#SD2KW, Day 9, Wickenburg to Peoria, 50 miles | Cactus Cruise

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Had to stop our ride a little short since we had an appointment at Southwest Bikes to get a new bike tire. Yes we stopped in Peoria. No, it’s nowhere near Illinois. 😂

It’s a really cool town on the western side of Phoenix (where we ride through tomorrow). And it’s set up nicely with bike lanes and bike paths.

Today was a MOST pleasant day to ride along Highways 60 and 74 on the wide shoulders amidst hundreds of cacti with mountains in the background. The sun shone. All. Day. Long.

What a super easy day to ride mostly downhill on a FriYay! 🥳

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#SD2KW, Day 8, Salome to Wickenburg, 54 miles | Ground Hog Day (but not really)

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The day started out as most every other day with push-ups, planks, prayers and breakfast (grits for me and oatmeal for Tom). Loved the wall art and vibe of our cafe breakfast place.

We got on the road and our usual friend showed up (the head wind) and just 15 miles down the road, another flat tire. Same bike. Same tire. This place wasn’t as nice to change a flat as the day before as we were now in the scruff off the side of Highway 60.

This little wire is what took out Tom’s tire.

Faithful in all circumstances and knowing we’d figure it out together, we continued cycling toward Wickenburg, taking it a mile at a time and me mostly hugging the back of Tom’s bike to hide from the wind and watching his back tire hoping it would hold air. A quick lunch and phone call to a bike shop and we were off.

About 15 miles from town, we began to notice the wind stopped! And we had a scenic downhill ride all the way into Wickenburg. Yee Haw! 🤠

The day gets even better with a stay at a Best Western right next to the best Bar B Q we’ve ever eaten at Hassayampa Bar B Q.

As we were tearing into our food (the way most hungry cyclists do) I kept hearing a familiar voice from the adjacent table. Turns out it was Trace Adkins.

After he left the restaurant we asked owner John who the patron was and he confirmed it was Trace. John (a former long distance runner/cyclist who now ropes at rodeos) then let us know he and his brother Chef Michael and their pops just bought the restaurant.

Same start to the day but what a different ending from a week ago when we were eating chicken ramen in a dinky hotel in the middle of nowhere.

And hey if you’re ever traveling this way, Wickenburg, Arizona is a cool rodeo town with exceptional Bar B Q. Surrounded by mountains, there’s lots of outdoor fun too. So plan a stop!

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#SD2KW, Day 7, Quartzsite to Salome, 39 miles | To Tube or Not to Tube?

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As you remember yesterday, Tom’s bike tire picked up a nail that not only punched a hole in the bottom of the tire but perforated the tire’s sidewall. He plugged it and it seemed to hold as we started out. However as we cycled northeast toward Salome, the tire was going flat again.

We don’t carry extra tires, just bike tubes soooo – Tom put a new bike tube in. There are worse places to do bike repairs though. Look at the blue skies and palm trees.

Typically we use “tubeless” tires with sealant, meaning there are no bike tubes in the tire. (Like automobile tires) If the tire gets punctured the sealant repairs the hole instead of the tire going flat. We’ve never had a tire that didn’t “mend”. However we carry spare tubes just in case. That was the case today.

Once repaired we continued on grateful for sunny, blue skies and lots of cacti sitings.

Since we got a late start and were delayed during the day because of the tire we stopped in Salome. So glad we did as we met Carol and her husband Coop who were married at the buoy in Key West (our destination). We promised to celebrate and send them a pic when finished.

We “moteled” it tonight as temps are below 40 degrees again. When is the last time you paid $50 a night for a room? It has its little idiosyncrasies- like ya gotta get up in the middle of the night to flip the heater switch if ya want heat. But it’s probably the best hot shower we’ve had yet and it felt so good after being out in the chilling wind all day.

Interesting side story. Supposedly Salome was founded with the intention of becoming the next “Las Vegas” as Highway 60 runs right through it. Motels, cafes, dance halls and restaurants were built. About the time the last hotel was built, I-10 was completed nearby. The town is now home to just a little over 1,000 people.

Inn keeper Jeff and his wife are offering the property for sale for $500,000. With just 20 rooms and across the street from the Cactus Bar it has potential for a husband and wife side gig. I think Tom and I will pass and keep riding east although the Cactus Bar is 💯

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#SD2KW, Day 6, Palo Verde to Quartzsite, 47 miles | Hello Arizona!

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We were greeted with a lovely sunrise and rode through more agricultural areas. Thank you farmers! Once out of Blythe, we said goodbye to the Imperial Valley.

Today we made our first state line crossing when we crossed the Colorado River. It’s a tradition that we do a dance or jig to celebrate state lines. I think cartwheels might be fun some time but then again I might hurt myself.😂

At coffee this morning a local let us know the annual Rock, Gem and Mineral Festival was going on in Quartzsite. Apparently the Quartzsite area is a rockhound’s paradise and morphs into a giant RV rally/show. She also mentioned food trucks!

