Day 4: 93.1 miles, 4,400’ elevation gain


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Click to enlarge

This day started out FAST! In no time at all we were on a 4 lane highway headed DOWN from Payson. We hit 51 mph without even trying. The downhill must have been 10-12 miles long. Then the day rolled gently through the Tonto National Forest and the Tonto Basin. Rode with Anabel on and off this day. She is one strong rider!

Saw what looked like a hand crawling across the road at one point. When we got closer it turned out to be a big, hairy tarantula. Sheila made me stop to get a picture of it for my kids. She also got some nice shots of the saguaro cacti which were all around us.

Some time around mile 60 we arrived at the bottom of a 6 mile long, 9% grade. It was spooky to be able to see the road snaking up the hill as we approached. We just geared down and headed up with full water bottles. It was hot and we were going through about 3 bottles per hour between us. At four or five miles per hour, it took a while to get to the top, so we carried extra. We never needed our lowest chain ring, though. Notice the smiles on Ted and Sandy’s faces as they crested the hill. We all felt that way.

After that it was just a long slug to Globe, then an additional 5 miles to the Apache Gold Casino which was our home for the night. For the first (and only) time, we ended on a downhill run with a tailwind! Wooo-hoo!

They gave us each a dollar’s worth of slot machine money and a free drink. I lost it all in moments. (Sheila didn’t play.) Dinner was pretty good and was followed by a welcome from an Apache tribal leader. I sent a quick email to the class and we went to bed.

Flagstaff to Payson
Globe to Tucson