Coast to Coast Ride

Friday, March 30, 2012

Today has been interesting, but I'm too tired to describe it now. We're in Safford. Buckhorn tomorrow.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Today was a hair-raising ride! We climbed steeply out of Superior on Hwy. 60. There was virtually no shoulder and a ton of truck traffic roaring by us as we wobbled up the grade. The worst part was going through the tunnel. That was the longest quarter-mile of my life.

We passed an enormous open-pit copper mine.

We stopped in Miami for lunch. Here's Mr. French Fry. Grandma Weezy is below.

Great landscape.

There's a store at the top of the climb. The place is full of junk that I can't imagine anyone buying. How can he possibly make a living?

This shrine is outside Miami. An old guy with a Korean War vet cap pulled up in his pickup and just waited while we inspected the shrine. I asked him what it was about. He explained that a soldier in the Korean War vowed to build the shrine if he got home alive. Was the old guy in the pickup the soldier?

There are two memorials just outside the tunnel. The other was for a motorcyclist.

We stopped at a Sonic drive-in for lunch yesterday. The carhops deliver the orders on skates. One carhop announced that she competes in roller derby. Better not stiff her on the tip!

We visited the Besh Ba Gowah archeological park after we arrived in Globe. The site was inhabited by Salado people from about 1100 AD until 1400 AD. The climate became drier, causing the site to be abandoned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Michele photographed some construction hiding behind three remaining rows of citrus trees.

Superstition mountain.

We arrived in Superior after about 73 miles. Steve's phone indicated a Dairy Queen. We were eager for root beer floats. We couldn't find the DQ! At the motel, the deskperson said the franchisor closed the DQ for failure to adhere to policy. Michele and Steve went across the street to the dollar store and bought ice cream and root beer. We made our own floats in the setting sun.
The doormat at themotel reads "Patriots Welcome". This sort of bumper sticker patriotism tends to set me off. Bumper sticker patriots measure patriotism by whether somone wears a flag pin on the lapel or flies a flag on a pole. Real patriots do things for their country: pay their taxes; join the Navy; do volunteer work; educate themselves on issues before voting, for example. Steve is more charitable -he suggested maybe the doormat was on sale when the motel operator needed a doormat.

We had a good day cycling. We parted from Steve's parents, who have treated us wonderfully. A thousand thanks to them for making us so welcome in their home! Steve led us down a bicycle trail from Scottsdale to the ASU stadium to get back on our mapped route. We had about 30 miles of urban biking to get out of the Phoenix metro area. From Phoenix, we followed Hwy. 60 up a mild grade past Superstition Mountain (of the Lost Dutchman Mine fame) to Superior. Although there was some headwind, the air temperature was moderate so that the climb was pleasant.

Some discussion about the planned stops this evening. Michele and Steve settled that we will do a short day with a hard climb tomorrow, then two 80-mile days in a row, and then another short day to get to Silver City.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Quiet day. Steve cooked up bacon and eggs. His mother provided toast and fruit. His father came up with whipped cream for the fruit. Pretty good start for the day.

We went to REI for a new tire, new shorts and gloves for me. Michele was overcome by lust for a titanium spork.

There are some oddities here. Lots of "We buy gold" signs and "i buy houses" signs. More interestingly, there are signs announcing "We buy diabetic test strips". I figure this must be a Medicare fraud game. A person somehow gets Medicare or other insurer to prescribe diabetic equipment. The patient then resells the test strips to somebody who repackages them, possibly to sell to Medicare.

When someone bets you $5 you can't name the five C's of the Arizona economy, you'll be ready: cotton, cattle, citrus, copper and climate. A public service from your correspondent.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We are settled in great comfort at Steve's parents place in Scottsdale. Two rest days!,

The days only events involved tires. Steve picked up a drywall screw in a tire and flatted out. At lunch (Roliberto's in Phoenix), I heard a blast outside. One of my tires (my expensive tires!) had blownout. There was a gash in the sidewall. I guess I hit some metal.

I'm going to let Steve's father barbeque me some meat.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

We were at the Ramblin' Roads RV park last night. The RV park makes up the whole town. It's a little community that comes together in October and breaks up again by April. Everyone was very wecoming; we joined them for a community breakfast this morning.

Shortly after hitting the road, Len (Glen?) Forkis (Farkis?) slowed down to chat with us as he passed. He's training for the Race Across America in June when he'll try to go from San Diego to Annapolis in as little as nine days!

Today is Michele's birthday. Her treat was a straight ride. In fact, out of about 55 of today's 60 miles, there was exactly one bend in the road. That was at Aguila. We celebrated the bend with lunch at the Coyote Flats Cafe. This cafe, like the Kofa Cafe at a remote intersection outside Hope, is a cosy old-fashioned place with remarkable warmth.
The travel today was unremarkable - a long slow steady climb most of the day with lots of cross-wind.

