Sunday, July 22. Kayenta AZ to Tuba City, AZ. 72 miles of riding in 4:51 hrs.
Man, I’ll tell ya, the monsoonal rains yesterday afternoon and evening were just intense. Now it didn’t rain in Kayenta but for a short sprinkle, but all around us to the east and west the skies were dark grey or black and you could see and hear the thunder and lightening. Matter of fact when we got up in the morning there was still some cloud remnants to the east. So it’s really the same weather pattern every day – cool in the morning with clear skies and then the clouds and heat build up over the day until around noon and then it’s anyone’s guess when the rain storms begin. So I skipped the motel’s breakfast in the morning so I could get a jump on the day’s ride. All you need is a late start, a headwind, and lot’s of climbing and all of a suddenly a little 72-mile ride can turn into a 7 hour affair. And that would take me right into the heat of the day and the potential for rain storms.
Slept late today – getting up at 6 AM – so we really pushed to get me out the door before 7 AM. Got going into a cool morning with a very light headwind. The eastern horizon was still a bit clouded up from the storming yesterday afternoon and evening, so having those clouds up there blocked the sun out for a good hr of riding. First 18 miles were through in the Longhouse Valley Canyon and up across Marsh Pass, so the speed was way slower than yesterday, but the scenery was pretty sweet. Somewhere around 10 miles into the ride Judy pulled up to me and I shouted out to go another 20 miles down Rt 160. And with that I climbed for a good bit, made it over the pass and then began to just fly down the road on a long section along the Klethla Valley. I mean within the minute I crested that pass the wind had changed to a tailwind and the grade of the road tended to be flat or a false descent. The topography also changed for the canyonland terrain to kind of semi-arid flat desert terrain. So when I got to Judy, round about 28 miles in I was just smoking down the highway, and I waved to her and shouted that I’d go another 15 miles.
The fast cruising couninued through the barren desert landscape for another 10 miles until I got to what seemed to be another valley, the Red Lake Valley, where all of a sudden the wind shifted to a headwind and the road’s grade began to turn into a long false flat. I went from like 20 mph to really working and fighting to maintain 14 mph. It’s crazy how suddenly something changes on rides like this. That’s why I try not to get too caught up in the moment if the ride is going like shit or going like a gangbuster – it can always change on you in an instant!! Today was a perfect example of that: where my start was just tough and slow with lots of climbing and a headwind; going to flat and fast with a tailwind; going to gradual climbing and a headwind. Rarely does a day remain the same for the whole day’s ride.
Now we went from Navajo Indian Reservation to Hopi Indian Reservation on this ride, and I could definitely tell the difference again as I could the difference between the NM Navajo and the AZ Navajo. As soon as I began riding on Hopi territory you could just tell that things were different – housing a bit more disheveled, and way more garbage and junk along the roadside. Gone to are all the mesas and monuments that were pretty prevalent along much of the eastern section of Rt 160. From the Hopi Reservation/Navajo Reservation boundary west it was more of just flat and monotonous. Could feel the heat building though, at just 11 AM. I caught up to Jude around Cow Springs for the second and final support stop of the day. Gulped down a Powerade and a quart of icewater and then checked my phone for mail. According to my phone, and much to my surprise I found out that we had picked up an hour and were on PST. But actually that was for Cameron, AZ, which is about 40 miles away to the southwest. So in reality we were still on MST in and around Tuba City, AZ, though my phone says otherwise.
Anyway, Jude headed into Tuba City and I did the last 15-mile stretch into town on my own. This last stretch seemed to be the most challenging of the day. I mean essentially it was flat, but that damned wind out of the west was continuing to get stronger and stronger. And the traffic – Jesus where did all the traffic come from on a Sunday morning? I mean it was like the interstate for God’s sake. I think everyone and his brother was coming or going to Page, AZ and Lake Powell. The exit for Page is east of Tuba City by about 20-30 miles, and the road was just loaded with traffic. It still is now as I sit here in the Denny’s parking lot right next to Rt 160. It’s just a non-stop flow or traffic. So this last stretch was just a bitch of an hour of riding. But I made it into town in under an hour.
Now Tuba City isn’t anything to write home about. Matter of fact it’s kind of a dumpy place if you go north or south off of Rt 160. We’re staying in this little dive called Dine’s Inn Motel. The other three places here are just totally off the wall with their prices, and I’m talking nearly 200 bucks. We did some shopping in the local grocery and then hit the chinese buffet. Judy was not too keen on the idea, but was quite good about letting me do a buffet. This was far from a home run buffet, matter of fact it was more of a single than anything – not quite a strike out, but close. The food was just kind of ok. So now, around 2:40 MST we’re sitting in a Denny’s parking lot waiting for someone to open up or motel???? It had a sign in the window that said: be back at 3 PM. Can’t wait to see what we’re in for here in the good old town of Tuba City.
Well, I decided not to post this until we get into our motel room. And it’s not much for 80 bucks, and believe you me in the towns of Tuba City and Kayenta the picks are meager and the prices are crazy. It’s the old business tenent concerning a captive audience. So if you have big bucks and don’t care about throwing money down the toilet, hell, you can spend a couple hundred bucks in either of these two places on a room. There are only 4 motels/hotels in each town, and 3 of the 4 in each place is just ridiculous price wise. There are no campgrounds in either of these towns, so we lucked out in each place by getting a room reserved in the cheapie places. With all that being said, and the temp here in Tuba City already at 94 degrees and the monsoonal clouds building up heavy as I’m sitting here typing…I feel privileged that we have a room here for 80 bucks…gulp, gulp, gulp! Wow, I really said that? Anyway, that’s just the way it is. I’m just not into driving way the hell out of town to an RV campground or a park campground with no shade and the potential for torrential rains every eveing. So we bite the bullet…and hello Dine’s Inn Motel!!We’re about 80 miles from both the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff. So the days of strategic ride distances and paying too much for crap motels is just about over. Once back by I-40 life should get a bit easier and the choices much better. Period. I figure I’m 7-9 days from hitting the beaches of So Cal. Pacific here we come……….Pete