Tuesday, March 31, 2009

day26- a ride in the van to Camp Wood

Today, I made a tough decision, I rode in the van. This was precipitated by a lot of chafing from the road, and a desired to have a couple of pleasant days before our rest day in Kerrville. I reminded myself that before I started, I had decided that if I rode, it would be for roads I thought were unsafe or if there were some other good reason.....past experience on this trip gave me the good reason.

So I saw the trip from the van, got to go with out guide to Wal-mart for a few odds and ends and am finding that I am hour by hour more and more comfortable and ready to ride the hills to Vanderpool tomorrow. Not much else to write. Camp Wood is a nice. There is a great little quilt shop and the folks are very friendly. Our motel is spotless.

Mileage today....need to check the an odometer...so we won't count it...

Day 25-a little schlep to Brackettville

I slept well, and awoke groggy and sore, and wondering just why I am doing this trip. Oh...I have wanted to do this since high school. Yes, it is worth it and yes it is SO WORTH IT. Because of the long day yesterday, this day is a short one, just forty two miles. We had a relatively late start and headed from Del Rio to Brackettville. The first ten or so miles were in town...civilizatiton...well at least a Wal-mart and fast food. Hmmm...nothing against civilization, but I am really enjoying the small towns and being off the beaten path. Before starting this trip, I had expected most of our miles to be country roads, and many are, but some where there is so little in the west, have to be the major roads.

After leaving Del Rio, we followed ninety into Brackettville. The road surface was the only difficult thing, and quit frankly it was taking its toll on me with chafing, in spite of lots of special concoctions one can buy to prevent this.

En route we had moved from the arrid hills with scrub plants with a greener area with trees just leafing out. It is good to see the verdant vegetation again, although I have really enjoyed the desert with its subtle and sometimes vibrant beauty.

We stayed in Fort Clark Springs, which was a fort that was founded prior to the civil war. It was subsequently a garrison for Confederate troops. Most of the barracks were constructed in the early 1870's and could house over 20 officers and men. The building are of stone and the site is very picturesque. It was actively used through WWII. It served as the home for the 5th Cavalry Regiment from 1920 to 1941. Colonel George S Ptton, Jr served there in 1938 as the regimental commander. It was inactivated in 1946. It was a great opportunity to get to stay in a place so full of history.

Our dinner was a a chicken enchilada pie with rice and beans and a huge salad. Once again, Yummy!

day 24-The longest day

Everyone was up early, and was nervous about our 111 mile day. Many of us had never done a century and this was 11 miles more than that!!!! We got going at the crack of dawn, and headed down Route 90. The first twenty miles were wonderful. The birds were singing and the wind was mild. The sun came up and the world was perfect. We made great time. After the first SAG stop, the wind began to pick up. It pressed against us, but was still tolerable, but the ride was getting harder. We had another SAG stop at mile forty, and then had a lunch stop, where Linda, our chef would be waiting with good nutritious and filling food for us. Those next twenty miles consisted of the same rolling hills we had had the first forty miles, but the wind continued to pick up. It was now shoving us back, slowing us down. The road was cut through some of the hills and there was a swirling and whirling around us. As we moved onto the open road, we got a cross gust from the east an the the west.

The road surface of the shoulder was rough chip seal. The traffic was usually considerate, but occasionally heedless, and so most of us stayed on the shoulder. As we moved forward the wind whistled and howled so that communication was impossible, and you couldn't even hear trucks from behind. Of course being on the shoulder, which was very wide, kept us safe. I ended up singing songs to myself to keep my cadence and spirits up. In spite of the wind, I liked the scenery, when I braved looking around. I finally came to lunch. The food was great, but the thought of 51 more miles into the wind was intimidating. Now, you may ask just how strong the wind was, and I can only guess. One of the women, who routinely rides in twenty mph winds was estimating that it was thirty with stronger gusts. I can tell you that on the downhills we had, you had to continue to pedal hard to keep moving. Uphill, in the lee ofthe wind was actually almost easier. The next eighty miles went by, pedal stroke, by pedal stroke. It seemed endless. Hands vibrating, howling wind, feet vibrating, seat jostling in the road surface. Hill after hill, climbing pedaling down to keep going, then up again, cross winds pushing you one way then the other and toward the road.

After eighty the SAG was there every five miles. A lot of the women called it quits at sixty, and believe me they had already had a very, very hard ride. I was with a group determined to complete the ride, but my personal goal was to get to a century...my first.

We kept going those last twenty miles. I realized, that in spite of drinking lots and lots of water (well over eighty ounces) plus a waterbottle of gatorade, I was very dry. I was unbelievably tired.

Finally, I hit the hundred mile point. I cheered the others on and collapsed into the SAG wagon, exhausted. My first century at half a century old, was a tough one. Later at dinner, several seasoned cyclist told me that that would be the hardest century I would ever do....and it was more like one and a half or two centuries. I don't know about that, but it was an accomplishment that I am proud of. I wish I had had the fortitude to continue...I was SO proud of those who did all 111 miles. Six of the twenty one women made that distance.

