9/29/17 – Silver City to San Lorenzo, NM

I had to get up extra early, this morning, to put out the group lunch and snack food for the day.  We go through about 3 loaves of bread, a package of cold cuts and another of cheese slices, a jar each of peanut butter and jelly, 11 bananas, a few pounds of other fruit, 3 packages of cookies, 1 package of crackers, possibly some nuts or trail mix, and a package of zip lock baggies.  

So I put the food out on a counter, and within 10 minutes everyone had made their sandwiches and bagged up their snacks for the day.  All that was left to do was to wash 4 plastic knives from the shared cooking supplies, and I was off to our next stop–McDonalds for breakfast.  

We don’t usually eat out for breakfast, but for some reason, Ken decided that was going to be the plan for the day.  The whole group took over half of the restaurant, and we gave the locals something to talk about.

So Ed, Tom R and I started our ride from the McDonalds parking lot, as the adjacent road is part of The Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway, our route for the day.  

After 6.5 miles of climbing, just before we made it to Pinos Altos, we reached the first of the day’s two crossings of the Continental Divide.  After posing for photos, we were about to hop back on our bikes, when Tom C, Erwin and Chris pulled up.  More photos ensued, then we all rode off together. 


Sticking together for several hours, we were the biggest group riding together for the longest time since the tour began in San Diego.  We had a great time racing up and down hills, stopping for snacks and poking fun at each other.  

It wasn’t till we reached our one and only shot at ice cream and cold beverages that we started to split up and ride in smaller groups.  

Eventually, all the guys sped up and left me in the dust, which was fine.  I like to ride my own ride, and keeping up with them wipes me out.  

About two miles from the Mountain Spirit RV park, our destination for the night, I pulled off at the Mimbres Heritage Historical Site and spend a little over an hour checking out the exhibits and learning about the Mimbres Indian ruins and pottery found on the site in the early 1900s.  

Cane Cholla at the Mimbres Heritage Historical Site
The Mimbranos (aka Mimbres Indians) lived on the site from 1000-1150 and had a unique pottery style with black on white images that tell a pretty complete story of their culture.  I had never heard of them before, but because of their pottery, they are supposedly one of the most popular prehistoric Indian tribes.  See?  I learned something new today.  

As I rode alone, the last few miles to the RV park, one of my biggest fears became a reality.  A little white pickup truck with two men in it coming up the road in the oncoming land slowed down, and pulled over in a suspicious manner.  I was thinking I could potentially get rolled by the guys, have my bike loaded in the back, and who knows what would happen to me, so I looked straight ahead and kept riding.  

As I watched the truck in my rear view mirror, it made a U-turn and slowly pulled up behind me.  Nervous, now, I kept riding as the truck slowly pulled up beside me.  Holy cow!  What was going to happen?  I looked off to the right and peddled harder.  Then I heard a voice, “Are you all right?”  It was Tom C from our group and the man who manages the RV park.  Whew!  

Relieved, I hollered back that I had been at the historical site, which they should have been able to guess.  He said, “That’s what we thought,” and they drove off.  So I had the rest of my ride to think about all the things I do alone in life as a single female with no one worrying about me or even knowing what I am doing or where I am.  How do I survive without people to check up on me?  But almost all of these guys are married or widowers, who probably wouldn’t be comfortable if their wife was alone in unfamiliar territory.  I wish I had other options, but I don’t.  I’m stuck in my life.  

The Ride

Take a moment to look at the map that shows our two possible routes for the day.  

We could have done the route that goes straight east from Silver City to San Lorenzo (3 members of the group did), but instead, we took the scenic route that goes north out of Silver City, then turns southeast before Lake Roberts to get to San Lorenzo.  Our route was twice as long with substantially more climbing, including two crossings of the Continental Divide.  And why did we do it?  (1) Because we heard that it has some of the best scenery of the entire ride across the US, and (2) because we are hard core.

This pretty much sums up what the roads were like today

The scenery was great!  We climbed from pinion and alligator juniper trees to tall pines, then back down again to follow the tree-lined Mimbres River as it passes through ranches and farmland.  We passed into and out of the Gila National Forest numerous times.  

