Day 7, Ride Across America – Gallup to Albuquerque

Riding to raise money to provide counseling and support for grieving children.

Today was remarkable and memorable in many ways. Gallup was very cold this am – low 30s when we loaded bikes at 6 am. We were required to get a van lift past construction to the site on the road of the Continental Divide – see photo. After photos, we biked to the local gas station and gift shop for a bathroom. I heard Navajo language being spoken by one of the clerks talking on the phone – a very soft and pretty sounding language and a reminder of the Code Breakers of WWII.

Much of the ride was on old Route 66. Along the way, a few towns still exist and hundreds of scattered homes are lived in. However, most buildings, businesses, homes, churches and municipal buildings had been abandoned and were in decay. In the background, Interstate 40 hummed with semi trucks and motor homes – greatly outnumbering cars. On the other side of us,, trains past every 45 to 90 minutes, each with 4 – 6 locomotives and hundreds of cars. See photos of some scenes along I 40.

Interstate I 40 also runs through the northern side of the El Malpais lava flow south of the town of Grant. (see the picture of cactus growing from lava in Relive video.)

Lunch finished by 11:45 and we started biking again. At noon, I passed Marco standing a few feet off the road. At dinner, he explained that in the Netherlands on May 4th at 8 pm, the people observe 2 moments of silence to remember the Dutch victims of WWII. Tonight, he also included all peacekeepers who have died in service since then. Our noon time is 8 pm in the Netherlands.

Biking downhill at 2:25 pm, about 25 miles outside of Albuquerque, I saw one our bikers laying face down on the shoulder just in front of a sign that spanned the width of the shoulder. Francois had fallen hitting his nose, left side of head, left shoulder, hip and knee. Fellow bikers immediately controlled the scene by directing traffic, another called 911 and Mike our leader. I cared for him until the ambulance arrived and I went with him to the University of New Mexico Hospital. Francois had sustained a concussion, fractured his left collarbone and had bilateral pneumothorax. At 6 pm, he finally remembered trying to ride around the sign, but he caught the edge, lost his balance and fell. It is expected he’ll get out of the hospital tomorrow and he’ll be able to go home. The ABB staff will ship his bike for him. We are all concerned about his welfare and saddened that he will not continue with us.

Below is the abbreviated ride due to the van ride to the start and ending the ride at the accident. The speed of 72 mph occurred during a van ride for a few miles to get passed construction.

Day 6 Ride across America

This is why I am riding. To raise money for Growing Through Grief :

“I always look forward to grief group. Even if it’s a week when there are a lot of students who are sad and crying it feels so good to be with people where we all understand the pain of having someone we love die.  I not only like receiving support from the group, I like giving support, too.” – GTG Student

We started the day early with a 5 am breakfast and a 6 am start for Jen, Judy and myself. With temps in the 40’s, I wore a jacket, ear band and full fingered gloves. At mile 17, we were loaded into the van for a short drive past road construction.

Our first rest stop was at 38 miles, the Hopi Travel Plaza. There, a couple from Texas asking about our ride with America by Bicycle, heard about the Growing Through Grief program and gave me $5 for it. “It is an important cause”, the wife said.

After I spoke with the couple, I went back to my bike and found the rear tire was flat – I had picked up a piece of wire that punctured the inner tube. The tire was thoroughly checked for other wires and glass and then, with a new inner tube, put back on the wheel and inflated.

As we drew closer to Gallop, the scenery began to change – see photos in video – with beautiful hills and caves carved into the stone from indigenous peoples. Soon after our second sag stop, we entered New Mexico. A few minutes later, Jen had a flat and a problem with her chain, so our arrival into Gallop was delayed until 6:15. New Mexico is an hour later than Arizona during Daylight savings time. So, total time en route was 11 1/2 hours and we covered 131.5 miles. Again, a problem with the odometer will a show a shorter distance than we covered..

Those personal contact points with the bike have been taking a beating. I have bandages on the hands for blisters and the feet are sore, especially the toes. The bottom, well, it needs attention. Ointment tonight and, in addition to chamois cream, I’ll start wearing two biking shorts tomorrow. I don’t want skin breakdown to interfere with the trip.

5 am breakfast and a 6 am luggage load in the morning. I hope this hotel is not as noisy as last night in Winslow!

Day 5 Ride across America

Today was a lovely mixture of stunning scenery, hard work and simple landscapes. There are now two groups of riders. The fast group – Marco, Francois, Morton and Todd and the not as fast – Jen and myself. If you use Strava, you can find the four men listed – their routes and times are shared with other riders. They have been ranked in the top 10 of all riders using Strava on some of the roads we have biked. As on previous rides with ABB, the slower group will start out with one of the team leaders 30 minutes before the others. Today, Judy, Jen and I started at 6:15.

With a little planning, I met my dear friend, Dr Dan Goldsmith in Sedona! What a treat. And the scenery in and around Sedona is spectacular. Please go if you have not been. Bring your hiking boots!

The route from Cottonwood to Flagstaff is mainly uphill – especially the switchbacks east of Sedona. Fortunately, I had trained sufficiently and had my best “time” of the three rides that I have done on that route. From Flagstaff, it was a slow descent to Winslow on Interstate 40. The surround is mainly prairie grass and a few scattered scrub trees. The trains often run along the Interstate with hundreds of cars behind 5 locomotives. Also, we saw one of the first signs marking a stopping point of Route 66 just outside of Flagstaff. Of course, we stood on the corner in Winslow, AZ as in the song by the Eagles. I finished the day at 4 pm.

Working on video of the ride – waiting to resolve technical issues.

Tomorrow, day 6, we have breakfast at 5 and leave by 6 for a long ride to Gallup, NM. We have been warned to expect flat tires and carry extra inner tubes. Mike had 6 flats today.

Switchbacks east of Sedona

Day 4 Ride across America

Starting in Wickenburg this am, we had 3 large climbs followed by wonderful descents on the other side. Our first climb was to Yarnell Pass at 4850 feet. We saw signs for the ‘Hot Shot’ firefighters, 19 young men from Prescott, who died in the Yarnell Fire, June 30, 2013. From there we had a beautiful descent to the valley filled with ranches, prairie grasses and scrub trees. A slow, steady ascent lead to our next hill top just beyond the town of Wihoit where we had lunch.

Our next city was Prescot, a busy town where all of us had an unpleasant encounter from drivers. Following more riding on the highway, we turned onto 89A. It took us up Mingus Mtn with a summit for traffic of 7023. Then a fast descent with technical turns for most of the next 7 miles. So much that my hands cramped from the intermittent breaking to control the bike. We stopped for a nice sandwich at the Haunted Hamburger restaurant in Jerome with a commanding view of the valley below. Then, a step descent the the valley below Jerome and another 7 miles to our hotel in Cottonwood.

During our trip we have enjoyed the multitude of scents from crops, vegetation, fruit trees and flowering plants. Today, we enjoyed the lovely scents of sun warmed pines, Pepper grass, farm crops like alfalfa and spring flowers. A reminder for me that biking does bring me closer to nature.

Today, we biked 111 miles with 8,700 vertical feet of climbing. I can honestly say, I feel sore everywhere! Tomorrow, up for 5:30 breakfast and start by 6:15. We are tired and it will be a long ride through Sedona, Flagstaff before ending in Winslow. So, I’ll put my legs up for a few minutes to help with lymphatic drainage and then head off to bed.

At this time, I do not have the Relive video of today’s ride and photos. I will try to get it by tomorrow. Thanks for your understanding.