Gooood evening! I write to you from Safford, Arizona after 57 miles of biking today.
After I hunkered down in my tent last night and started singing loudly to music playing on my iPod, I heard a voice outside asking if anyone was home. Surprised, and slightly embarrassed, I unzipped the fly to find another solo female rider standing next to my picnic table. Her name is Heike and she is from Germany but has lived in the US for the last ten years working as a ski instructor, mainly in Colorado. And she's heading east! But she is only doing a loop. She started in Phoenix and is ending there in a few days.
Well she insisted we have a fire so we (mostly she) built one and we sat around getting acquainted. She gave me a nice tall can of Beck's to drink. Yummmm. I like ze Germans. The time came when I couldn't hold my head up and I retired. She left camp earlier than I did this morning because it was cold and she is traveling lighter than I so it took her less time to pack up. We planned on meeting up here in Safford.
I started pedaling just after 7, ready to conquer the last 4.7 miles of the pass. 4.7 beautiful miles!! The view from the top was spectacular. I descended the other side for about 15 miles, gradually making my way down to the valley that stood between me and the next mountain range I was to tackle. What a fun ride!
14 miles from the pass, Heike and I both stopped in the town of Three Way and filled up on water. There wouldn't really be another place until close to Safford, another 35 miles. Right out of town began the second climb, a winding 5 mile gentle grade of about 6%. I had a harder time with this one. I guess I was a little tired. The wind had also started picking up. But once I crested that range it was pretty much all downhill to Safford, steep at first and then a very gradual descent on a straight road I could see for 15 miles.
It pretty much looked like this
For as far as I could see:
Eventually I caught up with Heike where she had stopped to eat a cookie. I had stopped at the top of the hill to eat a cliff bar. Hunger can kind of sneak up on you when you're riding. One minute you're fine, the next you are starving.
We rode the last ten miles into town trading drafts to rest out of the wind. About halfway down that stretch we caught up with three older guys who started in Florida and are heading to Scottsdale. They are only a couple of days from being done. Their names are Chris, Charlie, and Bob. Bob had a long haul trucker too.
Once we got into Safford we beelined to the first restaurant we saw. I had a cheeseburger and fries. It was mediocre at best and the service was pretty bad. Normally I wouldn't consider it a tragedy to wait 15 minutes for a refill on my ice water, but you can understand the level of thirst we work up in a day, especially for cold things.
While we were eating I found out Heike had set up a warm showers host for herself here a few days ago so she called the guy up and asked if there was room for one more. He said yes of course. The original plan was to bike to the hot springs 6 miles south of town, take a soak, then ride back. But then I found out the host's house was another 3 miles on top of that. I'm sorry to say, but I wussed out and went straight to the host. The thought of riding another 15 miles in this heat all to soak in a pool of 105 degree water was a little more than i could bear. I would've never made it back here after getting all relaxed in the springs.
So that's the story of today. I think I'm just shy of 2,400 miles now. I'm also on Pacific time since Arizona doesn't follow daylight savings time. I'm not sure where the actual time zone change is but I can't be too far away. Tomorrow we head for Globe, a 78 mile ride with some good climbs. We also ride through the San Carlos Apache Reservation. I've been told by two people already not to stop anywhere in the reservation. I'm glad Heike will be with me. Looks like 9 more riding days if all goes as planned. I'm already thinking about what's next and getting excited about it. Woo hoo! Ok, time to really enjoy this air conditioning. Catch y'all tomorrow.