Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Day 902 - Safford

I stayed a little longer than expected in Phoenix, I was glad I did, On Friday evening Julie took me out for a meal at a Mexican restaurant will meals that would have been a challenge for any hungry cyclist. It seems that no matter where you go in Phoenix it involves a long journey. On Saturday we met up with Julie’s father at the Desert Botanical Gardens a fabulous place full of large spiky things. I loved some of the names of the cactus plants, names such as Organ Pipe Cactus, Old Man of the Andes and Toothpick Cactus to name just a few. There were some lovely birds to spot too as well as a great butterfly house full of Monarch butterflies (photo). Afterward we ate at a bar/cafĂ© where my education in American sports continued and I returned the compliment by educating them in soccer in general, but Norwich City in particular. Later on I was able to report that we have beaten the mighty Paulton Rovers 7-0 in the FA Cup. I was then shown around Scottsdale centre, the old town full of wooden shops filled with everything a tourist might want even though they never realised it. There were horses and cowboys there too, one sat on a horse playing the guitar and singing. He was given money, though I couldn’t work out if was to sing or to stop singing! Times are changing for the cowboys, there were signs in the bar windows stating that firearms were forbidden.

It was time to leave on Sunday morning. A simple thank you hardly seemed enough considering Julie had made her home my home for a week. I was her first Couch Surfer, I just hope I haven’t put her off the idea. The good thing about stopping for a few days is that by the time I leave, me and all my clothes are clean. The bad thing about getting a puncture after just 5km is that I end up filthy again before I have even worked up a sweat. The rim tape had slipped and the rough edges on the inside of the rim had caused the puncture, it looked as though the rim tape would need replacing soon. After another 10km having repaired another puncture with a rapidly diminishing sense of humour, I was changing the rim tape much sooner than I had expected, I ended up filthy, my legs were black and for some reason whenever I repair a puncture my face ends up filthy too. Having already made a late start it looked as though I wasn’t going to get very far. I had used the cycle path by the canal, it was so much better than using the main roads and well used by cyclists. I chatted to a guy on a bright green and yellow bike, “Nice colours” I said assuming he was a Norwich supporter “Yeah, I did it this colour so that the stupid motorists can see me, it cost me $300 to get it resprayed, it used to be black”. He was dressed entirely in black, I decided not to tell him of the cheaper and much easier option. My rear mudguard started rubbing against the back wheel, I had to stop for another repair, replacing the black tape that was no longer holding the thing together. At some traffic lights I caught up with a lady on a long wheel base bike taking her dog for a walk. Bogchai was her name, a nickname that had been with her since she was two. We chatted away for about 30 minutes, time was slipping by again but so what. I passed through Tempe and cycled out on Apache Trail that turned into Main St. I was dead straight and went on forever, a constant row of strip malls on either side. In fact in went on for so long without changing that my cycle computer decided we had stopped and refused to start again. I had done enough repairs for one day, this one would have to wait until tomorrow. I wasted more time talking at a supermarket. I used the restrooms to clean up applying soap to my legs, but as I tried to remove the soap it just lathered up, the harder I tried the worse it got, so I just left with soapy white legs and hoped nobody would notice. As it was getting dark I knew I wouldn’t make it out of suburbia despite having ridden 50 miles. I spotted a campground and went in. It was $25 a night for a tent and just what I needed after a frustrating day. But hang on, what was happening to my sense of adventure, I still had a few minutes of daylight, something would work out surely, so I carried on. Just a couple of kilometres further on it was getting too dark, there were odd blocks that weren’t built on and one had a dry river bed with a few bushes so I tucked myself in there. If I stood on the nearby bank I could see houses and streetlights all around along with 2 churches, but this would be home for the night even if it was a little noisy, I suspected nobody would see me there.

