Snowbirds and interstates were the themes for the day.
Waited until the cafe opened to have breakfast and then headed out. As expected today was warm (~33C, 91F) though not abnormal. Salome might have military connection as displayed by these missiles as well as map of middle east in the convenience store.
Pleasant cycling without too much traffic as the first 25 miles had many RV parks.
For example the KOA park above. The better ones seemed to at least have a few trees and perhaps other amenities nearby. It wasn’t yet high season as saw a restaurant announcing a November 9th opening as well as “help wanted”.
At seven miles I came to small town of Hope.
Here is the back of the same sign.
Here is the local church.
Generally descent in this first stretch as I came below level of the Arizona canal again.
It looked fuller here.
As I came closer to Brenda, there were many RV parks.
This one also still had the cafe closed.
This one advertised rates for the season ($1300) as well as bingo and a gospel jam.
Here one could jam less expensively.
After seeing all these parks (and more), I stopped in Brenda for a bite to eat as well as to understand how this all worked. The clerk told me:
- Brenda has a population of 200-300 year round and 800-900 at peak snowbird season
- Snowbirds are arriving now and almost all will be here by Christmas. December is particularly popular month for arrivals
- January and February are busy and then by March and April people start departing again.
So now we are at start of the season as the parks are all attracting new residents.
After Brenda, US-60 merged onto the interstate (I-10) and I had 11 miles of interstate cycling. This road is main route between Phoenix and Los Angeles and it was busy. It was also starting to get warm.
You can see Quartzite in the distance.
A few more RV parks here, including this one with high-wheeler bicycles.
If you run for Mayor, it seems to be important to tell people you are a “Year Around Resident”.
Had lunch in Quartzite.
Initially the route was six miles of a nice small desolate road before
Getting back on the interstate for another 12 miles. While I had done small bits of I-25 (New Mexico) and I-15 (Montana) on this trip, this interstate seemed a bit more aggravating. I decided to do a count of the next 100 vehicles that passed in the right lane:
- 62 automobiles
- 35 trucks
- 3 large RVs towing vehicles behind
All this in slightly less than 5 miles. This was only vehicles in the right lane and I didn’t count if they had moved over to left lane before passing. I guess it was a bit more aggravating because of more traffic (other interstates more of the vehicles could move over to left), 75mph speed limit (vs 65mph in New Mexico), lots of trucks and later in the day and a bit warmer. Nothing dangerous, just a bit annoying.
Fortunately, after 12 miles of interstate riding, the exit brought me to the frontage road and then the pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River. Also the border to California!
More official welcome sign a few miles later. Cycled into town and nice to finish the day with a motel. From here there is a bigger gap to the next town so likely some desert camping in between.
Easy ride today as I left the Phoenix metro area and started back across desert areas. Three weeks ago, I had temperatures below freezing as I crossed Colorado mountains, now definitely at other end of the temperature scale. Overnight is at least 15C (59F) and often a bit warmer. Day time gets to 30C (86F) and sometimes slightly warmer.
All day today was riding along US 60, with the first 9 miles still going past suburban sprawl in towns of Surprise and West Sun City.
There was reasonable shoulder expect for short section of construction. Even the signs warning of the construction seemed to block parts of the shoulder.
However, after 9 miles, it looked a lot more like this. Here was a crossing of the Central Arizona Project Canal. As I understand things the canal is part of the largest and most expensive aqueduct system in the US. It carries water from Lake Havasu to southern Arizona. For all that expense, I was surprised the actual canal wasn’t particularly big.
I saw my first sign for Los Angeles and also one for Las Vegas.
While the route didn’t have much in way of stores, there were occasional businesses like this one near Morristown. As I got close to Wickenburg, went into a bit more of a valley.
Unfortunately, also a ghost bike here. Ghost bikes mark spots of bicycle fatalities and this one was on a wide open road. Link to more background information.
Not much after that, found myself in downtown Wickenburg. Still early in the day, but will not be much after this for a while.
Spent the day crossing the Phoenix metro area. I’m not all the way through yet, but at least on the northwest side outbound. As cities go, crossing was straightforward, aided in part by a lot of riding on bike paths along the Arizona Canal.
Started back on US 87 with slight descent as I came through the Indian reservation and then to eastern parts of Scottsdale.
I crossed two larger canals, though access routes along them were blocked.
At 11 miles, turned west along flat open country.
A few miles later and I was on these large boulevards as I came into Scottsdale proper. Stopped for a bit at a McDonalds and figured out my overall routes. I was also waiting just a bit until the bike shops would open.
