Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Friday, May 02, 2008
The Arizona wind gave us a break today. After 2 days (luckily, one of them was our rest day) of gale-force intensity, the winds were fairly calm today. We had been worried that our 77.5-mile day with 2 long climbs would have taken forever; as it was, it only took 11 hours. We hereby thank all the powers that were responsible for the reprieve. May they continue to be so kind. We also had an easy day navigation-wise - we were on US 70 all day. All in all, it was a good road, smooth, wide shoulder most of the day and not too much traffic. There was an alternate route that would have taken us on a rougher road with more climbs and would have had us camping around the lovely San Carlos Lake. As it was, we did see a glimpse of the lake from our road and we get to sleep in a motel bed tonight. We were pretty happy with our choice.
We left Safford at 6:30 this morning and passed through the towns of Thatcher and Pima in rapid succession. All 3 were lovely towns with lots of stores and industry. We then passed several farms, most of which had hay growing in the field at various stages of production from just-plowed to ready-to-harvest. We saw a couple of fields being irrigated and fertilized. Both used a company called Fertizona, whose plant we had passed just outside of Pima. The Gila River ran along beside us for a good part of the day, between the farm fields and the mountains behind them. Several "washes", as they were called, ran from the Gila towards and under the highway, but nearly all of them were dry. The landscape was primarily mountains in the distance, canyon along the Gila River, and fields or scrubby, semi-arid shrubs and plants next to the road. We reached our first watering hole after 22 miles in Fort Thomas. The store was another one of these all-purpose stores, a combination gas station-restroom-grocery-hardware-pawn shop. The woman who ran the store was well acquainted with the Adventure Cycling groups that came through regularly and we had a pleasant chat with her.
Soon after Fort Thomas, we entered the San Carlos Apache Reservation where we would be for nearly all the rest of the day. The reservation starts just before the town of Bylas which had an Apache Market - a new-looking grocery store staffed by Native Americans. We stopped for sodas mostly to support the store. We received friendly greetings and wishes for a safe trip. There were no other places to stop until the town of Peridot, some 25 miles later. Peridot was just before the first of our 2 long climbs and we saw the road rising up ahead of us as we stopped to refuel. We had several other friendly comments and inquiries about our trip there. Someone who saw us taking a picture of a nearby mountain told us it was called the Triplets (because of its 3 peaks) and said there was a road we could take up to it, but we had to pass on that. As we started up the hill out of Peridot, we passed a parked pickup truck with 4 young kids in the back who laughed delightedly at our bike and waved enthusiastically. Several cars who passed us beeped and flashed V-signs or waved as they went by. We didn't see many houses or farm animals, mostly very rough terrain with the usual desert plants and a few cute little lizards that darted around the rocks near the road. We saw warning signs about cattle every 5 miles for 20 miles, but didn't see a single cow. We did see a rabbit once, and several small birds, lots of pretty wildflowers, and lots of saguaro cacti - a couple of hillsides were covered with them!
Near the end of the reservation there was an Apache Gold Casino and Resort - a big spread with several buildings, an RV park and a Best Western motel, surrounded by lots of tall palm trees. About 4 miles later, at the end of our second climb, we reached the town of Globe, our destination for the night. The elevation at Safford had been 2,920 feet; Globe's was 3,544 feet, only 500 feet higher but we had put in a total climb of 3,500 feet with all the ups and downs along the way. We arrived in Globe at 5:30, doing 77.5 miles in a little over 8 hours of bike time, a fairly respectable average, we thought, given the circumstances.