Wednesday, July 25, 2012

From mountain to desert

Wednesday, July 25. Williams, AZ to 20 miles east of Kingman, AZ. 94 miles of riding in 6:01 hrs.

Man it just rained like hell last evening. Complete white out in the town of Williams for a good hr. That’s why we chose not to camp. Would have been some serious “van time” again had we taken that route. Felt good to sit in our little motel room on the second floor and look out into the monsoon as it engulfed the city. Must have hit the hay at 9 PM, and I was out like a light. Got up at 4:30 AM and worked for a bit. Jude hit Safeway at 6 AM for Starbucks dark roast coffee, while I made up to peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast. Loaded van and was dropped off at yesterday’s end point to get it rolling at 6:45 AM. There were still some remnants of last evening’s storms, but nothing like yesterdays miserable morning.
         The start temp was just about right, down in the low 60’s. Got rolling on good old I-40 west and rolled into a gradual climb for about 5 miles right from the gun. Now at this point on the interstate you’re still in the mts, in Kaibab National Forest, and the sights and smells are just wonderful. When most people think of AZ, they immediately think of desert and hot, but Northern AZ is quite a contrast to that vision. It’s wonderful mts and trees and water. We’re talking mts in the 6K and 7K range. Once I got over this little mini pass, it was a real nice descent down to the city of Ash Fork. This was the first segment of riding where I was actually leaving the mountains that stretch from Flag to Ash Fork. By the time I got to Ash Fork the terrain had changed to a kind of sub-alpine environment – much drier with the trees being considerably shorter and less prevalent as in Kaibab Nat Forest. I just waved Judy on when I got to Ash Fork, shooting for a support stop just short of Seligman.
         Again, more kind of long mt pass type of climbing where the climb was about a 3-5% grade for a good 5-7 miles, and then you descend for way more than you gained, so ever so gradually you’re loosing altitude. And all these climbs, though there was no indication that I was going over passes, they felt just like going over a pass. Got to our support stop and I waved Jude onward another 8 miles to the exit for Seligman. I’m just in the mode now where I like to bust it out for 2.5-3 hrs before I stop for support. That way I feel as if I’m making nice big chunks of miles prior to sitting my sore ass down in the van for 10-15 min to eat and drink. And right now, I’m really trying to keep those stops as short as possible so I can get further, faster, earlier.
         So in Seligman by the time I stopped I had in about 42 miles. Got 2 sandwiches – yes I’m still chowing down on bologna – with a coke chaser and a quart of ice water. Kind of slammed it all down the old pie hole and got back on the bike for another session. And not more than a couple miles back on I-40 west I hit another one of those long gradual pass kind of climbs. This pup was a long one, taking me up over the Juniper Mts. Again this was a big ring climb with in and out of the saddle riding – nothing steep, but just long and continuous. Now at times I have this amazing pristine berm, and then other times it’s just a total piece of shit. It ebbs and flows, and usually it’s a bit worse on the climbing where the guardrail takes a good chunk of berm and then all the truck tire shreds are just everywhere from trucks flatting on the climbs. Thank God I have those Armadillo tires on or I’d be picking wire out of the tires all day. Every now and then the berm really goes to hell and it’s just riddled with cracks and crevices and covered with broken up asphalt gravel.
         So I got up that climb out of Seligman and met Judy at nearly the top for another support stop. Rode through that one and opted to do one another 13 miles down the road, this time with a climb up over the Cottonwood Mts. I mean these climbs were like every 12-15 miles apart. As soon as I had descended from Judy I had that long climb Cottonwood climb. It’s like valley, mt, valley, mt on and on for this stretch of I-40. Now at the top of that one, where there’s an exit (and this was our strategy of going one to two exits at a time) I did stop and gulp down an ice cold Powerade and quart of water. By this time we’d descended a good deal and the temp was up. The terrain was way more desert like with mostly scrubby trees and barren rocky mts. Cactus was now prevalent. Yup, goodbye Northern Mts. Judy had mapped out three more segments where she’d drive to each stop in case I needed fluids. The first segment was 9 miles, second was 8, and the third was 8. If I could keep the ball rolling that would put us about 20 miles east of Kingman.
         And wouldn’t you know it the wind really picked up out of the southwest and the pseudo pass climbing continued. Like each one of those segments had a climb in it. And each time I descended the heat got more intense and the altitude went down. Suddenly I had gone from 7K to almost 4K. One of these sections, I think the second, was just a total mess, where the berm had been graded down with an asphalt grinder and left as is. It was just filled with those ripples and asphalt gravel. Couple that with truck tire shreds and I was just feeling like I was doing a slalom course in a mt bike where I was jumping and dodging crap left and right. At the end of each segment, which coincided with an exit, Jude was there for insurance. I just kept rolling, through the first, through the second, and headed towards the third where I’d get to the 90-mile mark in the day’s ride. Temp had gotten up to mid 90’s by then and the wind was just getting crazy hard out of the southwest. That third segment was definitely the last. I’d had a good day and was ready to exit the saddle. The heat and wind pretty much sealed the deal there. Jude, the famous coupon cutter, had booked a hotel for an amazing deal in Kingman, and I was totally ready to sit my ass down in the AC and get some work done on the computer. So no aspirations today of hitting a century ride.
         What’s more, with Judy running support for me, 6+ hrs in the van starting and stopping is plenty. An early check-in would give her a chance to do a workout and relax while I worked. So I finished at the Rt 93 jcn. Jude had pulled into this gravel parking area so I stripped off the cycling kit and got into some shorts and off we went to Kingman. She scored a Quality Inn with an outdoor pool and all the accoutrements for 50 bucks. And here I sit finishing up with my work. Jude got in her workout in the fitness room and we’re going to relax at the pool. Tomorrow I just may go south on Rt 95 towards Lake Havasu along the Colorado River to jcn with I-10 to San Diego. Each day we can kind of tweak the route with a change, so today’s no different. I do know one thing: No way am I taking I-40 into LA!! So we’re going south to jcn with I-10 somewhere, and it could very well be on Rt 95. Late………..Pete

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