Day Fifty-Seven

Strawberry, AZ to Cottonwood, AZ

I didn't want to get out of bed today. If I had been in a bigger town, I might have taken a rest day. Although my mileage totals lately look low compared to what I was able to do earlier in this trip, the terrain has really taken a toll on me. To make matters worse, today I knew that I faced a long climb to start the day.

I guzzled an orange juice for breakfast and prepared to climb back up to the top of the Mogollon Rim. It was three tough miles up a 6% grade. By the time I got to the top, I felt nauseous. Now  at  7,000 feet, the road passed through the Coconino National Forest. The hills were rolling, but I was still worn out from that first big climb. As I followed SR 260 when it split with SR 87, I felt like I was in for a very long day.

It was 32 miles from the junction to Camp Verde. After a short descent, I came out of the shade of the pine forest. It was warm and breezy, and it didn't seem like I was making much progress.  Just when I was getting frustrated, I saw a great sign: 6% grade next 9 miles. This was the most awesome hill I've ever gone down. The views were breathtaking--canyonlands painted with all shades of orange and brown.  By the end, I had dropped halfway to sea level, to  my lowest elevation in weeks, 3,500 feet.

It was clear how Camp Verde got its name--the valley was a brilliant green island in a sea of browns and oranges. SR 260 through Camp Verde wasn't much fun, with heavy traffic and a narrow road. It was only 2:00, so I decided to carry on another 14 miles to Cottonwood. Traffic was pretty heavy, the heaviest I'd seen on more than 200 miles of SR 260, but there was a three-foot shoulder so I could generally ignore it.

A few miles from Cottonwood, just when I was starting to think about relaxing in my motel room, I had my first flat tire since Roswell (nearly 600 miles ago). Something made a tiny cut in my rear tire, but it was gone by the time I stopped. Unfortunately this was the busiest highway I'd ridden in awhile, so lots of cars zipped past while I patched my tube. At least I had a shoulder, and I fixed the tire fairly quickly.

Cottonwood was where I had my first " yeller" in a long time. Some kid yelled out of a pick-up truck window at me. It just so happened that the light turned red ahead, so I pulled up alongside him. I don't normally confront people, but this was too easy. The kid was with his parents, so odds were good that nothing too bad would happen. He was already trying to roll up the window. I said, " What did you do that for? Just to be a jerk?" Then as I pulled away, he yelled, " Queer!" Oooh, that was creative, huh? And to think, he couldn't even see my spandex cycling shorts underneath my pants!

At the Super 8, someone else was checking in when I walked in. The guy was a goofball, asking the clerk questions like, " How do I call out?" Sheesh, the instructions are almost always on the phone or in the guest booklet. I guess some people don't know the motel routine as well as I do. While I was waiting, the manager came out and asked, " Can I help you?"

" Well, yes, I'd like to know if you have a room available tonight for a single?"

" Well, sir, I think we do, but you'll just have to wait for this lady to finish with this other guest..."

Well, duh! Isn't that exactly what I was doing when she asked me what I wanted? I mean, it was 4:00 in the afternoon and a worn-out looking cyclist was standing by the front desk with credit card and Super 8 V.I.P. cards in hand--what did she think I wanted?

For dinner, I ordered from Outlaw Pizza, a local place. It was pretty good.

Totals for the day: 57.35 miles in 4:52:23 for an 11.7 mph average.

Click here to see today's photos.

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.