Mileage:100 miles.

day 23 quick trip to Sanderson

I have not had internet connections, and so today Tues, March 31, I will be trying to catch up for the last few days. Saturday we left the spa-like Gage hotel and headed to Sanderson. Our mileage was 54 miles, with the wind at out back. Needless to say, this makes for fun easy rides...it felt like a quick ride around the block. Sanderson, Texas is a small town. We found the cafe just down the road from our motel. I share a BBQ plate with Carol...not bad for a tiny little town. We headed back to the motel, which was simple and clean. Dinner was great! We were all a little nervous about about the next day....the 111 mile one. Our day was really more like a rest day, which was good, considering what was to come.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 22 into Marathon

Today started very cold, with predictions of high winds. So, lacking experience in these things I ate my breakfast and was off, with four layers on top and tights over my shorts as my lobster claw gloves. Y'all must be tired of hearing this, but riding out was beautiful...and cold. We rode through Fort Davis, and a few miles out of town I glanced to my right and saw a small herd of Pronghorn antelope. There were just standing there looking at me as if they were wanting me to take a picture...so I did.

The ride had a lot of great Texas scenery and even more wind. Our sort of tail wind, became a cross wind when we turned east on Rte 90. We had a pit stop at a gas station and were talking with a state trooper. He said that he had been in El Paso and had seen us on the highway a couple of days ago. He was pretty pleased when we told him that Texas highways were the leanest thus far.

The thirty one miles into Marathon were uneventful. I learned that using a high gear and a moderate pace with a cross wind is easier than going slowly and being in a low gear. I also learned that plodding on when you are hungry does get you there faster.

When Marci and I arrived we checked in at the Gage Hotel. This hotel is worth a visit if you are anywhere nearby. My friend Penny Angelo got in from Midland shortly after we arrived, and we went to a shop next door and got burgers. All the tables were filled, so our server, suggested we sit with a little lady who was alone at a table, Julie. Julie is a regular and knows everyone there. She was more than happy to accommadate us and we had a very good burger (with Jalapeno's) and lots of iced tea.

My afternoon was relaxing, and dinner was perfect pea soup with salad and corn bread, to warm us on a cold evening. We even got to eat inside a little house...just perfect!!!!

Day 21 Indian Lodge the Observatory and Ft Davis

Well, welcome to beautiful west Texas. It really is a great place. The folks are friendly, Ft Davis is a great little town, with a couple of fun shops, and a really nice library. I went down in the morning and wandered around. I went to the library to look up some ideas for words of the day...I got several fun ones.

After getting back to the lodge, I cleaned my bike and then got ready to go to the observatory.

The observatory has a nice cafe (had to include food right?), and the tour was interesting as well...Since I was so tired last night, I really couldn't even tilt my head back to look at the stars. Tonight however, I spent more time gazing up and revelling in the night sky. It was a great rest day.
Mileage: 0:)

Day 20 Long and Hard to Ft Davis

Well, my title may make this day sound bad, but really it had some fantastic parts. Our first forty miles were along the interstate 10. The good part of this, is that there really isn't much traffic, and the scenery is fine and the shoulder is wide and smooth. Enough said.

After those forty with good tail wind, we headed down route 117 toward Fort Davis. Now it is a funny thing, after clipping along on good pavement with a tailwind, you start to think that you are very capable of maintaining a 20+mph pace. We turned, and saw the mileage to Ft Davis as 51 miles and I thought, OK...I am feeling good, this should be fine. Suddenly the tail wind turned into a cross wind, we started uphill and the pavement became that good ole chip seal....After and in terminal three miles we saw our van and trailer which meant lunch (we have lunch provided when there is NOWHERE to get food). As always the food was great with sandwiches, bean salad, cookies. The problem was that we had to get back on our bikes, and start back on the pavement with the wind and hills.....for twenty more miles...twenty long, slow arduous miles...these define SLOGGING. We had another SAG stop and I really thought about just climbing into the van and getting a ride, but I didn't and therefore got to climb for 15 miles. Now I have to admit that the wind died down, the pavement improved, and the views were great...but climbing after sixty miles, the last twenty or so which were very tough, was not easy. Some of the inclines were very steep, at least ten percent. Toward the end of the climb, I heard something clatter and realized it was my odometer....I retrieved it, but no luck...the bracket it sits on was destroyed...so for here on until the next bike shop, I will rely on others for mileage. I can tell you that once we got through that portion, we only had twelve and a half more miles and they were mostly downhill....mostly. Actually at the transition to mostly downhill, was McDonald Observatory...now that was cool. It actually sits about two miles off route 117. The downhill was good, and the few rolling uphills were tough, mostly mentally for me. The good news is that the Indian Lodge at Davis Mountain Park was a perfect place. The rooms are large and nicely decorated with plenty of gathering areas. Our dinner was a buffet and everyone was so exhausted and hungry we just sat and shovelled food in as fast as we could.
Mileage 90 miles

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 19 Interstate 10

Some days there are just not too many ways to get where you need to go. Today was one of those days. We needed to get 74 miles down the road and much of that was....along an interstate...interstate 10, but thankfully we did have some of our route on country roads with no traffic and bucolic settings.

Yesterday the wind was so strong that our chef decided that it would be safer not to chance making breakfast in her kitchen, and so arranged for us to get our breakfast across the street at the little restaurant, Angie's.

We got up early and headed over and had pancakes, eggs and sausage and plenty of coffee. we all got on the road quickly and headed back on the street we had come into town on and then out to the countryside. Along the way we had some dogs (thankfully friendly ones) come out barking. I hopped off and those well behaved guys headed back to their homes when I told them to!!!! Wish my dog would do that.

