We saw some stunning views today. The sort that you expect of Arizona, including expanses of desert, cacti, large rocks perched on top of on another, mountains etc. It’s just that today was one of those very few days where we would have preferred to see them through the lightly tinted window of a White Chevy Suburban rather than sitting on Trusty and Steed. Let us enlighten you.
To explain today, we really need to start by going back to last night in Willcox. We were staying in a hotel which really ought to have been perfectly respectable, but turned out to be a complete “Norman Bates” motel: groups of guys “loitering” outside and, worse, partying in the room above us until around 3am. Not good, considering we had set the alarm for 6am, knowing that we had a long ride with a lot of climbing, and the wind forecast was not looking favourable. You know what’s coming next people…
…yes, we overslept. The alarm went off, we switched it off and promptly slept through until 7.40am. Rushing a quick shower, pulling on our cycling gear and bolting down a hurried breakfast, accompanied by coffee out of cups that had been washed in bleach and not rinsed… we dashed to reception to check out. Only to be charged a $2 “security” fee because apparently they employ a security guard to keep things in order and check that cars are not being vandalised etc… obviously a deaf security guard, given the noise levels. We refused to pay the charge on principle and huffed and puffed as we set off to join our friend the I-10 for the first leg of today’s trip.
The ride started well, with a goodish road surface and only a mild side wind. That was until we hit a stretch of road, which went on for several miles, where the shoulder of the interstate had been “groomed” but not yet re-tarmac’ed. Still, we beetled on, and soon found ourselves climbing up into Texas Canyon and the truly fabulous views we talked about at the start of this blog (see photos). Descending into Benson where we would have a short break for lunch, everything seemed hunky dory. We had a pleasant break outside a gas station on the edge of Benson, where we met Chris and Floyd, a lovely couple who were interested in our trip and even made a donation to MS. Thanks Chris and Floyd!
Then we set off into the wind. And the rain started too. Big, warm rain drops blown into your face by the strong head and side winds. Luckily the rain didn’t continue for too long, but the winds certainly did: relentless draining wind, accompanied by the most powerful gusts you can think of. Teetering on the strip of tarmac in the shoulder between the white line and the rumble strip, we found ourselves frequently pushed off the road or onto the rumble strip. And of course, we were making very slow progress. By around 4pm, we eventually pulled into Tombstone, AZ, just 25 miles from our destination, Bisbee.
Tombstone, AZ, the site of the gunfight at the OK Corral…and the location of our first puncture of the day. Having fixed Trusty’s tyre, stocked up on liquid, and receiving another kind donation at the gas station in Tombstone from Denise, a lady who spoke to Anthony while he fixed the tyre, we set off again, with the sun quickly falling in the sky. And in the true spirit of today’s offerings from the man on high, a couple of miles from Tombstone, Steed got a puncture. So, there we were, on the side of the road, oily and dusty, being buffeted around, and watching the sun start to set, with still around 23 miles to go.
As the sun set, and it got darker and darker, it became more and more difficult. We didn’t know whether to be more scared of the cars and trucks passing us at night (though we were well-lit), or the wild animals that were clearly present in the area: not only did we see the chubby backsides of a couple of wild-boar type animals darting through the long grass at the side of the road, but we also observed the road signs warning us of the animals that we might encounter as well. The last 15 miles in the pitch black, climbing over 1,500 ft to an altitude of 5,890ft, seemed to go on forever; and we really mean forever. It took us over 1h30 of being disorientated, scared and tired before we finally saw the “Welcome to Bisbee” sign and started descending into the town, almost 10 hours after we had set out from Willcox this morning.
With huge relief, we arrived safe and sound at our hotel for the night, the Letson Loft, which is absolutely lovely, and so cosy. We were also thrilled to find a proper little town with sidewalks, restaurants, shops and coffee houses etc. Joy. It wasn’t long until we were in the Bisbee Grille with a large glass of wine, and some yummy food. Who needs a Chevy Suburban?! And we realised that we had, today, passed the 5,000 mile threshold (only 9,000 to go).
A well-needed rest day tomorrow in Bisbee, where we plan to meander around the town and do as little as possible.