Day 7. Friday, April 29 – Wickenburg to Tempe, Arizona

Saturday 30 April 2016

Pulled out of our delightful little cowboy town DSCN0366to a cool, 59°, no wind morning.  The charming town of Wickenburg would be worth a longer visit, but definitely off season.  Saloons and restaurants had a warm local feel; but during the high/winter season it is filled with cowboys (three roping arenas) and RV’s. DSCN0369 In fact the last three days we’ve ridden by ghost towns that come alive in the winter, as the RV-driving snow birds flock in.

Crossed the very dry Hassayampa RiverDSCN0368 into the uninhabited Arizona countryside.DSCN0377  The word desert DSCN0384does not seem applicable to such pretty surroundings;DSCN0383flowers were bloomingIMG_1941 and even the roads wore a smile.DSCN0389  White fluffy clouds obscured the sun from heating the morning and a breeze had begun to kiss our shoulder, so our slight downhill ride remained cool and comfortable.IMG_1943   It was two hours before we saw civilization, DSCN0399as we entered Surprise (yes, that is a town name) and another hour later before our course became a busier roadway.DSCN0400  Shortly thereafter, our map directed us through quiet neighborhoodsDSCN0418 where golf carts were the preferred mode of transportation;DSCN0408 it was a delightful ride. DSCN0420 By 11:00 with 40 miles under our belt, we took a rest stop at a local park and enjoyed an orange.  This was the beginning of our Greenway Channel Trail, a paved path along the overflow canal DSCN0425and Phoenix water supply canal. DSCN0444 The canal wound through the backyards of neighborhoods and parksDSCN0441 avoiding busy roads.  With the day still cool, we enjoyed the quiet and sceneryDSCN0445 this path provided.  The downfall of neighborhoods was no places to eat and we were getting low on energy.  After five hours of biking and 56 miles, we finally found the perfect place; a bike store and cafe.DSCN0448  The hour rest was not only delicious,DSCN0449 but informative.  Suggestions abound for the perfect route to get us to the end of the day.  Instead of traversing roads as our map directed, we were told of more canal routes; we were in!  This new route was filled with a variety not seen from a car. DSCN0460 We biked past the front door of the Arizona BiltmoreDSCN0453 and Country Club,DSCN0457 and the backdoor of Scottsdale neighborhoods.  Our ride through Papago Park took us through the Desert Botanical Garden and past the Red MountainDSCN0474 and Phoenix Zoo. The scenery was stellar. DSCN0461By 3:30, we crossed the Gila RiverDSCN0477 into Tempe and our hotel on the edge of the Arizona State University campus.  It had been a cool, downhill, Gorgeous ride; we actually felt pretty good having polished off 70 miles.  But we had promised ourselves a day off and we knew the following week was going to be grueling, so rest was in order, but so was dinner.DSCN0492Now we are ready for bed.

 

End of Week 1

Saturday 30 April 2016

San Diego, California to Tempe, Arizonaweek 1

420 miles

Day 8. Saturday, April 30 – Day Off in Tempe, Arizona

Saturday 30 April 2016

Seemed strange to wake and not put bike clothes on, but that didn’t mean we were skipping breakfast.  We headed down the streetDSCN0501 to a delicious breakfast shop and apparently the locals place to eat.  DSCN0496The people watching was as fascinating (sorry no photos) as the food was amazing (fried eggs on Ciabatta with bacon, tomato and Gorgonzola cheese).

Later, we strolled the quiet streetsDSCN0505 and were surprised to see very few people and even less cars;DSCN0509 but bike lanes were everywhere.

The last couple of days, we have been struck by how clean the entire Phoenix area is, not to mention creative,DSCN0516quirkyDSCN0530 and fun.DSCN0520

On our way to dinner we learned that next week is ASU’s finals week, so the students were obviously locked downDSCN0484 and studyingDSCN0485 note the cases of beer.

The rest of the students were letting off steam at this locals bar DSCN0532equipped with Jinga, Cornhole, Baseball and Beer.

 Inspired, we stopped for a Margarita on the way to dinner.  Knowing we could not hang without food and Ummm hydration,DSCN0537 we found the perfect remedyDSCN0542……yes, we are eating DSCN0538as if we biked 100 miles today.  The icing on the cake, homemade ice cream.DSCN0547  Tomorrow we leave civilization and any evidence of good food, so we were stocking up……that is our story and we are sticking to it!

Day 9. Sunday, May 1 – Tempe to Superior, Arizona

Sunday 1 May 2016

Our early morning departure was cool, 61° and breezy, this time in our face.  Thankfully, it was only about 10 mph out of the southeast; we were due, but that didn’t mean we liked it.

The campus was still sleepingDSCN0558 as we pedaled out of townDSCN0555 on a long straight road.  DSCN0563One housing development followed another as suburbia spread from the city.

 Stopped for breakfast with only 12 miles completed, yet almost an hour and a half of biking; it was a slow go on our gradual climb. DSCN0566An awesome Crunchy French Toast with ample butter and bacon was just the remedy for our slow progress (or anything other ailment, for that matter).

