How to Travel in Arizona

I can hand on heart say that was the toughest day of running I have ever had, in fact one of the hardest days of my life. They say to every Yong there is a yang, the balance of life. Today’s torture on the road balanced out the good day I had yesterday.

We wanted to get out early this morning, 5.30am and off to Laguna from Albuquerque. The morning chill kept me cool and the miles out of Laguna were pleasant enough. After my first 7 miles I looked to the horizon and saw the mountains. Quickly scanning the landscape for the gap in them where the road might be. There was no gap. The climbs started, they never stopped. I don’t know whether it’s just that I don’t remember the easy parts as the day was so hard but I don’t remember a downhill all day. Flat, yes, occasionally but that was about my lot. The first 25 miles were gruesome, climbing up and up. Each member of the team joining me for short sections but all suffering as the air got thinner.

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The climbing finally came to an end at our highest point, The Continental Divide – 7245 Feet. This is the point where water goes one way to the Pacific and the other way to the Atlantic. Tears came to my eyes as I ended today. I came so close to quitting today, I have no idea what got me through. As I saw the sign for the last half a mile kerry ran with me, it gave me the boost I needed as she told me John Bishop had just commented. I was hurting, limping and willing it to end. At the top three people donated, an Australian ex serviceman, handshake like a vice and some other bikers who had passed me on the way up.

In a morning the scenery and the landscape get me up, they get me moving. I love the changing views and breathtaking sights. That same landscape and scenery crushed me today. As i stared forward all I could think about was the mountains in front of me.

I don’t know if you have ever run at altitude, I felt like a 90 year old asthmatic or possibly someone with a collapsed lung. Conversation when running was down to grunts and head nods. Although awful I am proud of myself today.

We have passed another state line, we are now in Arizona and wow is it hot. Today frustrated me, I will look back on today and be glad we made the decisions we made.

I pressed hard out of Gallup this morning, very hard. Average pace on the bike was 30mph, we were really shifting. The landscape was amazing and as I mentioned yesterday gives you the impetus to get up each day and go again. Starting early in the morning helps, it was 8 degrees when we departed. I drafted off the RV and we pushed on, passing Navajo Caves and big red cliffs as we sailed along. The problem with drafting off something as big as the RV is that you can’t see what’s coming. The roads had been fine until…. Bang! I hit a cattle grid at 32mph, this would be fine in a car, on bike the results are not great. My rear tyre exploded and dented the rim. Nearest bike repair shop, 120 miles in a small town called Show-Low. This was South of where we needed to be. Most spares I have with me, I just couldn’t fit in another full wheel, so I needed a new wheel. It was 0830. We made the decision to drive South and go to the bike shop I would then peddle from there back North and pick up the original route and head to Winslow.

Bike fixed we pushed out of Show-Low. Now firmly in Arizona we had our obligatory run in with the law. Sargeant Rush was his name. He explained (in explicit) detail the laws of Arizona. Once again he was only looking out for my safety. The road was busy, cars and lorries rumbled by all day. I wasn’t drafting anymore, I was up front and the RV followed me to try and give me some protection. We passed through towns, Snowflake, Taylor and Holbrook. It was 33 degrees this afternoon. It’s baffling to think they have 3-4 feet of snow annually here.

Tonight we are staying just outside the town of Winslow. A Yorkshire person would describe this as “the arse end of nowhere”. If Bear Grylls was here he would be out eating scorpions and drinking his own pee! We on the other hand are eating M and Ms while drinking Yorkshire Tea. Complete isolation, proper adventure.

Thanks for all the messages after yesterday’s horror day. Tomorrow’s forecast is even hotter. We have dropped about 1500 feet but tomorrow we climb again. Head down and crack on.

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