Today’s destination Tonto Basin Arizona
I’m excited about today. The map shows us climbing 7,000 ft in just under 70 miles. The last time I did a 7,000 ft day it was over 100 miles. Of course terrain varies, so the compressed distance of today’s ride by comparison does not mean more difficulty, but I have a feeling this day is going to be a real challenge and could very well be my toughest one yet on this tour.
Coffee this morning was a little weak, but it’s surprising how good it tastes when you are hungry and you are in the outdoors. This crew needs a Barista. If we had someone dedicated to making a good cup of coffee in the morning, I would be willing to let them out of cooking duties! Perhaps I should think about carrying an espresso machine that can be used over a camp stove. I’ll have to think about proposing that to the group.
Yesterday at the grocery store I bought a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot, that was genius if I do say so. It took store-bought potato salad to a whole new level, and made it taste almost good. Actually it tasted very good.
The plant life in the desert is amazingly beautiful, it is also very angry. As I was pulling my gear out of my tent this morning, I put my knee down on some prickly thing. I could have sworn it wasn’t there when I walked up to the tent. I think it purposely positioned itself so that my knee would find it. In order to pull it out of my knee, I had to grab more prickly parts. It’s the plant that keeps on giving. Be vigilant in the desert!
End of the day
There were two good hills in the first 10 miles, but these were just a warm-up. At mile 10, I stopped for a hot dog. I forgot to make myself a lunch before I broke camp. Who does that? Today there are only two stops with food or water in 70 miles. Realizing that, I decided I had better eat at the first stop. After my snack, I went in to the rest room and while I was inside I managed to drop my phone. It has a case, the phone seemed fine, but when I stopped later to take a picture, the camera was broken, as in not working at all. No pictures. I’m really bummed and I’m going to have to do something about that in the next few days. I can’t be doing the remainder of this epic trip with no photos!
We went over 4 mountain passes, all of which were anywhere from 7% to 10% grades. They just seemed to go on forever. It took almost 2 hours to get over one pass, The Mother Of All Passes (MOAP) was 3 miles to the top and a consistent 9% to 10% grade. One of the passes was 4 miles to the top, that’s 4 miles of climbing with no relief.
About halfway up the MOAP I stopped to take a drink. A Ram 350 Pickup pulling a heavy load pulled off the road and rolled up behind me. The driver got out and asked me for directions to the nearest town with services. I’m not sure what trouble he was having, but I helped him as best I could. I showed him the maps we were following and we identified the best bet for him. We had a really nice conversation, He was, like most people, surprised to learn that I was headed for Florida. We chatted about that at some length. The really odd thing is it doesn’t seem that crazy to me. I guess when you put your mind to something and then start doing it, it takes on a different perspective than it does in the minds of people that have never contemplated such a thing.
I continued the climb and about 45 minutes later another truck pulled off the road in front of me. The driver got out and opened his tail-gate and inside the back of his truck was an ice chest and bottles of water. He motioned for me to pull over and he filled my water bottles with ice and gave me an extra one for the road. His name was Bill Coleman. He was from Tonto Basin, our destination town. I asked Bill where to go for a beer in Tonto Basin, and told him if he were there tonight I would buy him a drink. We chatted for a bit and I found out he has crossed the country on a bike, which is why he was so obliging with the ice and water.
The next opportunity for food was 12 miles from our destination. For almost 50 miles I had been drinking water and eating crackers that I found in my panniers. At mile 55 I pulled into Jacob’s Corner. They have a grocery and a bar, so of course at this point there was no choice to be made. I went into the bar and had a cheeseburger, fries, and two cold Budweiser’s. That’s right, Budweiser’s. They taste really good after you have climbed 7,000 ft in 55 miles. The twelve miles from Jacob’s Corner to Tonto Basin were mostly down hill with only a few very mild hills here and there. The cheeseburger and the Buds go my to our destination in good order. I did have to pedal slowly to avoid loosing that tasty Budweiser.
After dinner at our destination, I walked over to the bar that Bill had recommended, He wasn’t there, but it was Karaoke night. There were 8 people in the bar (not counting me and the bartender). Two men were playing pool, and a group of 4 women were singing, along with 2 men. They were not together. The women were definitely having a night out. One of the women sounded very good. She could have passed for a professional in another life or another town, but this is Tonto Basin. I finished my beer and left the bar. It’s late, and I’m probably going to pay a price for writing this post tonight, but one of my goals is to post every day, that will cost me some sleep every now and then.
Thanks to everyone out there that is following along on this journey by reading these stories. You know who you are, and I do appreciate all the encouragement it gives me to know that you are enjoying these words.