February 27, 2023 Day 3 Blythe CA to Phoenix AZ

04/21/2023 11:30 PM | Deleted user

Today is a big day as it is 160 plus miles to Phoenix Arizona. I have ridden across California in just two days and will enter the second state in just a couple of miles from the hotel. The temperature at the start is in the 40s so I dress in layers as the temperature is forecast for the mid 60s today.

I start rolling at 5:30 am and head for the bridge that crosses the Colorado River into Arizona. My navigation says there is a bike-way that travels parallel to the bridge, but when I arrive at the supposed start, it does not exist. I back track to the Interstate 10 and the on-ramp and see a sign that prohibits bicycles. There is also a weigh station on the other side that has several CHP cars. Since it appears that this bridge is the only way across the river, I ignore the sign and head across. The bridge is only about 1/4 mile across so I get to Ehrenberg, Arizona without any trouble and continue riding on the Interstate. I have reached Arizona! One state down, seven to go!

Welcome to Arizona!

Since it is early, the traffic on the Interstate is relatively light and I settle in for a long gradual climb towards Quartzite, Arizona which will be my first rest break. About 15 minutes after leaving Ehrenberg, I notice that my watch says it's nearly 7:00 am. I have already lost an hour and I've only been on the road for 30 minutes?! Yep, I've entered the Mountain time zone. Not the Twilight Zone. I reach Quartzite just before 9:00 am and stop for coffee and fuel up on an energy bar. The wind has started to pick up and is blowing from the south-west at about 15 mph. I'm going to be facing a cross-headwind for the next 70 miles on the Interstate with no shelter and traveling up hill for the first half of those miles.

Saguaro Cactus on the climb to Quartzite

I set out again and settle into the climb. It's a struggle and the fatigue from the first two days is starting to affect my pace. The wind and noise of the Interstate traffic makes for sketchy riding conditions as a get a cross-wind from one direction, then blow back from the trucks coming from the other direction. I'm also constantly having to dodge road debris that is strewn all over the shoulder. The only upside is that the Arizona Interstate shoulder has better, smoother pavement than what I was riding on in California. After about another hour of climbing, I see a pick-up truck pull over ahead of me on the shoulder. A man steps out and is waiting by his door. I get a little nervous approaching as I am unsure of his intentions. As I get closer, he holds up his arm and he is holding a water bottle. I stop and he offers me the water. His name is Rudy and he is an avid cyclist. I talked to him for a few minutes and explained the Inspiration Ride to him. I gave him a bike bell and postcard and thanked him for the water. We even filmed the encounter for the YouTube vlog.

Rudy departed and I continued my ride on the Interstate. I pulled into the next resat stop which are spaced about 20 miles apart and took a break. About this time, I had contacted my wife and she was getting ready to leave Blythe and would meet me up the road. I told her I would meet her at the next rest stop which was 26 miles from my current location and about 60 miles from her. I continued uphill and was really feeling the effects of the headwind. The grade was only about 2% but the wind made riding even more difficult. As I struggled towards the next rest stop, I was dreading the slight downhill portion that was about to come as I would no longer be somewhat sheltered from the small mountains on my right.

I was about six miles from the next rest stop when my wife passed me. I traveled another half hour towards the rest stop and as I was about a mile away I had my first dangerous encounter with a motorist. Some idiot in a raised 4x4 pick-up truck decided he wanted to use the shoulder to pass a big rig on the right. He must have seen me at the last second and pulled back into the lane. After he passed, he went back onto the shoulder and raced the big rig on the right until he was able to pass. I made it safely to the rest area but was very shaken by the near miss.

With the head wind picking up and the close encounter with the motorist, I decided that it was too risky to continue riding on the Interstate. I put my bike in the vehicle and had my wife drive me to the part of the route that took the back roads into Phoenix. We had to shuttle about 25 miles to the turn off.

We made it to the back roads and I started riding again. However, I was now facing a direct headwind and it made riding difficult even though it was on flat ground. Since the back roads had no traffic, I used the support vehicle to draft though the headwinds at a steady 20 mph. Once we turned east again the head wind became a cross wind and made drafting more difficult. I road to the left of the car near the middle of the road while my wife drove next to the shoulder.

After another 20 miles or so we entered some low steep hills. Drafting was ineffective so I settled into the short climbs. As I was descending the last hill towards an intersection, there was a stop sign at the bottom. I started applying the brakes and found that I had no stopping power. The grit that had worn down my brake pads on the first day and the sketchy descent on the second day left me with no stopping power. I rolled through the intersection and luckily no cars were coming. There were several more intersections coming on the run in to Phoenix and I was unable to stop effectively. As much as I was determined to ride every mile of this ride, it was too dangerous to continue today. It had taken me nearly six hour to travel 86 miles. I still had 60 miles to go to Phoenix and with the loss of an hour due to the time zone change. I would not make it before dark. I also needed to get to a bike shop to get replacement brake pads.

I put the bike back in the car and we shuttled into Phoenix. I looked up the local bike shops and found one close to the hotel. I called ahead to make sure they had the brake pads I needed and they did. We made it to Landis Bike Shop in Phoenix and bought the replacement brake pads. They were kind enough to let me leave some postcards and bike bells to distribute to their customers in hopes of support for the Inspiration Ride.

We then headed to the Holiday Inn and Suites in Phoenix for the nights stay. When I checked in, I told them about my ride and asked if there was anything they could do about our accommodations. Whether a discount or upgrade. Well they gave us an upgrade to their Presidential Suite at the same price as our standard room. It never hurts to ask! The suite had two bedrooms and two bathrooms in which one had a whirlpool tub. This really helped sooth the aching legs.

After a shower and dinner, I replaced my brake pads began editing the YouTube video and took a whirlpool bath before going to bed. Tomorrow will be another big mileage day as I ride from Phoenix Arizona to Safford Arizona some 150 miles away and big mountains to cross.

Watch the Full Video here: https://youtu.be/XpJHeQcvMPI

Donate here: https://www.valleychildrens.org/foundation/cycling-across-america

Check out my activity on Strava: https://strava.app.link/u6Ck6UU7bzb

Original Route: https://www.komoot.com/tour/975717305?ref=aso&share_token=aXj11enDheJ0BoqhtkQUZP7Wjsl8CgtelGaUDzhGmp4zpc7wqH

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