22nd – 24th October 2018
Salome to Wickenburg 86kms
Monkey alarm going psycho, Will and Jenny groaning! Snooze the alarm. Welcome to procrastination! Eventually the call of nature gets Will up, which in turn gets me moving. The usual morning jobs are underway, and we are on target for an early departure. We sit and eat our gruel and enjoy our coffee. There is no wind, and it is already warming up. Second coffee downed, and we are still procrastinating. Uphill for most of the day, and a big kilometre day too. It’s very nice sitting here, can we squeeze in one more coffee? Yes indeed. As Will is getting sorted to head into the little house to sort out the last coffee, a single bee is flying around him in an aggressive manor, and Will starts doing “the bee” dance. Arms flailing, ducking and weaving, and freaking out. I’m just laughing more and more, he looks hilarious as he dives into the house and hides behind the door. I pack up the tent while the coffee is on, and the bee bothers me very little. Will returns with the coffee, and we enjoy it, relaxing until the last second possible, then proceed to packing. Will decided that we were too close to the hive, and moved our bikes away, and we carried on, we are almost ready, and out of nowhere, the single upset bee, just smashes straight into my forehead, bum first. OUCH! Luckily I had my buff on, and immediately ripped it off, which pulled the sting right out. Holy cow! Why did you do that stupid bee? It really stung, and throbbed, for about ten minutes, but it sped up the getting on the road process. No procrastinating!
Wow, that’ll teach us to dilly dally too long. No it won’t, we are slackers! So we’re off. I gorgeous morning, light breeze, clear skies, and a very slight incline. Most of the day, we were doing over 15kms per hour, which is good enough for us. We made a few rest stops, the first one at 25kms. Will felt his back tire was a bit flat, and decided to pump all the tires up a bit. His back one wasn’t playing the game, the valve is a bit dodgey. He did manage to get it sorted, and off we went again. The only town between Salome and Wickenburg, is Aguila, and it was not much of a town. We did stop for a Gatorade and some snacks, and noticed all the “Fresh Honey” signs. Oh geez, bees! Sure enough, Will went to take a big swing of his drink, and noticed (luckily) a bee in it, having a swim. Phew, what is this with the bees today?
There was plenty of time today to admire the different Cactus. They are cool.
The wind picked up a little, but it really wasn’t a bother compared to the last few days. We continued up the inclining road, and came across another cyclist, heading in the opposite direction. Dale is living and travelling on his bike permanently, and was an interesting man. It was hard to break away, but we needed to keep going, and to find some shade for a proper lunch. Safe travels Dale.
Daisies, Teddy Bear Cholla (not the cuddly type of teddy bear), and beautiful Poppies. Amazing what happens after a little bit of rain.
Just up a few kilometres we stopped in some shade, broke out the chair, and made a couple of rolls. It was a good break. Young James, from Team MumSon, was on our tail, and catching us fast. He’s riding solo now, all the way to Florida. I had no phone reception, so couldn’t message him to see where he was at, but we thought he’d catch us today. We’ll see. On we go, and just after lunch, just over 70kms, our legs were fading, and we were sick of the uphill, very straight road. Gratefully, the road turned, and started to head in the downhill direction. The wind had picked up, so we had to pedal a fair bit, but not hard, and we really enjoyed the last bit of the day, into Wickenburg. Dale had told us about a bike path, we found it, and that was even better. As we got on it, I got enough phone reception to see a couple of messages from James. He was about 1 hour behind us, and would be in Wickenburg tonight too. Down the hill further I had no bloody phone reception, so we stumbled a little finding accommodation. After a couple of goes, we landed at The Log Wagon Inn. A small little motel, that was under new management, and renovations. It looked okay. Will sent James the message on his Aussie phone, which picked up T-Mobile. Grrrrr.
We unpacked and changed, and Will went to the closest shop for supplies (beer, really), and I just rested on the veranda. Next minute, I here a familiar voice, turn, and there is James, wheeling his bike across the car park. What a machine! He has smashed out the ride, in no time at all. Well done James, and it is so great to see you again! We all shared the room, went out for dinner, drank some beers, and crashed! Super day!
