First Bicycle Touring Lesson Learned -
The first few days of my re-started tour have had an amazing variety of conditions.
When I was dreaming of making this trip, the kind of day that went through my mind went something like this. Riding through cool air and pine forests, views of mountain lakes near by, no wind, good pavement, rolling terrain without any super long hills, some great downhill sections sprinkled in, and arriving at the end of the day in a great town that has a nice hotel, some good restaurants and a brewpub or two to hang out and relax in.
That was exactly the kind of day I had today right up to the last 5 miles. Just to add some more variety to the trip, the last few miles riding into Flagstaff included two road construction sites and a pouring rain storm. But, that was all in complete contrast to Monday, when I left Phoenix.
When I laid awake at night getting nervous about this trip, the kind of day that went through my mind went like this. Long distances between towns without any meaningful services, Long, steep hills that I didn't know if I could ride and high temperatures that would sap all of my energy. That was the ride I had from Fountain Hills to Payson on Monday.
The Phoenix area set a record for the month of May with 14 consecutive days over 100F. The day I left, it got to 107F in the valley. So, I started early - 6am - hoping to beat the heat and get to the higher elevation of Payson. But, the long hills enroute, took their toll on me. Over the first 4 hours, I'd only covered about half the distance to Payson. I drank more than a gallon of water but still felt dehydrated. I was stopping almost every mile to rest and was starting to feel the effects of heat exhaustion. And, I still had the longest, steepest hill of the ride to go. By the time I reached that last hill, I knew I couldn't make it the rest of the way.
Luckily, I met a nice man with a pick-up and trailer going my way. Larry was hauling feed to his horses in Snowflake, AZ. I asked if he could give me a ride up that last hill and he agreed. So my bike, paniers and all, went into the back of his truck on top of the horse feed. Wish I had taken a picture of that!
So, my first bicycle touring lesson learned is - don't fight the weather conditions.