We had the early morning sun, mountains to our left, fields around us and the joy of such a setting was great. As we went along we came along a field with cattle and calves, some horses that were up by the cattle guard, and just looked at us as if to say...we want to RUN with you!

After such a great start getting to the highway was OK. We went a short time on the shoulder and then had a frontage road. This road was chip seal pavement and, from my viewpoint, miserable to ride on. A couple of us got back on the highway and went another 20 miles down the road where we exited into the small town of Sierra Blanca.

This little town was pretty desolate, almost a ghost town. The SAG caught up with us here and we made a very quick stop and went on down the road...again a frontage road that was chip seal and not quite so rough. This time it was twenty one miles and then back onto the interstate for ten miles. It went fast and then we were off and riding into the hotel.

I had gotten a tip from a patient that Chuy's was a good Mexican place to go. We had not had much for lunch (a P B and J sandwich ) and so after cleaning up a bit, we walked a couple of blocks and had burritos with lots of iced tea...AHHHH

Mileage: 74 miles
Tomorrow we head to Ft Davis. We will be in a state park, but will not have internet access...so til Friday!

Day 18 a rolling rest day

Forty-seven miles would have seemed SO long for a ride just a few short weeks ago. Now it is a 'rolling rest day" as someone put it. We had a great ride out of El Paso and into the rural west Texas country. En route we stopped at a Mission, San Elizario. It was such simple and beautiful architecture. The white of the adobe against the blue of the morning sky was a great contrast and the time spent there was very relaxing.

From there we went several miles down road, and stopped at a little family owned restaurant. The owner knew that we were all coming and she had let her granddaughter stay home from school, to he!!!

Thereafter we headed out and found our way to Fort Hancock and our hotel. Fort Hancock is a small town along Route 10. We had a decent hotel, and lots and lots of great pasta for dinner.

Mileage 48 and lots of fun!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 17

Off to El Paso! We were incredibly fortunate today and had a beautiful ride. The weather was once again perfect. We got off early, and I was wanting to move as quickly as possible. I had two reasons. One was that Michelle our leader had let us know that traffic in El Paso, could be significant, in particular in the neighborhood of a mall. The other was that after the long hours on the bike yesterday, I was a little sore, and so wanted to minimize time in the saddle. I rode with two other women who were similarly motivated. We got off just after seven AM, and headed by the old section of Las Cruces. We were quickly out of town and riding through groves of pecans. The trees have not leafed out, and they are in perfect rows making for a lovely park like setting. We went through miles and miles of these groves, and with that and a perfect sunrise at out beginning, it was a peaceful Sunday morning.

After twenty miles or so we got into some horse country, with a polo field on one side, and farms with thoroughbreds left and right. We passed one farm, where a horse in his pen trotted up when cyclists came in the opposite direction. He moved away from the road and then as we drew close again trotted up, as if to say, "I want to run with your herd!". All these horses were clean and well groomed. The homes in this area were large. The architecture was all southwestern.

We slowly headed into the city with suburbs and then a horse track. There again were a lot of horses and these were being exercised. They were all so beautiful...Can you tell that horses are one of my favorite animals? Coming into town, we were early enough to miss the mall traffic (yeah). Around the mall, there were some hills, and soon we came into the old town of El Paso.

From here we had the last miles of our trip on a highway and so we stayed carefully in the shoulder. The most we had to deal with was a few rough spots and some junk, but all in all with a strong tailwind, we cruised along.

We were on a roll, and so didn't stop for lunch. We got in, took care of getting laundry done, as well as bike maintainence, and then went to a Mexican restaurant next to the hotel. It was packed with Latinos and we thought we had probably made a great choice. It was!

The day was really so beautiful. The thing that I loved the most (besides the horses) was all the pecan trees...

Mileage today 66.13 almost all flat and fun.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 16 Down the road to Las Cruces

The Day began with a great breakfast at the Lodge. I got off a little delayed, because, I realized right before I was ready to leave, that I had put my gloves and glasses in a bag I had put in the trailer, and that there were about 40 other bags on top. Thankfully, the woman I have been riding with, Marci, lent me extras of both, and so we were finally off...the last ones to leave.

We headed out from Kingston...it was a third of a mile, and then headed for more descent. So much of what we have seen is so beautiful, but this morning would be right up there with the most beautiful. Mountains were around us, and there were huge hills as well. The rising sun made everything sparkle. We had 9 miles of downhill and then a little three mile climb (I cannot believe, I am calling a three mile climb little)...and then back down again. We came down to a lake formed by damming the Rio Grande River and then followed the river the rest of the way. We had a quick SAG stop at mil 26 and then were back in the saddle for another 26 miles to Hatch. Along the way we say several chili farms, dairy farms and plenty of horses. There were Appaloosas (favorites of mine when I was young). In Hatch, we ate at the Pepper Pot, and had some great Mexican food. From there I thought it would be no problem to get the last 36 miles done, and the first eight or nine were quick, with a tailwind. The wind was quixotic and soon became a strong head wind, which we plowed into with great fortitude. We had a stop at Radium Springs (yep...you can look that one up on the map) and from there into Las Cruces. About mile from the hotel, was a frozen custard shop where we stopped. Caliches has great frozen custard AND limeade that was very refreshing. I really didn't want to get back into the saddle (sorry to disappoint any of you who are thinking I could sit in the saddle around the clock), but the last mile had to be done and so it was.