There were scenic vistas on all sides of us at times and hoodoos like you see in Bryce Canyon.  

From start to finish,all of us who took our route agreed that it was totally worth the extra effort.  

New Mexico sunset after we finished dinner
Tomorrow promises to be another challenging day as we climb the tallest peak of the entire trip.  

9/28/17 – Day Off in Silver City

Boy am I thankful that this day off was less eventful than my last day off.  I slept in until 8 AM, then rode my bike over to be the first customer of the day at Gila Hike & Bike, the local bike shop recommended by several people.  Martyn and Chris did not disappoint and were able to fit an overhaul of my bike into their schedule.

I walked back to our motel to learn that the car that had been rented for a day trip to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, 44 miles from here, was too small to accommodate the 6 of us who wanted to see them.  I volunteered to stay back, as I live close enough to Silver City that I could feasibly make my way back here, someday, which is less likely for the guys from Washington, Virginia and Amsterdam.

Instead, I went to breakfast with a couple of the other riders, then explored the historic downtown area of Silver City, which has a population of about 9900 and is home to Western New Mexico University.  

For such a small town, it has a thriving arts district and impressive murals and public art installations.  I walked through most of the galleries, gift shops and antique stores and came up with about 4 favorites.

Among them was an art co-op run by a handicapped fellow who labels his work “assemblage” art.  He had some pretty wild stuff going on in his shop–most of which my granddaughters would not approve. 

There were, of course, a few historic sights, including a cabin recreated for the set of “The Missing,” a 2006 Ron Howard movie.  

He donated the cabin to Silver City, and it sits on the homesite where Billy the Kid lived with his parents from 1873 – 1875.  Now that’s historic, don’t you think?

Later on, I emptied my panniers so Ken and I could make a grocery run to Wal-Mart.  Both of my panniers were topped off with groceries on the way back to our motel when we ran into 3 of the guys walking to a steak house for dinner.  We turned around and followed them.  Had a nice dinner, then headed back to the motel to get ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another day of climbing that crosses the Continental Divide two more times.  The weather forecast calls for rain, at least through the morning.  We are all nervous about what awaits us up the road.

9/27/17 – Lordsburg to Silver City, NM 

Last night, when I left our cabin for my 3 AM bathroom break, there was gusty wind howling outside.  Then when I finally woke up and ventured out into the daylight, the sky was ominous.  

We had been tracking the weather for a few days, and today, the weather prediction was 90% chance of rain.  The topic during breakfast was what everyone’s strategy was going to be for the wind and the rain.  We had been planning to camp out in an RV park tonight, in Silver City, but now we were discussing changing our plans to get Motel 6 rooms instead. Ken made a phone call, and that plan was set.

It took me longer than the others to get out of the KOA, and most of them like to drink coffee before venturing out, so they went head to McDonalds, and I met up with them just as they were getting ready to leave.  

As soon as we hit the road, we were riding into a serious headwind that slowed us down to just over 4 miles per hour.  Wearing a long sleeved thermal layer under my jersey and a Marmot rain shell I bought for hiking the Appalachian Trail, my arms started heating up.  A few of us stopped to remove layers (I removed the rain jacket), then we moved on down the road.  

The dark rain clouds loomed over us the entire day, and there was no relief from the wind that had now become a cross wind.  It was slow going, and at times, I felt like I was going to be blown over.   All the guys, but Ken, pulled ahead and left me in the dust, which was fine.  I would have burned myself out trying to keep up with them.  So for the rest of the day, it was me and Ken.  

We rode through more New Mexico desert, through the Gila National Forest, and climbing toward the Continental Divide, ran into high desert plants we hadn’t yet seen.   When we finally reached the Continental Divide, we learned that the others had left only 15 minutes before ou arrival.   

After a short break to down a sandwich and talk to a couple of our guys who were lunching at the top of the Divide, we started riding again.  It immediately started to sprinkle, so we stopped to put our rain gear on.  As soon as we started riding again, the sprinkling stopped.  What the heck!  We rode for another few minutes, and started seeing oncoming traffic with windshield wipers in motion.  The rain was on, and after one more stop to fine tune our rain protection, we settled in for a wet ride into Silver City.  

