Today would have been my dad’s 82nd birthday. ?I wonder what he would have thought about?The Ride?
Probably right in line with just about everyone else. ?I’m nucking futs.
I met Tyrone the truck driver here:
Winslow Was Where I Was Headed
Winslow was a relatively easy 55ish miles from Flagstaff. ?Take a look at this elevation chart for bicycles from Google Maps:
I had noticed a couple of days ago that the route today was going to be?down hill. ?Holy Mother of God could I use a day like that. ?55 miles of?down hill.
Since Holbrook, AZ was only 35ish miles away from Winslow, I’d consider riding on. ?That’d cut the journey to Chambers, AZ — scheduled for tomorrow — by that same 35 miles, making that trip less than 50 miles.
The weather was perfect. ?Mid 60s to low 70s. ?The road was flat, well constructed, great break-down lane to ride in, not much debris. ?(And, as I said, it was?down hill.)
I fucked it all up with this Tweet:
What a eautiful day to be on a bicycle pic.twitter.com/oT4084pw7z
— ca2sc (@ca2scbybike) September 14, 2015
Hell, I couldn’t even spell “beautiful” correctly.
I?knew the second I pressed the “Tweet” button that I was going to have a very bad day from that point forward.
It Started With Work-Work
I got news of our corporate and personal tax returns for 2014. ?Bad. ?Expensive bad.? So bad that I texted my biz partner and said, “Do we need to cut this bicycle trip short and spend that money on taxes?”
She fired back, “You’re just sick of climbing hills.”
I replied, “True. ?But I’d be sicker to know that this trip is going to cripple the company in light of the tax bills.”
We swapped emails back and forth and she came up with a solution that I think will work quite nicely.
Then, a couple of hours later, I got an email from one of my admin people. ?She gave us a 7 day notice, telling me she’d “found a better opportunity.” ?I believe I will have her killed as she’s really put a question mark in how we’re going to run the company.
Great. ?Nothing like having shit go wrong 2000 miles away in my company and I’m not able to do a damned thing about it . . . except worry.
A long time ago I was in the company of a beautiful woman. ?We were madly in love with each other. ?However, our musical tastes were . . . not aligned, shall we say. ?She liked what I called “Devil Worshiping Music” while I preferred?The Good Shit.
We had left California, tentatively en route to Las Vegas, kinda sorta. ?We had a couple of days to kill, so we went driving in search of “things to look at.”
Having nothing in common music-wise made it difficult to find a station on the radio that we could agree on. ?We argued the respective merits of our musical tastes. ?My testimony, of course, made complete and rational sense while she spouted a lot of gibberish.
We?did?discover that we were?both?fans of The Eagles. ?We decided that the very next opportunity we had, we’d stop and purchase The Eagle’s Greatest Hits. ? (Though, oddly enough, we?both?owned a copy of it at home.)
Not long after we came across this very Wal-Mart:
Purchase made, we hopped back in the rental car, put the CD in the player, and hit play.
At the?very moment?this line from “Take It Easy” played:
We passed this sign:
We looked at each other, smiled, and said, “Ok, that makes this?our song.”
Damned good cherished memory.
Winslow is Where It Went To Shit
No, not with the beautiful woman. ?Today’s ride went to shit.
Because I’d been making such good time, I didn’t bother stopping for lunch until I got to Winslow. ?I pulled over to a Mickey D’s so I could take advantage of their Wi-Fi connection. ?I spent about an hour there, made a reservation for Motel 6 in Holbrook. ?Noted that the hotel was?supposedly?35 miles away. ?We’ll see how close Google gets this time.
Got done with lunch, went out and mounted the bike. ?Turned it around and as I was scooting past some outdoor seating, I lost my balance. ?I crashed onto these solid concrete table / chair combinations, banging up my left shoulder and hip, plus spilling out contents from a little travel bag mounted on the frame. ?(Wallet, glasses, business cards. ?Somehow the phone didn’t fall out, thank God.)
