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I’m Just Along for the Ride

By | April 3, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011, part 2
Aguila to Wickenburg, AZ
25 miles

After spending midday in the Aguila library, I headed to the Coyote Flats cafe at the edge of town for a late lunch. I had decided to head for Wickenburg starting around 3pm to get closer to my day off in Pheonix. If all went well, I would make it there before dark. The elevation profile on my map showed a small uphill, and what looked like a long downhill to a town by a river. I had called the campground, and they said they had a little patch of grass all ready for me! The wind didn’t seem to be blowing much at all.

I was to stay on highway 60 to Wickenburg, and so far it was a very low traffic road with a large shoulder and a pretty smooth surface. I was pretty sure I could get there before dark, but also felt reasonably comfortable about having to ride in the dark under those conditions if necessary.

Well, it was a terrific ride! I was able to stay in my middle chain ring for most of the flatter parts. Riding yesterday for a little while without panniers reminded me of another riding strategy. Even if I wasn’t climbing, I could change into a higher gear, stand up to pedal a ways, and then coast with one foot down, then stand up again and coast on the other side. It gave my seat some much needed time off the saddle. It also worked well because I feel much more comfortable handling the bike with all the gear on it. There were a few short, easy climbs, occasionally with the tiniest breath of a tailwind, and then the last eight or so miles I coasted downhill into the river valley.

I was at the CVS at the edge of town buying new sunscreen by 5:30, well before dark. The owner of the Aztec campground was thrilled to see I had arrived so early, and eat to show off “the only grass between here and San Diego.” I didn’t want to mention I had spent the previous night on a grassy football field in Salome. She also told me about the 23 neutered feral cats that lived around the tent area, who would likely scatter at the sight of me. I just wanted a shower.

As I was pulling out my camping gear, I knocked over bike. Setting it back upright, I noticed a strange bulge in the back tire. It looked most like a snake that had swallowed a mouse. I called Ben immediately. I can change an inner tube if I need to, but I’m lucky to have him as my mobile technical support. He explained to me how to deflate the tire and squeeze around it, to make sure the inner tube was even all around. I’d seen him do that a hundred times. They didn’t help, so that meant the tire was basically ready to burst and I would need a new one.

The campground owner’s husband and two locals were sitting around smoking, and they confirmed the diagnosis. They also assured me I couldn’t get “special” tires like that around here. Maybe a cheap one that could get me to Phoenix, 50 miles away, til I could get the right ones. They also thought they knew of a bike shop 30 miles away.

I turned to facebook. Maybe a friend from Phoenix could drive up and get me? Then I noticed my friend Levi was driving from his home in Vegas to Phoenix the next day. The locals said he’d pass right by here. Through the magic of facebook, I tracked down his phone number, and we arranged for him to arrive around 10am!

Saturday, April 2, 2011
Wickenburg to Pheonix
50ish miles in the car

Through a mis-set alarm clock, Levi arrived at 8am instead of 10. At 7:45, I noticed his text telling me to expect him earlier, and five minutes later he was greeting me while I scrambled to pack everything up, which really doesn’t take that long.

Levi and his wife Jaq are burner friends from San Diego. They moved to Las Vegas a few years ago to save money to start Jaq’s fashion business. He’s younger than me, but has had a long and interesting life so far, including the preposterous (to me) job of selling speakers out of a van at stoplights, basically. He dreams of someday leading his Apache people to create a sovereign state. If anyone could do it, I think he could! It’s so fun to listen to his stories! We drove through Phoenix to Tempe to have breakfast at one of his favorite places from college before he dropped me off at Jessica Ahl’s acupuncture office. It was a great and serendipitous start to the day.

Jessica Ahl and I have known each other since the 3rd or 4th grade. We both went to ISU, and recently reconnected through both facebook and last summer’s 20th high school reunion. She had generously offered her place to stay as I rode through. It was finally time for my day off!

I hung out in her cozy office with her Chinese Crested dog, Gracie, until she was finished seeing clients. Gracie looks like a little black dragon. She can’t walk right now, which is thought to be a reaction to vaccinations. She loves to sit in your lap and go places, though. Next, we headed out to Hudson Park to meet up with the local acroyogis for their weekly jam! I had spent the last few days playing “I think I’ll be able to get there! Oh no, I won’t make it,” with two acroyoga friends on facebook who I know from Jason and Chelsey’s workshops. In the end, I was able to be there, but Amber and Shana weren’t!

Later, Jessica gave me her quick tour of some cute neighborhoods. I love to see how craftsman homes are so distinctive in different areas! The ones in Phoenix have more Spanish adobe-looking elements, often with very large Southern-style porches. We also got locally made ice cream for a treat. Yum! We sat up talking late into the night, reminiscing as well as catching up on the intervening years.

What a joyful day, to not only have everything work out so smoothly, but also to connect with another welcoming acroyoga community, as well as two wonderful friends!

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