Becky got up at 4:30 in Salome, AZ, so she could make her morning flight out of Phoenix. Today I really was the Lone Rider. A little before 7, I was loading up Hidalgo and I saw Randy, the owner/manager of the Westward Motel.
He confirmed that he had indeed been a roadie for many years. I would have liked to hear some of his stories! If you are ever anywhere near Salome, you need to stay at the Westward. If for no other reason, just to meet Randy and the crew. It would be even better if you’re into bikes of any kind.
It was cool, the sun was low in the sky, and I had a little tailwind. I was cruising along at almost 18 mph when I thought the ride was getting unusually rough. I applied the brakes and came to a stop. I looked down and saw my rear tire was flat. If you read my earlier post (thelonerider.bike/practice-rides), then you know it is a royal pain to fix a flat on a loaded Hidalgo. Once again, I thanked God that the weather was good, I was safe, and now I had been down this road once before. I stripped Hidalgo of the panniers, water bottles, and seat bag. I got some napkins out of my panniers knowing my hands were likely to get greasy from the chain. I got my tools and spare tube from the seat bag and loosened all the connecting bolts on the rear rack so I wouldn’t bend anything when I removed the rear wheel. After getting Hidalgo in high gear, I was ready for the final step of removing the rear quick release skewer so I could free the wheel from the rear rack. I found a stick to help guide the chain off the rear cog, so my hands stayed pretty clean. I swapped out the tube and reversed the process. Without a bike stand, it is always difficult getting the wheel back on the chain, between the brake, and on to the rear fork of the frame. It went much better than I expected. I was back on the road cruising along at 16+ mph.
With Becky’s advice, I was using an app called weather underground to get radar, temperature, and other data.
There was a 20% chance of rain where I was headed in Congress. As I later found out, the flat tire probably delayed me just enough to get caught in the rain. As it was, the storms stayed just ahead of me.
When I was within 8 miles of Congress, I encountered some wet road. Until now, I had never smelled rain in the desert. It was sweet.
At my halfway point, I got something to eat in Aguila. I had passed a small grocery and realized that it was my last chance to get anything to eat or drink for the next 25 miles, so I doubled back.
As I did, I noticed a small taco truck, with some shaded picnic tables. Of course I turned in there and got a Gordita. I had never had one, but it was good and the spicy guacamole sauce on the side was out of this world. The only thing missing was a Dos Equis. The vendor offered Mexican soda, but I went for the Powerade I had packed in my panniers. I spoke with the man who heads the public water utility there. He moved to Aguila when he was 3 and was now 57. He still has the record for the fastest mIle in their school’s history at 4:22. He told me that the roads would soon be filled with semi traffic hauling all the cantaloupe that was going to be harvested in the next few weeks. The semis I saw today were mostly hauling hay and they created a pretty impressive draft when they went by me.
As I said earlier, I was fortunate to be delayed by the flat tire as I could see the rain ahead of me as I left Aguila and turned towards Congress. The cool air kept me from sweating, but I still tried to stay well hydrated. I did too good a job, as I made a little rain of my own behind bushes on the side of the road. I am really glad that traffic was sparse.
Today was originally going to be a 95 mile ride to Prescott. Based on the mentoring feedback I got from my warm showers host in Prescott, I decided to add the stop here in Congress. A nice woman greeted me just as I was rolling into the courtyard of the old motel. Although it looks worn on the outside, on closer examination it is a very nice place and the management is very accommodating.
I finished the day repairing tire tubes, double checking my route, confirming my sleeping arrangements for next few days and just trying to get some rest. Becky is back home and I am truly ….
The Lone Rider