It was still in the 60’s as we returned to our straight road; for twenty miles we saw nothing but homes and mobile parks.  One cannot imagine how many mobile homes there are here, it’s tough to imagine this many exist in the world!

It was not until Apache JunctionDSCN0574 that the homes gave way to desert and a better view of DSCN0582Superstition Mountain.

Four hours of steady climbingDSCN0590 and still only 37 miles down.  And the serious climbing was only now about to begin,DSCN0618 but the breeze had turned and was now to our back.  The dark clouds that had threatened rain earlier had obviously hit before we got to our major climb;DSCN0617 wet roads and white fluffy clouds remained.DSCN0607  Whether the new rain or cooler than average temperatures, the desert was awash with color.DSCN0614

By 1:30 we made it over Gonzales Pass and were looking forward to the downhill into town.  As we turned the corner DSCN0627we were struck by the beautyDSCN0632 of The Picket Post Mountain. DSCN0634 The sun lit sections, while clouds shaded the top,DSCN0637 it was an awesome sight (as evidenced by all our photos of it). DSCN0638 The mountain temporarily distracted us from the fact that our downhill was short-lived.  Though the road looked downhill, DSCN0636we struggled to pedal the last eight miles into town.  It took us an hour to maneuver through traffic construction DSCN0646and the continuous uphill grade.  We were spent after our 55 mile constant uphill ride and hoped our Stromboli refuelingDSCN0652 would bring us back to life for tomorrow’s ride.

 

Day 10. Monday, May 2 – Superior to Globe, Arizona

Monday 2 May 2016

It was a most spectacular morning, sunny 61° a cooling breeze blowing; perfect day to sit on the veranda sipping coffee and watch the sun dance on the mountain. DSCN0662 But our motel didn’t have a veranda, or a view and we were destined to bike; so this is our version.

A fierce wind was blowing down the canyon wall and the road construction we’d experienced on our way in to town yesterday, followed up the course we were to take.  DSCN0659We had not been looking forward to this climbDSCN0663 and the 15 mph wind and construction DSCN0679was an unhelpful one-two punch to add to the day.DSCN0672The white dots close to the top right are trucks.

A mile in, we had a tunnel to navigate.DSCN0678  Our map had warned that traffic was heavy and the sidewalk was minimal.  Oddly enough, the road construction worked to our advantage; an entire lane was blocked off for workers, who were more than willing to allow us to use it.DSCN0681  The climbing was slow and we took short breaks when we had an extra inch of road.DSCN0692  The wind was relentlessDSCN0691 and determined to beat us down, gusting from 20 to 30 mph.  But it was as gorgeousDSCN0685 as it was grueling; majestic rocksIMG_1968 of the Queen Creek Canyon offered diverse albeit temporary distractions.  At one of the rougher areas of construction,DSCN0705 Jim DSCN0708pulled beside us and suggested going behind the barriers for safety. DSCN0702 He met us at the next opening and detailed for us the next couple miles; down the Devils Canyon and then the climb back up. IMG_1981 Jim then drove ahead and if we were forced to be on the road, he would pull in behind us and keep the traffic from bearing down; over and above and very appreciated. It had been one of our most interesting sections of any course.

Finally, after over two hours of biking and ten miles we reached the Top of The World 4600 foot pass.DSCN0723  A small section of tall trees,DSCN0720 then more rock to start our descent.DSCN0731  We only had two miles of true down hill (had to pedal down the 6% grade just to manage over 10 mph) then back to up and down riding, wind always in our face.DSCN0752  One last gift from construction workers was an invitation to bike down the closed road, while traffic was being held.  DSCN0740We just had to be respectful of one tight spot on the way down.

By the time we reached Miami (Copper Center of the World),DSCN0738 we had dropped 1200 feet.  It was a quiet ride through MiamiDSCN0748 that joined the outskirts of Globe with a lot of ups and downs in between.  After being on the road for four hours, we had only managed just over 21 miles, but needed a lunch and rest break.  It was a nice hour break and one of the best lunches DSCN0755I’ve ever had.  On the road again,DSCN0759 it took 45 minutes for us to pedal our last four more miles to our stop, the wind slowing us to the last minute.

We were looking forward to a large Margarita and some good Mexican food at the restaurant two doors down. We should have known the food was not going to be great, when they didn’t serve Margaritas…..how does that happen?  Can’t eat great every night.

Today was a scheduled short 26 miles in order to rest for the next few long days ahead.  But it took us six hours (4 hours of riding) to get here, hoping the wind will favor us on the next few days.

Day 11. Tuesday, May 3 – Globe to Safford, Arizona

Tuesday 3 May 2016

A gradual mile climb up and six miles down with not a bit of wind; it was a glorious start to the morning.  The climbs and drops were gradual and enjoyable,DSCN0815 we were really enjoying the quiet, cool morning.  The majesty of the hillsDSCN0786 and the landDSCN0799 is impossible to describe or convey in photographs.IMG_1993  Ten minutes down the road, we entered the San Carlos Apache Tribe Reservation.  We were enjoying the morning (and no wind), rolling up and down the hills in the cool morning. DSCN0817 We’d pumped out 20 miles by our first stop, only an hour and half in.  We chatted with an ApacheDSCN0824 and discussed our different modes of transportation.