There were several more climbs after the Continental Divide, a couple of small towns that were so small they didn’t have any services, a couple of historical markers, and a few very long descents that chilled us to the bone.  

Once at the motel, I brought my bike and gear into my room to clean them and hang wet items out to dry.   Me, my bike and everything that was attached to it were covered in road grit.  Thankfully, everything inside the panniers was clean and dry (go Ortlieb!).  I showered, then headed out to walk to my eye doctor appointment.

The doc couldn’t come up with a diagnosis.  She said that both my eyeballs and eyelids are swollen and suggested I try Systane Ultra eye drops.  She offered to set up an appointment tomorrow with a dermatologist, but I’m thinking that as long as my eyes are okay, I can weather out the puffy eyes. 

We have a day off the bikes tomorrow, so I am looking forward to sleeping in and taking it easy for a day.  

9/26/17 – Duncan, AZ to Lordsburg, NM

News Flash:  We have now passed through two states, having entered New Mexico this morning.  We are also 1/4 way through our ride across the country. Tomorrow we cross the Continental Divide for the first of three times our route crosses it.   

Most of us didn’t sleep very well last night.  There was non stop semi truck traffic in Highway 70, the road in front of our city park campsite, and on top of that, there was non-stop coyote-like barking and howling all night long, topped off with some nearby roosters who  thought the time to wake us up was 2 AM. 

I woke up with swollen eyelids that  reduced my field of vision significantly. 

I had the same problem the 2-3 days before we arrived in Phoenix, and it went away after spending one night on my couch in Phoenix.  I don’t have access to my couch, now, so I have scheduled an appointment with an eye doctor in Silver City, two days from now, to get them checked out.  They had better not be sun burned.  I have been wearing ESS Ice Nano sunglasses, the same glasses worn by Army soldiers in the Middle East. 

We ended up eating breakfast at Hilda’s Restaurant–the same place we ate lunch and dinner yesterday. The service was really slow, as in I think I could have cooked the pancakes, eggs and French toast, we ordered, faster than they did.  We had a short riding day ahead of us, so the time spent waiting didn’t bother any of us. 

Once we were through with our meal, we peeled out of Duncan, thinking it was going to be a cake riding day.  Unfortunately, there was a headwind most of the day, so even level ground felt like we were riding uphill.  We crossed over into New Mexico (NM) about 7 miles into our ride. 

The terrain for the day was similar to yesterday’s terrain.  We started out with the fertile farmland around Duncan that turned into lush desert, followed by less lush desert, then almost scorched earth.  

I spent the day riding with Tom R, a widower of 5 years who lives in the Virginia/Maryland area.  We yacked it up the whole day, talking about our families, the challenges of being single in today’s world, and politics.  One frustration we both shre is the difficulty of finding people to do things with, like travel, hike, go on rides like the one we are on right now, etc.  We didn’t solve any world problems, but it was nice to know that I am not alone in my life’s frustrations.  

Before we knew it, we were in Lordsburg.  The weather forecast had been predicting rain for tonight, ans we were dreading being rained on during the night and potentially having to tear down our campsite in the rain tomorrow.  Once at the Lordsburg KOA, we discovered that we could rent 3 cabins for only $15 more than the cost of our tent campsite, so we are sleeping indoors on bunks tonight.  And it turns out that the weather predictions were wrong. Now the rain is expected in Silver City.  Luck has been in our side, thus far, so I will be delighted if that weather prediction is wrong too. 

9/25/17 – Safford to Duncan

Last night was “interesting.”  We stayed in an RV park where even the manager didn’t think it was safe for us to leave our bikes outside, so we slept indoors on the floor of the community center with our bikes beside us.  And the place wasn’t very roomy for so many grown snorers and early risers and late risers, etc., but we survived.  So today, we were headed to Duncan, Arizona, and because there isn’t a grocery or convenience store in Duncan or actually anywhere between Safford and Lordsburg, New Mexico, before we left Safford, we had to make a run to the grocery store with the whole group to pick up and parcel out our breakfast and lunch food for the next day (our plan was to eat dinner in a restaurant). 