I went to Mass this evening with one of the other women at the Basilica of San Albino. The church was beautiful, and the congregants very friendly. The Basilica is located in the original portion of Las Cruces, which dates to the 1500's. We didn't get to walk around, because dinner was being served at 6:30. We had Shepherd pie, with salad and cottage cheese with fruit. Yummy!

Mileage today 88 miles. Total miles 881...Can you believe that?????

The high point

Today we hit our highest elevation. We left Silver City and 7 miles out of town, headed for Emory Pass. From there we were to go down to Kingston. The first miles were hilly with lights and some light traffic. As we turned off to head into the mountains, we had a long steady gently climb. It didn't really feel too gentle, but we knew it was. We had great views and at the first SAG saw the "Kneeling Nun" a rock formation that resembled a kneeling nun, if you REALLY used your imagination. We continued on and after mile 22 had some real climbs and some screaming descents. The first of these was perfect, mostly straight with a wide road, so you could spot oncoming traffic. These are SUCH fun to take. At the bottom was a beautiful valley with some farms, a stream running through it. It was so peaceful, Once again we climbed and climbed and then we had a descent with curves. These are also fun, but of course, if you know me, I take them with caution. As we were climbing it was great fun to see the vegetation change from the low lying plants, to some deciduous trees and finally to wonderful tall evergreens. As we took the last climb to the pass, it was filled with tall pines. The delicate pine scent was enveloping us. The rocky walls rose about us, and the climb took all my focus to do. At one switchback, the slope increased and I will admit to walking about 75 yards, but then was back on. This reminded me of some of the great hikes in Virginia that I did, but bigger. There were few cars, and the quiet was great.

When I was almost at the top, I heard our SAG driver calling out that I was almost there, and I could hardly believe it. We had climbed to 8828 feet. The total climbing for the day was a little over 5000 feet.

After putting on some warm clothes, we began the 8 mile descent. This I took pretty slowly, I was fatigued, more just as importantly, I wanted to stop a couple of times to enjoy the views, and they were indeed, fantastic.

At the 8 mile mark there was a little sign for Kingston and then for the Black Range Lodge. Kingston was a mining town in the past, but now is a very small town that is one street and has a population of 20. The lodge is at the end of the street, and the owners are interesting folk, who have built additional buildings with sustainable materials (straw bales that are covered with plaster). The main lodge had lots of rooms and beds upstairs, and most of us stayed there. The had a delicious turkey dinner for us and then in the morning had quite a spread.

Our total mileage for the day was 48, with 5000+ feet climbed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 14 Silver City

Silver City has a quaint old town area, with lots of galleries and some good restaurants. It is perfect for a rest day...although walking all over may not really be a rest day! I especially enjoyed a gallery of fiber art called Yello on Yankie where the artist Susan Dell Szajer had created some beautiful art with fabrics and stitches. There were also a couple of oils that I really liked. Allotta Gelato had delicious Gelato (Peach was scrumtuous). At Yada Yada Yarns, I picked up some wool and needles so I can start a scarf for my youngest who had asked me to make him one...I told him I would think of him with each stitch, he seemed to like that.

Before I headed into town, I did good cleaning and oiling of my bike, bike chain etc.

I am thinking that the rest stop could be two days, as every time I start to move, I find my legs heavy as lead...but tomorrow they will need to get going again and I am sure they will. We have been promised a really beautiful ride, if our weather is decent. It will be lots of climbing, so I am working to get my mind around that. Right now it is not the easiest thing for me.

Oh total mileage is 741 miles. I will be asking someone with a garmin what the total climb has been...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 13 The Continental Divide

Our first 14 miles were a slow climb out of Lourdsburg. It didn't feel too slow, it felt hard, but once again, it was a beautiful day and with that, one couldn't really complain. I think my body was just fatigued from eight consecutive days. As we headed out of Lourdsburg the land almost looked like what I would imagine an African savanna would be. There was rippling grasses that went for miles until the hit mountains in the distance.

As we came to about 15 miles the flora had again changed and there were trees...real trees. I have missed them! After that first SAG, we continued up with a few little downhills. It was an arduous day physically, but we had one beautiful view after another. At about mile 35 we had a few miles of downhill....fun, fun, fun. I thought we had finished with the uphills, but no there was one BIG climb. Now I have been using all the advice about climbing that I have gotten. One thing that works well for me is to look at the ground, because it always looks flat, and one stroke at the time, you ascend. So I got in a climbing gear, and slogged up once again. After that climb there was a nice downhill into town.

Silver City is a fun town. We turned off the road we had been on and into town. We found a great restaurant (Vicki's) and had a delicious lunch. It was very relaxed.

We then went to the hotel, and the job of getting our things in order. The laundry, cleaning the bike.

I am ready for a day off and the town will be very fun to explore tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 12 New Mexico here we come!

Today was so beautiful. We left our hotel in the cool of the morning. We had a steady, gentle climb. Now I have one word of warning to all reading this who might think of going on a trip like this or even going out for a nice afternoon ride for an hour or two....DO NOT MESS AROUND WITH YOUR SEAT...I thought I was being very wise yesterday and lowered my seat...just a tiny bit...Yikes...I had to stop twice in the first twenty miles to try to readjust and almost gave up on the ride, until I got to the SAG stop. There our tour leader, Michelle, offered to help and she readjusted the seat and I was able to ride the remaining 57 miles in relative comfort!!! So if you are thinking about it...don't do it...