We arrived at Wickenburg around six. Henry Wickenburg's burro found gold here by aggravating Henry to throw a rock at the burro, said rock then breaking apart to reveal gold nuggets.

Jerry forgot to mention the courtyard motel from the 30 or 40s that has been converted to a home for goats. The smell caught my attention! The road oday had that sense of decay and loss. I have no idea what supported these communities in yesteryear...mines, cattle, agriculture. What remains is closed stores, gas stations, restaurants and many other boarded up buildings. Transition I guess.

We saw a cactus wren today! And a coyote.

At the laundromat in Aguila.

Roadside flowers.

Friday, March 23, 2012

One state done - seven to go!

At Quartzite, Ron Paul has some friends.

Home, sweet home, at the Hope RV park.

Lunch along the road.

I had a scare today. I don't breathe all that well under the best of circumstances due to the paralyzed vocalchord. I suddenly could hardly breathe at all,just gasp desperately. It was like what I imagine a severe asthma attack would be like. I don't know what caused the attack; I may have inhaled a bug. After a couple of minutes of panic,I was fine again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Photos

Michele pedals through the purgatory of gullies. We reach the Colorado River.

More Photos

Lines of salt decorate Steve's shirt at the end of the ride. Michele captures a late afternoon shadow as we approach Blythe.

Xeno's Paradox applies to bicyling. Suppose you've been out for a long ride. You're starting to get tired. You look at your odometer and see that you're twelve miles from your destination and you're doing twelve mph. You think, "I'm an hour from the end." some time later, you're more tired. You look at your odometer and see that you're ten miles from your destination and you're doing ten mph. You think, "I'm an hour from the end." Half an hour later, you're exhausted. You look at your odometer and see that you're five miles from your destination and you're doing five mph. You think, "I'm an hour from the end." you realize that you're never going to reach your destination! You'll always be an hour away. That's how we felt pedalling for Palo Verde. There was a long climb. The elevation profile showed a long descent to complete 70 miles to Palo Verde. The descent turned out to be an endless series of rides down one side of a gully followed by a little smaller climb up the other side of the gully. We were exhausted before we reached PV.

We expected to camp at the RV park in PV. The RV park turned out to be inhabited solely by derelicts and ex-cons! "Okay," I thought. "We'll go to the motel." The motel is abandoned. The choices were to just wait until dark and make camp in a field off the road or pedal another twenty miles to Blythe. The latter was the decision. I would never have made it if we hadn't had a little tail wind. The ride through the agricultural fields on the late afternoon sun was quite attractive but I was too spent to enjoy it.
Some photos. Above, roadside flowers. Below, sand dunes from the Algodones Dunes off-road recreation area.
Stuff for sale at the off-road merchants.
more roadside flowers.

Blythe. This turned into a 90 mile day. I may explain later. Maybe I'll just go to bed.

Blythe. This turned into a 90 mile day. I may explain later. Maybe I'll just go to bed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More photos

Here's Steve climbing above Alpine.

And all of us at Laguna Summit as photographed by the Border Patrol.

Steve showed me how to upload photos!

To go back to yesterday, here's one of us in the snow.

The most striking visual today was the border fence stretching from horizon to horizon near Jacumba.

Out of the mountains!

We made Brawley this afternoon - about 70 miles. Michele and I are a little sunburned and tired. We haven't checked on Steve yet.

We left Boulevard around 8:45. Old Highway 80 rolled up 200 feet, down 500, up 600 before joining the freeway, I-8, at In-Ko-Pah Pass. Steve had chain problems again and had to make the lastclimb in his middle range of gears; I would havebeen walking! We plunged down almost 3000 feet in just a few miles. I maxxed out over 33 mph.

Time for a Gatorade in Ocotillo (a gas station). We blew through Plaster City (absolute nothing except for a gypsum plant). Along the way, a sleeping bag fell off the back of one of the bikes. No one noticed for some time, so there was a long pedal back to find the escaped bag. Good tacos in Seeley. We found a bike shopin El Centro so Steve replaced his chain. We'll see if that fixes the problem.

Finally a fast flat ride to Brawley to find a cheap motel; the campground is too far out of town.

A guy stopped me to ask about riding on the freeway. He foresees $10 gasoline and wants to be prepared.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Well, this was a challenging day! We started with a 2000 foot climb. About three miles of that was on the freeway (cyclists are permitted on the shoulder were there is no alternative route). Cycling along the freeway is generally pretty good. The pluses are that you have a wide shoulder with good pavement and more even grading - nothing as steep as a side road might be. There's also the rumble strip that is supposed to wake up dozing drivers. If you hear the rumble strip noise behind you, you know that you have approximately one second to live. The minus is that it's loud having trucks roar by a few feet away. We have more freeway travel tomorrow.