The?front?tire had gone flat in the time it took me to eat lunch. ?The flat tire is?what made me lose my balance. ?The tire had nearly come off the rim.
I pulled the bike to the side of the McDonald’s, unloaded the 8000 pounds of shit I’m toting, and got to work fixing the flat.
Mindful of how I had recently blogged about the?two previous flats and how relatively lucky I was that they hadn’t occurred while I was, say, on the Interstate. ?I’d been in relatively safe surroundings to fix them.
That remained true today. ?I wasn’t on the road. ?I was stopped at a McD’s. ?It took about 35 minutes to get it all fixed.
This morning I left Flagstaff very late. ?It hadn’t occurred to me when I left Flagstaff that I may head to Holbrook. ?I hadn’t wanted to leave when it was 50 degrees, so I waited out the temperature until it was 60. ?That was at a quarter to ten.
When I got done fixing the flat, it was a little past 5PM. ?It was going to be close to 8PM when I arrived in Holbrook. ?Sunset was around 7PM or so. ?Or so I thought. ?The flat was going to make me ride on Interstate 40 . . . in the dark.
Not exactly something I recommend doing. ?I was prepared for it, though. ?It’d be a great adventure.
You Gotta Be Shitting Me
About ten miles away from Winslow the back tire started being stupid.
Hard to tell from that picture, but the tire was only inflated about half of what it should have been. ?Son of a bitch. ?It’ll be the?third flat?on that tire. ?I’m going to have to grab Specialized by the ‘nads over this.
I whipped out the pump in the vain hope that the 70ish miles I’d come that day had simply deflated the tire a little bit. ?I pumped it back to around 65PSI (it holds 80) and trucked on down the road. ?Not even a quarter mile later, I stopped and checked again. ?It wasn’t going to make it.
Son of a bitch.
Remember all that talk about being “lucky” in my location to fix a flat? ?Well, the sun was quickly headed down and I was standing on the side of Interstate 40. ?If I’ve got to fix the thing –?dammit! — then better to do it while I still had?some?sunlight. ?I did have the lamps to fix a flat in the dark, but I sure didn’t want to try that.
Once again, I unloaded all the panniers. ?Once again I removed the rear tire. ?Pulled the old tube out. ?Put one of the new tubes that I’d just purchased in Flagstaff yesterday in. ?(Side note: ?those were the most expensive damned tubes I’ve ever bought. ?Over $7.50 per tube. ?Jesus.) ?As I was getting ready to put air in the tire, I noticed one of AZ’s Finest had pulled in behind me. ?I walked back to his cruiser to let him know I was ok. ?That I had plenty of lights and everything was going to be fine.
Stupid man, me.
When I’d been in the laundry in Wiliams — fixing?that same goddamned tire –?I had used the pump to inflate the tube and it exploded. ?(I swear my ears are still ringing.) ?After replacing?that?tube, I went to one of my CO2 cartridges.
Because I?do?try and learn from my mistakes, today I went right for the cartridge instead of the pump. ?When screwing it onto the nozzle I must have not got it exactly right. ?Because the air from the cartridge started spewing out hard enough to actually break the nozzle head! ?I’d never seen anything like that before. ?Sure as hell, broke the damned nozzle.
All right, I planned for this. ?Kinda. Sorta. ?I did have another nozzle head. ?I grabbed another CO2 cartridge. ?Affixed it to the tube.
Goddamned tube exploded again.
What. ?The. ?Hell.
Back to the bag for?another?tube. ?Also?just like at the laundromat,?this?tube was twisted into a Mobius strip, too.
I set that?tube aside and grabbed the?third?tube. ?(All of these, remember, at $7.50 a pop!) ?I put the cartridges away and grabbed the pump. ?By this time, the sun had gone down.
