Tucson- Phoenix felt good, the terrain was relatively flat with gentle climb or descend. Don a friend from Tucson join me with his road bike, it was nice to have someone along to start seating the pace. Don was telling me his story that for about 20yrs he has back bone problem spent lot of time and money in the hospital till recently he start cycling and all the pain is gone. Bicycle for medicine!
About 50km the frontage/shoulder road goes along highway wonder in the interior of Indian Nation or what known as reservation. It just till recently when I came to know that even the big nation as US it is still small possible New York and Los Angles feel more US than I hear from someone from Tubac village or certain Indian Nation or even Vemort state. So the history goes like that the federal government wasn’t successful to unite everyone to massive US, some native Indians fought for their independence from Spanishyard to federalist. Today these small patches still preserve their tiny islands inside big ocean; their preserved rights are simply like running casinos, possible to stop certain development and McDnald. Some of the Indians I met they were so proud of their nations which make me remember of Israel in the middle of Palestine.
At the rest area half way to Phoenix I had long conversation with Indian family selling souvenirs despite the fact that there was big sign calming that ‘vending is prohibited’ though there is vending machine selling coke cola. They were so kind to share with me their water insisting that I should take a ride because Phoenix is too far and it is getting hotter. Just as African they didn’t passive it why should I torture myself like that if I’m not going to wine certain sum of money.
At 4pm in the evening I made it to Phoenix made it 105 miles 140km, Lily and her daughter Grace show up on their tandem bike to pick me up. Lily she is first Black African woman I know who does touring cycling, she cycled some part of west coast. Here stories can be found in the ‘crazy man on the bike’ https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/directory/?user=bllvenus. We knew each since the time I was biking in Africa she has been good support of Chile to Kili. She helped to put together the talk at the central library. She is now plan to cycle across Africa with her daughter in the near future.
Here in Phoenix I come across like minded folks, activist in several aspects from culture, politics, arts, medical marijuana, gay/lesbian/transect, and environmentalist just to mention. Through this connection the news of the guy on the bike spread fast like wind, I was shuffled around into art galleries, parties where I’ll come across the mayor of the city and eventual end up pose for photo with him.
No matter what happened moving on isn’t an option, Lily lead me on the tide but lonely street of wide spread desert city of Phoenix. Soon I was alone once again in the outskirt of the city which Mexicans neighborhood, not too far the road disappear into desert. Few times the road breaks into small farm town actual most of them farm Hay. In this town you will be welcomed with big signs Subway 5miles or picture of Mc Donald bugger with big mug of coke for $4. I used chance of these places to get some ice and water. In these fast food place and gas station stores there are machine for ice and soft drinks, after fill my dirty and bitten up bottles I once asked the girl on the counter how much does it cost she replay ‘no problem’, I think probably because you can’t scan them sine everything here is sold by computer. Since then I use these place without bothering to ask for payment not sure if it offense or not or the just consider me as arrogant black dude on suspender and helmet who think can walk in the store and get water for free.
The valley of death…
The cycling between Phoenix till began of plateaus it one vast valley which goes as low as sea level. Cycling in this are in peak of summer might mean death, the heat increase as the sun rise till 2pm it reach 50 Celsius (about 120F). This is twice of my normal temperature of where I’m leaving. The first day out of Phoenix the heat reached this point 20 miles before I reach Gila Bend town. There were no were to hide, the ‘desert shrubs’ are too short, 10 liters of water goes just like northing. Evaporation is so high that I don’t even see like I sweet any more. 10 miles before Gila Bend I run out of my hot water, I need
to push fast to get water and at least some shade but at the same time this mean sweet more , my mouth dry to the throat as I breath the dry air and the head start to hummer. I keep raising my bottles to the passing car but seem like none could peak my sign, at this point it when I feel like the world turn against me, I felt my insanity more closer ‘what is the hell are doing here’ it the voice inside me, it like I wasn’t me anymore so I just pedal hope that next minutes I’ll fail down sleep in the long peaceful sleep or peaked up by someone. But thanks that didn’t happen so I made it to Gila Blend, the town though has fancy houses, fast food and stores but still remand me the ‘dead towns’ of Atacam/andes, people are seen getting out of the car and entering stores and houses, everyone hide inside the air condition. I drink lot but it took a while water to get into normal circulation, I cycle out of the town since wasn’t look very welcoming, it has bunch of RV (Recreational Vehicle) park and motel which cost $40. At 6pm it was still 43 Celsius but the breeze make it easy to cycle. With the fence everywhere there were no way to bush camp, I bike till 10pm when I come across sign say ‘food and gas, next service 40mils’, the food and gas place was closed down long time, the store still has merchandize and vending machine outside still has few drinks. I hang out at the place for a while but I sense that there was no any sign of human being. I put up my tent but unable to sleep on it as it was still 38 Celsius. In the next morning it when I see around where I slept all the doors has sign saying for sell.
The following day I try to sleep in the hill overlooking Yuma but the situation was the same hot, hot. In the morning I cycle pass Yuma crossed River Colorado this day was less sun with just a it of clouds, I spent the hot afternoon in the abandoned house.
There were few places to refill water, thanks for border patrol officers who end up asking if I need instead of asking for passport as they do when I drive by these check points. The officers turn to be friend and interested on my project but they insist that next day the last day to San Diego it going to be the hardest one they give me the detail of climb and heat. I tend not to go too much into detail and take the surprise but these guys were serious so their advice was to do it earl in the morning. The after become hot as the first day so It took long rest at Imperial Dunes, here I enjoyed simple American kindness two guys stop by to offer cold water and simple chart. What is fun here is there are so many cyclist anyways not at the section I ride or at least not this time of the year but unlikely Latin where you receive lot of attention as foreigner and crazy enough to cycle from one city to another, here you are another guy on the bike.
Soon after 5pm I resume pedaling pass the dune which give a good scene when you look behind as the roll down into valley. I crossed El Centro town in the night stop for Pizza and big mug of ice mountain dew. About 16 km out of El Centro I found rest area they don’t allow camping and yes I didn’t camp I just put mattress under the tree and sleep for few hours. I wake up at 4pm and stat the climb, I think it about 25 to 30km of climb, I got up in the pass which is about 1250m, it was 50 Celsius by the time I finished to make my branch of raise, tuna and sweet corn. Going downhill was the reward of the climb, from here the terrain changed into plateau, jugged mountain with valleys in between. The vegetations changed as well slowly the shrubs turn into pines and temperature kept going down. The time I arrived San Diego down town I was cycling under 27 Celsius with cool breeze from the ocean, it was like a dream when I did comparison of where I cycle for couple of few days to here, and this was paradise!
This is my third big city in US after Tucson and Phoenix, geographical it total deferent from the previous ones. The atmosphere here is quite different as well; it like everyone is in the mood of vacation. It quite a bike friend city about 40km out of the city there was bike lane, down town the city along the beach lots of folk are in their bikes. Even the accent chaned!
Upon arrived at Ocean Beach area my host Amy and his brother Eric were out waiting, so when I should up the corner I hear the scream ‘he is here’ that was one of enthusiastic and exciting receiving. Few blocks from the house is the beach, yesterday we found ‘nyama choma’, race and beans first east African dish though here sold by Caribbean dude who we couldn’t understand our accents till we adjust to standard pronunciations . For me was surprise to find that kind of food such far but I’m told that here you may find any kind of food you want, the world is in America
It also seem like if I was wondering how things are different in Arizona here things might be total ridiculous so let see I have few days here before cycle up to Los Angles, hope I may be able to come up with another blog before take off.