On Thursday, I was hoping to get to Phoenix, which was 130 miles away, but quickly realized that was not going to happen. The wind was high, and I was too tired for a 12 hour ride. I decided I would stop in Salome like planned, and then skip Wickenburg the next day and do a 96 mile ride to make it in time to arrive in Phoenix to speak at Chandler Valley Hope at 4 pm. The ride to Salome was only 65 miles but it was very difficult. I was tired and kept getting nosebleeds due to the dryness of the air. I met up with Unk and got my extra saddlebag and told him to go on to Phoenix, where I would meet him the following day.
The extra weight proved to make the ride more difficulty but I pressed on. When I arrived in Salome it was nearly 7pm and I was exhausted. I rolled into the parking lot at the Westward Motel and lost my footing on the loose gravel and the bike came crashing down. I was ready to call it a day. I was then promptly greeted by Randy, who showed me to my room and helped me carry my bike. He had only one availability and it was in a remote airstream trailer affectionately referred to as the “Burner”. It was surprisingly cozy and at that point I would have slept on the gravel parking lot. I took a shower, ate some chicken fried steak and went immediately to sleep. I awoke early the next morning at 4am to start packing up and getting ready for my 96 mile trek to Phoenix, to be promptly followed by a talk at Chandler Valley Hope – my first inpatient facility.
I knew that this was going to be tough and quite honestly didn’t know if I could do it or not. When I went to get some coffee in the group kitchen I looked around realized how cool the motel was I stayed in! The kitchen wall had been lined with “Tour Badges” for some of the most popular bands of the 70s and 80s including Heart, The Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones. Come to find Randy had driven a big rig driver for all of these bands and we talked for 20 minutes about two of our favorite bands – Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. The Westward motel was hands down the coolest motel I had ever seen, and I decided to wait until sun up to snap a few pictures of the place. I tried to pay for my room and Randy refused my money and told me to have a good trip.
I then set out for my day long ride, which I estimated would take me around 8 hours. The bike was fully weighted down and weighed approximately 72 pounds and I was pedaling into the wind today. I had a climb to Wickenburg and it was a desolate road that took me there. After warming up – it was 45 degrees that morning – I finally got into a groove and pedaled for about 50 miles non-stop through Wickenburg which was a cool little western town. I would have liked to stop there, but I was unable to reschedule my talk at CVH and knew I must press on.
Luckily, it was downhill to Phoenix and I pedaled furiously to make it on time. I arrived at the destination with 30 minutes to stretch and take a shower before hopping in the car to go to Chandler Valley Hope which was deep into the city and not “bicycle friendly”. I was given 30 minutes to tell my story and then was allowed to eat with patients, which I did a lot of! I was exhausted, but found the energy to stay after for about two hours after and talk one-on-one with a few patients that were interested in returning to school after treatment. One guy in particular wished to become a Physical Therapist and we really connected, and will be in touch when he gets out.
Pam, my contact point for CVH, took a picture with us and she was very nice! She set us up with Tom Fay who ran halfway houses in the area, and Unk and I were allowed to stay there that night in Mesa. I arrived and immediately fell asleep on a mattress on a floor with a few other residents and Unk took the couch. The next morning we ran some errands (getting some bike stuff, a desperately-needed massage), and then had lunch at the Olive Garden in Surprise. My old boss from Statesboro had arranged for Unk and I to eat at 22 Olive Gardens across the country for free, and what an awesome place to get some much needed carbs for me! The manager got his staff to pose for a picture and was a lovely afternoon at the Olive Garden followed my some much needed R and R at a motel. Tom Fay called me later that afternoon and asked me if I would speak to his house and I agreed and went to bed at 7:30 pm and proceeded to get the most sleep I had gotten on the trip.
March 30 I woke up this morning and headed over to the halfway house where I expected to speak in front of a couple of guys at the house I crashed at a couple of nights before. I realized that I was heading to a different place and arrived at Church to have around 100 young men and women filled in a room. It seems that Tom ran a network of 13 houses in the area, called Carla Vista and he had assembled them to hear me speak, which was a cool surprise! I would say nearly 90 percent of them were 18-25 and I was given the floor for nearly an hour to tell my story. Afterwards, I was able to talk with some of the residents and posed in a picture with a few of them. One of the guys wanted to know if Georgia Southern had a baseball team, and was wanting to leave that day to join CAR.
We ended the night by going to a candlelight meeting, where at least 200 people were in attendance. To my surprise it was a speaker meeting and the speaker was Pam, who set us up at CVH. With 1000s of meeting in the area, what are the odds of that! Pam told her story, which involved crashing and burning in the Ocean Beach area – the starting point of R4R. I related to her story in so many ways and admired her recovery, which was going on 21 years strong and included a life devoted to helping people recover from addiction.
I closed the night with dropping off a new friend at the house and helping him with an application to Olive Garden and he helped me set up my GPS and do some bike maintenance. One alcoholic helping another. He promised to bring a friend over the next day to help me get ready for my journey onward and after doing a load of laundry at the house, I said goodnight to the guys at Triumph and called it a night.