Day Sixty-Three

Truxton, AZ to Kingman, AZ

I tried to get up early today in an attempt to beat the wind, but it wasn't easy with no phone for a wake-up call. In the old twin bed, I tossed and turned all night, waking up several times. I got up at 7:00 and hit the road at 7:30. There was no wind at Truxton, but it started only 20 minutes down the road. So much for " afternoon winds." Still, there was a fair amount of downhill riding, especially the descent into Crozier Canyon, so I did okay. I went quickly through the small town of Valentine, notable only for the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) pick-up truck that pulled out right in front of me for some inexplicable reason. I mean, it wasn't like it was the only gap in traffic. The road curved to the northwest, and I came to Hackberry. When I drove this route eleven years ago, there was nothing to see in Hackberry, but now the Route 66 Visitors Center is there, founded by fellow Illinoisan Bob Waldmire (who sold the place a few years ago). There were lots of old signs and rusted-out cars around the place. Inside was a Route 66/1950's-1960's nostalgia tourist trap with an incredible array of merchandise for sale. Not that there's anything wrong with a " tourist trap" --Route 66 was full of them in its heyday, and many still survive. Overall, it was well done, and I would have spent several hundred dollars there if I still had the same interest in Route 66 that I once did.

I bought a few things, and as I was leaving I mentioned that I was trying to beat the wind to Kingman. The clerk acknowledged that the last two weeks have been really windy, and that 50 mph winds were expected today. Then a customer said, " Well, I don't mind the wind because it keeps it from being too hot." I wanted to strangle her, and if she had been handy an hour later, I would have!

It was still smooth sailing from Hackberry, but I could feel the sidewind that I would soon be facing. The road curved again at Antares, and I was headed into a miserable situation--a twenty-mile straightaway with a 25+ mph headwind, all the way into Kingman. The terrain was wide-open and nearly flat, and I could see the highway stretching forever into the distance. At first there was a slight downhill, and I managed 8 mph. Then it leveled off, and I dropped to 6 mph. Occasionally the wind would toy with me. It would let up for a few seconds so that I could build speed and shift up a gear, then lash back at me, cutting me back down a gear.

To make matters worse, my nose suddenly started running like a faucet. Maybe it was an allergy, or maybe I was catching a cold. That wouldn't have surprised me--after two months of riding all day  it seemed like I was due for one. I thought back to times when I had run myself ragged, and I usually lasted about two months before my body revolted.  People have asked me, " What if you get sick?" It always seemed like a strange question. In planning this trip, that's one concern that never even crossed my mind. I suppose something like pneumonia would be a problem, but for anything else  I'd just stop for a couple days and get over it.

The struggle against the wind lasted literally for hours. Normally a sign like " Kingman 14" would get me excited about soon being finished for the day. Today, however,  I looked down at my cyclometer with despair--at 7 mph, I still had two more hours to ride. I never got any faster, but the wind got a little worse.

Since I had a lot of time to think about it, I finally figured out why I hate the wind so much. It's because there's no sense of accomplishment. I mean, if I have a hard day because I climbed over a mountain, I can feel good about climbing so many feet. If I have a hard day because I rode so far, I can look at the number of miles and be pleased. With the wind, however, I get nothing. It just makes an easy day into a difficult one, and all I accomplish is to make myself miserable.

In Kingman, Route 66 became Andy Devine Avenue--Kingman was that character actor's hometown. Since I had stayed on the motel-thick east side of town last time I was there, I rode through to the west. I was mildly annoyed that the Motel 6 on the west side was $10 more than the one on the east, but there wasn't as much competition there. At least I would be able to walk  downtown, and it cut four miles out of the next day's ride.

The clerk got upset that I didn't fill in my car information on the registration form. " Well, I don't have a car--I'm on a bicycle," I said. " Besides, the only reason you need that information is to identify vehicles in the parking lot, and my bike won't be in the parking lot."

The clerk frowned. " Well, I don't know if the manager is going to like that. I know she doesn't like motorcycles in the rooms." She scribbled " bicycle" with obvious irritation where I had drawn a line through the car info section.  " You're not going to leave any black marks on the carpet?"

" No," I replied. " I've been doing this for two months now, and no other motel has had any problem with it." She didn't push the issue any further.

It was only 2:00, but I was beat. When I got to my room I flopped on the bed, my face hot with windburn (at first I had to remember whether I had put on sunscreen--I did). Since I hadn't downloaded e-mail for two days, I set up my laptop. I have to say that Motel 6 is a fine example for how other motels should handle Internet connections. Most of the Motel 6s where I have stayed on this trip had a separate jack in the wall by the desk to connect to a modem. They also had good phone lines, as I was able to consistently connect at 40 Kbps or better, even though I was using an 800 number. Most other motels managed a meager 24 Kbps, sometimes even worse. This makes a big difference when one is uploading several megabytes of pictures while paying a per-minute access charge.

While my mail was downloading, I wiped off my face and changed my clothes. Then I explored Kingman for a couple hours, seeing many things I had missed on my previous trip. I found an Italian restaurant, but it didn't open until 5:00. I decided I couldn't spend another hour walking around, so I ended up at Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner. The soup of the day was chicken jambalaya, and I also ordered spaghetti and meatballs. That pasta really hit the spot.

Totals for the day: 43.20 miles in 4:54:41 for an 8.8 mph average.

Click here to see today's photos.

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.