Day 7 – Stop n Go

Did a later start today, glad to be off Hwy 60. Figured this would be an easy day but I definitely need a break as I felt I was just plodding along.

The streets in the Phoenix area seemed to be designed for the occasional heavy rain. Crossing many intersections, one encounters a depressed concrete gutter and a definite crown on the road you’re crossing. So after accelerating to make a light, I hit one of those gutters faster than I wanted to even after braking hard. A good thump on the front suspension but the shock towers held up.

So a lot of stop and go taking a toll on the knees when I found myself in the wrong gear. A few times I had to get out to negotiate the bike ramps that enabled safer cycling routes. And surprise, still 1000 ft of climbing to get across town from sun city to apache junction. Nice bike/recreation trails by the canals, here’s a picture that doesn’t show the bike trail on the left side very well. Most canals have a trail on both sides.IMAG0144

I was able to reset driver expectations by taking more of the right lane. If I rode far to the right, I got no respect, but taking more of the lane forced the drivers to use one of the other two lightly traveled lanes available to them. I never had to do this in WI. I think I understand what a FL velomobiler has to deal with and why he needs to ride this way as well.

Lots of gawkers and positive comments from motorists and lots of picture taking. My favorite comment today was from a passenger in a pick up truck, I hope he was just impressed with my speed when he said ‘nice legs’. And my pasty white legs are hard to see.

I will not be riding tomorrow, I’ll post if something interesting comes up.




Day 6 – Downhill to Phoenix

42 miles of gentle climbing followed by a nice downhill into the Phoenix area. As I got closer to Phoenix the bike lane/shoulder got littered with more tire debris just like the freeway yesterday.

Oh and I got pulled over by a trooper yesterday because he wasn’t sure what  I was and I was going so slow! Yeah I knew that but the grade was 4-5% and that’s the excuse I’m sticking with.

Back to Phoenix area traffic, I get the impression that no one rides a bike here as the traffic is not friendly, no on moves over to give a little space. Only a block left on Hwy 60 before hopefully quieter streets on a short ride to Apache Junction. Then maybe a rest day?

Day 5 – Sacrifice

I’ll get the ride in a little bit, but first just a reflection on sacrifice as I ride during this important time in the Christian year. Through Christ’s sacrifice we are saved from eternal damnation. All we need to do is believe and be baptized. This is indeed a great gift.

I want to acknowledge how grateful I am that my family is picking up the activities I did around the house while I ride.

Arizona freeways sure have a lot of trash in the breakdown lane. I’m glad I was going uphill and could take the time to dodge them.

Stopped at a neat roadside stand in Brenda. Had a swiss mushroom burger as some of the snowbirds flocked in to ask questions. Really nice people. One was originally from WI and went to CSU in the 60s. She gave one of the last grapefruit she had picked in the park I’m staying at tonight. Two other couples were from MN.

The roads were pretty good except a 10 mile stretch before I reached Hope. The sign as I kept riding told me ‘you’re now beyond hope’ – oh so true.

I should not listen to directions from sweet old ladies on the phone – I rode a few extra miles to reach the campground. Here’s the campsite photo. I was serenaded with several coyote howl offs during the night.


Day 4 – Hay – Sand – Hay

A real change from the morning smelling freshly mowed hay in cool temps in the 50s to dune buggys playing in the dunes near Glamis with temps in the low 90s to freshly mowed hay in Ripley.

Haven’t seen any other cyclists yet. Today’s ride was rather lonely with the occasional big rigs and pick up trucks. Strange that half the big rigs gave me plenty space on this 2 lane road, yet some seemed to take pride in not crossing the center line. The force of the wind from one truck flipped the flevo roof open – no permanent damage.

Most of the roads today were chip seal. Seems to sap the speed. Downhills today were great – rollers with speeds between 20 and 40. Almost stiffened up from not pedaling. From Ripley to Blythe was smooth asphalt almost hypnotic pedaling with nothing but the sound of a quiet chain and the occasional heart arrhythmia (just kidding if your reading this Dr.)

