Day 5: Point A to B

Climbing The HillAt 5 am we were up and out the motel door, bikes loaded, and pedals turning. After yesterday’s experience with frontage roads disappearing in the middle of no-where we decided to hop on Interstate 17 and take it all the way to Camp Verde.

Interstate highways are not as scenic and you don’t get to pass through all sorts of small towns and meet people along the way. This section of highway had long hills to climb and you could hear the semi’s grind gears and rev up engines as they slowing crawled up to the top. I was down to 2.6 mph on the bicycle and some of the semi’s pulling double trailers were not going all that must faster.

Bikes Use The ShoulderThe good news with the interstate is there was a good margin to ride on. The bad news was there was constant climbing for much of the day. Another good thing was we began to see signs indicating bicycles were allowed as long as they stayed on the shoulders. I don’t know about you, but I am not about to ride a bicycle on the main roadway of a 75 mph interstate highway.

SceneryEven in the most trying times there are always beautiful things to look at. The sun light playing off the mountains and reflecting off the cacti and rock formations is certainly worth looking at.

Early in the morning it was already 73 degrees when we left. It dipped down to 68 degrees in one area but overall the temperature continued to climb all day long, reaching a max of 113 degrees. The weather service temperature is always much lower than the hot asphault radiating heat back up to my temperature sensor.

Last Zucchini BreadWhen leaving Tucson my relatives, Suzanne and David, gave each of us a package of zuccini bread. In my case, I chose to ration it out over three days. Well, today was the third day and the last morsel of bread, including a tongue lick or two off the bag, was thoroughly enjoyed. UM, UM, good!

Maximum ClimbWe were only averaging about 4 mph until reaching the maximum elevation just before a 9 mile 6% grade leading down into Camp Verde. The maximum elevation we reached was 4,688 feet; on the ride up we passed the 3,000 and 4,000 foot elevation markers. The maximum feet climbed was 3,488. This was the most that Tom and I have climbed on any one day during all of our rides.

Changing SceneryIt was interesting to see the difference in the scenery as we went higher and more north. At the beginning of the day there were different types of cacti, a lot of open rock formations, and very little on the ground but sand and gravel. By the time we reached the top of the climb there were no cacti, there was lots of grasses, and there were some trees. Everyone notices scenery changes but it is seems so much more dramatic on a bicycle.

Rain over Camp VerdeThe scenery on the way down was beautiful, however, about the half way point we began to see lightening strikes in the valley area. The further down clouds and rain began to roll into. About 1 mile before the exit to Camp Verde the rain really began to pelt us.

Soaking wet, we made it into the McDonald’s and ran into Tom’s brother, Tim. Our destination for the night (and weekend) is Cottonwood AZ. Tom’s brother is a pastor at a local church, and we will be staying with Tim and Deb. Cottonwood is about 15 miles of of the interstate.

Bikes in the truckTim had seen the weather front coming in, knew we were not far away and generally stopped at McDonald’s, and had driven from his house to pick us up. Sooooo, never one to pass up an opportunity, we took the free ride to Tim & Deb’s house. They put on quite a feed for us we we arrived. Their son  one grand-daughter came up from Mesa so we all had a super time over food.

Today we rode 41 miles, climbed 3,488 feet, the temperature ran between 68 and 113 degrees, and we were on the road for 10 hours and 30 minutes.

Talk about a serendipity. Margie and I had some friends from our time in Nye, Montana, that had moved to Arizona, but I did not remember where. Weeeeelllll, it turns out that Joe and Kathy live very close to Camp Verde. They sent we an email notice and we were able to talk and catch up on things. Thanks for contacting me!

Well, Tom and I are talking about some alterations on our route based on Tim’s and Deb’s thoughts and ideas about this area. Sooooo, we will wait and see what comes tomorrow. Until later . . . . . . . God Bless you endeavors.

Day 4: Google Maps is not Perfect

Flat TireDay 4 did not start out as one of our best. First thing off the bat had to do with the alarm not going off so we got up an hour later than expected. Second thing had to o with my rear tire being flat. Third thing had to do with homemade waffles in the motel breakfast room. All in all we left the motel 90 minutes later than expected.

We stayed in Tempe which is on the northern side of the Phoenix area, but we still had to ride 18 miles to get to the outskirts of heavy traffic. The Phoenix area has a lot of nice bicycle lanes, but the further north you go the more places they come and go and the traffic seems to speed up substantially.

Our plan was to jump on I-17 at a town call Anthem, but when we started on the entrance ramp there was a ‘No Bicycle’ sign. I had checked with both the state police and a bicycle Arizona group which indicated that bicycling on interstates was a no-no around cities. Soooooo, I looked at Google Maps and found a frontage road that ran all the way to our stop at Black Canyon City (30 miles away).

Mountain TrailThe scenery along the frontage road was nice and at one spot we seriously considered taking the off road ride to better see the flora and fauna (I also have a bridge to sell).

One thing nice about the frontage roads is they are less traveled, and you can more easily stop and look at nature.

Tree ShadeAs we proceeded north through Anthem AZ and further, the temperature kept going higher and higher. At one point it hit 118 degrees for a short period of time.

Several times we ended up stopping under the shad offered by nearby trees. The trees somewhat reminded me of the old Fannie Crosby song . . . . . Blessed the shade tree, that blocketh the sun, oh how I love thee, I was almost done, Blessed the shade tree, that cooleth me off, oh how I love thee, for standing around.

Dead EndFinally, as Google Maps showed Black Canyon City to be about 10 miles away the frontage road turned into gravel and dirt. and then it up and disappeared on us. The direction we were supposed to go became an overgrown trail filled with rocks. In fact, the area appeared to have become a turn around for cars.