And oh… there are saguaro cacti now and the skies continue to be clear and blue.

We left I-10 and cruised into Quartzsite on a smooth downhill and upon reaching town, encountered a huge traffic backup, emergency vehicles and four entrance and exit ramps to and from I-10. If that wasn’t a big enough fiasco to navigate through on bikes (and just as we were thinking about food trucks) Tom realized his rear tire was flat

We rode off-road on the Great Divide over 2,600 miles without any flat tires and within the first week, we have a flat. The nail Tom’s tire picked up was so long it also punctured the tire sidewall so the tire wouldn’t seal.

Tom pulled the nail and plugged the hole and we limped into town for food. Since we weren’t sure if the tire fix would hold we looked for some tent space in town to spend the night.

Probs going to get a late start tomorrow as the tire will probably need a tube. Once we get to Tempe, Tom will get a new tire. It’s all part of bike travel. 😊

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#SD2KW, Day 5, Brawley to Palo Verde, 67 miles | A Sand Sandwich With a Side of Wind

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Today was an unforgettable day of beauty, difficulty and teamwork. Uncle Tom and Aunt Debby let us know the road conditions from Brawley to Blythe. So we were prepared for lack of shoulder and dips which made for no line of site.

They also shared more about the Algodones Dunes (45 miles long and 6 miles wide) near the old train stop of Glamis. Not only will the dunes mesmerize you with their ever changing beauty, they are a heap of off road fun!

What we weren’t prepared for is the relentless strong headwinds. All. Day. Long.

The blowing sand was everywhere and I felt like I was eating a sand sandwich. 😂

Later when the wind picked up and the line of sight diminished due to dips in the road and no shoulder, I wondered if we should just throw down off the road somewhere and put up the tent to get some relief but Tom thought we could get through it. And since he pulled all day, least I could do was follow if he was willing to lead.

If ever the road shifted and it wasn’t a direct wind, at times it was difficult to keep the bike upright with the side wind.

We stopped short of Blythe due to daylight and well… we were tired and hungry. After snagging a cozy site aside the Colorado River, we put up the tent, locked bikes, changed clothes and ate our breakfast burritos for dinner.

What a day to remember! And what an excellent training day! 💨🚴🏼‍♂️🚴🏼‍♀️

Thanks for the send off, Cali! Tomorrow we cross the Arizona state line!

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#SD2KW, Day 4, Calexico to Brawley, 22 miles | Laying Up

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So today we rode just a little over 20 miles into Brawley as we are “laying up” in anticipation of longer mileage tomorrow. Supposedly there aren’t any places to camp or hotels for quite a distance.

Speaking of hotels… let’s just say we may be getting soft with three hotel stays in a row. 🤣 Unheard of on the Gardner bike tours.

We started the day off with a two mile walk to Our Lady of Guadalupe with an obstacle course to navigate and some interesting signage along the route.

The “We’re Number One for Number Two” in toilet rentals? How creative!

Once underway we began riding through the Imperial Valley which might be considered one big giant garden of sugar beets, alfalfa, lettuce and you guessed it… carrots. We kept seeing carrots all over the road and couldn’t figure out why. Had to snag a souvy for the road.

Something else to love about the Imperial Valley… during winter months the Valley averages more than eight hours of sunshine a day, which is the most sunlight of any place in the US. And that just makes me smile when I see this right outside my door.

The highlight of the day however was rendezvousing with my Uncle Tom and Aunt Debby (great names for a couple, eh?) on Highway 111. They were on their way from Arizona to California. Pics, hugs, and a brief chat will have to do until we celebrate the wedding of Tommy “Squirrel” and Bailey when we get back to Indy.

Wind advisory tomorrow for the Imperial Valley: NW winds 25-30 mph with gusts up to 50. Oh my what if it’s a tailwind? What if it’s a headwind? 😩 Whatever it is I’m sure there will be at least a few dust devils cycling through the dunes around Glamis.

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#SD2KW, Day 3, Boulevard to Calexico, 58 miles | Oh What a Ride

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Our ride followed the border wall for most of the day and we got closest to touching it riding through the small town of Jacumba.

We knew we had a big descent this morning and oh how sweet it was to bomb down it. And it was on I-8 so big wide shoulders provided a “no holding back downhill ride.” At nine miles it was one of the most exhilarating rides I can remember.

We also knew it would be cold with the headwind so we layered up. I tried to get video on my iPhone of the spectacular scenery but I got going way too fast on my bike to steer one handed and I didn’t bring the GoPro this trip.

After the descent we began a 33 mile section of flats that in some places, were below sea level. Such a different ride from yesterday. 😅

As we road into Calexico we cycled through the immense solar farm known as the Imperial Valley Solar Project. It was IMPRESSIVE and one of the largest in the world.

