Both Russ, my warm showers host, and I needed to get an early start. I thanked him for being such a great host, then rode through an empty Prescott on my way to Flagstaff. It was cool and overcast with skies that threatened rain. I tried to take advantage of some tailwind. I made my first pit stop at a gas station 15 miles down the road. Somewhat refreshed, I started the climb to the old mining town of Jerome, 20 miles up the road. It was a 13 mile climb to a peak of 7023 feet near Mingus Mountain (at least they didn’t call it a hill!). Over the next 7 miles I dropped 2000 feet constantly pumping the brakes to keep me from launching over the guard rail and an unplanned shortcut to Jerome. According to my bike computer, I topped at 30 mph, but I could easily have hit 45 or 50 if I was more of a thrill seeker and stopped braking.
Jerome offered a great 2nd breakfast. The crowd was filled with bikers equipped with large engines and lots of leather. The sky spit some light rain as I dropped yet another 2000 feet into the town of Cottonwood. The skies remained dark, but the wind pretty much stayed at my back. It looked like I was going to complete my ambitious goal of reaching Flagstaff, a total of 94 miles. Unfortunately, Thor must have been swinging his hammer, because thunder was rumbling around me.
About 13 miles outside of Sedona, I was getting warm. I had just packed up the leg warmers and my jacket when 5 minutes later the rain came lightly, then heavily, then more thunder and I was soon soaked. I just kept pedaling for 10 miles since there was no shelter and I could stay warmer by riding. The wind was mostly behind me, but I was pedaling uphill again. As a result, I spent more than an hour pedaling madly in the rain. When it finally broke for a couple of minutes, I swapped my wet jersey for a dry one and put my jacket back on. The rain returned a little lighter, but the spray from the passing cars insured I’d stay wet. Before my feet and hands got any colder, I called it quits for the day and got a hotel down the road a few miles. Flagstaff was still 30 miles and 2000 ft of climbing away. The sky ahead blotted out my view with more rain in the distance.
I knew that if I didn’t get dry and warm quickly, this entire ride was going to end sooner than planned. After checking into a hotel, I spent the next few hours cleaning me, my clothes, and then Hidalgo. Then it was time to make alternate plans, which included canceling some hotel reservations, searching for warm showers options, and reviewing scary weather forecasts.
I have a warm showers host lined up in Flagstaff if the rain drowns me to a halt again. I will just have to play it by ear. The forecast changes every few hours, much like the actual weather! It’s all part of the adventure!
The Lone Rider