Superior, AZ to Safford, AZ
3750 ft of climbing
Sunday morning and we find ourselves in Safford, AZ. I am finding that pretty much any town with a couple of thousand people or more has internet service for my handheld. I just need to pay more attention to the map. On review, this area has somewhere on the order of fifteen thousand people between the three towns of Pima, Thatcher, and Safford.
We started from Superior a little late yesterday. I had a fitfull sleep and I find I move slowly in the mornings after those nights. I'm not a person who has ever had any trouble sleeping and I think the cause in this case is purely physiological.
On our arrival in Superior I knew I had pretty much hit my limit. I was running purely on what I was ingesting for the last two hours of the ride and that is an unsustainable situation. Terrain, speed, wind, and hydration level determine hourly caloric burn rate (ultimately affecting heart rate which is the primary determiner for burn rate). Given the body's ability to convert a maximum of 500 or 600 calories per hour (depending on metabolic factors) you can see the deficit that you create after all the stores are burned and you continue to burn 700 to 800 calories per hour.
I don't know what exactly happens after a ride like that but even being dead tired it's very hard for me to get a good sleep.
Determined not to let that happen again, I started my day with two breakfast burritos (loaded with eggs, ham and potatoes). Then some donuts, coffee, orange juice, and milk. The feeling of being on empty, like Friday, is a bad one. There is definitely a pscychological effect too. Blood chemistry gone awry.
Our day began with a touch of dread. We had a climb right from the start and Merlin (the proprieter of our Friday night lodging) told us it was a tough one. We stood outside our rooms and smelled the burning brakes from the cars coming down the hill. There is no doubt we were psychologically prepared.
We started at the bottom with an immediate 7% grade and by the time we got to Queen's Creek Tunnel the climb was varying between 7% and 13%. I looked at my bike computer at one point and it told me the temperature was 115 degrees with a 16% grade. It sounds worse than it was. It is much easier, or so we find, to brace yourself for a visible grade than a gusting wind. 2200 feet and eleven miles to the summit and we were done with the big climb. I was feeling great!
Over the top and then miles and miles of rollers (rolling hills). Even the rollers felt good.
We road onto the San Carlos Apache Reservation and stopped for fueling at a supermarket. As we were preparing to leave a significantly self medicated local resident approached us.
Chris and I are both familiar with being asked for money or being told an inane story in a situation like that but this day I had a couple of minutes to listen. Leonard is an Army Special forces vet having served in Viet Nam. It was evident he as damaged inside and out. I was confident he wouldn't ask for money after we told him about our fundraising efforts. Once that was out of the way I figured I could afford ten minutes to converse. He wanted to take us and show us teepees. We said we had to go and rather than get belligerent he asked for a promise. "Promise you will always tell the people you care about that you love them every time you leave". An easy promise to make and an easy promise to keep. Thank you for the reminder Loenard.
Leonard asked if we had a card (with our information and LAF info) so he could make a contribution. When I said no and asked if he used the internet he said, "we got no internet on the reservation". I don't know if that's true or not but it sounds right. Tragic how the powers that be in this country coddle some and cast aside others. Especially troubling when those cast aside are our warriors who were willing to sacrifice so much.
On down the road we rode. As the sun set behind us a man drove around us and pulled over. He hopped out of his truck and started snapping photos in our direction. He did this three times. I wasn't too worried about any lurid use for the pictures given our appearance. He pulled over one more time and then as we rode up he shouted to us. We pulled over and he said he thought he got a great shot or two and would e-mail them to us if we gave him an address. I gave him the blogsite and the e-mail address and when we got to the hotel I checked my mail and there was a picture from him. It looks pretty cool on my 3.5" screen.
We were about twenty five miles from done and the wind was beginning to howl. Literally howl. It looked like big rain in our way and I stopped and put the rain covers on my panniers (saddle bags). The insurance worked. We finished the ride dry.
As we re-entered civilization my body was demanding protein. I saw a Burger King ahead and had my first fast food burger in ten years (meat only of course).
Today we face 111 miles and 8000' of climbing. We may need to stop on the way but this is one of the emptiest stretches on our route.
More to come.