We left the church at 5:00 am sharp, on the nose, right on time. As we headed out of town there were some beautiful wildflowers growing along the road side just as we entered some road construction. Fortunately for us, they had not begun work, and we were able to move along through it at a pretty decent clip. After exiting town we entered a pine forest interspersed with beech trees. Between the sights and smells and sounds it was quite the nice morning.
Just as we exited the pine forest into a meadow area there was a small chapel called Chapel of the Holy Dove. It was small, but open to the public and had quite a few of the San Francisco Mountains. The chapel was completed in 1962, but burned down in 1999. A local college student raised the money to rebuild it in 2000.
Several people had told us about a Chevron Rest Stop about 18 miles out of town so we decided to use that for a morning break. Unfortunately it had burned down so the stop didn’t happen, but the area is in a meadow with the San Francisco Mountains in the background. The tallest peak is Humphrey’s Peak, and it still had patches of snow on it.
After leaving the meadow area we began a climb up through another pine tree forest where, at one point, we reached 8,000 feet. The road sort of plateaued along this elevation, at one point reaching 8,061 feet before beginning a descent. This was the hight elevation that I have ever bicycled at and showed. Both of us were laboring somewhat with our breathing when doing the climbs.
We finally saw the sign we had been looking for: a truck heading downhill with the words 8% grade next 3 miles. Unfortunately, this is where my hitch-in-my-get-a-long began. Just as we were approaching the bottom of the hill my front tire blew out. There are lots of good news and bad news that started at this point.
Good News: I was only going 15-17 mph. Bad News: the bicycle immediately flipped sideways and skidded down the pavement. Good News: I didn’t break any bones or injure my head. Bad News: I did end up with severe road rash over much of my body. Good News: With cars whizzing by us right and left an angel in a pick up truck named Randy stopped to help. Bad News: This is a ‘G’ rated blog so I am unable to show the 9 photos Tom took showing all of the different areas of the ol’ bod that were beat up.
Randy was quite the amazing man in his late 30s. He recently received a heart transplant and had taken up bicycling for the fitness aspect. Randy was on the road at this particular time looking for Derek, another heart transplant recipent, that does triathalons to help others with their medical issues. Randy had driven a long way to meet Derek but was not too busy to stop and help. We loaded our bicycles in his truck, climbed in, and he took us the remainder of the way into Valle’.
Listening to Randy’s story about developing heart problems early in life, living with the problems until his heart finally gave out, using an artifical heart for a period of time, and finally receiving a donor heart was very inspiring. He credited his ability to make it through all of this to his faith. He is certainly a testament to God’s love and the strength He gives all of us to bear up under our trials.
Randy dropped us off at the hotel in Valle’, and we parted ways. Unfortunately, with everything going on I failed to get a picture of Randy for this blog. I cannot thank this road Angel enough for the kindness extended and time taken. Later in the day, at the Flintstone Diner, I did meet Derek and his two companions and learned that Randy had found him shortly after dropping us off. THANK YOU RANDY!
Speaking of the Flintstone Diner. They have a Flintstone Amusement Park, diner, campground, etc. located in this area, and it is for sale. Yes, you can purchase this business opportunity for $2,000,000. It was really very interesting to wander around; it was sort of a return to the 60s .
The next morning I realized that I would be unable to ride the bicycle, at for the short term, due to a large patch of road rash on my, to be blunt, rear end. I could probably get along with all of the other skinned up places but I do have to sit to pedal. After some discussion with Tom I decided to try and get a ride to Flagstaff and rent a car for a week to see how the healing process comes along. Enter the second angel.
There is no public transportation service through this area so I began asking people if the were headed to Flagstaff; the general answer was no, they were headed north to the Grand Canyon. Finally, Dean stopped and asked what I needed. After some explanations he told me to jump in and off we went.
Dean works for the park service helping people plan overnight stays inside the Grand Canyon. He also does a lot of bicycling, both touring and riding around. He was very understanding about my injuries as he recently overcame his own bike injury problems.
I didn’t realize that renting a car in Flagstaff was going to be a major ordeal. First we went to the Avis/Budge officet: sorry Charlie, no cars available until Sunday. I then called Enterprise and viola, I rented a car and received a confirmation number and was told where to go to pick it up.
Dean then drove me to Enterprise where we found out that there were no cars available, and they referred to my confirmation number as ‘tentative’ based on whenever they had a car available. Finally he drove me all the way to the airport where we went through Alamo, Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis in that order. The people at Budget took pity on me and my road wounds and provided a car that had just come in, even though I did not have a reservation. THANK YOU BUDGET!
I cannot thank Dean enough for all of the time spent driving me around the Flagstaff area. He was a great guy to talk with, and I wish him safety on his upcoming trip. THANK YOU DEAN!
Tom and I disassembled my bicycle, loaded into the car and for the next week I will be a SAG (support and gear) driver for him. Hopefully thing will improve in the near future and I can switch back from SAG Driver to Riding Partner. I cannot say enough about how generous Tom has been through all of this. He has been a friend, confidant, and true blue buddy. THANKS TOM!
Even though there were some hitches in my day, there were more than enough angels to overcome the problems. How blessed can one guy be! And then there is my long suffering wife, Margie, who has to put up with all of my comings and goings. THANKS SWEETIE!
Until we talk again . . . . . may the good Lord bless your life . . . . .