Day 8? In case you have been following our ride from Day 1, you may be wondering what happened to Days 6 & 7. We spent those two days in Cottonwood AZ with Tom’s brother and wife: Tim and Deb. It was a wonderful relaxing time. Their backyard has fruit trees, vegetable gardens, a KOI fish pond, a berry patch, a fire pit & barbeque stand, and 4 chickens clucking their way around the yard. When you throw a cool breezy porch into the mix I don’t know how much more relaxing the stay could have been.
Tim is the pastor at the Four Square Church in Cottonwood AZ, and on Sunday morning I was able to meet some really nice people. On Sunday evening Tim and Deb had a cookout for the congregation which allowed me to meet other members and find out more about their lives. What an amazing ministry Tim/Deb have developed here.
On Monday the four of us drove to Flagstaff to check out the road conditions, look over the town, and catch the lastest Jurrasic Park movie in the afternoon. Tom and I had planned to take the scenic route (89A) through Sedona to Flagstaff, however, after seeing the road conditions we decided to pursue the interstate. It is not that the road itself is in bad repair, but rather the road is narrow, twisty, and has minimal shoulders in many spots. It is the scenic route but seemed to be quite busy.
Tuesday morning (Day 8), as we were getting our bicycles ready Tim/Deb insisted on driving us part way. You know me . . . . . I am quite susceptible to pain and the thought of them twisting my arm was more than I could stand, sooooooooo, Tom reluctantly agreed (yea, right) to go along with their plan. Anyway, all of us and our equipment piled into their truck, and they dropped us off about 25 miles from Flagstaff.
The distance, 25 miles, sounds like the makings for a rather short day, however, there was a lot of climbing involved (more on the climbing will come later, including a popular church song and potential lynching). Over the past few riding days we have passed the 3,000 foot mark and also the 4,000 foot, 5,000 foot, and 6,000 foot sign. Well, today at 2.8 mph we crept past the 7,000 foot sign.
As always, there were a lot of sights, smells, and sounds to enjoy while moving along at 4-5 mph. Even though the trucks/cars rumbling by created quite an obnoxious noise we could still hear birds singing away in the trees. There are large pine stands on the hills in this area and their pungent sweet odor created by the heat made a fragrent aroma for us to smell. The area does not have a lot of wildflowers but in one spot there we noticed some beautiful red and yellow ones.
Interstate 17 terminates in Flagstaff with exits to the town and I-40 east & west all in the same place. Some of the exits were on the left and some of the exits were on the right which creates some amount of difficulty for bicyclists because of the tremendous difference in speed (75 mph vs. 5 mph) and the tremendous differences in size (semi vs. bicycle). At one point we had to back track a 1/4 mile to make the correct exit. Finally, all was well, and we found ourselves in the town of Flagstaff.
Flagstaff is the home for Northern Arizona University, and most of the town area is very bicycle friendly with wide lanes and clearly marked signs. It has a lot of really cute shops with people coming and going and sitting outside drinking coffees and eating sandwiches.
Logging, and the logging trains, were big business in the area because of the nearby pine forrests so the town has preserved a lot of interesting things related to railroading including a statue of a worker driving rail spikes, the old terminal, and a steam driven logging train (this one is for you, Wayne). The Arizona Lumber and Timber Company put this locomotive into service in 1917. The Baldwin engine has been on display since 1999.
Back to the climbing, hymn singing, and lynchings that I mentioned earlier. Our church tonight is called Trinity HEIGHTS Methodist Church. The name should have been the first clue. The church is very nice and well cared for, however, it is located at the TOP of 4th Street; the VERY TOP. We had to climb almost 220 feet in 6 blocks.
About half way up I was in granny low gear on the bicycle, my thighs were burning, my heart rate was in the mid-150s, I was sucking wind like the little engine that could, and an old hymn, Nearer My God To Thee by Sarah Adams Flowers, suddenly began sounding off in my mind. Incidentally, Nearer My God To Thee was the last song played before the Titanic sank. Just as I was sinking and on my last breath there suddenly appeared a Lutheran Church named the Breath of Life; things often come to our aid in the most amazing ways, don’t they. Well, I can tell you for sure, their shady parking lot certainly allowed the breath of life back in my beat up ol’ body.
They say that the third time is charm, and it was a good thing on the third attempt to get up to the Methodist Cchurch we made it. I was seriously considering lynching the person that reserved our accomodations (there were certainly enough stout tree limbs hanging around), unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to make a workable noose from my spare 26″ inner tube.
The church has a beautiful view from its location. They have trees, natural grasses, flower gardens and walking paths through the property. We were greeting by Shelly who provided a key to the front door and showed us around the church. Thanks, Trinity Heights Methodist Church, for the extreme hospitality.
Even though the mileage was less today (25.4 miles) we climbed 1475 feet, and averaged 6.2 mph rolling time. Tomorrow our ride winds more northwest as we head towards the Grand Canyon. Our goal is to reach the south rim sometime on Thursday.
Talk at ya’ later if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise . . . . . . .