Day 5: 105.8 miles; 5,300’ elevation gain
We followed Steve and Donna down the hill. It was steep. They were fast. We kept catching glimpses of them further down the twisty course which they knew well. At one point I braked slightly to prepare us for the next turn. As we slowed Sheila started to pedal furiously. She wanted more speed. I was at my limit. It was something of a role reversal. We hit 49 mph. That was plenty for me.
The downhill continued, although at a lesser rate, until we got to Winkelman at mile 35. We were traveling through a fabulous limestone canyon. The fold lines in the stone were amazing (top photo).
Leaving Winkelman we were one again on the open plain. The wind kicked up. We teamed up with two singles (Mark and Thomas) to paceline our way through it. Once again, riding with others passed the time easier than going alone. We arrived in Mammoth, at the foot of the second climb, before noon.
We started the 14 mile climb without extra water because the route guide said there’d be a water stop half-way through. The climb was steady, but not debilitating. It was hot, though, in the mid-90s. When we got to where the rest stop was marked, the water wasn’t there! Ooops. About a mile further down the road we flagged down a support car. They gave us some water, then went back to set up a cooler on the hill. Never did figure out why the water stop wasn’t there. Some people speculated it may have been stolen because of border politics about whether water should be left out for illegal immigrants or not. Who knows?
The wind hadn’t abated since Winkelman. One version of the map suggested the top would be imminent. But we kept climbing. And climbing. And climbing. We finally got to the SAG stop in Oracle. We were delighted to have made it. Our bottles were empty. We were hot and tired. Now there was only 30 miles of downhill to go!
Of course, the wind was stronger than ever now. We had to pedal hard to keep up a 17 mph pace on the down. Our saviors this time turned out to be Dorothy and Richard (shown left on yesterday’s hill) who rode a daVinci like ours. He’s a racer and was very strong. They came by us with a single in tow and we hopped on the train. He would have pulled us all the way to Tucson, but we got confused when the group stopped for a light. We heard that we were taking a pee break at the gas station so we pulled off. When nobody else showed up, we figured out we were alone. We needed the break (it had been an hour since the last time we got off) so we were happy. We just pedaled the last 15 miles alone.
We were absolutely ready to be off the bike when we arrived at our hotel. The cook that night was funny. He was Greek and had made big slabs of meat for the riders. Then he came around serving Boca burgers to the vegetarians. He had never seen such a thing before, much less cooked it. He was astonished that so many people would eat them. The evening ended with a slide show.