Headed to the grocery store before our ride
We made a scene in front of the IGA grocery store

We haven’t ridden together as a group since our check ride in San Diego, so it was fun while it lasted.  And how long did it last?  For less than a minute, once we pulled out of the grocery store parking lot.

Being the Private Benjamin that I am, I parted from the group first, because I forgot to pull my 4 Gatorade bottles out of the freezer before we left the RV Park.  Duh!  The place was completely locked up, and the manager was nowhere in sight, so I started to look for windows I could break into.  I felt a little like a criminal, but I needed those bottles.  While I fiddled around with a window screen, someone started opening one of the doors from the inside.  Eureka!  The cleaning lady was inside cleaning and heard me outside.  I was happy to see her, and she was happy to see me.  I got my bottles and she got all the food and beer our group left behind.

Gila Valley cotton fields.

As we rode out of Safford, we passed some of Gila Valley’s fertile fields– the ones I mentioned yesterday, but forgot to get a photo of.  There are miles and miles of mostly cotton fields with some alfalfa.

With my water bottle delay, I was being swept by Ken, our fearless leader, so I was pretty motivated to catch up with the other riders.  Finally, we caught up with Ed, then Tom C., then Neal.  From then on, there were other riders to banter and take breaks with along the way.

Meeting up with Ed, Tom C and Neal at one of the monuments along the route

Today’s ride was much more hilly than the maps indicated, as we discussed it at last night’s map meeting.  Rolling hills wear me out much faster than long uphill ascents followed by long downhill descents.  After just 40 miles, I was more wiped out than I was yesterday after 80+ miles.  I think the exhaustion is cumulative, which is bad, because we have some significant climbing coming up heading into Silver City, New Mexico in a couple of days.  I’ll worry about that later.

The scenery was constantly changing, today.  From farmland to lush desert, to sparse desert with just creosote bushes, to desert that looked like it hadn’t seen rain in a long time.   Overall, it was beautiful, with lovely vistas in every direction.  

Once we arrived in Duncan, we congregated at Hilda’s Restaurant–the only restaurant in town, and took over 4 tables.  At the end of each ride, we all have tales to tell about our day. It’s fun to hear each other’s perspectives on the things we all saw throughout the day. 

Cool painted wall in the town center

Our next stop was Centennial Park, where we pitched our tents (Ken coordinated with the city to make sure they don’t turn the sprinklers on us during the night).  Once the athletic programs for students were over at the high school, we got to shower in the football locker room.  FYI, I have never bathed in such a filthy shower.  

I pulled a chair in there to put my various hygiene items, clean and dirty clothes, towel (more like a little shammy), etc. on; took my shower; then when I turned to grab my towel, it had fallen in the floor–the creepy, dirty floor.  In the real world, I would have thrown it away or burned it, but I didn’t have another option. So I dried myself off with the parts of the towel that hadn’t hit the ground.  On the way out of the gym, one of the guys told me that they had forgotten to give me the towel provided by the gym.  Nice. 

 

 

 

9/24/17 – Globe to Safford

I am writing this in a room of sleeping men, at least 5 of whom have a snoring syncopation going on.  Will have to keep it short.  

After my super late start yesterday, I made sure I was one of the first people to breakfast and also one of the first out of the motel.  As we left Globe on our longest ride yet–81 miles, we entered the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation which is famous for its Apache Gold Casino.  

The place has pretty much put the entertainment industry in Globe out of business with its own modern bowling alley, rodeo grounds, and of course the casino.  

My daughter and a couple I talked to at the Roosevelt Lake Visitors Center warned me about how dangerous it would be to ride a bike through the reservation.  With the early start, the traffic was very light until around noon, which gave us time to make our way through most of it, anyhow.

We were expecting a somewhat flat route from an elevation profile provided by Adventure Cycling, but the route was anything but flat.  It started out with a couple of really nice downhills, then was “rollers” (aka rolling hills) for the rest of the day–the kind where you pick up speed on the downhill but never have enough momentum to make it even halfway up the next hill, because it is higher than the one you just came down.  Even with the headwind that carried over from yesterday, we somehow managed to make good time.  


