Saturday, March 17, 2001                       Cruising Around Mesa

When my plane landed at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, I picked up my suitcase from baggage claim and went upstairs to catch the Red Line bus. Thanks to the Internet, I already had a schedule and a map. Since the airport access roads were freeways (and under construction, too), I figured the bus was my best option. The Red Line ended at a vocational school, where I was pleased to find a large canopy over the bus stop. In the shade, I opened up my suitcase and began assembling my bike. The Mission: Impossible theme played in my head, and I felt like a spy assembling some high-tech weapon out of a briefcase. Things went very smoothly compared to the one time I practiced assembling it in my basement. In fact, I put together the bike and the trailer frame in only thirty minutes. A guy on a mountain bike came up to observe and wait for the bus (all buses there had bike racks). I told him all about it and mentioned that my only reservation was that I had never ridden with the trailer attached. He said, " I see women pulling their kids around in them all the time--it can't be too hard." My wife would have smacked him.

With everything put together, I emptied my duffel bag into the trailer, latched the suitcase, and rode away. It was only a few miles to my hotel, a good thing since I was riding in blue jeans instead of cycling shorts. The trailer rode well, to the point where I was barely conscious of it. I felt a special satisfaction arriving at the motel car-free. Since the rest of my family was taking a later flight, I had some time to explore. I changed into my cycling clothes and left the trailer in a corner of the lobby.

I headed for a 7-mile residential loop nearby marked on the Mesa Bike Map. After that, I just rode around, awestruck by the general bike-friendliness of Mesa compared to Chicago. Most notably, most major streets had no parallel parking. City riding was much more pleasant without the constant fear of an opening car door, not to mention the better sight lines for both cyclists and motorists. Even the streets that didnít have bike lanes or bike route signs had ample space for cyclists. It was shaping up to be a pleasant, uneventful rideÖ

There was a split second when I knew what was about to happen: I was going down. As the light turned green, I had jumped off the line, standing hard on the pedals to accelerate. I made it across one lane of the four-lane road, and then I suddenly came to a halt and took a dive. There was a woman in a car nearby.

" Did you just get hit?" she asked out the window.

" No."

" Are you all right?"

" I guess so. Thanks." I appreciated her concern. I picked up my bike and walked to the curb wondering what had gone wrong. Out of harmís way, I saw that my chain was wedged between the smallest cog and the frame. I remembered that my chain had been slipping a bit on the bigger cogs but I hadnít adjusted it. Apparently, I threw the chain when I came down hard on the pedals. Oops. Ouch.

Considering that I had been going slowly when I fell, I took a heck of a beating. My left outside calf, left knee, and left forearm were all scratched and bleeding a bit. My right inside calf and thigh were badly bruised, as I would see during the next few days. My left shoulder was also scratched and bruised badly enough that it hurt to move my arm much--in fact, it hurt for two weeks.

Though I was shaken, I was more embarrassed than anything else. Such is the nature of one-man accidents. I got back on and continued when the light changed, albeit more slowly and cautiously. I wandered around Mesa until 3:30 and went back to the hotel. If I had known that my familyís flight was delayed by two hours, I could have ridden a lot more. Instead, I just waited in the lobby near my bike and trailer. That was okay, though. Saturday afternoon was just an easy warm-up for the rest of the trip.

When my family arrived, I posed with my Bike Friday and trailer/suitcase outside the motel.

This shot shows the bike, the trailer, and my wrist.

In my motel room, I used Mesa and Phoenix bicycling maps to plan  Sunday's big ride.

Next Day: A Desert Century

Return to Central Arizona 2001

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