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Day Thirty-Six – Oct. 16, 2010

10.17.2010 | 5 Comments

Penny and I got up early this morning to walk up to the 3rd hole at Ventana Canyon Golf Course; “the most photographed hole west of the Mississippi”.  Along the way we saw quail, rabbits, and woodpeckers.  But we were told to watch out for red-tailed hawks, bobcats, deer, coyotes, javelina and roadrunners!  The view from the tee was amazing.  We could see over 100 miles into Mexico on one side and multi-million dollar homes built into the rock on the other side.  The green has an engineered heating and cooling system underneath it, since it is necessary to cool the green in the summer and keep it from freezing in the winter!  It was a wonderful way to start the day and enjoy God’s creation.

We drove from Tucson to Mesa so that we could be back on the bike route and we will start riding again tomorrow.  We enjoyed walking around Main Street and looking at all all the arts and crafts at the Mesa Arts and Culture Festival.  We stopped at a booth which had signs that said “Keep the Cubs” and I explained that I was from Illinois.  When the woman asked what part, I replied, “A small farm town outside of Chicago, called Yorkville.”  Phyllis replied, “So am I!”  What a surprise to meet a fellow Yorkville High School graduate on the streets of Mesa, Arizona!

We went to Organ Stop Pizza for dinner where we had a great time and listened to the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world!

NBC news story from Tucson

10.16.2010 | Comments Off on NBC news story from Tucson

Day Thirty-Five – Oct. 15, 2010

10.16.2010 | Comments Off on Day Thirty-Five – Oct. 15, 2010

We woke early this morning in order to drive to Tombstone and enjoy Helldorado Days.  We walked around the town, shopped, watched gunfight reenactments and ate lunch at the OK Cafe.  It was a beautiful day and we had a great time.

We picked up our bikes from Oro Valley Bicycle (thanks to Harry, Adan and Cory!) and they are now ready for our last few days of pedaling.  We headed back to the resort and the sky got very eerie and filled with dust.  Then there was a huge thunderstorm, which we watched from our balcony.  It was gorgeous to see the mountains turn different colors and to watch the lightening in the dark sky.  It was a treat to see a storm, as we haven’t seen one since we were in Florida!  It was also nice that we weren’t on the bikes!

We met a group of retired CIA officers at the Guadalajara Grill for a delicious dinner, organized by John Massie and Heidi August.  We had a lot of fun and they surprised us with Arizona bicycle jerseys (for Kim and Rob) and salsa, prickly pear syrup and red lime marmalade (for Barbara and Penny).  Thanks again to everyone who came out and made it such a special evening.  We appreciate all you’ve done for your country and for us!

Day Thirty-Four – Oct. 14, 2010

10.15.2010 | 2 Comments

What a GREAT welcome we had today in Tucson!  We drove here from Globe (we couldn’t quite figure out how to bicycle the 130 miles in time to be here by 1:00 – and it wasn’t on our route).  On the drive we saw lots of saguaro (cactus) and a couple of coyotes.  We stopped outside of town in order to pedal in to The Lodge at Ventana Canyon and had a great lunch at El Charro Cafe.  As we rode up up the hill and rounded the corner into The Lodge, there were reporters waiting in golf carts to film our arrival and follow us in.  As we made our way closer to the resort, we saw many people cheering and clapping for us.  It was a great opportunity for us to speak about the work that the people of the CIA are doing and the sacrifice they make every day.

After doing an interview with the local Fox and NBC stations, we loaded our bikes in the van to take them to Oro Valley Bicycle in order to make sure they are ready for the last leg of the trip.  After moving into our room and doing a few loads of laundry, we met Tom McMahon for drinks (he has provided the arrival photos as we pedaled into The Lodge) and then we enjoyed a great dinner while watching the bats fly around the canyon!

Day Thirty-Three – Oct. 13, 2010

10.14.2010 | 4 Comments

Today started out as a good day – not too cold, not too hot; wide, smooth shoulders; little traffic.  Then, the wind started to pick up – but, it was still good, because it was at our backs.  We made it to the first stopping point, about 22 miles into our ride.  Hmmmmmmm…………….  Interesting.  We walked into a small “cafe” and no one spoke to us at all.  There was no food at this “cafe”, only a few grocery items and an empty pot of coffee.  We were obviously not welcome, so we figured we would go on to the next town.  At that point, we were in the San Carlos Apache Reservation and the next town was “Geronimo”.  No services there, so we went on to Bylas.

We stopped at a small store/gas station and it had a cappuccino machine!  A gentleman was standing there trying to find a lid for his cup and we struck up a conversation.  When I asked him where his accent was from, he replied, “Jordan”.  How interesting to find 2 Jordanians on our ride and in such small, out-of-the-way places!  It was nice to talk with him for awhile and trade stories about our shared love for Jordan.

It was 23 miles to our next stop and that’s when the excitement began!  The road was very hilly and we would speed down one side and slowly make our way up the other side.  Then, my back tire started to go flat and we pumped it up in the hopes that we could make it to the next town before having to change it.  The shoulders were so full of debri and trees and shrubs that we ended up having to ride in the road.  The wind began to get a lot stronger and keeping my bike steady was really difficult.