All of us woke early, but didn’t want to move yet. Finally Will got up and made coffee, and James and I laid on our beds discussing routes, sites to see, time frames and general planning. It was James turn to procrastinate, but he was forward planning. He also had a shortish, all downhill day, to a Warmshowers stay, in Sun City, north of Phoenix. Eventually, he was packed and loaded, and we waved him off. Hope we can cross paths again, but who knows. Wonderful guy! Will and I just chilled out a bit more, before heading into the old town to have a look around. It is a cool little town, and they have some unique shops and sculptures around town, telling their story. In particular there were brass sculptures of some of the creatures they have around the region. Roadrunners, Tarantula, Rattlesnakes, and Gila Monsters. It is unlikely we’ll see a rattlesnake now, it is cooling down, and Gila Monsters generally hang out where they can hide under rocks, around points of moisture. I would love to see one, but don’t pick them up. They are the only poisonous lizard here. Anyway, we went on the hunt for the sculptures. It was a cool way to get people to walk around the town, and see more than they might.
The six main sculptures in town, made by J. Seward Johnson, and donated to the town by him. They are all brass. Great fun finding them.
There are also 16 linkage pieces, lifesize and coloured to look real. Rattlesnakes, Roadrunners, Gila Monsters and Tarantula. We found most of them.
It has a gold mining history, and is a neat, tidy, and fun town. Great cactus gardens too.
The rest of the day was spent back at the old Log Wagon, where some of the less than desirables were also staying. Ugh, a bit unfortunate. One in particular decided he’d like to try and rile the weird cycling Aussies. He spent the entire afternoon trying to bait Will and suggesting many racist and unpleasant opinions regarding our heritage and neighbours from New Zealand. Also being, in general, a dick, about our native Australians. It had to happen, I guess. We all know there are a percentage of knobheads throughout the world, so it really is inevitable to come across one or two over the period of this adventure. We’ve been lucky so far. This particular one was definitely under the influence of a range of mind altering substances, and as I just hung out in the room, trying not to get angry, Will dealt with him in an amazing way. Avoiding conflict and eventually getting him to piss off. Hmm, I am certainly happy to be going tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure we won’t be procrastinating at all, in the morning.
Wickenburg to Phoenix 104kms
Phoenix! Another big city! I’m not interested in seeing it, really, but the best option is to head into the centre, stay the night, then spend the next day riding out to the east. It is a sprawling city, over 60 miles long, and wide. From Wickenburg it is just downhill, or flat, on the same type of gradient we went up on into Wickenburg. So we are going for the big 100km day today. No wind anticipated, downhill all the way, there won’t be a better chance for me. Let’s Do It!
There was a small hump, just out of Wickenburg, and then we were smashing down highway 60, at an average of over 20kms/hr. Often in the high 20’s. After 35 kilometres, I needed a toilet break, so we paused briefly in Wittmann. Nothing there, but a Dollar General store, where we had a Gatorade and a Snickers. Forward ho, team Wiljen, we’re on a roll. Literally.
Some nice views from the top of the hump, the last for our highway riding.
Another 30 kilometres down, and we hit suburbia. The traffic increased, there were traffic lights galore, and the shoulder just got smaller. We were really pushing it, and I called for a break. Some food was required, and a rest from the stop starting, and racing the traffic. In Sun City, we pulled into Starbucks, and gathered ourselves. We had a Panini, and a juice, then discussed our route options. In the end, we decide to go with the ACA route option, which looked like a great cycle path, off the highway, but took us south east of the city to Tempe. It was also an extra 15kms, which meant we had 50 still to go. Both of us were feeling good, and just went for it. There was an option after 25kms, to change our minds.