We turned off onto Highway 79. We stopped at a cafe so that Steve could take on some coffee. I wound up having a slice of cherry pie and Steve an order of biscuits and gravy to maintain our strength. The elevation was about 3000 feet. Snow covered much of the ground from there on. The snow sometimes filled the road shoulder, forcing us into the traffic lanes more than we liked. Where there wasn't snow, there was snowmelt running dwn the shoulder. My bike wheel would spray my feet with ice water whenever I pedalled through the snowmelt.

A Border Patrol car was parked at the top of the climb at Lagunas Summit. We coaxed the agent to get out of the car to take our photo.

Steve had trouble with his chain. He replaced two links in an effort to prevent the chain from jamming (chain-suck in bicycle-speak). We stopped at Guatay, which appears to consist of a hardware store and nothing else. The staff spent half an hour trying to help with the chain.

We flew down a thousand-foot descent and then began grinding back up the same thousand feet. I thought the hill was never going to end!

We hoped to reach Ocotillo today. That was too far. We stopped at Boulevard. We'll try to stretch our day tomorrow to reach Brawley. At least we made more mileage today than yesterday: 38 miles instead of 35.
I'll try to get more pictures up soon. Meanwhile, check out Steve's blog at velo

Monday, March 19, 2012

Here are a few photos. We'll see how this works.

We had a surprise when we reached San Diego - much of our gear wasn't there to meet us. The bicycles were present, but three of five boxes of panniers were missing. We set about assembling the bikes while the Amtrak staff investigated the location of the missing boxes. The Amtrak staff promised to send the boxes to our motel once they tracked the boxes down. We pedaled over to the Tin Fish to test deep-fried fish tacos.

We followed a shoreline bike path most of the way to our motel. One sailboat caught our eye. Instead of aconventional sail, it had something like a airplane wing mounted vertically where one would expect the mast to be. Whenever the bike path passed under a roadway, there would be a few homeless people taking shelter from the cold wind. The wind was fierce enough to make our steering wobbly.

Michele and I met up with our son-in-law Andrew's mother (is there a word for that relationship?) and Andrew's brother and his wife and son. More fish tacos at the Pescador Fish Market.

By the time we returned to the motel, Amtrak had delivered our stuff. We got our bikes put together and looked forward tostarting in the morning. I noticed thatmy handlebars had gotten a little crooked since my assembly of the bike. I corrected the problem, or so I thought.

This morning, we woke up to a cold drizzling rain. The television warned that Highway 8 was closed at Alpine for snow and icy conditions and high winds. Our intended destination was, ta dah, Alpine. The forecast was for the stormto pass over San Diego by 9:30 or so. We trudged over to Denny's for another breakfast (after wolfing pastries at the motel's breakfast bar) to wait for the storm to blow over. By 10:30, we had read the paper twice and we were worried about the motel's check-out time so we decided to start riding in spite of the continuing drizzle.

We pedaled out to Dog Beach to wet our wheels in the Pacific surf. We promptly regretted that gesture as we all had sand in our brakes. Photos were taken and we started pedalling east at 11:23. The sun began to appear intermitently, cheering us. The pile of ensolite sleeping pads and tent and sandals on the back of my bike collapsed. Order was restored, and a few miles later, the tent fell off. Order was restored again. Then I noticed that my handlebars were crooked again; eventually I realized that I had forgotten to tighten the two bolts that clamp the handlebars to the steering tube! Oops!

We could see snow on the ridgecrests ahead of us as we pedaled. We crawled into Alpine about 5:00. No sign of the snow here - maybe tomorrow when we climb another 2000 feet. There are two motels here, one priced at about $110 and the other at about $70. We set off in search of the cheap one. It turned out to be a collection of kinda cute little cabins ashort distance off the road. There's no management on site. You call a telephone number and give the person your credit card number. If the credit card number turns out to be good, he calls you back to give you the combination for the key safe hanging on the doorhandla of your room.

Alpine has what claims to be the fourth-best small brewery nationwide. Since tomorrow will be a tough day, it's probably just as well for is that it was closed tonight.

Tomorrow will be a tough day because ther is a lot of climbing. On top of that, our plan was to stop at Jacumba. We are informed that the Jacumba Hot Springs Spa, the sole place to stay in Jacumba, is now closed. We think we will be too cold to camp until we descend from the mountains, so we may have to make one additional climb and ride sixteen additional miles to Ocotillo. I'll let you know what happens.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

We're on the train to San Diego. The train from Oakland to LA took twelve hours! The travel was pleasant enough but it seemed to take forever. The LA train station is clean and attractive. The architecture is mission-style. We walked the half-mile to the Little Tokyo Hotel. The hotel is a hole-in-the-wall, very much like a youth hostel, but very clean. Check Steve's blog, velo, for photos.

