Day 11: Globe, AZ to Safford, AZ
Trip Start Mar 08, 2006
55Trip End May 07, 2006
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This morning was cloudy but relatively warm, and the forecast was for sun and temperatures in the low-60's. The mountains surrounding us were covered with snow from yesterday and last night's storms. Today's route will continue on US-70, the Old West Highway ... where history still lives.
After a breakfast of steel-cut oats with blueberries, pecans, and milk; orange juice; and hot chocolate, Di and I prepared to leave. We were a little late getting out of the parking lot as Di needed to adjust her derailleur.
The climbs out of Globe were painful, and we soon realized just how much of a toll yesterday's ride had taken. Thighs and knees screaming, we soldiered on. By mile 11, we were feeling strong and attacking the hills. Unfortunately, more clouds were gathering and were an ominous dark gray. The temperature dropped, it started to sprinkle, and the wind picked up.
I had the misfortune of another flat tire at mile 17. I checked my tire for debris, found a few slits that concerned me, but did not find any debris and inserted a new tube. Another flat! Another new tube and another flat! Now I was frustrated and running out of tubes and CO2 cartridges and had been sitting on the top of a mountain for 45 minutes in the wind and the cold. Re-examining the tire, I pulled open one of the small slits, and out shot a piece of glass. I inserted my last tube, holding my breath and hoping that it would hold. Success at last! Di had gone ahead, knowing the SAG was only a few miles up the road, and I raced to catch up.
Today's climbing was easy compared to yesterday. We had two steep climbs and a lot of rolling hills over the first 40 miles. We cycled through the San Carlos Apache Reservation, where we all stopped at the local supermarket/deli for hot chocolate, coffee, and a spot to warm up. We were so cold, some of the riders were putting produce bags over their socks and using garbage bags as wind breakers under their clothing. Although we had only ridden 20 miles at this point, if Heather had shown up with the van, she would have had a lot of riders interested in shuttling to the hotel in Safford.
The scenery across the 40 miles of reservation was beautiful, with mountains covered in snow, buttes and mesas, and the landscape looking just like you'd imagine the wild west, minus herds of buffalo and wild stallions. It was a mixture of the "Big Sky" look of Montana, spread across the "Badlands" of North and South Dakota. The sun occasionally peaked out from behind the clouds, creating a wondrous light on the surrounding hills and offering a moment of warmth, only to quickly duck back behind the clouds.
Our second SAG stop was at a rest area at the edge of the reservation. We were approached by a couple in a truck who were curious to see so many riders eating out of the back of the Subaru. Di and I chatted with them, explaining our mission to ride cross-country for charity. I was happy to stand by the window, enjoying the heat from the truck, as they told us all about living in the area, how they recently sold and bought a house, about their family, showed us pictures of their grandchildren, and were just remarkably friendly. As we said goodbye, they thanked us for taking the time to participate in a charity ride. Then they motioned me back and gave me a $20 donation for the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund. I asked for their names and address, and will send them a thank you card tomorrow. It is truly remarkable that two complete strangers could be so kind and generous.
As we dropped down out of the reservation, the terrain changed from high dessert to farm and cattle country as we cycled through the Pima Valley. We saw fields of cotton and hay, and herds of cattle and horses. Is this area the source of pima cotton? We cycled through the small towns of Bylas, Geronimo, Fort Thomas, Pima, Thatcher, and finally Safford. I was amused by the sign advertising the Peyote Church of Prayer outside of Pima.
Ancient ruins of past generations like the Besh-Ba-Gowah pueblo, near Globe, are scattered throughout the area. The Besh-Ba-Gowah pueblo ruins is a plaza covering approximately two acres, and was abandoned about 200 years before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas. It is now the site of a major archeological excavation.
We celebrated our arrival with a hot tub and beer while waiting for dinner. Dinner was lasagna cooked in a dutch oven, broccoli, salad, bread, and wine. I am now awaiting David's arrival. Tomorrow is a day off and I look forward to spending the day together.