The landscape continued to engage us,IMG_2006 from the towering mountainsDSCN0827 to the smallest of flowers; DSCN0835the layers of hills and mountains framing our horizon.  But nothing was so dramaticDSCN0867 in it’s beautyIMG_2021 as this blooming cactus.IMG_2019

Shortly before ten, the forecasted SE winds announced their arrival and intention to blow strictly west, directly in our face.  Though only 10 mph, not nearly the force of yesterday, it quickly drained any reserve our legs had.  Our pace slowed dramatically, eight miles in an hour.  Just before noon, we took another rest and advantage of an Apache market for an early lunch.  With  a lot of miles to cover, we only stopped for 30 minutes.  Though it had been 83° in the shade of our stop, our thermometers quickly rose to the triple digits after a few minutes in full sun.DSCN0868 The rolling hills soon became a struggle in the wind.DSCN0840We again passed dried river bedsIMG_2024 and one that actually had water.DSCN0821  In the distance at the base of the mountain, IMG_2028green abound near the Gila River.  Five hours and 40 miles since entering the reservation, DSCN0889we finally found the end.  Nothing changed much, other than the roadside became cleaner.  Continuous trash and glass is something we have sadly noticed in any reservation in which we have biked.

We had been watching this mountain top for hours, IMG_2038not believing we could actually see snow while struggling in the 100° sun.  Mt. Graham stands at 10,720 feet, so yes, it is snow.IMG_2039After over 500 miles in the “Old West”,DSCN0912 we see our first horses.DSCN0919 Our last stop was cool, refreshing and an unexpected treat.IMG_2045  Taylor Freeze in Pima has been a welcome and friendly respite for bicyclists doing the coast to coast ride.DSCN0916  We could use them at the end of every day’s ride.  We had ten more miles and thankfully our last stop had given us the much needed energy to make it.  After seven and a half hours of sitting on the bike, willing it to go forward, we finally rolled into our room for the night.  It was a long hard 76 miles and we were spent.

We would like to thank Everyone that has commented thus far.  Rest assured, though we may not respond, we read each one…..Thank You!

Day 12. Wednesday, May 4 – Safford to Duncan, Arizona

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Days ago, we spent hours trying to find an alternative route to the one our map wanted us to take from Duncan.  The problem was the mapped route would require at least one night of camping in the desert with no campground or Water.  We were excited with our new route, as it would provide a hot shower and soft pillow, plus it would be a short ride after our grueling ride from yesterday.  But the wind Gods saw it differently; the road could not be any more directly into the wind.

 Our half mile out of town was straight east and the buildings blocked the brunt of the wind.  However, once we turned southeast, the 20-30 mph wind stood us straight up.DSCN0968  We struggled to go 5 mph on our slight uphill, not that we could tell if there was an uphill, the wind was so strong.  We pushed to go a mile before stopping; our only opportunityDSCN0937 to take a picture. DSCN0944 Ten miles out, we came to the intersection that would put us on course and the wind at our shoulder.DSCN0971 Tempting as it was to not face the wind any longer, it was not strong enough to pull us away from a motel room at the end of the day.  Based on our photos,DSCN0987 it was a pretty ride,DSCN0983 but every nerve, thread and ounce of our body was focused on staying upright and moving forward.DSCN0984 After two hours of biking we had climbed 500 feet and only gone 13 miles; it was arduous, no, it was Brutal!  Another hour of biking only yielded an additional three miles; we were getting beat up.  We had really underestimated how much the wind was going to take out of us and by mile 20 were were starting to ration water.  The climbing and desert wind was sucking everything out of us and we questioned our finishing.  IMG_2047We rounded a corner at one point and saw a car pulled over on the side of the road.  Our spirits lifted slightly, thinking it may be a police car that we could beg a bottle of water from.  As we pulled into the turnoff, we realized it was someone having a roadside lunch; we asked nonetheless, but obviously no one drives around with a cooler of water.  We pushed on.  About a half an hour later, a car approaching from the other direction starts waving us down.  Our desert Angel, Diane, DSCN1002had stopped her lunch and driven over 30 miles to buy water for us, over a Gallon of it.  Diane, if you are watching THANK YOU, as we were pretty close to done.

 The wind was still blowing hard in our face, but fully loaded with water, we knew we could make the last 12 miles, albeit slowly.  By our fifth hour of pedaling, we had only come 31 miles.

A few miles short of town, we were gifted a downhill we could actually coast down.DSCN1021  The wind fought hard to push us back up, but this time, for two miles we enjoyed not pedaling.  On the outskirts of town, we stopped at the first place we saw that offered refreshments.  The sign was not promising,DSCN1027 but it was 2:30 and other than breakfast, we had only had an apple and orange.  Lunch was unexpectedly good,DSCN1028 plus we got a tip on a good place to stay for the night.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover DSCN1031our room was huge, brand new and comfortable; apparently a far cry from what we had reserved.

Six hours biking, eight hours out and only 40 miles completed.  It had been a very tough day.