Oct 01

Flagstaff to Payson

by in GABA

Day 3: 98.8 miles, 4,900’ elevation gain

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Today we were smart. We started with warm clothes on, not warm enough for Sheila, but then they only had to stay on for the first hour and a half. It warmed up to 104 by the afternoon! On the way to the first SAG stop (SAGs were rest stops with food and water. Sometimes they even had bathrooms.) we saw two lakes that didn’t have any water in them thanks to Arizona’s five year drought. We think we saw eagles at Mormon Lake (first panorama).

As we left Mormon Lake, now warming right up, I noticed the front tire feeling wimpy. We went back to the SAG and discovered a slow leak. Replaced the tube and set off again. It was a 30 mile trip to the next SAG. It was mostly rolling hills, but not rolling enough to get a tandem up the other sides. We were getting pretty cranky by the time we got in two hours later. From that we learned we needed to get off the bike every hour to give our butts a break. When we followed that rule we were far less cranky.

After SAG 2 we climbed another big hill to the edge of the Mogollon Rim with Karen Coe from Bend. As we neared the top she remarked how low our back tire was. Not long after, it tried to roll on us. It was slowly leaking too! Another long break as I repaired our second flat of the day. We got to cheer on all the other riders who were cresting the hill, though. Then we got to fly down to the town of Strawberry. There make GREAT pies there…we packed ours to enjoy later!

Our descent continued into and through Pine. The day ended with a sharp climb up to Payson. We even put on a little gas near the top to prevent some singles from catching us on the last bit of the climb. And then we found the promised land. Right across the street from our hotel was … a… Health Food Store! We went straight in. We bought protein bars. We bought soy ice cream to go on the pie from Strawberry. We were going to buy some Boca burgers for dinner, but the proprietors told us the local VFW ladies had already come in and gotten vegan recipes for us for dinner that night. Hallelujah! We would eat well tonight!

We DID eat well. Visited a lot with Steve and Donna, tandemists who run the GABA club. That’s them climbing the hill. That’s also them in the close-up of their flamingo jerseys (Spencer used to play on a softball team called New Flamingos). She’s also vegan. We hadn’t seen much of them during the actual rides. I think that was mostly because they stop to take pictures of every blooming flower they see. (Or so it seemed from Steve’s slide show on the last night.) We tried to get to the library to use their Internet connection, but it was closed. Time for bed again!

Another quick note here about how good the GABA volunteers were. On the way up the last hill the mechanics stopped to see if we were ok during a butt break. They then agreed to scope out Payson to see if they could get us a new back tire to replace the damaged one we were riding on. Turns out there was none to be had, but they sold us a substitute and set up our bike for us that night. Thanks, Mo and Mike!

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