Day 51: Wickenburg, Arizona

Elevation gained: 579 ft/Miles 62/Total Miles: 2,498/Total Fast Food: 18

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.

And in that vein, in the category of things that I will never be heard saying: “Honey, I’m going to do a run to Costco and Guns Plus. Do you need me to pick up anything for you?”


Filed under Biking U.S.

6 responses to “Day 51: Wickenburg, Arizona

  1. Brian

    Johnny is the opposite of you, Bob trailer, camelbak, bright colors. What is he riding?

  2. William Leo

    Mike: It sounds like your forgot a roll of duck tape for your trip. Great to read about your adventure.
    U. Leo

  3. k

    Who is the sherpa towing the RV? Tell JD to enjoy the ride wish we could have made it with him.

  4. I’ve just finished reading the entire blog to day. This is one trip I hope to do myself. Thanks for sharing it. My older brother did this trip last year I joined him to start his trip off right. We spent two days together from San Diego to Jacumba Ca. I did the return trip in one day. The ride there and back was great. Great story line and again thanks for sharing

  5. Polish Super Hero

    Well? did you go out with the cowboy or not? Seems like a “Dillon” experience not to be passed by. I bet it’s nice to have a riding partner…I remember when I could keep up with people on a ride but that seems so long ago!
    Peace to you both,

  6. R&M

    As the aforementioned Paradise Valley hosts of Mike’s 2 day break (and battle to regain mental competency), let me add a few illuminating comments about this impressive adventure.

    First, it was great to see him and catch up on a lot! of stuff from family to job to parts of the bike that break down. You know how old people talk about their health problems for hours? Mike can talk endlessly about bike repairs. I sense potential for a new show called “This Old Bike”.

    Mike pokes fun at cowboys and old miners but remember that this comes from a guy that has glowing white ankles and feet, deeply tanned legs, glowing white belly and chest, deeply tanned arms, neck and face. He looks like a living candy cane from a distance. My wife still thinks he’s handsome. Go figure.

    We are concerned about his eating habits on the trip. Although he did look healthy enough and surely has lost some weight, if he lost as much weight as he claims, he apparently started the trip at 335 pounds after just missing to qualify for the NFL draft.

    Upon hitting our house, he downed several beers and ate prodigious amounts of steak, potatoes and basically every thing that looked remotely edible. Perhaps those dehydrated meals aren’t quite as tasty and filling as advertised.

    I cannot comment on the rumor that he thumbs a ride from big RVs that come along, entertaining the free-spirited RV folks with captivating tales of his former life as a corporate bigwig. No, not at Enron.

    To do our part in completing his quest for a perfect body, we loaded his panniers with an extra ten pounds of rocks. Oops, hope he doesn’t read this because he might blame Drama.

    Drama met up with Mike at our house. Give credit where credit is due, Drama stepped up and took a week off to accompany Mike, something few of us were able to do (or wanted to do). He had some old equipment and some new equipment, and in true gung-ho fashion, hadn’t tried any of it out. But he looked pretty spiffy in his blindingly bright wind jacket. The jacket and Mike’s untanned body parts are forever seared into my memory.

    It was tough parting ways after not seeing Mike for so long, but it was made easier by the fact I wasn’t going with them. In the end, though, I have to admit that Mike’s a stud, and Drama’s a colt, and wussies like the rest of us can only admire the audacity. We love you Mike. (In a completely appropriate way).

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