The hotel's neighbors are all ramen noodle shops. One tiny shop had a line outside. We decided that getting in would take half an hour or more. We weren't prepared to stand in the cold drizzle that long so we tried another shop. We were pleased with our bowls of hot soup.

This morning we walked to Fifth Street for breakfast at the Nickel Cafe with Steve's friends, Hans and Rachel, and their son. The cafe is known for its specialty donuts. We tried the strawberry crumble and maple bacon flavors. We passed on the Irish Car Bomb flavor.

We have scattered sunshine and threatening clouds at the moment.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We are delayed! The weather forecast for the San Diego area includes a winter storm warning. The Pine Valley forecast calls for snow as low as 2000 feet by Monday. Pine Valley happens to be on the route for Monday. Four to eight onches of snow expected there. We decided to postpone our departure for a day - we'll leave Saturday morning instrad of Friday.

I couldn't shift the LA hotel reservation to Saturday night. No empty rooms that night. Looking for an alternative near the LA train station, I found the Little Tokyo Hotel. The hotel is described as being like a Japanese hotel in that there are no in-room bathrooms. There are communal facilities which, I am assured, are very nice. At $40 for a single, $56 for a double, I'll try it out!

Michele and I have our bikes stuffed into boxes. The panniers are in apple boxes from the supermarket. We'll deliver those to the train station tomorrow afternoon. We board Saturday at 8:50.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

View Larger Map
Here's a map for the first leg, San Diego to Tempe. We'll pass through Alpine, Jacumba, Seeley, Brawley, Glamis, Blythe, Quartzite, Hope, Salome, Aquila, Wickenberg, and Phoenix along the way. We'll actually wind up in Scottsdale to flop with Steve's parents. I am anticipating this taking about eight days. I forecast stops in Alpine, Jacumba, Brawley, Palo Verde, Quartzite, Aguila, and Surprise. We'll take a rest day at Tempe/Scottsdale.

The night my father graduated from high school, he fled the small Missouri town he was raised near. He rode the rails throughout the South and the west. He stopped in Brawley for a time, working in the ice house. The ice was used to preserve fresh vegetables from the Imperial Valley for shipping by rail to markets in the East. The ice house, as I understood the story, was several stories high, essentially a big warehouse for ice. The ice house caught fire, destroying the structure and allowing the building to collapse into a giant ice cube with building debris scattered throughout. My father claimed that the giant ice cube took years to finally melt! I'm dying to get to Brawley and find out if that was true!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Up Old Tunnel Road yesterday to Grizzly Peak Road and then along Wildcat Canyon to Orinda. Back on BART. There's been lots of wind so the air was extraordinarily clear. The right-hand photo above shows the new deck of the Bay Bridge under construction; below, Mt. Tamalpais in Marin.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Big ride on Saturday! We climbed Mt. Diablo from the North Gate entrance. The weather was clear and cool. While we were waiting to depart, a pedestrian stopped to tell us about some gruesome bicycle accident. Do bicyclist stop pedestrians to describe pedestrians hit by a car and dragged a hundred yards through a cactus patch? Pepi, Steve and Cristina joined us for the ride. We hope to lure Cristina into riding a leg of the coast to coast ride.

The climb to the top of the mountain, about 3300 vertical feet over
eleven miles, took me about two hours and twenty minutes.
Steve and Cristina would have been there long before but for waiting for us. Huge views from the top.

We started packing our panniers last night. We're uncertain what cold weather gear we need. A friend in Arizona warns that the temperature will drop 30 degrees as soon as the sun goes down. While we mostly need warm weather clothing, we need something for cold. The cold weather clothing takes up lots more room in our very limited panniers. We started by stuffing clothes into ziplock freezer bags, then squeezing the air out and sealing the bags. How much underwear and socks to take? Depends on how often we get a chance to do laundry, an unknown at the moment.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

We we're rained out for our training ride yesterday. We had intended to ride the Palomares Loop. I attended my spin class for the first time in a long time instead. Work has been interfering with my usual exercise program. One week to go before resuming retirement!

The plan is to go to REI tomorrow to buy new panniers and a new helmet. My helmet is coming apart.

I've been thinking about how to carry additional water in the desert. My plan is to wrap duct tape around a two-liter water bottle, leaving loops in the tape to create tie-downs so I can strap the bottle to my rack on top of the tent. I'll manufacture a bottle and post a photo.