Day: September 22, 2010

Day 5: Blythe to Salome

Here are some basic stats:
Distance: 68 miles
Rolling time 5:50
Average speed 11.6 mph
Climb: ~2000 feet

The route was simple: get on I-10 outside of Blythe, get off and ride through Quartzite (nothing there worth slowing down for, as far as I’m concerned), then get back on I-10 to US 60, and take that almost as far as Phoenix (which I’ll hit tomorrow).

So it was another long day in the desert. Whereas the Yuha Desert was forbidding and beautiful, the desert here in Arizona seems ugly and mean. Hard to explain.

I did get to cross one state off my list, and in doing so got my first flat—the pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River is covered in broken glass and puncture vine. Oh well, bound to happen sooner or later.

My second flat of the day came within the next 30 miles. On I-10. This was unpleasant enough for the heavy truck traffic and all the noise it creates, and the lack of anything vaguely resembling a good pullout. But what made it genuinely bad was the minefield of shredded tire carcasses covering the shoulder. The wire cords that spray everywhere easily get embedded in bike tires and poke through. And they’re devilishly hard to find once they’re in there. One of them got me. Being on a recumbent trike has pros and cons in this regard. On the negative side, I’ve got three tracks on the ground, so it’s almost impossible to steer a good line in situations like this. It was stressful. And I’ve got two different tire sizes, neither of which are conventional, so restocking en route would be difficult. The positive is that my front tires, at least, are right at hand, so I can wipe them down frequently. And I do.

The flats, the considerable amount of climbing, the heat, and the fact that I’m not fully recovered from yesterday probably have conspired to give me a less positive attitude about my ride today. But it just felt like a day I had to grind through. I decided to call it quits at 4:00 pm in Salome because the next town I might want to stop in, Aguila, is 27 miles down the road with some serious climbing on the way. I’d probably be getting in around dusk, assuming I could still ride well that extra distance.