Day 8: Casa Grande to Catalina, Arizona – 61 miles

A nice night in a hotel and away we go. It was a shorter day than originally slated. It was 61 miles (instead of 70). The mountains were beautiful as we rolled toward Tucson.

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My 2 big toes continue to be very sore after 30–40 miles. I am looking forward to the rest day. We lunched at Nico’s Mexican. Shredded beef tacos, refried beans and Jarritos tamarind soda. We went through Marana. The very nice Dove Mountain. I rode by the Ritz-Carlton. We are staying in Catalina State Park for 2 nights.

Day 7: Gila Bend to Casa Grande, Arizona – 78 miles

A nice roll out on a beautiful road in the Sonoran Desert.

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There was a head wind most of the way. Overcast skies helped the heat of the day. The first part of the day was rolling and beautiful. Sag stop 1 was at a school in the middle of nowhere.

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The road got busier going into Maricopa, Arizona. We headed down toward Stanfield. The cattle feeding pools and the vast agriculture seemed to leave a different type of feeling.

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It seemed as if the grandness of this part of the desert was tortured. Lunch at the Stanfield ranch market. It was great.

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81 miles to the barn. Motel 6 did not have our reservations right. We are adapting. 402 miles with 5 extra in 7 days.

Day 6: Dateland to Gila Bend, Arizona – 52 miles

Another beautiful morning rolling out of Dateland. I hit something with my rear tire that cut the center of the tire and made it flat.
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The tire was not repairable. I had the old tire in the bag and one tube and I made it the rest of the day without a problem. Curly was there with a few others and he asked if I wanted the nut and cap. I told him I did not use them. Curly dryly replied is that because you will be taking that tube out 10 minutes from now. It was hilarious. 35 miles on I-8 then off. The desert continued to be vast and huge.

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There seemed, as we went on, a harshness that was innate with this part of the desert. A great Mexican lunch at Sophia’s in Gila Bend and a little turn out to the KOA.

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It was becoming hot by the time we got to camp.

Day 5: Yuma to Dateland, Arizona – 70 miles

A lovely evening at the Yuma National Guard Armory with a great massage by the therapist, Margie and a fabulous Asian night meal from the tour chef, Culinary Insider, Anne. We left with a little more chill in the air but gorgeous again. The first 20+ miles were through the “lettuce” or “salad” bowl of America.

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It was incredible riding with what appeared to be booming Agro-business.

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There were many huge farms.

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This rider thought during this section of the ride that if the moon had a garden it would look like this.

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We left the “salad” bowl and the desert took over. A great lunch at Jac’s Whistle Stop Diner in Tacna, Arizona.

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Warm roll up out of Tacna to the SAG and the to I-8 for some interstate riding. We pulled into the Dateland RV park and the date capital of the United States and home of famous date shakes.

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On a personal note, I received a message that a dear mentor and friend passed away, Chief Joseph Trainor. “Fireman” Joe befriended me when I first moved to Tampa, 34 years ago. He encouraged and used his influence to have me go to the local state of Florida firefighter school.  It was a galvanizing moment that changed my life forever.  Joe was a special unselfish man that always seemed to see the best in others. To his wife Lois and all his children my deepest sympathies and condolences. The world is a smaller and emptier place without my buddy Joe in it.

Day 4: Calexico, California to Yuma, Arizona – 64 miles

A beautiful day today with a tail wind at our backs. No rain. Blown out to the first sag today. Long straight road that goes on for ever…

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We passed the Imperial Dunes State rec area.

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John had a flat while we rode the freeway. Plenty of good help. Lunch at the center of the world. Another eclectic stop along the road by the man that invented the rectangular parachute.

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There is a vastness to the land that eludes the camera and sometimes the imagination. The roughest road 5 miles coming into Yuma, which is in Arizona. This is our SECOND state already.

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Thanks for all the great comments from all my friends.

Day 3: Live Oak Springs to Calexico, California – 63 miles

Another overcast day with all our clothing on. We crossed the Tecate divide and it seemed like it just started to rain again.

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This day we had all our clothes on. The big downhill was very challenging with windy rain with gusts that were moving the riders. The pavement was slick from the rain. Our hands were getting sore from the cold and clutching the brakes. Lunch at the Red Feather Cafe. Cheeseburger supreme.

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I knew we were in the desert as I passed Crucifixion Thorn.

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Calexico is an interesting border town. 🙂

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Day 2: Alpine to Live Oak Springs, California – 32 miles

A wet night made for a cloudy morning. Off we went with overcast skies and a willing spirit. It is the shortest and the hilliest part of the trip. This was true. After a couple of miles the mist started and if you were not wearing your raincoat it came on at the vista stop.

imageIt was by far, the hardest 31.7 mile ride I had ever done. Tons of elevation with rain coming down harder as the temperature kept dropping. Then the wind began to pick up in blasts that would you sideways. This rider had a flat in the small flat on the last hill of the day with the wind just ripping by. Many thanks to fellow riders John and Jim for stopping and Coach, one of the mechanics on the trip. Got to the final stop freezing. Back in camp and clean, dry and ready for the nap of choice.
After the rainAnd now this is the later afternoon.