Jerry Rosen, the director of advertising at the Arizona Jewish Post and a onetime ad rep for the Tucson Weekly, has written and self-published Desert Journeys: A Guide for the Tucson Road Cyclist. The book features directions, maps and other tips about 32 Tucson-area rides, along with a listing of local bike stores and java joints for that post-ride caffeine buzz. You'll find it on sale at local bike shops, Summit Hut, Borders at Park Place, the UA bookstore and online at jrphoto.org for $25. Rosen will sign copies of the book at a biking event at the UA bookstore at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

What do you like about cycling?

There are so many levels. To me, it's almost the perfect sport. You can progress at your own rate. You can ride with yourself; you can ride with groups. And when you're out there on the road, and you're riding for a while, the world just melts away. It's a very different feeling from anything I've ever done.

You got into cycling later than some do. How'd that happen?

I've been cycling for about four years now. I got into it really by accident. I had gotten burned out playing tennis and basketball, and I was looking for something else to do. At the time, I was going through this change in my life; I ended up going over to a bike shop that was owned by a friend, and before I knew it, I was walking out with a Trek. He said, "If you like this, keep it; if you don't, bring it back." Within an hour, I decided I liked it a lot, and I never looked back. I got real hooked on the sport.

And now you're riding in El Tour.

I haven't ridden the whole ride, which is 100 miles plus, but I've ridden the 70-mile deal the last couple of years. It's a lot of fun. Above and beyond the whole physical aspect, I have met a great bunch of people. I found a club that I just love. I ride about four times a week, and two of those (rides) are in the club on the weekend. It's great. You can ride any day, early in the morning, late at night. The neat thing about this is that you can participate in the sport year-round.

What was the inspiration behind the book?

When I was out on these rides, I saw things I had never seen in the 35 years I've lived here. I'm an amateur photographer, and as I got out more and more on the bike, I began to look at things with a photographer's eye. I'd get out in the evening in my car and take pictures of things I'd seen earlier in the day. I started to build up this quasi-portfolio on my computer. Then I started thinking about writing down some of these rides, because I found out there wasn't a book. I never had any intention of putting out a full-blown book. It was more for me and friends in the beginning, but as time went on, I realized, "Hey, wait a second. Maybe I've got something here."

What's one of your favorite rides?

The 8-mile loop out at Saguaro National Park East. It's probably one of the most perfectly paved roads for cyclists. It has everything. It has hills; it has flats; but best of all, when you're riding on this thing, you forget about the world.

Tell me about the team that came together for this project.

At the time I started to do this thing, my older son started to see a gal who was a very good graphic artist. She worked with me on the book. Another important part is the printer. The owner of AlphaGraphics has a state-of-the-art commercial-printing facility, and he's an outdoors kind of guy, and he loved the idea, and he printed the book for me. It looks great. When it came off the press, it just blew me away. And of course, my wife; I can't forget her. After the GPSing of the ride, she'd download it on her computer and turn it into an Excel document, and then we would e-mail it over to my graphic designer and put it in a profile. And my younger son built my Web site.

What's on the Web site?

The Web site right now is primarily to help people buy the book if they can't get to any of the shops. One of the things I want to do is develop the site into a full-blown bicycle resource, where people in different areas--nutrition, conditioning, bike-building, all that sort of thing--can contribute as they wish and give the people here in town a place they can go to learn more about this great sport.

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