The rest of our stay in Tempe was just lovely. We went to REI to re-up on some biking gear, including doing some serious upgrading to our safety accessories.We also had a lovely evening get-together with an old friend of Concerned Mother #1, Karen Smith, who took us out for the classiest evening we’ve had so far. It’s refreshing to talk to someone who doesn’t live on a bike!
The next morning we reluctantly packed up and out of our hotel and got back on the road. After crushing another generous portion of the hotel breakfast (buffets are my new favorite thing) we headed east out of Tempe, which turns out goes on FOREVER. Urban sprawl at it’s finest. We thought we only had a handful of miles until we got out on the open road, but oh no, 30 miles of stoplights and residential neighborhoods later we finally cleared the Phoenix/Tempe area.
On our map it said to follow Route 60 for quite a ways, and we figured that, like a lot of other local highways, it would be a narrow road with cars whipping by. Instead we found miles and miiiiiiles of a stop and go traffic jam, which meant that we got to pleasantly cruise by faster than the cars, which always gives us a nice satisfying boost. We finally figured out the cause for the traffic (which literally lasted, bumper to bumper, for 10 miles): The Renaissance Fair. Seriously.We continued on and before too long got to a small town called Superior, where we rested, hydrated and had a snack. We knew the next portion of the day was going to be a wicked uphill climb, but we had NO idea what was in store for us.
In general the maps we’re using, from the Adventure Cycling Association, do a pretty good job of guiding us on roads that are relatively safe and less traveled. This was not the case going east out of Superior. In addition to a grueling upward slope, this stretch of road was filled with hairpin turns, blind corners, and about 15 miles of a 2 lane highway that had a large population of 18-wheelers, trailers and other totally terrifying vehicles. The stretch was highlighted by a 2-lane bridge at one point, with a low guard rail and steep drop, and soon thereafter a tunnel, also two lanes, where we got off our bikes and walked on the 10-inch platform while pushing our bikes through the glass covered mini shoulder, as cars whizzed by. We actually tried to hitch hike at one point, asking an elderly couple if they would let us put our bikes into their RV until we got to safer roads, but they were unfortunately going the wrong direction.We were so concentrated on staying out of the road that the 5,000 feet of climbing didn’t seem so bad. Well, that maybe isn’t totally true, but it paled in comparison. We did eventually make it to the top, in fact there’s a sign for “The Top Of The World” that we got to with a beef jerky stand (we went ahead and did that), and then got to go downhill for a while. We wound up in Globe, Arizona, shortly before dark. Upon arrival to the local RV Park, we found no bathroom/shower and just a port-o-potty. Seeking something better than that, the proprietor of the park let us use the shower her house, which was amazing and completely awesome of her. We were so tired from the day we barely spoke as we crammed some PB&honey sandwiches, got in our tent at 8:45pm and woke up 9 hours later.