We stopped in Jack In The Box in Calexico for lunch and were ready to head out 25 more miles after having put in 58 miles already but then thought twice about putting two 80 mile days in back to back. So we decided to pivot and get a room for showers, laundry, a proper meal and some football playoff games. ‘Cause you know, we’re on vacay.

Thanks so much for following along, for your encouraging words, prayers and thoughts.

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#SD2KW, Day 2, Alpine to Boulevard, 36 miles | Bicycle Bootcamp

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More of the same today with regard to sun, bluebird skies and climb but dang it’s like we’re in Bicycle Bootcamp with the headwind. It was cold and relentless most of the day – so much so, we didn’t make it to our planned stop.

We woke up very cold despite sleeping in our puffy coats and other cold weather clothing but the rain the night before made everything wet and damp (and colder).🥶

Remember Dahlia mentioning the aggressive male turkey when we checked in?

Well guess who showed up for breakfast and then chased us out of the campsite because we had no turkey kibble for him and his lady friend.

Because of the rain last night Tom had to pack up the tent soaking wet which made for very cold hands and a heavier load. We dried it out for a while but were anxious to get back down to reasonable elevation so it would be warmer to camp tonight. Remember that we are on an “Escape the Cold” bike tour.

Early in the day the route took us on the Interstate, or Freeway as they call it out here.

Once off I-8 we began a series of ups and downs and the headwind amped up. We road even less distance today but with more elevation. Tom was doing great waiting for me when I dropped back but my stamina was diminishing. We were running out of light again, and determined we wouldn’t make the next 18 miles down hill to camp in warmer temps before the sun dropped behind the mountains. So we splurged on a small local motel.

Lots of reasons to smile today though! Mid day Tom found the perfect place to make lunch, water down and take a bio break.

And we did make it up and over the Tecate Divide.

Tomorrow we WILL get off this bump!

And we will get a more substantial dinner. 😂

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#SD2KW, Day 1, San Diego to Alpine, 43 miles | We See You Key West

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We are on our way and what a day it was! After riding four miles to the official start line we tapped our tires in the Pacific Ocean, ready to ride east.

Since this could also be called the “Escape the cold weather and gray skies in Indy” tour, you could say today we got what we came for. Blue skies and bike shorts.

It was most all uphill today and we have little training so we’re taking it super easy. The way my legs felt after riding just over 40 miles with some respectable elevation helped me appreciate all the training rides we did to prepare for other bike tours. Training matters! We figure in 1-2 weeks of riding everyday we should be good to go.

The bike ride out out of San Diego went smoothly and at the beginning it was mostly bike paths along the San Diego River. There was quite a bit of traffic in some areas but the bike lanes are well developed and cars appear to be used to sharing the road with cyclists.

One of our fave parts of the route today (besides pizza at Mike Hess Brewery and getting to the campsite) was riding through Mission Trails Regional Park on the Brother Junipero Serra Trail. It. Was. Spectacular.

We found a brewery/restaurant just five miles from our campground with amazing food and tasty bevvies. Even scored some carry out pizza.

And oh… we were told we wouldn’t encounter any bears on the ride yet here we are. I’m thinking this would work in our yard by our garden as a chipmunk deterrent.

It gets dark here super early and when the sun goes down it’s cold. We were in our tents by 5:45pm.

We knew there was rain in the forecast tonight and lows in the mid 30’s but when Dahlia checked us in she said to be careful. There’s an aggressive male turkey roaming about. That’s certainly a first for us. 🦃😂

Given we start our ride with a 13 mile climb, we’re really looking forward to that sweet descent toward the Imperial Valley.

We are camping on the beautiful lands owned by the Sovereign Nation of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. This proverb spoke to us.

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#SD2KW | We Made It. Our Bikes Made It. Ride Starts Tomorrow!

Yesterday and today our goal was to get to San Diego with bods and bikes in tact. Done and Done. ✅ ✅

Two on-time and comfortable flights on Southwest brought us to San Diego and we were even greeted by a rainbow.

As luck would have it, we scored one of Uber’s top 10 drivers in the nation. #NotEvenJoking

We met our first friend of the trip not on bikes but in an Uber. Since Porfirio has picked up well over 23,000 fares I considered asking him for his business card in case we need a lift up and over the Tecate Divide in a couple days. Instead he asked for our blog address card which we happily gave him.

Bikes came through travel without a hitch and in no time Tom had them reassembled and lubed up. We put bike bags on and decided we deserved a burrito for all of our efforts.

After Mass on Wednesday morning which happens to be Tom’s birthday 🥳 we took a stroll through Historic Old Town which took up most the morning until we did a little shake out bike ride to the start line where we will begin tomorrow at the Pacific Ocean, dip our rear tires in the water and then begin riding east.

There’s a bit of planning, a little luck and a lot of working together to get to the start of a 3,400 mile bike ride. And even more to reach the end. We’re ready to launch!

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