My first day’s riding. Bored me to tears. Why did I start this again?
My first day’s riding. Bored me to tears. Why did I start this again?
Got a new rear wheel built and two new tyres today. Old tyres are down to the third threads. Am thinking about how I should ride into Mexico, my favourite idea is riding down to Baja. As long as it’s warmer than here.
Weighed my bike fully loaded with water and then all the panniers. I’m now of course sans 12-string acoustic guitar, I’m missing it already.
Me: 73 kg (161 lbs)
Bike: 26 kg (57 lbs)
Front panniers: 17 kg (37 lbs)
Rear panniers: 19 kg (42 lbs)
Total (including bike): 135 kg (297 lbs)
Still can’t work out why I keep destroying my rear wheels…
Herman and I drove out to Joshua Tree in the afternoon. It was too cold and not very conducive to exploring the park.
A few too many red wines around the campfire last night. I woke up with Herman wishing me all the best through my tent flap and then all of a sudden I was alone. Alone with a hangover. Cold.
I think Herman left while I was still in the semi-conscious state between dreaming and waking because he knew my hesitation about starting this trip again. He probably realised he’d be driving me back to his place again if I’d had time to think about it.
I rode to Twenty Nine palms to stock up on two day’s worth of food and water. Somehow, in the time between last night and this morning I’d decided to head East across the desert. No idea if there was a reason behind it.
I passed two other cyclists during the day who were heading to the west coast. Both avoided eye contact with me when they talked. They both seemed like weird loner types. Maybe it’s the effect of the desert. I hope I don’t give off the same sort of impression to people. The second guy was sixty-six years old and mentioned he’d just got out of hospital yesterday after being treated for dehydration. Said that he could pinch the skin on his arm and the skin would hold the shape of his fingers. I hope I’ve got enough water.
I camped the night at the side of a dry creek bed. There was a flash flood warning sign before it but it was the only place with decent tree cover that I’d seen all day.
It was another exhausting, boring day. Rode into Arizona and was treated to roads with a one foot wide shoulder, if lucky.
The only person I spoke to today was an old, skinny lady with facial hair who used to be a nurse. When she heard my accent she spent the next ten minutes telling me how anti-American she was. She was disgusted at the way her country was behaving and at the events in the Middle East. She’d love to live in Australia she said. I think she was trying to flirt with me. I failed to mention to her that our Prime Minister Howard was well and truly best mates (or so he’d like to think) with Bush and supported his every move. No-one really seems to realise Australia’s alignment with the US over here. The only news about Australia in the media here is when someone goes and does something wacky.
Or when Australian scientists have discovered that spiders can be trained much quicker to learn multiplication tables whilst under the zero-gravity conditions of the space shuttle compared to their counterparts back here on Earth. International news in America seems to be “the middle East” and that’s about it.
I tried to get to Salome tonight but I bonked and ended up camping beside a creek with virtually no vegetation cover. I didn’t put up my tent till nightfall as I would have been too visible from the road. I started eating the Cadbury’s chocolate I bought from home. It was little consolation for the fact that I’d run out of water and didn’t have enough for cooking.
Am feeling very lonely, very cold and very stinky.
Last night I was privileged to hear a pack of coyotes (or wild dogs?) squealing and howling not far from my tent. It sounded remarkably like a group of young girls screaming their heads off in anguish.
Another day of boring riding. For the last few days I’ve had nothing but a lonely, long, flat highway to myself, with a railway line and a row of power lines stretching to the horizon on the left of me, a fence about thirty metres to the right of me, desert on each side, the occasional tall cactus, and the sun always rising and setting on my right.
It’s cold enough that I always need to be wearing my rain clothes but sunny enough that the right side of my face is becoming very tanned.
I got hailed on today. It was a short, two minute attack of small hailstones and then a few minutes of light rain. For the rest of the day I got to watch monstrous, dark storm clouds move away in front of me towards Phoenix. The rain brought me a little joy, it broke up the monotony of the day and it was especially breathtaking to see the beautiful pink and purple sunset I was privy to on the walk back from the grocery store.
I think I could have almost enjoyed myself today had it not been for spending the greater part of the day negotiating my way through Phoenix. It must have been fifty miles of suburbia. I’m amazed at the amount of recreational vehicle (RV) culture here in Arizona. There are RV storage places. RV parts. RV reconditioning. RVs for sale. Every second sign along the highway has the letters “RV” in it.
None of the RV parks I passed at sunset would let me set up my tent. It was one and a half hours after dark that I finally found an overpriced KOA on the edge of suburbia that allowed me to camp.
It was easy to keep thinking up excuses to get off my bike and rest this morning because of my stumbling energy reserves (“Well, it’s been at least ten minutes since I last checked the pressure in my back tyre”).
The scenery was pretty fantastic today compared to the monotony I’ve had since Joshua Tree. I wound upwards through Tonto National Forest, century-old towering cacti, amongst tall weather-softened peaks and boulders. I’m not in half the shape I was before Christmas, so it was a long and tiring uphill. The road seemed to summit and I hoorayed at the sign stating I had a six percent decline for the next twelve miles. I even put on warmer clothes and tightened my rear brakes for the speedy downhill to come. But it didn’t. Obviously a cruel joke by someone that doesn’t like cyclists. Within minutes I was huffing, puffing and sweating my way up more hills. The downhill I eventually got was not great. I had to peddle all the way down due to headwinds. Very deflating for the mind.
When I was in the town of Globe in the late afternoon I asked a local for directions to Hwy 70. He said that I’d better make sure I’m at the next town Pilma before dark as “the land up there is Indian reservation”. Pilma was a good fifty-nine miles away, there was no chance of me getting there by nightfall. This got me wondering what the man thought would happen to me if I got caught stealth camping on the reservation. Did he think they would scalp me? Put a curse on my family?
Luckily for my scalp and my family, three miles out of Globe I stopped in at the Apache Casino. In my AAA camping guide it said they do not allow tents, but the staff seemed fine to take my $5 and let me stay. It was basically the casino parking lot. I managed to find the only bit of unpaved dirt in the parking lot, directly under a massive floodlight that allowed me to read my book, inside my tent, well into the evening.