Date: December 17th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 36 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.2 mph
Max Speed: 28.6 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,997.27
Weather: clear, breezy and 57 degrees (Willcox, AZ) to (Benson, AZ).
Time of Departure: 11:35
Arrival Time to Benson, AZ: 4:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: The front chain on the Burley is loose.
Date: December 18th
Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 12 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.9 mph
Max Speed: 21.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,043.55
Weather: clear to cloudy, breezy and 60 degrees (Benson, AZ) to (Tucson, AZ).
Time of Departure: 11:40
Arrival Time to our Warmshowers host in Tucson, AZ: 5:00 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: The front chain on the Burley is loose, fell off 3 or 4 times. Gail’s trailer tire went flat, the one with the 27″ inner tube 😉 .
We are a bit behind, at least in recording our adventures. Some of that can still be blamed on the bout of food poisoning that seems to have finally left. I also wasn’t much good after being around 2 dogs and 3 cats for a couple of hours.
But, I can tell you that we have made it to Tucson and that we have crossed the 2,000 mile marker. We have crossed the 2,000 mile marker. We have crossed the 2,000 mile marker. Oops, sorry. We left the scenery filled hospitality of Sybelle, but we first had to enjoy the many types of birds feeding at the feeders on the back deck. Even with a bird field guide, it can still be a challenge to find the exact one we are looking at. It was fun trying and we spent an hour or so being captivated by the birds and the surrounding mountains.
We left at about 11:40 am and got to dragging our bikes up the dirt hill to get to the pavement. That was the hardest part of the whole day. We were a couple of miles off of I-10 and had to do some climbing to get to the interstate (and then, we did some more climbing).
Our goal for the day was to reach a Warmshowers host in Tucson over 40 miles away. We were all huffing and puffing before we made it to I-10, but things would get better. We started our climbing as we got on exit 302 headed west bound. The climbing wasn’t too bad because the wind wasn’t a factor.
The chain on the tandem is loose and needs at least one link taken out. I didn’t want to do this without a bike shop near just in case there was a problem, so we rode it and had to keep putting the chain back on every 7-10 miles.
The climb had just flattened out as we hit a construction zone. That was interesting. It was only 5 miles or so but at times gave us no shoulder to pedal on. So we hurried when we needed to get to the next shoulder. We were glad to be done with The Zone.
We caught hold of an awesome tailwind about 30 miles from Tucson. To make matters better, it was also a lot of downhill. This clip of 15 or so miles may be the fastest of our whole trip. You really appreciate these moments in time when the winds and hills combine to offer you the prize you fought so hard for. The barrier to entry, like so much in life, comes with a price. The price on our journey has been worth the extraordinary folks we have met, the scenery we have taken in, and yes, the hills we descend at mach 1 speed. It is the fruit at the top of the tree.
We stopped at a gas station after having a friendly officer let us know our time on 10 was over. He really was a nice guy. We had been looking for signs for bikes to exit and had seen none. We were planning it either way in two exits, so it was a bit expedited. No problem. We snacked and drank and contacted our wonderful hosts for the evening. We were in the station for about half an hour.
Remember that barrier to entry thing? The temperature dropped and the wind was strong against us now. We still had about 15 miles or so and we earned each one. We were now on city streets and side roads. After traveling what we have on our bikes to this point, I prefer the interstate. City streets (even with bike lanes) can be an adventure by itself.
We pulled up to a warm welcome by Janet. Her smile and warmth ended any awkwardness we may have had. We had dinner with her and Paulus and talked about our adventures and theirs. They traveled Holland by bicycle last year. They are both highly intelligent and well spoken. We believe in the rub off effect. We enjoy our children and ourselves rubbing elbows with people like this. In fact, it is a privilege that we are thankful for.
We called it a night at about 10:00 pm, which is early for us, but yours truly needed the recouping.
Date: December 19th
Time Pedaling: 1:12
Avg. Speed: 9.7
Max Speed: 18.1
Trip Odometer: 2,055.37
Weather: clear, cold, breezy and 41 degrees (Tucson, AZ).
Time of Departure: 4:30
Arrival Time back to our host’s home in Tucson, AZ: 11:30
Repairs: Stopped at The Ordinary Bike Shop to get the chain on the Burley fixed.
We decided on a rest day of our choosing today. It was made easy by our hosts invitation. In the last week or so we’ve had weather determine what we did, it was nice deciding for ourselves.
We enjoyed biking (yes, on our bikes) through a bit of Tucson and even visiting the winter wonderland known as Winterhaven.
