Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Sunday, May 04, 2008
Apache Junction, AZ to Surprise, AZ
72 miles (3330 total miles)

Today was going to be an easy day - about 55 miles of level road, a lot of wriggling around city streets, but nothing too strenous. Plus, we had arranged for Terry, the friendly bicycler whom we met on the street yesterday, was going to guide us through part of the route near his house in Tempe. It was a day unlike any we've had in a long while - a full day of riding through cities, from Apache Junction at the east end, through Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Peoria, and Sun City, to Surprise at the other end, it was one long stretch of cities with no breaks in between. Beautiful, southwestern-style cities with lots of plants, parks, and green space, but cities nonetheless. Very bike-friendly cities as well, with bike lanes in many streets, and a number of bike rest areas with shaded benches and water fountains.

We left our motel room and headed a little east to have breakfast at a diner nearby. We headed west again after breakfast at 6:45, having arranged with Terry to meet him part-way between his house and our motel. We meandered through Mesa, with its long clean streets lined with tidy subdivisions of houses, mostly in southwestern style and many desert plants along the streets and in the front lawns. There were a few patches of grass in the lawns, but most houses had water-efficient xeriacaping, usually gravel or stones with various cacti and other desert plants (we saw 2 green asphalt "lawns" that looked very much like grass!). There were lots of oleander - whole hedges loaded with white, pink, or red flowers, many flowering trees and other plants, and many orange trees. We also went by a grove of grapefruit trees. We met up with Terry near the border into Tempe and rode together for a little while, stopping at a park to use the facilities. It was there, as we stood around chatting about bike problems we had had on the road that today's adventure began. Terry just happened to notice there was a crack in the rim of our front wheel. Today being Sunday, this presented a bit of a problem, but given this was the last big city we would be in until San Diego, it seemed rather imperative that we get it fixed today. We started off by trying several bike shops that were relatively nearby, but they were not open for another hour or two. Terry called his wife, Heather, to find some phone numbers of bike shops to call, but none of them had the kind of rim we needed. finally, he suggested we go back to his house and look up some more bike shops. In the process of checking all these bike shops and then heading back to his house, Terry managed to show us a good bit of the Arizona State University campus, which happens to be the largest university in the country, and downtown Tempe, entertaining us all the while with stories of his various travels and adventures.

After going through at least a dozen shops from the phone book, Terry found a shop that had the wheel we needed in stock. Terry drove us over with the busted wheel, we bought the new one, and asked the store employee to put the tire on the new wheel. That part turned out to be a mistake, because the guy had a lot of trouble with the tire (it's hard to put on but Pat thought the experts at the store would have a much easier time than he does). He messed up one inner tube putting it on, and had to put in a new one. We left the shop, a little nervous about the job he had done. We went back to Terry's and put the wheel back on the bike and set off again. By this time, it was 12:30, we had put in 40 miles on the bike already, and we had at least 30 miles left to go for the day. We headed off and got back on the route again, making one small detour to have lunch at Heather's favorite sandwich place. Then Terry guided over to the canal bike path that we would be on for the next 10 miles, and he headed back home. We started down the path, hoping to make good time on the nice, smooth path with no lights or traffic to worry about. A few miles later, though, Pat noticed that the front tire was going flat. It seemed that it had gotten pinched when it had been put on the new rim. We wheeled it down into an underpass where it was shady and cooler and changed the tire.

After that, the rest of the trip went smoothly. We got off the bike path in Peoria and stopped at a gas station for a soda. We had about 10 more miles to go through Peoria and Sun City and reached our motel at the edge of Surprise at 6:15, almost 12 hours after we started today's trip. We ended up at 72.2 miles in 6-1/4 hours of bike time, probably our best average on the trip to date. It was certainly an enjoyable and memorable day, having met Terry's wife, Heather, and having spent a good part of the day being shown the sites and hearing several of Terry's wonderful adventures. You can read about some of them on his website - Tomorrow, we'll be camping in a fairly remote area again, so we're not sure we'll have internet access, so you may have to wait a day for the day's posting.

The Apache Junction Motel rooms - a wonderful place to stay

The outside lounge area at the motel

The motel's oleander bushes bursting with flowers

A subdivision in Mesa

Street in Mesa, with interesting street lights

A park in Mesa

Some rare open, undeveloped space

Many houses had tile roofs and stuccoed walls

Another park with a wide sidewalk

Some street corners

A street lined with palm trees and gravel lawns

Flowering mesquite trees in front of a walled subdivision

Orange trees in front of an elementary school

A close-up of the fruit

Another lush subdivision

One holdout - a Tudor-style house and a grass lawn!

Another lovely adobe-style house

A bike rest area at a park

In Tempe - a pretty area of Arizona State University

One of the hotel-like dorms on campus

An interesting patterned wall

Heather and Terry

Heather takes a picture of us backing out of their driveway

We're finally ready to head out again

Back on ASU's campus, the underground entrance to the university library

Downtown Tempe shops

Terry on his bike, leading the way

The Tempe Town Lake area, originally called Hayden's Ferry

Modern buildings and a park area by the lake

The lake, formed by dams along the Salt River

A bike/walking path along the lake and the beautiful mural along the wall

We get into Scottsdale...

with its many fancy houses

Part of Camelback Mountain ahead

One of many oleander bushes

We get on the canal bike path, having left Terry

An amusement park along the way

Another view of the canal with locks

A wide ditch ran along the canal

Pat gets silly as I try to get a picture of the flowers at our rest stop

The streets of Sun City, with orange trees and palm trees