Thanks again to Ed and Cathy for the invitation to camp in their backyard. We woke well rested and ready for the long haul (77 miles) to Flagstaff.
We had a monstrous climb over the Mogollon Rim, climbing over 2000 feet in the first 15 miles, in seemingly never-ending switchbacks of Zorro’s Zs. The Mogollon Rim makes up the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau. We had the first daunting view of the high limestone/sandstone cliffs when we pulled into Payson. I’m convinced that with enough switchbacks engineers can build a road over anything.
The day took us through beautiful ponderosa pine forests, interspersed with mountain meadows.
The road we were on for the first part of the day was very scenic, although the shoulder was essentially nonexistent. In some places the pavement didn’t even extend to the white line. Come on ADOT!
It’s difficult to appreciate nature’s beauty when I’m staring at the white line, white knuckles on the handlebars, hoping there’s enough room for two cars and a very wide bike in the brief moment we’re all in parallel passing each other.
We have found Arizona drivers adopt a particularly nerve-wracking tactic of overtaking cyclists when there is oncoming traffic. As opposed to slowing and waiting the few seconds for the oncoming vehicle to pass, the vehicle coming up behind us guns it, anticipating that the oncoming vehicle will yield to them. Hearing the increasing roar of a dually truck engine as it approaches gaining speed is disconcerting. In cases where the oncoming vehicle does not slow down, this results in a near head-on collision of the two vehicles or an extremely close and fast encounter with us and the overtaking vehicle as these lanes are just wide enough for one vehicle. I’m still a little gun-shy of vehicles passing closely since the Airstream incident.
We turned onto a much better road after lunch which had a dedicated bike lane and more forgiving terrain. We are staying with Elliot’s friends Austin & Theresa for a few days in Flagstaff. He is excited to see them and we agreed to try to make the trip from Pine to Flagstaff in one day. It was a bit of a slog at the end but we made it just as the sun went down.