Dusty, Dishevelled and Still In the Desert

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Kingman KOA Kampground

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's now 8pm, my favourite time of day in the desert. The sun’s just gone down, but it’s still light and at last the temperature is bearable. I’m forcing myself to write this as it’s definitely my turn, but it will probably be a bit muddled as I’m exhausted. It has been yet another extremely challenging day – an 11 hr battle with a very strong headwind and grinding uphill in temperatures around 100 F. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the last nights campsite which had seemed wonderful(ish) whilst we ate supper became horrible overnight. Cars were arriving at regular intervals, and despite the enormous site a couple decided to put up their tent on our pitch and start a bonfire so that they could sit around drinking and talking really loudly. It was so hot that we had all the doors open in the tent, in an attempt to get some air, and so their bonfire blew in too. At 1am neither of us could sleep and we had to get out of the tent and sit glumly drinking yet more tepid water. When the alarm went off at 4:45 we looked forward to making lots of noise and annoying our neighbours, but unfortunately they didn’t seem to have gone to bed.

Anyway, we were on the road by 6, and with a breeze the heat didn’t feel too bad. We crossed the Hoover Dam bypass, which unfortunately meant we missed seeing the spectacular structure itself. We think it was below us. The scenery was still pretty incredible though, rugged red mountains as far as the eye could see and anyway, the lady in the tourist office showed us a picture of the dam yesterday. Crossing the dam also meant that we entered Arizona, our third state already.

The scenery soon became less enchanting when we hit big climb after big climb and it took 3 hours to do 26 miles. We also started to get a bit concerned that we might have made an error by not buying more water the previous day.  Fortunately just as we’d voiced our concerns we saw a sign to 'Rosie’s World Famous Den’ and heaved a sigh of relief. Rosie turned out to be an 85yr old motorcyclist. We didn’t meet her but did get interrogated by loads of other friendly bikers who thought we were nuts to be motorless in this heat. They had to tell us that the road was mostly gentle uphill to Kingman and culminated in a really big climb – great! One lady who lived near Death Valley said we were actually lucky it wasn’t hotter there as it can get up to 130 F. After downing several cans of drink, we set off at a frustrating 8mph into the wind, only stopping to buy another 2 gallons of water from a garage so that we could once again feel safe.

The next 40 miles can only be described as really rubbish cycling. The hard shoulder disappeared and although the majority of drivers gave us a wide berth, we could not relax for a second as the minority (blatently drunk on their way home from a weekend in Vegas) thought it was lovely to scrape past us at full speed despite the empty inside lane. Mikey made me cycle inside the white line and he took the outside, getting a crick in his neck from staring into his wing mirror so that he could tell me if I needed to hit the gravel.

We found another shop at 57 miles where we had a second lunch and downed some Gatorade to tackle the last 20. A  Swiss couple cheered me up, giving us lots of encouragement and being really excited about what we were doing. They also said that it is cooler in Flagsatff – only 3 days to go!

At last we had a sight downhill and against the wind managed to reach the dizzying speed of 11 mph. The final hill nearly finished us off, but the thought of the swimming pool at the campsite spurred us on. Typically Kingsman seemed to have two parts and the part with the campsite was an unexpected extra 6 miles on. Checking directions at Maccy D’s,  Mikey also realised he’d booked for us to stay in July, not June.

Never mind, the camp staff were incredibly welcoming and excited about our journey when we arrived. The man actually left his desk to check the bikes as he couldn’t believe we’d come this far against that wind. It’s very nice when someone knows what you’ve been through. From that point, the day became lovely. We headed straight to the pool and dived in and have just finished another great camping supper. Now it’s dark, it also seems much cooler than last night and there is nobody else around. Not really looking forward to another long day tomorrow, but as the campsites also supposed to have a pool I’m focussing on that. We did promise ourselves only 50 mile days but at the moment campsites are too spread out.

Sorry this page sounds grumpy, but the desert is making me a bit irate.*  **With our new hats and my arm/hand covers I am mostly protected, but I still can’t do anything about my legs which are covered in heat rash. I’ve been designing a special leg shade, but don’t have the materials to construct it. It needs to go to Dragons Den, unfortunately it only really has a limited use so may not be a great money spinner.

*OK, I mean really irate.
** But I still love the trip

Miles Cycled:  83 horribly hot miles mostly uphill and into a strong headwind.
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triciagick on

What a star Mikey, protecting our Pols from the outside - taking your husbanding duties seriously! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Jojo on

This seems all a bit hard going on yu two at the moment - I'm so glad you get to have a dip in a pool when you doe eventually stop (I've just bought Olaf's first paddlling pool and can't wait until he wakes up!) What sort of distances are there between camp sites - obviously more than 50 miles and how much more desert?

Mum and Dad on

Punishing heat.We really think you are doing sooooo well.Thank goodness for the pools-bliss .Such amazing scenery.Hope the rash eases Polly-you dont need that.Lots of lovexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Come on Andy!!

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