Day 421 – The race to the end!

I spent three whole days in the Safford/Thatcher due to weather and blog upkeep delays and now there is only 1 rest day left that I am saving for California. This means I have to ride everyday between now and then if I want to catch my plane to Washington State on July 19th.

Why the deadline?

My mom is taking off on her annual sister trip the day after, with my two aunts of course, and so this is one of the few opportunities I’ll get to have my dad all to myself. Well mostly to myself, my brother and his family live nearby as well and I am of course looking forward to spending time with them as well.

Not to leave my mom out. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am happy she will be away, but I know how much she enjoys her sister trip and I’ll still be there when she gets back.

The ride today sucked for the following reasons:

  • humidity
  • wet roads = loud tire noise
  • bad shoulder conditions because they were narrow, broken and had rumble strips
  • fast traffic
  • lots of tails gating = aggressive drivers

It rained last so the air was thick with humidity right from the start. I really, really, really hate humidity and heat because every part of my body drips with sweat making my clothes rub my skin raw. When roads are wet the sound of tires pushing through water creates a mind numbering white noise. Solution earplugs – thank goodness I had some buried in a bag.

The shoulder was only 3 feet wide on a two lane, very fast road with lots of blind spots caused by hills and curves. There were also deep rumble strips making the shoulder effectively 2. 5 feet wide so I was either on the road, in the rumble strip or off the shoulder in soft dirt.

I know this is crappy to say, but if you can’t stay awake or stay sober enough to drive then you deserve to run off the road and let nature take its course. It’s not fair to me to have to deal with the stupid ass rumble strip on a narrow shoulder putting my life in more danger then it needs to be.

Or another solution, cheap-ass Arizona road department, is to make a shoulder that is 5 feet wide with a rumble strip so I can have a safe place to ride and you can still give tired and drunk people (who should not be driving anyway) a rumble strip to maybe wake them up before they run off the road. Bonus – it would give them extra time to wake up before running off the road.

US-70 goes through the San Carlos Reservation, which was established in 1872 for the Chiricahua Apache tribe. I want to be more positive about what I saw, but a quick ride though perspective it was depressing. I only saw the strip along US-70, which includs the towns of Bylas, Peridot, and Cutter, of what is a much larger area, but many of the houses were dumpy with junked cars, appliances, trash etc. strewn around. There was a freshly run over dog in the middle of the road eyes pushed out from the trauma and more roadside memorials to dead drivers than any other stretch of road I have so far seen. I know that reservation life is complicated – the history of native people being forced onto reservations is troubling, alcoholism is an acute problem for many and the local economy outside of a casino is small.

On the positive side – there were paved paths for people to walk along on the side of the road, health centers, a cultural center, and a newly built roadside gas station, restaurant, carwash, convince center that I stopped at. I am assuming and hope that it is owned by residents of the reservation because they need all the commerce they can get in addition to the casino that is just before Globe, AZ.

I stopped there for some water and got a chance to talk briefly with Gloria, who kept blessing my travels and Bob who made a point of personally showing me the historic pictures hanging inside the entryway of native life from the late 1800s – Geronimo, a cute baby on a crib board and some women making flat bread. There were also some nice paintings by a local artist in the attached Apache Burger restaurant. Bob suggested I check out the town of San Carlos, that now as I look up on Google Maps satellite and Street View looks nice so my loss for not checking it out and getting a fuller view of the area.

I admit the negative ride so far and many miles yet to go were deciding factors in not taking the 2o mile detour to see more of San Carlos. My loss and obviously it doesn’t allow for a full picture of what the reservation offers.

I checked into the first value priced motel I could find and in hindsight, whish I would have gone elsewhere. Even though I didn’t want the room closest to the road – the same fast noisy road I had been on all day, the owner would not allow me to have any other room because he said they were too small for me to put my bicycle in. Total bullshit, but I was tired and wanted to get a shower and some food so conceded. This being a hick mining town there were lots of loud pick-up trucks and the motel was at a top of hill so they would also have there foot heavy on the gas to get up as quickly as possible. Even with the AC on I felt like my bed was on the roadway – give the El Rancho Motel a pass.

Again – probably colored by my bad mood from the ride, but I found the town of Globe not too my liking. The major roadway through it killed the ambience, the abundant steep hills made getting around outside of the busy road by bicycle tough. The people I saw failed the wave-back-to-me test by being startled by someone being friendly (accept for the one guy sitting outside the bar that gave me a big wave first – thank you). Finally, the local paper had a letter to the editor filled with Rush Limbaugh talking points vomit, which I have the gut feeling is indicative of the towns politics.