We set out around 4:00 pm after catching up on some work and chatting with Janet. We first stopped at the Ordinary Bike Shop to have them check out that loose chain problem I was having with the tandem. Good thing I did. I was set to take a link or two off and go from there. They advised that wasn’t the way to go, and actually tightened the chain without taking anything apart. Our bike has what’s called an eccentric chain tensioner. This tensioner can get loose after riding, oh say, a couple of thousand miles. When that happens the chain loosens, which is the problem we were having. There is a special tool needed to tighten the tensioner because the hex nuts have to be turned at the same time, and they are in close proximity to each other.
James had the problem fixed in a matter of minutes. It only cost $8.00 which was well worth it. We went on our way to see Tucson. Our first stop was at Subway to supply energy to the engines. It had been chilly already and was getting colder (about 42) due to the setting sun. We decided we would push on anyhow and go and see the Wonderland Christmas lights about three miles further.
We are glad we did. Winterhaven is an entire subdivision in which every house is decorated. It is a big deal. There are horse-drawn wagons taking folks around to see all the fun. There are also buses that look like trolley cars. Today was a no vehicle day (other than the wagons and buses) and so everyone was able to walk freely in the streets. The other vehicle I did see was a 1971 convertible Buick Skylark (?) transporting a most jovial Santa around. There were coffee booths as well as kettle corn (which we got).
It is a beautiful thing indeed to behold the little smiling faces all around us filled with awe. There were awards for things like Best Roof Top, Most Spirited, etc. There seemed to be no shortage of themed decorations. One house had a photo booth with props for you to use (which we did).
We got back on our bikes and headed to Starbuck’s for coffee and some family time. It may be odd that we could be on our bikes spending that much time together, and yet, mention family time. Sipping coffee and playing Bananagrams allows us to relax. We did just that.
We pedaled back to our hosts for the night and shared our adventure in Tucson with them, before turning in for the night.
It was a wonderful day off!
Date: December 20th
Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 14 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.0 mph
Max Speed: 34.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,077.93
Weather: sunny, breezy and 63 degrees (Tucson, AZ) to (Tucson, AZ).
Time of Departure: 1:15
Arrival Time to our Warmshowers Host on the west side of Tucson, AZ: 5:00 (Mountain Time Zone)
Today was one of the best days of the entire trip. We started with another oatmeal and fruit breakfast at Janet’s. We visited her art studio (on premises) and bought some of her greeting cards and postcards.
Janet (and Paulus) were quite busy during our stay as they were planning on leaving to hike the Grand Canyon on Friday. We appreciate them opening their home to us even with their hectic schedule. We spent a while with Janet talking about the route we would take to our next stop. We said our goodbyes and pedaled on.
The next stop we would make would also have a Tucson address but it was 20 miles away and we had to take what is known as Gates Pass. Yes, that kind of a Pass. The elevation was about 3,700 feet but there was some serious climbing to be had. Part of the climb hit 13% grade.
On the way to Gates Pass, we stopped at a Safeway and grabbed some supplies for later and food to eat now. From our vantage at the Safeway (eating at a picnic table) we could see what was before us. We had been warned by Janet that this wasn’t the best route, but the most direct. She said she hadn’t ever seen anyone biking up with gear. That sounded like a challenge to us!
It sure was a challenge. The climbing probably consisted of 13 of the 20 miles to get to our destination. The views were incredible as we inched along. We needed about 4 breaks in total to make it to the top. I was still hurting from allergies and remnants of food poisoning, but it didn’t much matter. Panting was required to make it up this climb no matter your condition. Dakota led most of the way up, with Gail and I holding up the rear together. I think I passed out three times, reaching the plane of enlightenment. The enlightenment I discovered was that if I stopped pedaling, I would fall over (or go backwards).
We climbed up a very short but steep hill and I saw my wife pull over to the side and asked if she wanted to stop for a minute. She said we could keep going. When we turned around we realized that we had reached the top. Exultation!
The first downhill was fast (34 mph) but took a sharp right turn at the bottom which created the need to squeeze brakes most of the way down. After turning we stopped at the scenic point and would you believe Luke wanted to hike to the top of one of the peaks. Him and Dakota climbed a trail for a couple hundred feet as Gail and I sucked all the precious oxygen in as we could. As the kids came back our host for the night, Eric, called to check on us. He told us we had about eight or so miles left to get to our stop.
