March 12 - 18: Arizona

3/16 - Globe (57 miles 530 total)
57 hard-won miles from the express inn in mesa/phoenix to the days inn in globe, AZ
little did roma & i know what we had in store for us when we left the express inn before 7...none of us did. we dined in the motel's breakfast room. some were quite excited about the make-your-own waffles.
we rode eastward on US60; the grade wasn't bad at all 'til we got within about 2 mi of gonzales pass, then we geared down to granny & pedalled up & over the pass, altitude 2651 ft. on the downhill, we came upon the boyce thompson state park arboretum. they grow lots & lots of cacti there, & also have many pieces of interesting southwestern sculpture on the grounds. here's a photo of becky at the entrance to the arboretum.
we cruised a bit further into the city of superior. quite a few bikers stopped there to have lunch at the buckboard restaurant. roma & i were afraid to lose our momentum, so pedalled on. very soon we were on our way uphill again.
just before we left town, i took this photo of elaine & roma with the "hill" in the background that we would soon scale. when you see their photo later in this report, remember how warm & carefree they looked here in superior.
within about 3-4 miles we came upon the much-anticipated queen creek tunnel. you can see the tunnel's entrance in this photo....& the beautiful landscape all around us. as you can also see, we had to share the tunnel with lots of traffic.
inside it was quite well lighted (for a tunnel), & fortunately there was a passing lane on our side. but still, the cars & trucks & RV's just zoomed by us & i was glad to have my strobe light on the back of my increase visibility...because we really had nowhere to go if a vehicle came too close. there was a very narrow walkway up on the tunnel's side, but it wasn't wide enuf for a person to walk beside her bike. & the noise in the tunnel....WOW....the reverberations of cars, let alone trucks, against those tunnel walls made you think you were in there with a locomotive. marilyn dehaan, who's probably been in more tunnels on a bike than anyone, said it was the loudest & most nerve-wracking she's ever experienced.
we thot we were supposed to start downhill after the tunnel, but nope. in fact, we continued uphill for quite a while, some downs, but always another up. at one point we thot we were headed down, so stopped to put on our jackets, & we did cruise downhill for a while, but then up. at our highest point we reached an elevation of 4600.
but then finally, we saw that telltale truck sign with the indication that we'd be wending our way downhill at a 6% grade. the view from here, as you can see, was beautiful, with sun shining on the far hills.
roma & i had noticed some menacing dark clouds off to our right along the tops of the mountains but thot they were tracking further south. but then we started noticing that our roads were wet & all cracks were filled with water. then it hit....the storm started. roma had ridden on ahead when i stopped to take the last photo, so i was cruising down the mountain at my own painfully slow pace. to make matters worse, i had to cross one of those frightenly high bridges that i'd only seen before in my worst biking nightmares (i hate heights & therefore bridges). my arms shook like crazy as i rolled across it, singing at the top of my voice & keeping my eyes firmly on the road ahead. as roma says, i need blinders for bridges.
i wasn't much past the bridge when the rains really got heavy & it was getting colder & colder. the winds got very strong; you could see sheets of rain blowing across the road. the traffic seemed heavier than ever, & each vehicle kicked up lots of spray. with almost no shoulder, a steep downhill, visibility next to nil, & heavy was a bit stressful.
finally i heard thunder & saw lightning, so stopped under a tree (i know that's a bad idea, but the lightning wasn't too bad) to put on my legwarmers & mittens....& to eat another sandwich. i'd already eaten the one leftover from yesterday earlier in the day. shortly, elaine came by & stopped, too. she had a snack, then we continued on downhill in the rain.
we rolled into the little town of miami & soon saw a convenience store, where we gladly stopped to find cover & warm up. i knew roma had said she'd wait for me in miami, but i'd been so delayed that i figured she'd ridden on to globe. but when we stopped at the store, i looked around, & lo & behold, about a half block away, i saw a little yellow-clad gnome peeking out from the giant stall of a carwash! the gnome waved, & it was roma! i couldn't believe my eyes.
but what was she doing in a car the rain....especially with a convenience store 1/2 block away? i rode my bike thru the rivers of water past the gas pumps to the car wash, & there she was, fully clad in every piece of apparel she'd packed on her bike this morning, including the shower cap over the helmet under the rain hood. she had evidently changed her clothes in the car wash. & she had not seen the convenience store 'til she looked over & saw elaine & me. elaine was shaking from the cold, & roma, who has renaud's syndrome, had lost sensation in all her fingers & they'd turned white. once inside the store, we each had a large cup of coffee or hot cocoa. the clerk told us it was free.
here's a photo of roma & elaine, roma warming her fingers over the top of her coffee cup, elaine with her sandwich.
the storms would come & go, but after about 45 mins we felt somewhat warmed up & decided to set off on the last 8 mi to the days inn in globe. catherine had come by with the womantours van to check on us, but we said we were going to ride the rest of the way, so she headed back up the mountain to check on all the riders behind us who had been much higher on the mountain when the storms hit. we learned later that some of them had experienced not only the strong winds & rain, but also hail. & there were more flat tires today, too.
catherine got to the motel about 1/2 an hour after we arrived with 12 bikes on top of the van (see photo) & the riders inside.
frances brot a couple more down in the subaru. we're all so grateful to our hard-working staff---michelle, catherine, & frances---for taking such good care of us all on such a difficult day. we're also grateful to the kind clerk at the convenience store in miami, who not only provided free hot drinks to us 3, but later to all the women on the womantours van.
a bit later i took this photo looking back westward across the city of globe from our motel toward the mountains in which we'd ridden today. those are the kinds of storms we'd experienced.
but then a little later toward the east we saw this rainbow....ending at the days inn. the folks here are very nice to us & the accommodations are roomy & comfy. the hot tub was crowded to overflowing with bikers by late afternoon. you can also see the dairy queen sign right across the street; i've been looking for a dairy queen every day of this trip with no luck, but today i was too tired & cold to stop there.
since the staff had such a hard day, michelle didn't cook dinner, but we ran across the street to the country kitchen instead. back at the motel, we had our map meeting in the lobby. michelle can't remember much about tomorrow's route....78 mi to safford....but we do know that much of it is quite flat, after some up & downhills during the first few miles. unfortunately, more rains are in the forecast. then we have a layover day in safford on tues. many of us already have plans to clean up our bikes & clothes from today's onslaught of rain & road grime.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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