Johnny Drama and I left Paradise Valley at 7:30am. I was recharged and ready to get going after spending the last two days enjoying the hospitality of some wonderful friends. (Thank you R & M!) Their beautiful home is situated with a splendid view of the Camelback Mountains and I had a guesthouse all to myself. I spent the time reconnecting with my friends, relaxing and working on my gear.
After cleaning my bike, I noticed a wobble in the front tire and rode it to a professional bike shop in Scottsdale thinking the wheel needed to be trued. The mechanic took apart the wheel and explained that the problem was that the cone and bearings were grooved. He advised that the wheel would not make it back to the Bay Area unless it was fixed. He also explained that he would need to order the replacement parts. Because I needed to get on the road today, I tried a second high end bike shop with the same result. On a lark, I tried a much smaller shop, Bicycle Warehouse, also located in the Scottsdale area. When I arrived and explained the problem to the mechanic, he told me that they also didn’t carry the parts. However, he said if I could wait until he finished his lunch, he would try to think of a solution. As he ate his Subway sandwich, we chatted and I discovered that he and his girlfriend had finished a cross-country ride last year taking the Northern Tier route. We compared experiences and shared stories and after he was done eating he disappeared into the backroom and came out with another wheel and proceeded to disassemble it. I found out later that it was from his manager’s bike. He took the parts from it and put them into my wheel and then charged me all of $10 for the work saying: “When I did my ride many people helped me. I’m just doing the same.” (I gave him a very warm thank you and a $10 tip for beer as well).
As Drama and I rode off this morning, he said: “Mike, there are two things I haven’t done yet: learned how to pack my trailer or learned how to ride with it.” Despite this, he gave a great effort covering the 60 miles with little difficulty, except for a flat tire near Whitman. With his bright neon yellow jersey, shoes and trailer bag, Drama could be seen for miles. I found that in order to avoid retinal burning, it was better to stay in front of him.
Today’s ride was flat and smooth with an absence of wind. But, it was hot hitting 90 degrees by 11am. It was also far from scenic taking almost two hours to exit the urban area surrounding Phoenix. From there the route went through miles of road construction and towns like Glendale, Sun City, El Mirage and Surprise, all of which will soon be part of the Phoenix metropolitan area as that city continues its relentless expansion.
South of Wickenburg, we stopped at “Hank’s Antique Store”. The owner, Omar, who is in his 80s, has spent almost all of his life living in the area and working as a miner, including at the local Vulture Mine. Much of his mining work was for galena and Omar was quite proud to show us how Marconi had used galena lead crystals in the first transistor radio.
Drama and I rolled into Wickenburg in the mid-afternoon. Our hotel is nice, except for the pen of peacocks housed behind our bathroom window, which I am sure will substitute for our alarm clock in the morning. After a quick shower, we walked around town and took a tour of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, which was very impressive with collections of chaps, spurs, ropes, saddles and historical artifacts, as well as a special show of female western artists. Bob Joyden, one of the docents, showed us the museum’s collection of Bola ties and explained that a Vic Cedarstaff had invented the Bola in the 1940s in Wickenburg. According to local lore, while riding his horse, Cedarstaff’s hat flew off leaving him with only the rawhide band, which he placed around his neck for safekeeping. Later, a group of his friends joked with him about his unique tie – and history was made.
As I am writing this, I’m sitting outside the hotel room enjoying the warm evening breeze and a decent Wifi signal. Chuck, a local cowboy, just stopped by to ask what I was doing. We struck up a conversation and he explained that he got his paycheck today and came into town to have a little fun. He proudly told me that he had just been thrown out of his third bar of the day and asked if I wanted to go out with him and try a fourth. You’ve just got to love the West.