I was soon out of suburbia the following morning on the busy route 60 heading east. At Florence Junction the road started to climb, I climbed most of the way to Superior, a place with an ironic name but with some nice murals (photo). As I headed into the dingy little centre a woman called out “I saw you go up Gonzales Pass s-o-o slowly, I thought you would never make it”, “Yep, that’s sounds like me”. “Where are you going?” she asked “Globe”, “Oh, have you been there before?”, “No, why?”, “Oooh, do you have to go there, it’s up hill the whole way….” great, 25 miles of it, this woman knows how to cheer people up “….well, there is the occasional bit of downhill…..” ah, that sounds a bit better, “….but it’s all uphill”…, she was confusing me now!!! I sat and had lunch and watched postie doing her rounds in her Postman Pat look-a-like van, then she parked right beside me and locked the van. She hadn’t done that before so she must be doing a long visit, but she returned 20 seconds later and drove off. That means she locked it because of me, do I really look that dodgy? The road did indeed climb, you would expect it to to reach a place called “Top of the World”, but it wasn’t up hill all the way to Globe. As I was almost out the other side I met a couple of young cycle tourists, Jerry and Eric from near New York and on their way to San Francisco. We chatted a while and it turned out they we staying with a Warm Showers host, and that is exactly where I ended up too. We stayed with Larry and Susan, parents to 8 children and 21 grandchildren, I guess another cyclist was nothing to them. We were all made very welcome and Susan cooked up a wonderful lasagne and I had only thought the other day how much I would love one. I really admired the spirit of Jerry and Eric, both about 20 and both taking a short break from their degrees, having only met each other twice before they set off on their journey. They had saved up their money and even made their own panniers, but they loved what they were doing and talked about their trip with such enthusiasm. Jerry said “I have learned far more in two months on this trip than in two years of studying my degree”. That’s great, if the same ratio works for me, by the time I get home I will be a bloody genius!

After breakfast we went our separate ways. I raced along to Peridot making such good time that I decided to chill out a while and drink coffee and eat doughnuts, they just looked irresistible and tasted great. Back on the bike the pace suddenly slowed right down as the road rolled and I went straight into an annoying headwind. It was a slog for the next 40km to Bylas where this time I had a well earned rest. I had been cycling through a Native American reserve and through these places you seem to see only Indians. As I sat outside a store eating again a car full of them emptied out and walked past me “Where are you going?” they asked “New York” I replied, “What, on that bike?”, “Yes”, “Will it get you there?” Oh dear, it would seem that both me and my bike are looking a bit dodgy these days.

Adopting a highway to clear litter seems a popular thing in the western world these days, and route 60 is no exception. Each mile is sponsored with a sign on the mile post, but there seem to be far more miles than there are businesses so people adopt them and have them in memory of their deceased loved ones, signs such as “In memory of Dan Andersen III Jr, you are missed and loved”. There was a different one on every mile posts, I was getting a bit depressed, was there anybody left alive around here? It felt like I was cycling through a very long cemetery. As well as getting depressed I was getting annoyed, these people pay good money for sponsorship and people are supposed to clear the roadside litter, but this road was a junkyard, there was so much litter is detracted from otherwise very attractive surroundings. The road wasn’t even very busy, there must have been years worth of rubbish out there and clearly no litter had been removed since those signs had been put up, it looked as though the authorities had been doing the opposite and actually dumping litter there. Sponsorship is not working as it is supposed to, it seems to me that it is just an optional extra tax. As I neared Safford the land turned agricultural and man made litter was replaced by the more natural litter of cotton grown in all the surrounding fields.


JCH said...

Ever since Sunday, Viggo and I have been wondering how far you've gone, where you've stayed, and so on. It's so fun to catch up with you. Still in Arizona, still rolling along. All those mechanical difficulties the first day; well, you said the first day back on the road is often challenging but I don't think that's what you meant!

Jerome Lissmann said...

pleasure to meet you in globe! keep on truckin'. you have inspired us very much. hope to see you in the northeast! good luck.

Tico Torres said...

It was a pleasure to meet you John! I can't wait to read the whole blog- although it may take me a while seeing as you have been writing for over 2 years... That headwind you had the other day- Yea, that was a great tailwind for us leaving globe! HAHA! Enjoy New Mexico man- It's such a beautiful state, and it smells amazing too.

Talk to you soon

dad said...

That meal you had reminds me of the meal we (Cathy and me)attempted at the USA restaurant here. So big it was offputting and we only toyed with it and sent most of it back untouched. Very expensive too. Never again I said.

S said...

The mighty Paulton Rovers is mostly made up of people who work at Flowervision in Bristol where Tizzy gets her flowers.It was a big thing round here - even on TV on Sat.afternoon!

Richard said...

Hi John. I must confess i haven't checked out your blog for a while. I need to do a lot of reading to catch up. You better get a move on or Norwich will be in The Blue Square Premiership by the time you get back 'ON THE BALL CITY'
Be Careful