So you might imagine how preoccupied I was the first twenty miles. I was, but not so much that when we were going out of town, I didn't see a dog...hackles up charging. It raced toward us (I was off my bike in an instant. It dodged through a little bit of traffic. Two young kids were trying to get it...I was worried it would bite them, in its frenzy, or that they might come out into the road. Nothing came of it, and the dog was retrieved, by an older girl. Thereafter, I was preoccupied with my discomfort, and barely took in my surroundings. The readjustment at the SAG saved my day!!! We traveled through a rolling plain with mountains off in the distance on either side. It was great. At about mile forty we stopped in Duncan for lunch at Old Jo's. I had Huevos Rancheros..I am still full, and they were GREAT!!! After that it was just 37 more miles to the hotel. Most of that ride was great. We saw a jackrabbit, which raced into the underbrush, we saw cattle with calves at a couple different points in the ride. All in all it was a great day and I just kept thinking just how lucky I am to be here doing this trip!

Monday, March 16, 2009

day 11 the ride to safford

Today was a beautiful ride from Globe,AZ to Safford. It was about 77 miles and started with hills...so up and down, and up and down...and up and down...We were on route 70 and it runs through a reservation. The towns on the reservation were small and seemed depressing to me. There was a lot of garbage on the sides of the road.
There were mountains to our north and south, and the one to the south had snow on its summit. As we went along we went by farmland with beautiful green crops. About 68 miles into the ride, we came to Pima. There we went to a locally run fast food Taylor Freeze. I had a Green Burro, which was a burrito with pulled beef and tomatillo sauce. It was delicious after such a long stretch. They also had ice cream. Next door was a quilting shop, so of course I went in. The owner had some pretty quilts, and was very friendly.
After our break it was another 10 miles to our hotel...and I was ready to get out of the saddle.

Stats:78.22 miles
Left the hotel at 7:35, arrived about 2:45 with 2 SAG stops, a number of picture stops, and the stop for lunch and the quilt shop...actual time in the saddle????

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 10 a ride to Globe

Today was a ride to globe. We got onto route 60 and had hoped that, since it was a Sunday morning traffic would be light. It was pretty busy, but OK at the start. We had some climbs and stopped in Superior, where we had lunch, the first 30 miles under our belt pretty easily.

We got the report that there was construction and I decided that the best thing would be to get a ride with the van through those areas. I was very glad I did. The construction allowed no shoulder and when we went through in the van there were quite a few very impatient folks around, and traffic was heavy. So my day and mileage was short, but safe. Views were spectacular, both when I was on the bike and from the van. No complaints...this is GREAT!!

Day 9 around town.

Today was a day to get from North Central Phoenix to Apache Junction on the South East portion. Our day started a little later than usual, since we knew that our terrain would be flat and that once we arrived at our hotel, we would not have much to do in that area. We went through Scottsdale and saw Camel Back mountain. The homes there were large and well kept and the yards were well groomed, with many natural plantings. It was beautiful to see how these plants could be used to create wonderful landscapes. The homes were usually designed to the surroundings and the color were desert neutrals.

After our first SAG stop, I headed to see a family friend. It was great to see her and her son (I dont think I had seen him since he was 8 or 9 and now he is 41!!!). We had a nice visit and then I headed out. Instead of following the route we had, my friend suggested going through the park, where there is a bike path. It has more turns and pedestrians, but was very beautiful and had almost no stops. The path went under streets, around ponds, next to golf courses.

After about 10 miles I got back on course and from there on it was city riding. The course we were supposed to take was closed off, so I went a little different way (like Indy, Phoenix is a big grid). The last few miles I came up on another rider from our tour group, and we rode those last few miles together telling our stories of the day.

When I got in a couple of the women were going to church, so I joined them. It was a nice walk over and good to be with them.

We had a dinner of Salmon, quinoa, salad and then cheese cake. Yum!!!

Stats-miles 63 very flat miles.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 8 Into Phoenix

Today we got an early start from Wickenburg. The road going out was rough and had a lot of gravel, trash and glass, as well as some construction. About fifteen miles out I heard my rear tire deflating. The first flat.....it took a while to fix, since the sliver of glass was well imbedded and none of us had tweezers...add that to the take with you list. The rip was significant, so I learned about using a dollar bill to keep the tube from herniating. I thankfully had several people helping me (Thank you ALL), and finally we got on the way. The ride had more interesting cacti, birds and wild flowers. The vistas were wonderful. We had some ups and downs, but mostly down hills. The ride into town was just about all down hill.

This evening we had several guests at dinner. It was fun to have some new faces and get to meet friends of friends. Dinner itself was great an Thai style chicken and rice with asian salad and fruit salad. Yum!

Tomorrow we will go ~ 50 miles and will still be in the Phoenix area. I am hoping to see and old family friend as we go through Scottsdale.

Stats: milage:67
Total miles ~425

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 7 Salome to Wickenburg

This day took us back to civilization! Wickenburg is about 60 miles west of Phoenix. It has some nice suburbs a big grocery and an "old town".
We started in the chill and stopped at 4 miles at a Cafe that was full of fun. The decoration was ...well fun...even the bathroom was unique. It had great coffee and all of us enjoyed it! From there it was 25 miles down the road to Aguila where we ate in the Coyote Cafe. The road was good and the riding very nice with mountains on either side. The temperatures stayed in the 70's and there were some clouds to keep the sun from being too bright and to give shadow to the mountais on our north.