Our first real water stop was in Bylas at about 11:30–midway through the ride.  Tom Calhoun arrived first.  I had been riding by myself and arrived a few minutes after him, then the others pulled in about 20 minutes later.  There were so many drunk and disheveled locals coming and going, that Tom was concerned about me riding out on my own again.  We ended up riding together the rest of the day, I guess so he could fight off anyone who messed with me.  Sounds paranoid, but I actually appreciated not traveling though that area alone.

I’m not sure when we left the reservation, but very suddenly the scenery changed from high desert to lush Gila Valley farmland. 

 I explained to Tom that the towns we were about to go through were all predominately Mormon, and he asked how that happened.  So I told him how Brigham Young chose families to settle there, like my Grandfather’s family, because of the fertile farmland and Gila River.  

When we got to Pima, I stopped to get a photo of the Temple.

In Thatcher, Tom went off course with me to go to the city cemetary to see my Grandparent’s grave.  For some reason, I couldn’t remember where it was.  Had to call my Aunt Joy up in Provo to get help.  

Once that mission was accomplished, we high tailed it to the Sunrise Village RV park where we are staying tonight.  One guy didn’t ride today, due to sore knees, and two others got a hotel room, so there are only 9 of us.  The manager of the place let us cook and stay in the community center, so we didn’t have to set up tents or cook over camp stoves.  But boy is it cozy.  ​The following video is payback for all the guys photographing me when I was sleeping outside on a chair.

9/23/17 – Tonto Basin to Globe

Before I even get going here, let me just notice you on a correction to the title of yesterday’s blog post. Yesterday, I ended up in Tonto Basin, not Globe.  I have corrected the title of the post on WordPress, but it lives on forever on FaceBook.  Note to self:  Don’t attempt writing anything when you are dozing off.  It may not go well.  

Today, I got a late start, owing to the fact that I fell asleep last night while working on the blog, then had to finish it under the gun this morning.   I don’t even want to admit the time of my departure, but I will so I can demonstrate transparency, in case Donald Trump ever comes across my blog in all of his social networking.  I rode out at 9 AM.  

In may defense, Eric, the token youngster in our group, departed just a few minutes before me and arrived Globe later than I did.  But who cares about that?  Oh, our ride leader Ken does.  He was irritated with both me and Eric, so announced a new rule today.  The ride leader will depart with or without the last riders 1.5 hours after breakfast.  I feel pressure.  

A good part of today’s route had views of Roosevelt Lake, a place I have fond memories of.  I used to go there with my best friend Jacki Paul back when we were single, and we honed our water skiing and beach camping skills. We learned some other things too, like how to change the color or our swimsuit by swimming in lake water (Jacki perfected the technique).  Later on, I took Camille camping there a couple of times, as part of the long vacation she and I took together each summer.  I hadn’t been back since then, and that must have been 12 – 16 years ago.  

I was a little surprised by the beach scene–high end RVs and travel trailers, no modest little tents like the one Camille and I camped in, back in the day.  Going further back, in Jacki’s pre-twin days, she and I cowboy camped on the beach.  What has happened to the world?

Roosevelt Lake is over 22 miles long, and looking at it from every possible angle took my mind off the fact that we were riding into a headwind that entire distance.  

The Back Side of Roosevelt Dam from the Suspension Bridge

Around the time Camille was born, I worked at Salt River Project, the company that manages the watershed and dams along the Salt River.  A huge project was underway to raise the height of Roosevelt Dam 77 feet and to move the traffic that crossed over the dam to a new suspension bridge.  It’s really pretty amazing to look at the end result.  I mentioned that little bit of history to Ken, as we rode over the bridge, and he didn’t believe me.  

When we had motored ourselves to the end of the lake, the road angled upward, and now we were climbing into a headwind.  Okay, so it was a little tiring and slow going, but having a cool breeze on my face sure was nice.   Better still was the fact that for a second day, the temperature topped out at 88 degrees.  What are the chances of that?  

I didn’t remember the amount of climbing involved in getting from the lake to Globe.  You don’t notice things like that when you travel by car, as I had in the past.  There was one really great descent that I was really enjoying until it got cut short near the bottom by a bungee chord malfunction on my bike.  

