FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA TO DODGE CITY, KANSAS
The allure of the Southwestern desert is irresistible with its rugged beauty and unique climate. The spirit of adventure, reminiscent of the Old West, can be relived as we pedal through the low and high desert of the Mojave. We ride along the Historic Route 66 and cross the Continental Divide in New Mexico and on into Texas, Oklahoma and finally Kansas. We discovered the magic of the Southwest found only on a bicycle.
Posted: Tue, 20 May 2008
DAY 2 HOLBROOK, AZ TO GALLUP, NM
GALLOPING INTO NEW MEXICO
Following our precise daily routine set by Cross Roads Cycling, we ate a big breakfast at Denny's at 6:00 am, set out our luggage in color-coded cone- marked areas at 7: am, waited for the signal to sign out at 7:15 ("not before"- for safety reasons) and departed out of Holbrook headed East on Navajo Blvd.
All but 9 miles of our 87 mile route today was on Interstate 40. Numerous flat tires in the group were the down side of today's ride-- always a problem with Interstate riding. The weather was fine until later in the afternoon (after we "were in the barn"), when high winds, rain, and some hail hit our slower riders. It was again hot; low 80's into the 90's as the day progressed.
I rode with Rick, Dan and Peggy (AR) and sometimes with Warren (TX), who rides a recumbent. He would pass us on the flats and descents and we would catch him on the hills. We experienced a number of long uphill grades today that knocked down our speed somewhat. They were not difficult climbs, but long, steady, slowing uphill runs.
We did pass the Petrified Forest National Park at the 20 mile mark. The Arizona scenery (amid the passing trucks) was the barren sage and grassy clumps of high desert land along with the occasional cattle herd grazing lazily. Many long trains passed by during the day.
At the 70 mile mark we were detoured off I-40 onto Route 66 for 9 miles of exceptional views as we entered the State of New Mexico. Gorgeous sandstone cliffs were in view on both sides of the road. The giant hills, eroded by the wind into interesting shapes presented the best scenery I have experienced thus far. It was a pleasant change from the Arizona high desert openness.
The ride was completed as we entered the Comfort Inn motel at 1:30 pm (actually 2:30 pm Mountain Time as we had a time change at the NM border).
It is difficult joining an experienced cycling group such as this one a week after the start. They have gotten stronger in the week of climbing and century days on the bike. I admit to being quite tired after yesterday's ride and was a bit worried about the long ride today. But I actually felt stronger as the day progressed, and I believe I "got my legs", as we say.
Rick, Dan and I averaged 16.3 mph today. Our post ride routine is to shower quickly and walk to a nearby restaurant for a big lunch. Route rap is at 5:45 and dinner at 6:00 pm -EVERDAY.
Posted: Mon, 19 May 2008
DAY 1 FLAGSTAFF TO HOLBROOK, AZ
"STANDING ON THE CORNER IN WINDSLOW, AZ"
Today's 96 mile ride to Holbrook was almost entirely on I-40. We did have several short occasions to ride on "old Historic Route 66", however, and that brightened the day's experiences. I-40, a main West/East interstate highway, has replaced Rt 66 for most traffic. Only remnants of old 66 remain in the towns now passed by the traffic on busy I-40.
We had favorable conditions as we parted Flagstaff--cool temperatures and a supporting wind--that allowed us to move quickly to the first SAG at the 42 mile mark. We rode at speeds in the 20-22 mph range in the wide bike lane protected by rumble strips. The truck traffic flew by at 75 mph. Interstates are not my favorite means of travel by bicycle. The bike lanes are often littered with shattered tires with steel slivers that are deadly to bike tires. So, it was only 1 hour 10 minutes into my first day's ride that I had my first flat tire of the trip. That, despite my new "armadillo" tires made to minimize flats.
Riding with Rick and Dan all day , we kept up a good pace and finished the day among the first few riders with an average speed of 18+ mph.
The scenery was wide open scrub grasslands fenced in for grazing black cattle. One could see for miles the barren prairies of North Central Arizona. At the 35 mile mark we passed over Diablo Canyon and the exit sign for the town of Two Guns, AZ.
A highlight of the day was time spent when we exited I-40 into Windslow, AZ, made famous by the Eagles song with lyrics of "standing on the corner in Windslow, AZ". The town is now experiencing hard times with the interstate passing it by, but the "corner" is memorialized with a statue of a guitar playing singer and "the flat-bed Ford" mentioned in the song. Dan tuned in the song on his I-pod (with speakers) as we approached the corner. We all stopped for photos in Windslow, enjoying the diversion.
At the light on Navajo Blvd in Holbrook we passed the historic wigwam Hotel--actual wigwams serving as hotel rooms. The Day's Inn was a better choice for our gang.
It was a 92 degree afternoon, so we were happy to be in by 1:30 for a shower and a big lunch.
I'm enjoying the rider fellowship, the enthusiastic staff, and the ride in a part of the country that is new and different for me. I like it here!
Posted: Sun, 18 May 2008
TO FLAGSTAFF , ARIZONA
Bike assembly and Orientation to the Tour:
Departing Disney World- Orlando at 5:30 am and leaving my content and proud Special Olympic athletes behind, I was excited to be off on another bicycling adventure. The excitement of coaching and encouraging "my special athletes" in these State Games cycling finals only reinforced my desire to get back on the bike myself.
I will be taking on some new challenges in the varied terrain of the US Southwest: Flagstaff, AZ to Dodge City, KS; 805 miles over a two week period in a region of the country that I am anxious to explore.
I will be joining a group tour led by Cross Roads Cycling, new to me, but with a great reputation with long distance cyclists. I am biking only a segment of the LA to Boston across America ride.
Joining buddies Rick, Dan and Peter, we will again be reunited on another bicycle tour. We have planned this ride as a "training ride" in preparation for the Blue Ridge Parkway ride scheduled in June/July 2008.
I could see the beautiful red rock cliffs of Sedona, and caught great views of Oak Creek Canyon while flying into Flagstaff in very "choppy" conditions in in our small Mesa Airlines prop-jet. This is beautiful country of pine trees and aspen with views of the sparsely snow-capped san Francisco Peaks as a backdrop. I am "psyched" t be here, and was pleased to see my bike box arrive in good condition on the carousel at the Flagstaff/Grand Canyon Airport this afternoon.
Rick, Dan and Peter met me in the hotel lobby, introduced me to several of the other riders enjoying a rest day in flagstaff, and immediately took up the task of assembling my bike (knowing my difficulties with tools).
I met with the staff for orientation (a very impressive group who clearly love to ride), took a short "check out" ride and was declared "ready to go".