After lunch the road got a little rough, but not as bad as our stretch the third day. The scenery was great and we got closer to Wickenburg we headed down hill. We did have some uphill before the downhill, but the grade was gentle.

I stopped with one of the other women to take a look at the old town, but didn't stay too long...we just were wanting to stop and get our showers and get going.

Dinner was lasagna (without an oven)!!! and it was great.

Stats: need to check the cycling computer...I really need to get on this!
Tomorrow is Phoenix.

Day 6 the ride from Blythe to Salome

Today's ride started with some drama. We were a few miles into the ride, in which we had left the hotel, crossed the Colorado River on a pedestrian walkway on a bridge. We saw several police cars go by with lights flashing. We got over, and entered Route 10 (once again there is no other passable roadway for our ride). We saw a fire truck go by lights on, and as we rode we saw the lights of the police and fire truck and ambulance ahead. We got closer and saw that there was a helicopter as well. In passing we saw a vehicle horribly mangled. Later we found out that there had be a police chase of this car and that the car eventually lost control and went up the grade by an on ramp and flipped. The passengers were thrown from the car and didn't make it. Of course all of us passing were worried that one of us could have been hit. Thankfully we were all just fine. That was our welcome to Arizona!!!

We went on to Quartzite in AZ, and stopped there at a cafe for very yummy sticky buns...I love riding so much, because I am not feeling at all guilty about eating all these things that I normally would "just say no to". From there we went back onto the highway, and went further down the road. The scenery is remaining incredible. It is similar to what we have seen, but there are new plants (saguaro cactus for one). The mountains change with the time of day and the clouds.

We got off the highway and had a steady gentle uphill with a headwind. We found a fun restaurant that had lots of character and found great ice cream sodas and malts. We met up with a local cyclist and his wife and they invited the three of us who had stopped to stay at their house if we needed a place. We let them know that we had rooms reserved, but it was so kind!!! Western hospitality seems to rival the Hoosier hospitality!

From there we continued (slogged) up to Hope...a little town...and from there had a downhill to Salome. Our motel was an old one probably from the '40's and as is becoming the usual, we had a great dinner.
Stats I will fill in when I check my computer!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rest sweet rest

Today was our rest day. We spent a couple of hours receiving instruction in bicycle care and how to change a tire. It was actually fun to spend the time together getting all our bikes shiny clean. Other than that I spent a little time by the pool, went through emails and tried (unsuccessfully) to get pictures loaded to the blog. I have asked others, so I think that I will be able to get that done shortly. Dinner was at a restaurant...fun, fun...
Tomorrow we ride to Salome, AZ. A good bit will be on I-10...just no other way around it. Come back tomorrow and see how the approx 65 miles go.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 4 of the ride across America

Today we got up at 5:30AM to get ready for our longest day thus far. We all wanted to be on the road as soon as the sun was up. We headed out at 7 AM after a hotel breakfast,quick bike check and loading our luggage in the trailer. The ride out of Brawley was great. The sun was rising and we were quickly out of the city, riding along farmland.

We made our first turn for a 22 mile distance on one road. There were sheep on one side of the road and cattle on the other. The road continued until we got to dunes. Huge, huge dunes (now these are not so unfamiliar, with the Indiana Dunes a favorite day destination for my family). At Glamis there is a park for ATV's.being a Monday, we didn't see any, but the tracks from the weekend had not yet been covered with blowing sands. One the other side of the road there was a protected area. It was amazing and behind were the Chocolate mountains. That view was very unfamiliar. Along this way we saw more and more blossoms in the dessert. The prickly pear was the most vibrant. A small purple flower gave color to the desert floor. Most of the colors are subtle variations, with light making sand shimmer like gold and the shade giving a soft khaki color. The flora adds to this with either subtle color or a bright burst, like the prickly pear.

Shortly after Glamis our Chef had stopped by a monument. Now I am on who has lived in Richmond VA and to me a monument is what you see on Monument Ave...large statues of bygone heroes from wars. This was a simple small stack of brick, or was it some type of stone, that had been cemented together...more like what I would imagine like the monuments erected by the Israelites as they had crossed the Jordan and entered into Israel. At any rate all that surrounded us was the beauty of the desert, soft colors and undulations of the sand, and the surrounding majesty of the mountains formed so long ago by volcanoes.

Our lunch was sandwiches and Five bean salad (the best I have ever had) and then after we had eaten Linda broughht out Tilapia curry salad, which was incredibly good. It was one our chef just made up to finish up the leftover fish from the first day.

After lunch I learned about rollers, swells in the land. The signs called them dips for the vehicular traffic, but in cycling lingo, they are rollers. Cycling friends had spoken about rollers, and this was the first time I had experienced them....What a blast! I was zipping down gaining as much speed as I could to get as far up the next rise (some with steep grades 10-11 percent) as far as I could, then up out of the saddle to get to the top and down again. This went on for a full 13 miles and at the end it flattened out. We had a TAILWIND through out all of this...how great was that!!! and at points we were holding 25+ miles per hour through the rollers and then 20-22 mph on the flat . There was another SAG stop with water...thankfully, because it is so dry we were just sucking it down.