We left the scenic area to some more down hills. After traveling a couple of miles we had reached our turn off. There was a man there in a van that said hello. We smiled and said hello as we waited for my wife (Dakota and I fly on the down hills). The man approached us and introduced himself as Eric, our host for the night. Eric let us know that he would trail us for safety the rest of the way.
We pulled into Yvonne and Eric’s place at about 5:30pm to a warm reception. Eric and Yvonne and their family are new members to Warmshowers. As it turned out, we were their very first guests. We met two of their children (Frankie-college student, Makani-high school and boy scout extraordinaire) who came out to greet us with Yvonne. I have to tell you right off the bat that this was my favorite Warmshowers host on our trip. My family felt the same.
Eric and Yvonne are teachers. The kind of teachers that you want your children to have. The kind of teachers that make paying taxes bearable. It is obvious they care, in a big way. Much conversation was spent talking about what they do, not for lack of conversation, but because they love what they do. They love making an impact. Yvonne’s parents came over and joined us for dinner. I enjoyed every moment I had conversing with Mario and Jenny (and the rest of the family). Mario is a serious gardener and surprised me by the types of vegetables he grows in this arid climate. He and Jenny are wonderful people and shared some inspiring stories.
The food that Yvonne prepared was magnificent! Cheese and beef enchiladas, beans and rice and plenty of delicious appetizers. There was also a homemade red velvet cake for dessert.
It wasn’t just that the food and conversation was good, it felt like home for us. This family made us feel like part of the family.
Eric is planning on doing RAGBRAI (again) with Makani and middle daughter Olivia. Eric is an amazing guy. He has 4-200 mile days of pedaling under his belt. That is serious. It is getting started at 4 in the morning and getting done at 9-10 at night.
After Yvonne’s parents left, everyone played a game together except Eric and I. Eric took me into his man cave to show me the tandem that has finished RAGBRAI twice. He bought the bike with a history of trips and then started adding his own to the list. He plans on adding a transcontinental to it.
Our time with this family was truly precious. We can’t thank them enough for hosting us and smiling upon us. They are the reason this was one of the best days on our trip.
Date: December 21st
Time Pedaling: 5 hrs. 02 min.
Avg. Speed: 11.5 mph
Max Speed: 20.1 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,136.23
Weather: sunny, breezy and 70 degrees (Tucson, AZ) to (Casa Grande, AZ).
Time of Departure: 12:40
Arrival Time to our Warmshowers Host in Casa Grande, AZ: 7:15 (Mountain Time Zone)
We had a wonderful and filling breakfast with Yvonne, Eric, Makani and Olivia (middle daughter). Who doesn’t like pancakes? As far as the company goes, better than the food.
Eric and Yvonne had some work to do at school so we were left to pack (and me to catch up on some journaling). As we were locking the doors, Jenny (Yvonne’s Mom) pulled up to say her goodbyes to us. We spoke for a few moments and said goodbye and went back to locking up, and then Yvonne pulled up. We spoke to her for a few more minutes. We again were pulling out, and Eric pulled up. Again, we talked for a few minutes and then, finally said GOODBYE.
We enjoyed our time with that awesome family so much, and look forward to reading about Eric and the family’s adventures on the road.
We pedaled away through the Saguaro National Park. It was beautiful on all sides. As we approached the town of Marana, Gail pointed to the sky. There were 14 skydivers floating to the ground. The plane landed and picked up some more jumpers, which we got to see jump out and open up their chutes. It brought back some memories for Gail and I, and got the children wide eyed. Dakota said she is ready.
We pedaled hard as we had to get about 58 miles to get to our next host. After pedaling about 25 miles we stopped at a gas station that had a Dairy Queen. We used the facilities and the squeaky wheel got some grease, that is, Luke got some ice cream from Dairy Queen. He had been working on us for a couple of states for Dairy Queen specifically. We had gotten ice cream a few times but at the much more reasonable grocery store. But hey, when a kid deserves Dairy Queen, he deserves Dairy Queen. We sat and rested for about 25 minutes.
Dakota called our host for the evening to let him know we were on our way. We still had a good 28 miles to go with about an hour and a half of daylight left. Needless to say, we rode in the dark for a good 40 minutes. Not fun once again. We had no shoulder for a couple of miles. We managed.
We pulled up to Brian Pangburn’s home at about 7:15 pm. Brian greeted us warmly and had us bring our gear into his garage. We quickly got settled and were greeted with a nice homemade meal. Brian and his wife Yuliya (and Yuliya’s Mom and daughter, Sonya) had just gotten back into the country late the previous night. They are professional skydivers that travel the world training others how to do it safely. Brian has jumped more than 5,000 times and Yuliya over 2,000. Small world after seeing the skydivers earlier in Marana.
