Departure: 6:35 a.m.
Arrival: 5:30 p.m.
Distance: 105 miles
Climbing: 8,500 feet much of which was done at an elevation of 6-7000 feet.
Temerature: Really hard to say since we were at so many different elevations. Let's just say it was about 40-50 degrees cooler than the last three days. We were in light jackets a couple of different times. What a difference a day makes!
I had a not-so-good-feeling about this day. Last night our room in the Wickenburg motel was the pits--our air condidtioner didn't work (temp was in the low 100's in the late afternoon); the carpet was soggy; and the air was filled with some potent allergen that did a number on my sinuses and I don't even have respiratory allergies! Add to that the cumulative effect of 3 days of riding in the desert heat; the cumulative climb of 12,430 feet; and the predictable fact that Day 4 is often "hump" day. (After that your body shifts into a new mode and rhythm). Today's riding agenda promised to be a challenging one and I really didn't know if I would have the right stuff or not.
Our departure from Wickenburg took me right by The Meadows, a remarkable treatment program for addictions of all kinds and trauma. By mile 18, the first rest stop, we had climbed 1,000 feet. In the next 6.5 miles we climbed another 1,860 feet. The grade was a steady 6% which; if I rode at 5-6 mph it wasn't too tough. But this was only the first of three such climbs for the day. Could I do it two more times??
At mile 25 we entered the little town of Yarnel whose motto is: "Where the desert winds meets moutain air." At about 4,470 EL you could feel the mountain air for sure. In the next 21.5 miles would climb another 1,630 feet to an elevation of 6,100 for lunch just before our descent into Prescott.
The scenery was breathtaking but I had to focus so much on just keeping the pedals cranking it was hard to take in the beauty that was everywhere. Clouds don't change that much in Chicago. WYSIWYG. If you wake up to an overcast day, that's pretty much what you can expect all day. But up here around one switch back you can have blue skies and fluffy clouds and by the time you round the next switchback you are racing to get away from this low-hanging, black, storm cloud. Fortunately we were faster than the storm cloud.
We descended about 1,000 feet into Prescott. It was funny to have to contend with traffic after 3 days in the desert and miles of solitude on the mountains.
Our final climb of the day would be about 3,400 feet which would take us to an elevation of 7,023 ft before a screaming 12 mile descent at mountain grades into the artist town of Jerome. Most people love the downhills, but I'm a downhill whimp. Chicago only gives me interstate overpasses to practice my downhill techniques. I know Nancy and Mike hit 45 on their tandem, but I feathered the brakes to about half of that. The vistas on the way down were even more spectacular than the scenery earlier in the day. But to enjoy them you had to pull over and stop. No way you could take your eye off the road under condidtions where posted speeds for cars around the hairpin switch backs were 15-20 mph.
There was a bunch of us who kept passing one another up and down the mountains. Each of us was hurting in our own ways wondering if we'd make it to the next rest stop. It was a good reminder, once again, of the power of community where sharing the burden somehow always make it lighter. Just chatting with Steve, or Nancy, or Mike, or Bob, or Joe, or Julie, or Samone, or Reed made it all seem so much more doable.
My gloomy forecast for the day was certainly disproved. It was actually a great day. And to add to the goodness my replacement phone arrived on time in Cottonwood and I even found a Verizon store within walking distance where I could have my phonebook entries trasferred from the old to the new. Can't get any better than that.
Tomorrow we're off to Winslow, AZ.