Back in Flagstaff
That's us, the green reflection near Kingman AZ
Climbing up through the pines
Welcome to Flagstaff
After a ride across the desert, a peek at lake Mead and a slow chug up to 7,000 feet through the ponderosa pine we arrived back in Flagstaff. When we biked into town four weeks ago it was a warm, sunny day and Mt. Humphreys had a small cap of snow on its peak. It's sunny today also but the snow is not only falling on Mt. Humphreys it's also falling on the streets of Flagstaff. We've had a busy month and it feels good to be back in familar surroundings, the Grand Canyon Hostel.
Bikes taking a well deserved rest at the hostel
Our car trip lasted three weeks and now it's time to do laundry. I put nearly all the clothes we own from lights to darks in a single washer, dropped in four quarters and crossed my fingers. While the Rainbow Coalition agitated and spun I sat at the dining room table sockless in my cycling shorts and least dirty shirt sipping tea and watching the snow fall. Soon a bright eyed, brown haired German tech journalist with a slight build sat down with his dinner, a large salad and loaf of wheat bread. He had just returned from Albuquerque and I asked what there was to see and do there. It's odd to receive travel advice on your own country from a visitor with a thick accent but the truth is many of the foreigners I've met have seen more of America than some of my own family.
As we were talking other hostelers sat down with their dinners. Marcie from South Africa who now resides in England was taking six weeks to see America by train. She began her journey in the northeast, crossed the country twice and headed as far south as New Orleans, her favorite stop so far. Garrett, a cyclist from Canada, was biking from San Francisco to Southern California then east to New Orleans. He's a musician and gave me advice on portable sound recording equipment. Many times over the last two years I've wished I had a sound recorder to capture environmental sounds, dialog, and accents. He also shared stories of the people he met along the way like the kind but odd couple that gave him a ride into Phoenix. They kept driving back and forth between Phoenix and LA because they couldn't decide which city they wanted to live in. They would arrive in one city, stay a day or two, then wake up and say, “This just doesn't feel right” and hop in the car and drive back to the other city. The oddest thing was that they had no money so they would ask strangers to pay for their gas – and a stranger always did.
Garrett reminded me of the young bucks we met hiking the Appalachian Trail – strong, fit and impatient. Many young, strong hikers had to abandon their dream of hiking from Georgia to Maine because they sustained overuse injuries from hiking too many miles in the first weeks of their journey. Garrett had to hitch a ride with the odd couple because he developed Achilles Tendonitis. He admits that he pushed harder in the early days of his ride than he needed to and now must take time off to let his tendon heal.
As an older athlete you could say I have the wisdom of age and that is why I don't make such youthful mistakes. Maybe. Or is it simply that I'm a middle-aged man without the physical strength to push my body that hard and since I'm retired I don't feel the urgency to finish this adventure and get on with my life, career, etc?
What I do know is that young athletes heal quicker than old ones. After only a couple days off the bike Garrett's' Achilles was markedly improved and I expect he will be biking east out of Phoenix soon.
Categories: Biking, Hiking, Travel