Monday, January 14, 2013

P4W2 Day 9 Safford, AZ - Lordsburg, NM 80 miles

A bike trip is like life.  No two days are alike, nor should one expect them to be.  Of course, I should have known this by now.  When I left the cold town of Safford this morning I thought that the day would bring another potential slog on a rough road with a lot of tire-hating debris. 

But the road trash from yesterday was gone, and so were the headwinds and the hundreds of grossly overpowered pickup trucks that hauled by me.  Instead I had a wonderful US Highway 70 largely to myself.  More people waved today than the rest of the trip combined.  The road felt clean and open.  Fifty-mile views were common today.

I have found that there are surprisingly few times over my continental bike tours when all three parts of the 'bike triangle' are working together: the bike, the biker, and the wind.  Today they are did.  And rarer still is when the traffic parts and the scenery opens up.  I spent miles today in that sort of biker bliss.  In fact, that is why I did not cover more ground today, I simply spent a lot of time coasting through the hilly cactus country of southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico.  Gone were the saguaros, replaced instead by prickly pear cacti in a couple different colors  - light green and crimson.  Some of the higher hillsides at around 4000 feet of elevation held stunted junipers.   On one fine ascent, a brilliant red tailed hawk soared in front of a rust colored butte, both framed by a brilliant blue sky, save for a few snow clouds.  I saw no snow hit the ground today; it sublimed well before it got there.

By midday I had made it to Duncan, a very tiny but pretty town right near the state line.  On a whim I stopped at the 3 Sisters Bakery - a wonderful place that only a slow traveler could find.  I almost didn't see the sign at ten miles per hour. Locally owned, single store, all stuff homemade from scratch, and the three very pleasant ladies making stuff as I picked their brains about route ideas.  I inhaled the sugar cookie before getting back on the bike.  The sprinkles were put on to-order.

One of the route suggestions the folks at 3 Sisters gave me was to take an even quieter spur off of 70 that put me through the tiny hamlet of Virden, NM, my first town in my newest state to bike through.  One of the ladies suggested that sandhill cranes could be seen in the fields bordering the Gila riverbed by taking this side route.  Sure enough, the distinctive cackle of these birds could be heard before I even spotted one.  The birds shared the fields with some equine companions.

The interesting thing about Virden is that I had run-ins with half a dozen dogs off-leash and un-yarded.   Like people, they come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments.   On a couple of the aggressive canines I used the water bottle squirt trick on to ward off impending altercations (this trick was tested to perfection in Kentucky...Gatorade flavored water seems to be a real turnoff for a feisty pup).   But then there was one pooch that chased me before wagging his tail and simply wanting a pat.  So I got off the bike right on the slant of the hill.  We enjoyed a few minutes together, soaking in the rays of a cold but sunny January afternoon in the high desert country of the American southwest.  

1 comment:

  1. Another cross country ride!! I'll be watching your trip with envy. Good luck and be safe.

    Tom G.
    Westborough, MA