The chord that held (notice my verb tense here) the large pot I carry for the group came unhooked on one end as we neared the end of the descent, and I started hearing erratic clicking around my pedals and the rear wheel.  While braking, because I instinctively knew something was amiss, I glanced down to see chord bouncing back and forth and hitting the spokes–a disaster waiting to happen.  And as happens with many disasters waiting to happen, it finally happened.  The loose hook grabbed onto two of my spokes and started quickly wrapping around the wheel between the disc brake and the hub.   I’m not sure if my braking or the bungee chord running out of chord to wrap around the wheel caused the bike to come to a quick and sudden stop, but I was relieved it was a stop and not a crash.  But now the rear hub was tangled in a bungee chord stretched to its limit with both hooks jammed in sensitive places that could result in damage to the wheel or disc brake if they were not carefully removed.  

Ken whipped out his handy little Leatherman saw and cut through the chord, but we could only remove part of it.  The two hooks were still jammed up.  I thought removing the wheel, if it would even come off, might help, so we tried that.  It did help a little.  He was now able to get at one of the hooks and weaken it by sawing on it, and we then were able to jiggle it enough to free it up and unhook it.  Once all the chord and hooks were removed, we put the wheel back on and gave it a spin.  The disc brake was not bent and the wheel was still true.  Can you believe it?  Just when I was thinking I’m unlucky, I found out that I’m lucky after all.  I hopped back on the bike, tested the brakes and derailleurs, let out a celebratory “yahoo”, and hit the road again.  

The remainder of the ride took us past ranches and mines leading into Globe.  

Then we were on US-60 for 5 white knuckle miles of crazy drivers, but no bike lane–passing through a busy, hilly and winding business district.  I made it to the Motel 6 by about 5:20 PM–alive, but wasted.  


9/22/17 – Usery Pass to Tonto Basin – The Day I Feared Most

Those of you who have spent any time talking to me about this tour know that today and tomorrow are the toughest days on the ride.  I have been fretting about them and training very specifically  to survive them for months.  I have never ridden anything close to the 66 miles and 5200 feet of elevation gain to Tonto Basin or the 55 miles and 5100 feet of elevation gain to Globe, with or without the Arizona heat.  I had discussed my concerns with Ken, our ride leader, who told me that on two separate tours, last year, several of the riders had to hitch rides, as they could not complete the course.   So I had a good friend, Catherine Ries, on standby–ready to drive her pickup truck up to pick me, and anyone else who needed a ride, up and haul us up the road, just in case it was necessary. 

The day started with our 71 year old rider, Terry, staying behind for the day.  His eyes have become progressively more painful and burning as he rode in the wind, which pretty much has been a factor every day so far, so he had arranged a ride to an ophthalmologist to have them checked out.  We were all sad to leave him behind, knowing it might be the last time we saw him, but at the same time, hoping we’d see him again up the road today.  Terry was an Olympic athlete, back in the day, and had great advice on everything fitness and cycling, plus his sense of humor lightened things up pretty routinely.  No comment about his cooking.

So we packed up our camp, loaded up with water, as there wouldn’t be any till we reached Jake’s Corner–50 miles out, said our goodbyes, and headed down the road toward Tonto Basin.  


I threw the route statistics in early as reference.  The day started out with an awesome descent heading down Ellsworth Rd. toward the Salt River Recreation Area tubing operation, then the climbing began, as we rode eastward toward Saguaro Lake.  

At the lake, we turned north, and things got tougher, but for the first time on the ride, we had a tailwind.  A tailwind, can you believe it?  At 10 AM, about the time the serious climbing kicked in, a very light scattering of clouds floated in–occasionally providing shade, and additionally, temperatures stayed unseasonably cool throughout the day.  Our riding conditions could not have been better.  The conditions continued through the  turn off toward Roosevelt Lake, at which point we started riding southward into the wind.  As the wind provided an assist up 7, 8 and 9% grades,  I thought to myself, over and over again, that God had heard my prayers and concerns and was blessing me.  I stand by that. 

The scenery today was spectacular throughout the entire day.  Arizona has the most beautiful deserts in the world, hands down. 