When the route guide says little or no services for 60 miles, they’re not kidding. Must be something to do with that bombing range I passed.

So back to the hay, I remember being on the wagon behind the baler and stacking the bales on the wagon. In Ripley, they had a machine that scooped the bales off the field, arranged them neatly in a horizontal plane, then lifted that plane vertically and pushed that vertical stack into the other vertical stacks already done. (Maybe it’s an engineer thing as I found it interesting)

My route tomorrow no longer has a campground at my planned destination, so we’ll see if I do more or less. I may not be connected either so the day 5 post may be delayed. (I’m betting on ****)


Day 3 – brake and shake

Nice weather again, cool in the mountain and 90 in Imperial Valley.

One would think that given a 6% downhill grade for 7+ miles on a wonderfully smooth I8 would be a velonaut’s dream. Factor in curves every quarter mile and very gusty winds, I needed to be very careful and hope the brakes did not fade and the flevoroof didn’t blow off. At least it was downhill!

The road from Ocotillo to Plaster city was a washboard, finally smoothed out to Seeley and could maintain a decent speed for me. Before that I couldn’t read the GPS or a map without stopping.

Speaking of GPS, it seems that I have a limited internal memory and the 4gbyte data card is filled up with US road maps. I have lost about 5 of my routes. So, found a library in town and removed the FL routes for now and will re add them at a library down the road after deleting routes that I have completed.

Amazing how the landscape changed from near desert to an agricultural area in such a short time. Great to see God’s handiwork at a relaxed pace.

And now a picture of your tax dollars at work – the wall.


Day 2 – climbing ,climbing,climbing

No cramping today. Hydrated more yesterday, kept up the hydration with Gatorade and water. Also did GU every 1.5 hours. Oh and was in the granny gear a bunch – but I figure the velo, gear and water bring the weight to 130 lbs. Better to maintain a slow speed, than no speed. Lots of steady 5% grades followed by some insane double digit grades. I did not get out and push though. 3 separate climbs from the low 3000 ft level to a little over 4000 ft. Downhills were too long and twisty to not modulate the brakes.

Met Steve and his friends prior to getting on I-8. We talked about the usual velo stuff, he shared some fresh CA strawberries with me. They also offered to put the velo in the back of one of their pickups to get me over the hills, but I declined.

Pretty scenic, blue sky, light wind, mid 80’s. Scenery getting less green. Lots of border patrol activity after Pine Valley. Saw the main station with what seemed like one to two hundred border patrol SUVs. Drove through one checkpoint with portable speed bumps and tire spikes.

Hope to do all of the st2 route tomorrow.

My Route Links

There are 33 links here each starting with ‘st’ for Southern Tier followed by a number. st1 is my first day, st2 is the second day etc. Of course this is subject to change as I might not do an entire segment due to weather, equipment etc. or I might wind up combining them – who knows.

st1   st2   st3   st4   st5   st6   st7   st8   st9   st10  st10a

st11 st12 st13 st13a st14 st15 st16 st17 st18 st19 st20 st20a

st21 st22 st23 st24 st25 st25a st26 st27 st28 st29 st30

st31 st32 st33

Day 1 – Reality sets in

So the real post for day 1 is a little different from the test post.

I made it as far as Alpine, CA. That’s about half the distance and half the planned altitude gain.

Turns out my legs weren’t quite up to 5-9% grades. I had plenty of water and Gatorade, but my legs kept cramping. Rest and extra hydration which worked for me in the past, had no effect today and I realized I could not complete the route and decided to rest and prep for tomorrow. Great weather, probably around 75, sunny.

The Quest is working great – no drivetrain noises due to my packing.

The drive out here in rental Town and Country minivan was uneventful except for that 1 hour delay where they closed the freeway for avalanche control. I got bored and turned on the SPOT and that’s why there is a single footprint outside of Vail. The 20 miles after Vail were also fairly icey. I think these vans are shorter as I needed to put the back wheel on the front passenger seat.

Thanks to my sister who helped me drive out to San Diego. It was a little strange having the non-driver sit behind the driver but we managed.