Off the highway, following Madame Google, we located the path, which went along a dry river bed (New River). Only, yesterday there was a sudden thunderstorm, which had dumped a lot of rain, which in turn had flooded this area, and some of that flood water was still flowing along the riverbed. A real water crossing. DavoGPS was beeping his “I told you so” tune, as he had disagreed with Madame Google, just before we had turned onto the path. Oh well, we are here now, so let’s check it out.
Brawley, being the water expert, reckons it was fine. Will double checked it, then we walked the kids through. It was quite refreshing.
It wasn’t so bad, and we walked the bikes through, after taking our shoes off, and then continued on the path. The New River Trail, deviated towards the city, and turned into The Skunk River Trail, which then turned into the Arizona Canal Trail. All of this running along the spillways, and flood water drainage channels, and The Arizona Canal. It was fantastic. Until Yellow Dawg got all squirrely, and picked up a thorn in his front tire. Argh, bugger! We stopped to change out the tube, we’ll repair this one later, we got kilometres to do.
It was a great cycle path, and it was nice not to have the traffic pressure. But poor old Yellow Dawg, picked up a thorn.
Just as we stopped, I felt the urge for a restroom, quite urgently. I was getting all squirrely too, so left Will to sort out Old Yella, hopped on Betty, and sped off to find a toilet. Nothin’, nothin’, there’s one. As I was speeding off, Will’s yelling at me to make sure I lock the bike and take my handlebar bag with me. Yeah, yeah, nah, I don’t have time now, things are going bad. So I wheeled Betty straight into the toilet block, and “oh my god!” There are no doors, and brick partitions only 1 meter high, between the stalls. No time for concern, I just leaned Betty up against the partition, and launched myself in reverse to the nearest toilet. Whoah! That was super close. Crisis averted, I was sitting there now, looking at where I was at. Holy crap, this is shocking! How, just how, do I find myself in these situations?
Not the sort of public ammenities I’d usually want to make use of, but it was an emergency. Thank god no one came in while we were there. Betty was ashamed to have to come in, but what choice did I have?
I rode back to Will, who’d just put the old dog back together, and was ready to carry on. He just shook his head in horror, as I told him my story. Ha ha ha, let’s move on. We enjoyed our riding along the Arizona Canal, and we were feeling pretty good. There were tunnels under the roads, so we didn’t have to stop, but we did find out that it pays to take the tunnels a bit slower than we had the first couple. People were sleeping in them! The first one we found this out in, we sped down the tunnel entrance, going from bright sunlight, to dark tunnel, and almost rode straight into a person sleeping on a huge roll of bubble wrap. Shit! We encountered a few tunnels with homeless people in them, and it was a bit awful to see. Where did they go last night when these tunnels were full of water ?
The scenery along the canal changed often. From suburbia, to industrial, and even a theme park. The tunnels were often dark and some long.
With just over 20 kilometres to go, we pulled up in some shade for another short break. A banana, and a snack bar, and to watch a poor mum, with a teenage daughter throwing a massive tantrum. We felt for the Mum, but the teenager was hilarious. We were both glad those days are gone for us. Anyway, we should carry on, it’s getting late, and the hundred kilometre mark is getting close. Ten minutes later, a cyclist coming towards us stops and asks us the usual questions. He asks where we are staying, and we don’t know yet. He tells us his name is Dave, and he is a Warmshowers host, and would we like to stay with him? Okay, and off we go following Dave. He is in his sixties, and smashing along with no trouble, making me feel like I was in a race. Phew, man, I’ve nearly rode 100 Kay, take it easy! But he looks like he is taking it easy. Anyway, about 15 kilometres further along the canal, and up a small hill, we find ourselves in this amazing setting, in a newly built guest house, with Dave. Wow, wow, wow!
The canal path crossed a few roads, and swapped sides a couple of times, went through a golf course, and finally we got off and found our way to Dave’s house. We smashed the tonne, and what an amazing backdrop.
We sat and watched the colours changing on the hills, and Will did some research for our next adventure, having a test ride on Dave’s fat bike.
We had showers, Dave took Will to the store, we chatted and watched the sun set in this beautiful place, ate dinner, and crashed like the dead. You just never know what the day will bring!