We enjoyed hearing their stories and spending time with them. We appreciate them hosting us as they were clearly tired.
We turned in early after hitting some many miles for the day. My family is awesome. I hope you feel the same way about yours.
Date: December 22nd
Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 23 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.7 mph
Max Speed: 20.6 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,160.14
Weather: sunny, 69 degrees (Casa Grande, AZ) to (Stanfield, AZ).
Time of Departure: 11:40
Arrival Time to Saguaro-One RV Park in Stanfield, AZ: 3:00 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: Gail got a flat on the same trailer tire – a wire was the culprit.
We went to a local burrito place for breakfast. The breakfast burrito was good and reasonably priced (we spent under $20 bucks at only $3.80 each). After eating, Brian and Yuliya pedaled with us as we left Casa Grande. They led the way to Stanfield which was about 12 miles out.
We said goodbye as Brian and Yuliya pedaled away on their recumbent tandem. We had to change a flat trailer tire at our stop. Luke actually got the tire and tube off the rim. We patched the tube and put it back on. The road we had taken to get out of Casa Grande was an incline most of the way to I-8. It was a tough ride after pedaling 58 miles yesterday. By the way, This is the first time in almost a month that we aren’t on I-10, or at least within view of it. Casa Grande sits in between the two interstates. Just like that, goodbye I-10, you were good to us!
We really struggled the last 3-4 miles to get to I-8 as the steepness increased to a 2% grade.
Gail had a headache and we were all tired so we decided we would stop for the night if we found a close spot. Sure enough, when we reached I-8 there was a gas station with an RV park next door. We talked to Mash (the owner of the gas station) who said we could camp behind his store if the RV park didn’t allow tents. We talked to Mash for a while then, and later, and enjoyed the his humor and kindness.
We talked to Justine (the host of the RV park) and she said tents were allowed. There aren’t any showers, but for only $7, we can live with that. There are plenty of friendly folks here that we got to talk to. We set up camp and snacked a bit.
For some reason we allowed the children to talk us into climbing a nearby peak. Yes, after being too tired to pedal any further, an hour and a half later we were walking and climbing to reach a summit. I don’t use the word climbing lightly. We were bent over and using our hands to keep from sliding down the steep slope. My guess is that the peak was about 2,000 feet or so. The view was awesome. There were massive saguaros all around. From the top, we could see our camp site. It was a long way down.
To add some more excitement, we had to hike down in the dark after snapping some pictures. That was fun, sort of. The kids enjoyed it.
After picking up some munchies from Mash, we headed to our site. We picked up our computers and headed over to a rec center in the RV park. It had a pool table, games, movies, etc. We had it all to ourselves and were able to work and play at the same time.
That’s what we’re doing now. Another day on the road in the books. By the way, we’ve been spotting Gila Woodpeckers. They are quite common here, but we can now take them off our list.
Good night to all the awesome people out there. And yes, we mean you!
Date: December 23rd
Time Pedaling: n/a
Avg. Speed: n/a
Max Speed: n/a
Trip Odometer: 2,160.14
Weather: sunny, 64 degrees in (Stanfield, AZ).
Time of Departure: n/a
Arrival Time to Saguaro-One RV Park in Stanfield, AZ: n/a
We decided to stay at the Saguaro-One RV Park another day. We were all strangely drawn to this place.
We walked in the desert amongst the Saguaro’s and Organ Pipe Cactus. We collected rocks.
We spent several hours in the rec center that we had to ourselves. We played pool and read some magazines together.
We enjoyed conversing with several people.
Mash is an American Muslim from Bangladesh. He is leasing the gas station next to the RV Park. Over the time we were there, we had several lengthy conversations with Mash.
He lived in Detroit for several years and has the wit that comes with it.
We met Doyle Petite who has quite a collection of antique cars. He said it helped to keep him sober and drug free. He is from Iowa. He’s been coming to this RV park since 1992. He also brings food baskets to the local Indian Reservation.
I like a man who sees a problem and sets out to help in his own way.
We met Robert who works for Mash just not officially. Robert doesn’t like to be tied down. He rode his bike here in 2009 and hasn’t left (must be the water).
He does what needs to be done at the gas station just as long as Mash doesn’t tell him what to do. It seems to work for both of them.
We felt so relaxed with the people and surroundings, we really did not want to leave.
We enjoyed our last night there spending quality time together as a family.
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