We stopped again to pump up my back tire about 10 miles from town and we planned to change the tube at our next stop.  After we got back on the road, I was being pushed by the wind into the gravel and rumble strips and had to stop.  Rob suggested I get as low as possible on the bike and hold the handlebars differently to get more leverage.  We were only about a mile away from town when he watched the wind lift me up and move me across the road.  That’s when we made the joint decision that I was finished for the day!

We slowly made our way to the gas station in Peridot and I put my bike in the van (I finished 65 miles).  Rob continued on by himself to Globe (the last 20 miles).  Interestingly enough, my tire is still completely full of air and there doesn’t appear to be a hole in it at all.  Think someone was trying to tell me something????  I do.

Penny, Barbara and I went into Globe and found our hotel for the night and when Rob arrived, we went into town for lunch at the Copper Parrot.  We then drove around the town a bit and went to the Pickle Barrel Trading Post for a little shopping.

Only 2 weeks from today we will be dipping our front tires into the Pacific Ocean.  We can’t wait!  Apparently, neither can our favorite Starbucks Barista in Centreville!


Time: 06:18:52
Distance: 85.24 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,623 ft
Calories: 3,559 C

Live Animals:  Red Shouldered Hawk, Horses, Chickens, Sheep, Dogs (let me rant just a bit, if you please.  WHY have a pet dog if you’re going to let them run in the highway and chase people???  PLEASE keep your dogs in your yard!!!)

Dead Animals:  Skunk, Fox, Rabbit, Snakes

Temperature:  97°

Wind Gusts:  19mph

Day Thirty-Two – Oct. 12, 2010

10.13.2010 | Comments Off on Day Thirty-Two – Oct. 12, 2010

Since we did 2 days of riding in one day yesterday, we decided to take the day off and spend it in Safford.  We were able to sleep in, answer emails and phone calls, and pay bills (always important!).  We looked around the town and had a great lunch at the Main Street Cafe.  Penny and I dropped Rob back at the hotel so that we could do a little more shopping (I heard that retail therapy is great for sore legs) and we even found a Starbucks at the Safeway!

Now we are glued to the television watching the Chilean miner rescue and praying that everyone is out safely by the time we wake up tomorrow!

Day Thirty-One – Oct. 11, 2010

10.12.2010 | 2 Comments

What an incredible day!!!!!  There’s no way my words are going to be able to express what we did/saw/experienced, but I’m going to try.

We left Silver City, NM and headed up to the “Continental Divide” sign to take a picture.  That’s when we found flat #2 of this trip (Rob’s – back tire).  After changing it out, and taking the picture, we started our ride.  It’s actually a good thing we were delayed by about 45 minutes, because it was COLD!  My fingers and toes were freezing during our fast descent into Cliff.  In the first 30 minutes we went 12 miles!

After 20 miles, we started to climb the Big Lue Mountains.  At one point we saw a beautiful hawk sitting on a fence post, then a roadrunner crossed right in front of us, and then a beautiful collie ran along with us for awhile!  We crossed into Arizona halfway up (at 1:30pm at 6,020 feet) and at mile 63 we finally reached the top!  We had climbed almost 2,000 feet.  The top of the pass was incredible!  It was absolutely beautiful and definitely worth the climb.  The pictures just don’t show the magnitude of it all, but if you watch the video you can get a little sense of what it was like.

Then, it was downhill again!  We were going about 35mph, twisting and turning down the mountain.  We were soaring past incredible views of the canyon below and the mountains above us.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that experience!  We coasted into Three Way, AZ and met up with Penny and Barbara, where we were supposed to finish for the day.  However, we looked ahead and could see the next climb and decided we really didn’t want that to be our start for the next day, so we decided to keep going.

That climb ended up being about 1,200 feet in only 6 miles.  (At one point my chain came off.)  But, we had a long downhill after that!  Almost 2,000 feet in 23 miles as we rode into Safford, AZ.  We watched the sun set behind the mountains as we hit the 100 mile mark.  Our longest ride ever!  From there it was about 10 miles into town and our hotel for the night.

This is a snapshot of our climbs for today!


Time: 09:04:58
Distance: 115.14 mi
Elevation Gain: 4,485 ft
Calories: 3,861 C

Live Animals:  Hawks, Road Runner, Scorpions, Deer, Tassel-Eared Squirrel, Horses, Cows, Dogs, Grasshoppers (jumping and squished all over EVERYWHERE)

Dead Animals:  Skunk, Rabbit, Snakes

Day Thirty – Oct. 10, 2010

10.11.2010 | 2 Comments

Happy 10/10/10 to everyone!

We had a great rest day in Silver City, NM.  The town has lots of interesting shops and places to eat.  We met a couple who are biking from San Diego to St. Augustine and took their picture at the Continental Divide sign.  We enjoyed a great meal at Isaac’s and found a few little souvenirs (as my mother always says, “Jewelry doesn’t take up any room at all!”).  We walked around Bullard Street, where many of the buildings date from the 1880s.  Billy the Kid was jailed here in 1875, at the age of 15, and his mother is buried in the Memory Lane Cemetery.  This is definitely a place I want to come back to visit!

