Tucson.
“The Loop, and the massive miles of bicycle-laned and bicycle-friendly streets of Tucson, will allow me to ride more stress-free than in L.A.,” he says. “There’s a few other places that I felt comfortable riding, but one thing those places all had in common was that they were small college towns, and college towns tend to build their bicycling infrastructures better than others. There’s a certain peace when you’re riding there.”
And it’s true — the bicycling community in Tucson is certainly booming. When looking at maps of Tucson, bike paths are typically highlighted in the color green. Miller says, “It looks like somebody spilled green paint all over Tucson.”
Since he started riding The Loop, Miller says he remembers the moment he fell in love with it. It was a few years ago during El Tour . The event unfortunately came during a rainstorm, so Miller decided not to ride.
“I felt guilty because I didn’t ride, so I pulled up a map of The Loop and rode 106 miles using 70 miles of The Loop,” Miller says. “I rode almost all day and hardly saw any cars. I even had a flat tire and it was still a good day.”
Miller also says that he knows of many people who have moved to or are moving to Tucson for similar reasons.
“Our friends from Orange County went to El Tour de Tucson with us,” Miller says. “Two weeks later, they went back to Tucson and now they’re building a house three blocks from us.”
He says he and his friend are so excited that they’re already discussing what bike routes they want to use — even though they won’t be settled in Tucson for a while.
Miller also caught up with an old high school friend who, coincidentally, had moved to the Tucson area and loves it here. “How is that for small world?” Miller says.
As for his favorite part of The Loop, Miller mentioned many things.
“My favorite part of riding The Loop is how well-kept it is,” Miller says. “I also know where there’s a restroom and water close by. The Loop is such a fantastic ride.”
Miller also says that people on The Loop are the “friendliest people you could meet.” He says that during one ride, in only one day, he met 50 people on The Loop. He was also quickly initiated into a local riding group, which even recruited him to ride with them to Maine.
“I met a guy from Chicago who comes down once a year to ride,” Miller says. “I also met a couple from Vancouver and found out they come down every winter for 10 days. There are a lot of friendly people at The Loop. It’s certainly a draw.”