Flagstaff brought me a few extremes for the trip. It was my highest elevation so far and I woke up to the coldest morning at 33F.
Andy and Sara set me up with a healthy breakfast – much better than the “Continental breakfast ” at the hotels I’ve been at. I was a little slow leaving town. Part of it was due to taking pictures of the mountains along the iconic Route 66. Before I could go and get my kicks, I needed to make a stop for a new battery for my bike computer. It had been complaining the day before as I climbed to Flagstaff that it was “Low”.
The ride to Tuba City was mostly going to be downhill. I had some amazing views along the way. At each little town, I slowly swapped out the heaviest layers for lighter, cooler ones as the elevation dropped and the temperatures rose. For the most part I had a wide shoulder along AZ 89A. There were still a few places where I didn’t want to check my rear view mirror. I could hear the traffic coming. I needed to concentrate on either trying to stay on the narrowing shoulder or be ready to bail and get off the road completely. The rumble strip gave me even less room when the shoulder got narrow. The views and good weather made up for the short spurts of scary traffic.
I ran into the ultimate bike enthusiast at a rest stop in Cameron. He was on his way to Jackson Hole, WY. He made the special bike carrier pictured here himself. I carry around 20-22 lbs on Hidalgo’s rear rack. This is about the weight of the bike without the panniers. So I guess you could say I’m figuratively carrying another bike. This guy was LITERALLY carrying another bike and a few spare tires.
Although the ride was mostly downhill, I had one more tough climb as I hit the city limits. But I would say Tuba City is more of a town than a city. You hear a lot about poverty on the reservations. Here in the Navaho country, I experienced it first hand. There was a pretty scruffy looking man on the opposite side of the road cheering me on as I climbed a steep hill into town. Later, I got hit up by a panhandler while I was checking my final directions at a stop light. He wanted $4 for some food. He still smelled of liquor. I offered some extra food out of my panniers. He made the case for cash, saying he didn’t want to deprive me of my extra food. I told him he could take the food, but I wasn’t giving him cash. I left him with a banana and a granola bar.
The weather had been good. I certainly saw some extremes and was ready to check into the hotel to clean me and my clothes – in that order. Hidalgo could still use some cleaning from yesterday’s day in the rain. All in all, not a bad day to be on a bike.
The Lone Rider