Apaches and Angels - U.S. 360 Day 21 from Safford AZ to San Carlos AZ
My cycling journey around the American perimeter
71 miles – Total so far: 1072 miles
Today was difficult.
I had a feeling from the beginning it would be tough, and unfortunately, I was right. I glanced at the hour-by-hour weather forecast last night, and saw that the Westerly winds were going to be a problem early, and they were going to get worse throughout the day. The temperatures were also forecasted to creep into triple-digit territory. Even knowing this, I elected to try and make the long trek to Apache Gold, which is a nice resort area on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.
The first 20 miles of the ride out of Safford paralleled the Gila River Valley, thus the surrounding area was quite fertile and green. I was amazed to see golden fields of wheat, as well as other crops nestled between mountain ranges to the left and to the right. Once completely out of the valley, the surroundings become noticeably more arid, sandy, rugged, and ….. windy. Over the next 50 miles, the wind increased, temperatures climbed, truck traffic on U.S. 70 increased, the narrow roadway shoulder deteriorated, etc.. I mention all of this only accentuate the positive, which manifested itself through two road angels I’d like to tell you about.
The first came in the form of a driver who saw me laboring against the wind, the climbing, and the temperatures. Tim, from Tucson, Arizona, saw me as I was cresting a particularly nasty hill. He pulled over, offered me a bottle of Gatorade and an apple, and we chatted for a good 15 minutes. Ironically, Tim is a cyclist, and is considering touring as well. I wish him well and I certainly hope he’ll take the cycle touring plunge. Thank you for your generosity, Tim! The second road angel came in the form of an Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) employee. A few miles outside of Peridot, Arizona, I came upon a work zone where apparently a four or five mile stretch of highway was being resurfaced. The highway had been funneled down to one lane, and I was in the front of dozens of cars waiting their turn to traverse the work zone. A very friendly ADOT employee driving the Pilot vehicle to lead cars through the zone agreed to let me throw my bike and gear into the back of his vehicle in order to avoid quite assuredly a dangerous situation. Thanks to both of these men for their show of kindness. It made an otherwise trying day very memorable.
I passed through a number of small communities today, some of which were on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, which dominated the day's ride: Thatcher, Pima, Fort Thomas, Geronimo, Bylas, Peridot, San Carlos. This particular reservation was established by President U.S. Grant in 1872, and in terms of land area, is the tenth largest Indian reservation in the country.
Didn’t see any Eastbound Southern Tier cyclists, and like yesterday, wildlife sightings included predominantly lizards. I’m staying at the Apache Gold Hotel and Casino tonight, and enjoying the hospitality (and cold beer) whole-heartedly.
It’s All Good.
Photo of the Day: Heat, wind, and hills are beginning to take their toll
Click Here to read my daily tour journal entry on crazyguyonabike.com