Portions of the roads I’ve cycled on over the last several days were ones I had cycled last fall, but today I took a turn onto SR 71 N that will lead me to cycling challenges the likes of which I’ve never encountered — toward the Rocky Mountains. Tomorrow I will cycle up the Yarnell Grade toward Prescott, and I will reach Wolf Creek and La Veta Passes fairly soon. I am, of course, psyching myself out about Wolf Creek Pass, but I am pretty confident about the other two.
In the meantime, today we had Chapter Two of Expect the Unexpected. What we expected was a gentle climb and moderate heat. We got both. Once again, the heat was tamed by cloud cover. There were even a few gentle cooling raindrops near the end.
The first unexpected huge surprise occurred as I was about to enter Aguila. I saw a truck stop and back up, then a guy got out and was walking in my direction. I admit to being a tiny bit suspicious at first. Nevertheless, I waved as I went by and got an unthreatening friendly wave back. Then I passed the truck. It was clearly an official Race Across America (RAAM) truck. (Keep in mind that I selected the RAAM route for my cross country adventure.) Upon knowing the person was somehow associated with RAAM, I turned around and went back and said “Do I know you?” I said that because I feel like I’ve been in touch with most of the RAAM folks! At that, he introduced himself as Fred Boethling, President and CEO of RAAM! I was completely dumbstruck to meet him at all, much less in as remote a place as Aguila AZ. Then the conversation started. I asked if he had heard of my mission from his staff. He didn’t seem to so I explained and then he really tuned in. We chatted a bit, took a selfie, then a couple of raindrops fell, and he wished me well on my way! A few miles later, after I had made my turn toward the Rockies, I was still processing how insanely unlikely such an encounter was, and then I realized Fred would be a perfect witness for Guinness World Records. When I called him to ask, he was ten miles or so up the road, but agreed, and Susie kindly drove ahead to take him the form.
While Susie was gone, Unexpected Number Two occurred, but it was not pleasant like the first of the day. The temperatures were in the low 90s so the ice in my water bottles was melting fairly quickly. I pulled off the road and poured the icier water in my back bottle into my more accessible front bottle. I looked to see if the road was clear and saw an RV a fair distance back and elected to wait for it go by rather than hinder it. A few seconds later, I looked back again to see where it was. To my horror, two six foot poles that serve to hold up an awning when the RV is parked had come loose and were pointing straight out horizontally toward the shoulder of the road where I was. I leaned away from the shoulder as it passed and the poles missed me. However, just twenty feet ahead, the two poles smacked into a road sign and sheered the awning off the RV. For the next dozen miles, I wondered what those poles would have done to me had I entered the road earlier.
In spite of Unexpected Number Two, it was a very pleasant ride. We can see the Yarnell Grade from our motel. We will see it up close and personal tomorrow.
Start location: Salome AZ
End location: Congress AZ
Distance: 53.3 miles
Cumulative distance: 402.6 miles
Elevation gain: 1168 (very gradual, almost imperceptible)
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/697188807