This little sliver in my gloved hand is what caused the flat. ?There were three of them in the back tire. ?Had it been dark when I first started fixing the tire, they were so tiny, I would have never seen them. ?I’d have wound up having another flat on the back without having removed them.
Oh yeah: ?there were mosquitoes. ?Hundreds?of them. ?Attracted to the blood on my leg and arm from where I crashed into the concrete table at McDonald’s. ?They were eating me alive while I was trying to get the bike back together.
By the time I got everything back in order (which required copious amounts of swearing at the top of my lungs), it was pitch black.
Honest to God, that is a picture I took of the Big Dipper. ?It was spectacular. ? Unfortunately my phone camera doesn’t do well with low (no?) lighting. ?I wish I could have shared the night-sky view. Truly impressive.
About two miles before my exit, I got another reminder Karma wasn’t quite done having her way with me.
Construction had closed the left lane over a bridge of about a quarter mile long. ?The breakdown lane was reduced in size from 10 feet to about 18 inches. There had been a sign a couple of miles back saying that the bridge at exit 284 was narrow and no vehicle over 15 feet wide would be allowed to cross it.
Let’s review, class: ?It’s night time. ?I’m on a bicycle. ?The speed limit is 75 miles per hour ?I’m on a bicycle. ?And the lane I have to travel in is?18 inches wide.
Even though this is what I’m showing to people behind me:
. . .?I?really?didn’t want to try to ride side by side with any traffic across that bridge.
I must have stayed there at the entrance to the bridge for 10 minutes, waiting for all visible traffic to go past me. ?As soon as I saw nothing coming up, I booked it as fast I could
But I wasn’t fast enough. ?At least four other vehicles were able to reach the bridge before I could get across it. ?One of ’em a semi. ?We all made it, though I’m sure they cussed the idiot bicyclist. ?(I would have.)
Got to within 1.25 miles of my exit . . .
. . . and, of course, for the first time today, I was presented with a 6% grade hill to get to that damned exit. ?My speed had been averaging over 11 MPH for the entire 90 mile journey. ?Now, with a tad over a mile to go, and me?so ready?to get off the bike for the day,?now?the road was going to reduce my speed to 4 MPH?
Son of a bitch.
And it didn’t stop when I got off the exit, either. ?Turns out Motel 6 was?still?two miles down the road. ?Two miles?up another 4% grade.
Son of a bitch.
There was a McD’s along the way to the hotel. ?I stopped there because I was famished. ?Plus, I wanted to steal their WiFi again. ?I could go ahead and transfer pictures from my phone to my WordPress Media Library. ?Then, once I made it to the room, I wouldn’t be dependent on whatever WiFi connection Motel 6 had. ?(Generally pretty bad.) ?If I wasn’t too wiped out, I could knock out a blog entry. ?(Obviously I wasn’t too wiped out)
As I placed my order (grilled chicken wrap! ?mm mm!) one of the workers behind the counter said, “Hey would you like this? ?It’ll just get thrown away otherwise.”
Yes. ?Yes I would like that. ?I’ll consider it a “kiss and make up” gift from Karma.
Some Things I Saw
This was at the Meteor Crater Rest Stop.
I’d just parked the bike when a guy came up and asked if I was riding across the country. ?I told him I was. ?His name was BJ and he and his wife were fellow “travelers.” ?He asked if I needed anything. ?A cold drink. ?A piece of fruit. ?That was kind of touching. ?He said they hadn’t biked the same distance I was attempting, but they had just completed a?walk?of about 2800 miles. ?It took them a?lot?longer to do than my ride.
A few minutes after I bid BJ farewell, I had a truck driver named Charlie come talk to me. ?Charlie was hauling a load of tomatoes to MA. ?He had to get them there by Friday morning. ?Nice fella to talk to, but, like Tyrone at the beginning of this post, Charlie was of the opinion I was nuttier than a fruit cake. ?After today, boys, I gotta agree with y’all.