After many, many miles, we got to Palo Verde, a town with a few buildings and a little tiny store...like a mini seven eleven. We got some pictures and talked with a few folks. My Cat in the Hat jersey was met with approval by all, and we got some water, ice cream and had a real toilet. From there it was twenty miles to the hotel, with wind at our back, we just flew. The roads were good, the traffic was minimal. We got close made a couple of turns and got into Blythe, CA. This is a larger town a few miles from the border with Arizona. Wow we had cycled 91 miles!!!! by my odometer (still need to double check that with someone who has a GPS) and the ride was fun all the way!

Dinner was in a restaurant...Sizzler...it was OK, but I am being spoiled by Linda's cooking...Tues is a day off. At first I thought this would be too soon, but in getting used to riding on sequential days I think it is well timed.

Stats:91 miles, left 7 AM arrived 2 PM with a stop for lunch, the various SAGS, and pictures. Max speed 37mph...must have been the rollers!

Day 3 of the ride across America

Our day started with a temperature of 30...not Celsius, and it was cold. Our chef Linda had oatmeal (she has the absolute best oatmeal) for us and hot chocolate, so we would, as my mom would say start out our day with something hot in our stomachs. We started out with a 5.5 mile stretch that again took us up. The border patrol was out en masse and were flying down the road. Later, after our dinner we found out just why. One of our group saw some people at the side of the road, pointing a gun telling someone to lay down flat. She and some other riders let the border patrol know and that is why I, who started late because I was warming my hands by the propane stove say them flying down the road.

Well, after we did our 5.5 mile climb (750 feet), we exited onto...Interstate 8 once again. The night before we had been warned about the possibility of gusting winds and this with a 10 mile downhill ....ok... 10MILES DOWNHILL!!!!!...now as many of you know...I now live in Indiana...and have lived in Virginia (think Blue Ridge)....there are NO 10 mile descents to be found, central Indiana barely has bumps in the road....so I was just a little bit anxious. Well, I rode on the shoulder ...all the 10 miles down...WOW I was actually tired of being in the drops by the end! After exiting we had a SAG stop, and off came the cold weather clothes and off we went. I went with one of the other women, and learned how to do a pace line...(basically drafting). This made the miles fly by and we kept a great pace through the desert Yuha national parkland). I kept looking at the mountains on my right, just amazed that I had been way up there only an hour before. The desert had some flowers...the octatillos (sp?) were blooming as well as some ground cover with a purple flower. After we left the National forest, we were truly in the Imperial Valley. We crossed over a canal, on one side of the canal was desert and on the other side it was lush and green fields. There was plenty of hay baled between fields and stacked HIGH. There were birds singing from palm trees, and we could just keep riding and looking ahead for miles.

Eventually, we had a turn off and then...the bumpiest road...not only that but as soon as we started on it a dog got out of his poorly fenced in yard, hackles up and barking. I was off my bike in a flash and had it between me and him.....he tried to circle around me and so...I of course circled...thankfully as I raised my bike in a menacing way, he ran back to his yard and I hopped back on the bike to get jostled for 14.5 more miles. Although the road was rough, the farms and fields were great to ride by and al the other dogs were well contained in their yards.

We passed through Seeley and then on to El Centro and finally a 14 mile home stretch to Brawley. En route we passed a sugar factory that showed us where sea level is...we were below it. Now I HAVE been below sea level...but usually that would indicate that I am UNDERWATER. Getting into the hotel was a relief. I had felt pretty worn out those last miles and the wind had turned and been a head wind....not too bad, but it was hard at the end.

Linda had a wonderful dinner, beef stroganoff with egg noodles, a great variation on a waldorf salad, a reguar salad and angel food cake with peaches and raspberries.

Stats 67 miles 5.5 uphill and 10 down the rest pretty flat. Max speed was 34...I was cautious on the downhill...wary of the crosswinds. Time: started 8:15 and finished at 1PM with quite a few stops for food, water, and pictures!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 2 of the ride across America

Up early again! We had breakfast in the hotel with some added protein. We headed out as quickly so we could get some of the climb behind us. We immediately headed uphill about 750 feet. From there we headed onto I8 (yes the interstate...there was no way around it). It was only two miles and halfway we had a great rest stop with beautiful vista. The scenery is breathtaking!!! After coming off the highway we continued on our way ....UPHILL....and then more UPHILL...there were some downhills as well (OK...they are fun, but really if you have to climb again...I wish that you could just do the climb and be done with it. About halfway we stopped at a diner and had PIE...at 10 in the morning...It was great! From there it was a beautiful ride the mountains all around us as we rode up and up some more. Some of the uphills looked as if you would reach the summit and then you realized, no....more to climb. One interesting thing was the number of border patrol who were on the road. They were just everywhere! Now I need to be honest...there were also some great downhills...and I am learning to relax a little with them, but still go slowly.
Jacumba is a tiny town with one hotel. It has a lot of character...
Dinner was again fantastic. Our chef is Linda Baldwin and she is creative and very healthy in all she prepares and her meals are outstanding.
Again I fell into bed weary.
Stats:Distance 47.2 in 4 hours 38 minutes.

