Dust In The Wind (Lots and lots of wind) (Thank God for Pancakes)
April 2, 2014
Unk got me good this morning. He came into my room and “sat” me down telling me that his doctor wanted him home immediately and he had to leave. He followed that statement with the familiar “April Fools”. Ha. (Not funny—I don’t know how I could have managed this trip without Unk.)
Today we were to go to Safford and would be staying with Mons Larson and his family – another warmshowers host. I had talked with several people that had stayed with Mons and knew him to be a great guy and also a great cook! After getting another late start – I spent the morning calling MUSC to get my school things in order and then went to Jerry’s Diner for all-you-can-eat-pancakes, I set out around 11:30.
I rode for about 70 miles and had no problems. The wind was at my back and I was getting some excellent pictures of Mount Graham. Then I got a flat tire. The tire deflated so quickly that it caused me to lose control of the bike, flipping me over the handle bars in the process. One of my mentors for the trip- Charles Fox- had warned me to never stick my arm out and land on my shoulder in the event of a fall and somehow I was able to heed that advice. I rolled over my shoulder and somersaulted in an acrobatic fashion leaving me relatively unscathed.
Almost immediately a car pulled over and asked if I was okay and I told them I was fine. It was starting to get dark and I had a flat tire to fix. I was tired. Then another car pulled over and asked if I needed help changing the tire and I said “Yes, please.” Come to find out this guy was an avid cyclist and friend of Mons. He was an off-duty policeman heading to the pool to get some swimming in before calling it a night. We chatted and changed the tire for about 20 minutes before he went about his way and I pedaled the last 10 miles in the chilly darkness.
When I arrived at Mons’ house he was already outside waiting for me. He likes to greet his guest like this. He showed me to my sleeping quarters and then proceeded to feed Unk, Patrick (another cyclist) and I copious amounts of goat cheese bread, polenta, sausage and a vegetable medley of Brussels sprouts, peppers and sweet potatoes. It was incredible. I ate two very large servings and got ready for bed.
In the morning I was greeted my Mon’s mother and father whom were in their mid-80s. They cooked us a wonderful waffle breakfast and we talked about their large family. They are devout Mormons, which isn’t something I’ve experienced a lot of in the south, but they are a living testament to their faith—their caring and compassion were really evident. Mons helped me work on my bike some, and I decided to set out with Patrick on an alternate route (avoiding some of the wind and mountains that lie ahead for the day).
The only requirement of staying at the Larson’s was signing the “book” of travelers that had come before us. They had put up an estimated 300 plus people in the past few years! I flipped through the pages and even noticed a guy from Charleston whose name I vaguely recognized. People from all over the world had stayed there and I happily signed the book after coercing Mrs. Larson senior to snap a picture with me.
Within the first 2 minutes – two things happened. Patrick fell over – slowly and relatively unhurt and I popped another tire. We were off to a rough start. After popping the tire a local police officer pulled over and put his flashers on. He indicated that sometimes people on bicycles could be harassed by locals. He told me of the local heroin problem and I told him about my mission with Ride4Recovery. He truly understood and told me sadly there were no treatment opportunities remotely close to where we stood.
After getting the tire changed, Patrick and I set out. Patrick was having a hard time and was thinking of calling it quits in El Paso. He had spontaneously decided to do the trip and hadn’t prepared himself for some of the challenges of the road.
We stopped for lunch at the halfway mark and it was not very tasty. The wind had really picked up and was hitting us perpendicular – pushing us into leftside of the road. I led us – since I had a rearview mirror – and called aloud to Patrick when the large semi trucks were coming upon us and then we would pull over to the emergency lane to avoid being swept my the wind into their path.
The afternoon ended with heading straight into the wind which took us almost an hour to cover the 5 miles to the motel. Wind is a huge factor in this part of the country and I don’t mind it one bit when it is behind us. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a predicted tail wind to push us all the way to Deming!