JoEWe walked up to a nearby house and talked to the owner, who informed us that the road had not been kept open form quite a few years. Unfortunately, it still showed up on maps and an quite frequently, when there was an accident on the interstate, people would try to use the road as a way around it.

Packed CarJoE offered to load all of our stuff into her SUV and take us back to the closest entrance to the interstate, and we gratefully accepted the offer. Things were somewhat cramped, the considering the 107 degree termperatures a 5 mile ride in an air conditioned car sounded wonderful. Tom the skinny, as opposed to Rick the large, was able to squeeze in to the back of the car along with the bicycles and away we went. JoE was originally from Chattanooga TN but had lived in California and the Arionza valley for many years. I am not sure how we could have appropriately thanked her for the generosity, but we certainly did appreciate it.

Jack Ass Rest StopAfter unloading all of our ‘stuff’ and headed off to the I-17 entrance ramp we passed the remnents of the Jack Ass Rest Stop and Gas Station. It is for sale if anyone is interested. We would have certainly stopped there if it had been open. Anyway, as we started up the entrance ramp we noticed that there were no signs prohibiting bicycles so we must have been far enough north by this point.

Mountain Breeze MotelThe last 10 miles were miserable. The ride should have been somewhere around 55 miles but ended up being 67 due to the frontage road issues, and we climbed about 2180 feet. As we rolled into Black Canyon City after 12 hours on the road the Mountain Breeze Motel never looked so good. The motel is quite nice and Alex was wonderful getting us into a cool room for the night.

We drank plenty of water and soda during the day, but the temperatures seem to drain the energy from you regardless of how hydrated and fed you keep the ol’ body.

Until next time . . . . . . God Bless . . . . . . And stay cool!


Day 3: 111/100

Going Away PartyAfter a wonderful going away party at Mi Tierre Mexican Restaurant with family and friends on Wednesday night, Tom and I jumped on our loaded bicycles at 5 am Thursday and headed north toward Chandler AZ.

The temperatures at 5am started out at 64 degrees and dipped down as low as 62 degrees which was absolutely wonderful to ride in. The sky was beginning to brighten up, and there was very little wind. More on the temperature will follow.

Desert SceneryThe desert certainly has its beauty. Cacti of all types, sizes, and shapes were growing right up to the road edge. Up to this point we have not ridden through areas filled with Suguaro cacti but about 15 miles out they began showing up all over the place. One thing I discovered is how easy it is to brush your foot (keep in mind I am wearing biking sandals) against low lying cacti and get the spines stuck in your socks and how easy it is for the prickly spines to poke holes in your fingers while pulling them out of your socks. Note to self: watch were I step in the future.

Desert Reclaiming Her OwnIn one area we passed an old motel that nature has begun to reclaim. I don’t know how long it has been closed, but grass, cacti, and other plants have begun taking over the landscape while seasonal changes have begun reducing the concrete and metal structures. We have seen quite a few abandoned businesses and homes out in the middle of no where; I often wonder what dreams or hopes people had for locating in some of these places.

Tom Mix Rest StopSomewhere along the road to Florence AZ we ran across a monument to the silent film cowboy actor Tom Mix. Actually, the monument is located where Tom Mix was killed, at age 60, in an automobile accident. He was quite the rounder and lived a most interesting life, making over 300 films in the process. Some person, or group, attends to the monument because there is a sign in book, there are Xerox printed handouts free for the taking, and there are laminated photographs to look at. All in all it was one of those serendipity things that we sort of stumbled in to.

Garden in the DesertWe arrived in Florence in pretty decent time ( 43 miles in 4 hours, which included stops). Just a few miles outside Florence is an RV park with some beautiful gardens; When we stopped at the Burger King for a rest break it was 93 degrees. When we left it was 98 degrees: more on the temperature later.

McDonald's BreakThe run to Chandler AZ went well, also, and by 2:00 pm we had clicked off 82 miles. By this time the temperature was up to 107 degrees, and we were drinking substantial quantities of liquids. A stop at Mickey Ds for food and drink was certainly enjoyed.

At this point we decided to go ahead and try to put in another 20 or so miles in inorder to reduce the mileage for tomorrow. Even though the temperatures were quite hot we continued to travel against a small head wind which tended to keep us cooled off and the constant intake of liquid kept us reasonably refreshed.

Michael at Circle KAll totaled up for the day  I consumed 5 bicycle water bottles ( 24 ounce each), 2 32 ounce root beers at Burger King, 4 32 ounce Coke Zeros at Mickey Ds, and 4 16 ounce diet Dr. Peppers at 3 different Circle K Stops.

Speaking of Circle K’s . . . . . While we were stopped at the last one Michael came up to talk with us. He has never driven a car and uses a bicycle for all of his transportation. My guess is he is 60-ish but when he was 19 he and a buddy started in Seattle on bicycles and wandered around for over 3,000 miles before arriving back in Tempe AZ.

Michael shared many interesting stories about his life and then pedaled off just as quickly as he arrived.

Tempe AZWe ended up in Tempe AZ at the Super 8 Motel for the night after pedaling 101 miles for the day. The high temperature for the day was 111 degrees in the northern part of Chandler. There was very little hill climbing today (604 feet) which made things even more enjoyable.

It was a long day but an enjoyable day. We wimped out and ordered a delivery from  a Chinese Restaurant which arrived just as we had each finished cleaning up and washing the clothes from today’s ride. Wow! It is hard to believe that we did 100+ miles in 111 degree temperatures and lived to tell about it. Well, 5 am is going to come awfully early so it is off to bed for this little bronc buster.

Talk at ya’ later . . . . . . . God bless . . . . .