I found a shop named Bicycle Haus and was there when they opened at 10am. Yesterday I had noticed my front brake pads were pretty much worn. Still fine on the ride, but with a lot of the descent, their stopping power was diminished. So I had both front and back brake pads replaced. Also checked the chain which wasn’t very stretched yet. I was happy they were able to check the bike right when I came in.
I now found myself to the Arizona Canal and followed it using the Google Maps instructions. Every few miles it seemed to have me switched sides. Also this part of the canal was not paved, but the hard-packed gravel was easy to ride. The Adventure Cycling route was a mile or two further south, I believe since they avoid gravel, whereas Google Maps bicycle instructions much more easily pick gravel roads.
Signs along the canal.
The intersections also seemed to have a lot of political signs. Definitely more now here in Arizona than I’ve seen elsewhere.
Around the 32 mile mark, I came past this Greek Orthodox temple and this also marked the point where the Adventure Cycling route joined for real – and the canal route stayed paved.
There weren’t many cross streets but pretty much most of them had these underpasses, which was nice to keep traveling along the route. There were homeless people in the cool shade of a few of these tunnels, but still enough room to travel past. The temperatures got up to low 90F (32-33C) so warm but not abnormally so. Gradually there were fewer tunnels and more streets I needed to cross normally. Eventually, got to end of the canal route.
Here the route brought me through some neighborhoods like this one.
What I did find interesting is more people driving on city streets with their golf carts like this fellow.
Eventually found myself at edges of Sun City and turned onto US 60. Major highway again headed outbound, but hopefully good shoulders and not too bad to finish departing the city. I’ve also now finished “map 15” of the adventure cycling route so 14 maps from here to San Diego.
Last night storms came through but overall less rain than expected from the front.
Beautiful morning cycling as I quickly left city limits of Springerville and was out in countryside. Today had increased traffic, even for a Sunday so expect Quemado was probably the most remote place. Signs told me I crossed 7000ft but just a few larger rolling hills today.
A sign told me to expect cross-winds for 7 miles. Fortunately, no wind.
Seven miles later, there was a second sign warning of wind for next seven miles. Fortunately, no wind.
Seven miles later, there was the third sign warning of wind for next seven miles. Fortunately, no wind.
Crossed up over a low rise. At about 25 miles (i.e. a little past seven miles after the third sign), started with a light wind, but no more signs after that. Came along some low pinon pines and so also not as severe.
It is election season and most of the signs I’ve seen along the road are typically for local candidates, e.g. county officials or school boards or similar. Also interesting to compare the states so far: AZ has probably the most election signage, NM has probably the least. In rough order I would say: AZ -> MT -> CO -> WY -> NM. I’ve also seen the occasional Trump/Pence signs but except for right near Santa Fe, haven’t seen and Clinton signage.
This was part of some road markings that said: “Don’t”, “make”, “me”, “lose”, “my”, “mind” with appropriate gaps in between. Not quite sure what that all meant.
There was more traffic today, but not quite sure what good this particular sign was doing. Without too much trouble, I found my way into Show Low. I had left an hour earlier on the clock since I was no longer in daylight savings, so also a bit earlier on the clock.
Show Low is a relatively spread out town. I did catch this mural on my way in. From here there are two routes to Phoenix: one via Globe and one via Payson. When I ask locals, they seem to split 50/50 on which route they take when driving.
Where do folks in Quemado go to get to a “big city”? When I posed this question, I was told Springerville was the place for a grocery and Show Low was place for a Walmart type store. Hence, today was generally heading towards the big city – though still pretty remote and rural.
Todays route came across several hills including a gradual climb the first seven miles. Always nice to see a tower since it indicates top of the hill.
From the top, one can see across to hills on other side, ~18 miles away. I even had light tailwinds!
At 23 miles was town of Red Hill. Sign on the horse tells us this is a “one horse town.”
At 24 miles one can see back across the valley to where photo above was taken.
Not much further I crossed the state line. The shoulder in NM had been very rough and this improved once I crossed into AZ. In addition, I set my watch back an hour. Both AZ and NM are on Mountain time, but most of Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings. Hence in the summer Arizona is on same time as California and in the winter, Arizona is on same time as New Mexico.
Without much trouble found my way into Springerville.
Each US state seems to put different information on their welcome signs. For example, Colorado gives the elevation, Massachusetts gives the year the town was founded, many states in midwest give the population. So far Arizona has given same info as both Colorado and Massachusetts.
Once in town, I found the laundromat, the Safeway and other highlights.
My plan is to take a rest day tomorrow. Weather forecast says a front will come through with ~80% chance of thundershowers and 0.4″ of precipitation. Doesn’t sound severe but nice to take a break.