Four Peaks in the Distance
 

The Ride

I’ll confess here that I had a hard time getting out of camp in the morning, so started out at the back of the pack.  But as I rode along, I was riding my ride–keeping my cadence steady and attempting to keep my heart rate under 140.  On the steep grades, that was impossible, but still I made a point of not pushing myself unnecessarily.   As I moved down the road, I caught up with 5 riders who I normally trail.

At one point, as I looked off to the right of the road, I could see below us some stock trailers and cattle moving out from under a highway crossing.  Erwin and I pulled off to watch the tail end of a cattle drive.

The rancher, a woman named Lori Brown, was the nicest lady.  She told us about the cattle drive, introduced us to the wranglers, and offered us cold beverages from a large cooler.  Being low on water and still having about 10 miles to go to get to Jakes Corner, we were pretty jazzed.  She pretty much made our day.

At the turnoff to Highway 188, the winds changed and got in front of us.  Three miles in, we reached our water stop and indulged.

It’s Hard to See the 8 Bikes Lined up in Front of the Market
Item Missing from the Sign: Trump Lovers. VERY Risky.
 

The scenery changed as we headed south–less cactus and more open vistas.  Still clouds.  Still spectacular.  

The remaining miles to the Tonto Basin Inn were a tough slog over rolling hills and into a headwind, but thankfully, they were all generally downhill.  

The entire group had arrived the inn by about 4:30 PM to hear the word on Terry.  The ophthalmologist determined that his eyes were sunburned and he was experiencing something similar to snow blindness.  He has to stay indoors and wear sunglasses during his waking hours for 10 days, so will be unable to continue the ride.  We’ll miss him.

Erwin and Eric had a kitchen and propane grill to cook dinner on, so they went to town with the dinner meal.  Hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled onions, potato salad, coleslaw, spinach salad with all the fixings, and banana splits.  Life is good.

9/21/17 – Phoenix to Usery Pass

Goodbye household carnage, hello again, bike touring.  After a completely sleepless night getting things in order to leave my house for another 56 days, my ex-husband, Jerry, gave me and my loaded up bike a ride to the Motel 6 in Tempe, where most of the group stayed during our day off. 

Ed and I hit the road around 9 AM–a preplanned late start, because we had a short day ahead of only 27 riding miles.  The route took us through ASU, then residential areas of Mesa, before plopping us down in the area of Northeast Mesa where I have been doing climbing training for the past few months.

We took a detour to get our 50% Veteran’s discount on Sorbet at Golden Spoon (corner of Power Rd and McDowell Rd).  Were it not a 5 mile ride downhill from our campsite (and thus 5 miles back uphill to get back) to get there, we might have gone back for more later. It was so yummy!

Kudos to Ken for finding such an amazing group campsite for us at Usery Mountain Regional Park.  

We had been worried about how we were going to stay cool for the rest of the afternoon, but when we saw the huge ramada, we knew that wasn’t going to be an issue. Everyone set up their tents in the shade of the ramada and most of us napped for a few hours. Well, I say that, because they were napping when I fell asleep. I’m not sure what everyone else was doing once I went down, because I was in a coma. They were all awake when someone woke me for dinner.  

Dinner, oh dinner.   Let’s just say that it was unbelievable.  A couple of cyclists, Gary and Debra Nine, were our train angels today.  In looking into Adventure Cycling tours, they noticed that the Southern Tier route used to go through Apache Junction where they own and operate Los Gringos Locos, a Mexican food restaurant.  They called Adventure Cycling and offered to provide a free dinner at their restaurant to our group.  When they heard that the route no longer goes through Apache Junction, they offered to bring dinner to us, which they did.  

What a spread!  It started with margaritas, soft drinks, chips, salsa and guacamole, then moved to the main course, which was beef and chicken fajitas.  We’re talking super tender and super delicious fajitas, here.  For desert, they served up homemade churos.  I will never forget the kindness and generosity of this couple and can’t wait to visit their restaurant again when I get home.    

Gary and Debra Nine with the group

As we watched the setting sun, all of us were caught up in how lucky we were to be in this quiet little spot where we could see and enjoy both spectular scenery and the kindness and generosity of strangers.