Glendale, AZ to Superior, AZ
2085 ft of climbing
Wow, Phoenix is the epitome of urban sprawl and it appears to be growing like a weed. We rode from the Northwest edge at Surprise to the Eastern edge at Apache Junction. By my reckoning it covers somewhere around seventy miles.
We had a comfortable night in Glendale and on waking I began the quest to find the bike shop most convenient to our route. The maps we use have a wealth of information contained in them including everything from points of interest to locations of bike shops and libraries. We haven't had much time for reading but this particular day we did find ourselves needing a wrench (a mechanic). In reality, it was my intention to purchase parts and do the work myself.
I've seen too many kids turning wrenches that were barely qualified to assemble bikes at Walmart but were instead fixing bikes in a shop.
The map only had three shops in Glendale and we waited until opening time (10:00 AM) to call. I started with one that, according to the map, was directly on the way back to the route. They had moved and we would have to backtrack several miles to get there. I pulled out the device I'm using now to write this and hopped on the web.
I found a shop in Glendale named Bike Den. The location was pretty convenient and I gave them a call. A fellow answered the phone and I simply asked if they had spokes. Keep in mind there are probably six or eight commonly used varieties (varying in thickness, shape, strength, and color). Not to mention dozens of different lengths of each type. I didn't specify what I needed and hoped for the best as we set sail for Bike Den (I use that term because when we're in the wind it feels like we have sails deployed, for better or worse depending on the direction).
We got to the shop in about half an hour and left the bikes outside. I told Chris I wasn't wasting any energy pulling the wheel off until I knew they had the part we needed.
In we went. The fellow at the counter, who we later learned was named Todd and had been working there (and in the bike business) less than a week, was talking with a more experienced looking man (a sympathetic way of saying he had gray hair) in a shop apron. They were a bit impassive and I didn't know what to expect.
I said we were there for spokes and the man in the apron asked what size. 14 guage 296 mm (from the side that broke) and 294 mm (from the other side) in a straight guage I said. I wanted to have every spoke we might need down the road. He went in the back and after a couple of minutes he came back out front and said he didn't have the length. He offered to make them though. It's not uncommon for real mechanics to carry a couple of different lengths in the more common types that they cut and thread as required. I took his offer as a hopeful sign.
He asked how many of each size and I asked for four of the longer (the ones that broke) and two of the shorter. He said OK and told us to bring the bikes on in and lay them on the shop floor while he made the spokes.
After the bikes were inside I stuck my head around the corner to look into his repair area. It was immaculate and organized. I asked if he minded if I came in. He said "you're not supposed to". I told him I understood and from where I stood I asked if he would be able to lace the spokes into the wheel for me. I based my confidence on what I saw. He said "OK, bring it on back".
When he saw the wheel he looked up at me with his eyes widening a bit and said "you're not supposed to do it like that" (meaning using bailing wire spokes). He immediately became more friendly and I knew from his reaction he was a real deal mechanic.
Ken was our hero yesterday. A former interstate truck driver from Savannah who is both a cosumate pro at wrenching on bikes and a gentleman of the highest order (you can get a pretty good idea about people when you start talking bikes with them). I guess he could actually have been an axe murderer but I don't think so.
He went to work right away and I thought it was a good opportunity to grab breakfast. We walked accross the street and had a great breakfast, or four, at Ronnie's Café. It was excellent. It was also almost lunch.
We got back to Bike Den just as Ken was remounting the wheel on the bike. He had replace the broken spokes and tensioned all of the spokes on the wheel and then trued it. It really was better than new. We talked for awhile and I gave him the blog address. We tried to buy him lunch and he flatly refuzshed to take any cash. His only requirement was that we promised to be very careful on our journey.
Thanks for all your help Ken. Todd, if you want to learn about bikes I don't think you could have done much better than working for Ken.
On down the road we went into an irritating headwind all day long. The wheel felt great. I hadn't realized how flexy it was with the bailing wire. It nolw felt nice and stiff and perfectly true. I should mention that a light head or cross wind is actually helpful at keeping you cool in 108 degree weather. It does however add to the effort.
We rode across metro Phoenix all day long.
We stopped for water at the border of Tempe and Mesa to call ahead and make sure that the one motel in Superiolr had a room for the night. They did and we confidently set back out into the wild.
We arrived at The Copper Mountain Inn at around 8:30 PM and rode up to Merlin, the co-proprieter, waiting out front for us. "You made it!", he said. "Welcome".
Saturday we start the crushing cruise across the Rockies. We have over fifteen thousand feet of climbing to do in the next two days. I told Chris that when we get to Texas we will think we'd happily trade wind for climbing. We'll see.
Once I find internet access on a rest day I'll post pictures and maps so it's easier to follow our progress.
We may be without internet for a couple of days but I'll post again as soon as possible. I just don't really know what to expect.
Wish us luck in the mountains.