Day Twenty-Nine – Oct. 9, 2010

10.10.2010 | 6 Comments

OK.  Forget everything I told you about difficult days.  TODAY was, by far, the hardest day of our ride.  Maybe even the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically – and that includes boot camp!

We started our ride in Arrey, NM and the Caballo Lake State Park.  It was cold and windy so we were in layers.  Once we turned onto Route 152 and started the climb, we quickly shed those layers!  In the first 15 miles, we climbed 1,400 feet.  But that was just the warm-up!

We stopped in Hillsboro at the Barbershop Cafe, a very cute cafe where the menu changes daily.  Rob had a croissant with egg, lettuce, tomato and bacon, and fried potatoes.  I had the most amazing french toast with fresh prickly pear syrup.  After being warned about the gravel ahead, we started to begin our real climb. 

And climb we did!  And climb, and climb, and climb!  I kept thinking we would go around one more bend and we would have a flat part to rest.  But, no.  Hillsboro was at 5,212 feet.  The top of Emory Pass was 8,228 feet.  We climbed 3,016 feet in only 17 miles!  The road was bumpy and full of “s” curves and, at times, filled with loose gravel.  .We also encountered quite a few cattle grates.  We struggled at 3-5 mph for most of the climb.  However, the drivers were courteous and some waved and shouted encouragement.  I’ve never been so glad to be finished with something in my life!  About 1/4 mile from the top, a very nice man stopped to tell us we were close.  That pushed us on when we had little energy left.

Then, the downhill began!  Twisting and turning down the mountain tested our brakes and my courage.  The loose gravel was unnerving.  And then, just when we would begin enjoying the ride, there would be another climb.  What was this????  We were supposed to be going downhill!  It took all I had to keep going and not give up.  At one point, we were going 30 mph and the wind came up and slowed us to 9 mph!    It seemed very strange to be pedaling going downhill.  For the day, we climbed 5,101 feet and boy, does my body feel it!

Chef Shevek M Barnhart hosted us at an exceptional dinner at Shevek & Co in Silver City.  I had the Chicken & Fig Tagine and Rob had the Chicken Ashke.  Barbara and Penny had the Spanakopitta.  What a great end to a grueling day!


Time: 08:22:57
Distance: 77.55 mi
Elevation Gain: 5,101 ft
Calories: 4,569 C

Live Animals:  White-Tailed Deer, Lizards, Rock Squirrel, Cows, Horses

Dead Animals:  Snake

Day Twenty-Eight – Oct. 8, 2010

10.09.2010 | 1 Comment

We are finally out of Texas!  We left El Paso this morning and not long afterwards we crossed back into New Mexico.  We had beautiful weather and smooth roads (although no shoulders), through pecan groves and past cotton and chili fields.  At one point we were sprayed by a crop duster over the pecan trees!  Unfortunately, it didn’t keep the mosquitoes away from Rob, as his legs are covered in bites.

We went through the town of Mesilla.  It hasn’t changed much over the years, which allows visitors to see what an 1800’s border town looked like. Western Legend Billy the Kid once stood trial for murder in a Mesilla courtroom, and the Mesilla Plaza was once a major stop for the Butterfield Stagecoach.

In Las Cruces we stopped at Senator Udall’s office to pick up a letter he had written to commemorate our ride through New Mexico.  This is a picture of Xochitl Torres, Field Representative, handing over the letter.  (see a copy here)

We saw lots of bicyclists today riding the Southern Tier route from West to East.  This is the first time we’ve seen women bicyclists during the entire trip!  We spoke with a very nice couple from Canada who had just bicycled the Continental Divide route and were on their way to El Paso to catch a plane home.

At one point, we came up to a border patrol post and wondered if we should stop.  Since the orange cones directed us that way, we decided not to chance it and we pulled up to the small trailer.  A very nice officer came out, asked us a few questions and we gave him a hat and a CIA coin.  We had it all set up for him to give Penny and Barb a hard time when they came through the post after us, but they decided to go a different way.

We then pedaled next to the Rio Grande and around mountains until we reached Hatch, New Mexico (Chile Capital of the World) and ate at Sparky’s.  It was a great ride, up and down a few hills, with spectacular vistas.  It felt like we were quite remote, although we could see the main highway at times.

We were invited to the home of Matt, Patty, Molly and Ryan Olson for dinner and had a great time.  It felt like we were at home after a month of restaurants and hotels.  Their friends Frankie Benavidez and Jolie Tixier were there as well and the evening passed much too quickly.  The food was great and Rob especially enjoyed the french silk pie.  (Thanks again to all of you!!!)


Time: 06:39:57
Distance: 84.86 mi
Elevation Gain: 689 ft
Calories: 3,462 C

Live Animals:  Horses, Cows, Burros, Dogs, Grasshoppers

Dead Animals:  Skunks, Snake