First day on the road

Wow we finally began. I got up at 5 AM as excited as could be. I had a radio interview and then got everything together getting ready to get going.
At the ocean, I was met by a local veteran who was so kind and wished me well, for the trip. It was great to have him there. fWe dipped our bikes in the Pacific took lots of pics and we started off along the San Diego River. There were lots of water birds and beauty all around. We headed out of the city past the Padres stadium and to a park and then UPHILL. Now I live in Central Indiana...there are a few bumps in the road, but nothing like this. The classes I had taken, paid off and I slogged my way up and got to Alpine. We had a fantastic dinner and I headed to bed tired from the first big day. We had covered over 34 miles in 3 hours 20 minutes. The traffic and climbs kept the speed down. Tomorrow will hold more big climbs as we go another 2000 feet to Jacumba.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Journey has begun. So I have packed and repacked, checked and rechecked. The boys have been hugged and hugged (that includes hubby). The dog was pet, My mom and our very dear friend Barbara who are staying with the boys while Ralph is also out of town this week were also hugged and thanked...Ralph set off for work, and Linda picked me up and brought me to the beautiful sunny Indy airport. OK it is sunny today. I am a little nervous and a lot excited. The flights are on time, storms in the East no longer effecting us.

The first leg out is to Phoenix. I will be back here in just a week and a half, and seeing it from a vastly different perspective. I will have made it through the California mountains, and will see just what my gearing is like.l

I have to go back a little to some of what has gone on up o this point.

After Ralph told ne he wanted to give me this trip (actually he asked if it was something I still wanted to do), I researched different touring groups and decided on WomanTours. They had the right distance, they stay in hotels (I value a warm bath and a soft bed), built in rest days and what looks to be great staff. Right before school started in August I signed up. Then I had to find a new appropriate bicycle. I went shop to shop and everyone gave me a similar list of what to look at and no body had models in that I coud try. They talked about waiting until the new year, and I began to panic. My old bike was over 16 years old...in good shape, but was never a great fit and was a less expensive road bike. A friend, who is an avid mountain biker gave me the namee of a shop, Nebo Ridge. I went there and was excited to find they had someone who himself had ridden across country and was extremely knowlegable. He had me try the bikes they had, recommended I look around and try a few others and he also brought in a friends personal bike for me to try. I took all his suggestions, but his friends bike was the perfect fit and felt so much better than anything I had ever ridden. He speced it all out with one of his co-workers, got it ordered and then I waited as patiently as I could until it came in. By the time it arrived the beautiful fall weather had passed and we have had consistently frigid temperatures since. I have only ridden a few times outside. This takes us to training.

While I was waiting for my new bike I started out with my old one. One wheel was out of true, so then switched to either one of the kids mountain bikes or Ralph's road bike (sweet). I logged in the recommended hours and got several longer rides (up to about 5 hours) in. In October I read about a class that Nebo Ridge had, not spinning, but cycling,with certified cycling coaches, core conditioning, and using your own bike on a trainer. Hmmm. The location was not as convenient as I would have liked, but the staff had been sotry it for the first session. November came and I started the class. We did a time trial and got our lactate threshhold. Now this class was not made up of people like me, recreational cyclist, but folks who like to race. After the time trial, I was great, so I decided to EXHAUSTED and had a wattage of 125. These guys were at 200+ (ok even higher...but I am in denial) Wow!!! Way out of my league, but as we had introduced ourselves and told them that I was planning to ride across the country, they were so excited for me...I thought it would work out. I got to ride all winter with people I could NEVER keep up with on the road. Each class I learned something new about my bike, techique or equipment. Each class everyone encouraged the others, and there was cheerful conversation and fantastic coaching. The coaches, Steve, Bob and Tom were experienced and knowlegable. The first eight weeks few by. We did a follow up time trial and I had improved by 30 Watts during that brief tiime. You can guess that I came back for the second session. The classes were consistently challenging. I continued to learn. Two weeks ago I had my bike shipped to San Diego, watt meter came off and I switched back to Ralph's bike. I didn't do the second time trial for this session, but am certain that I again improved. As far as training on my own at home, I did get on the trainer some, but not as much as I should have. I like the cameraderie of the class and at home I let the busyness interfere with my exercise. I am VERY thankful for the class and Ralph holding down the fort with the kids the evenings I was gone.

Saturday I did my last class. It was fun, and it was great to have made new friends and I look forward to seeing them I return and go on club rides.

As I have gotten ready for this trip, my sons and husband have been constant encouragers. They have altered schedules so I could train, taken an interest getting equipment and just been there joining in the fun of the process with me. The boys helped picyed cap and scorpion cycling cap. They have helped meuff I had misplaced, and today they gave me many hugs, big one armed strong s pack and repack and repack again. They have run around the house looking for stuff even the stqueezes from Peter the 16 year old injured gymnast. Tight one with a tickle from John, and snuggly ones from Walter. Michael called yesterday to tell me he thinks doing this trip is way cool. Ralph has been the constant quiet strength. He has been ever encok out some of the clothing. They pushed me to get the Cat in the Hat jersey, the tye duraging. He has ridden outside with me last fall. Me on his bike, him riding his mountain bike, and still able to stay ahead of me. As I moved inside he rearranged his schedule and always made sure that kids were where they needed to be. I will miss all my men over the next nine weeks. It will be rather strange to be around women....most of my tiy household, to my work to even the cycling classes. Even my dog is male!!!!!

Map of our route

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