Yesterday, when I was changing Drama’s flat, I noticed that the rubber beads that affix to the wheel rim were disintegrating. Looking more closely, I discovered that his tires date back to shortly after Goodyear first vulcanized rubber. At the hotel last night, we added some duct tape (never leave home without it!) on the inside of the tire to add strength to the weaker portions of the tire wall, but it was questionable how long it would last. Drama was understandably reluctant to ride long distances with the potential for a major failure. So, this morning we went to the Cowboy Café for breakfast and to discuss possible solutions. (The Cowboy Café is known for their biscuits and gravy. We each had a half order along with our breakfast and as I ate mine I silently committed to double down on the Lipitor.)
An internet search for bike stores found that there is one in Surprise, a town we passed 40 miles back. Blythe has a store as well, but it is still a day away. After we finished our meal we walked around Wickenburg and tried both hardware stores – no luck. We were then about to walk to the local thrift store in the hope that they had a used bike with the right sized tire, when I saw a man sitting on a bench in front of city hall with a mountain bike next to him. He introduced himself as Louis and confirmed that the nearest places for tires were the stores we had identified. He was giving us details on how to catch the bus to Surprise, when he remembered that he had an old bike at home with the same size tire.
Thirty minutes later, Louis knocked on our hotel door and delivered the tire to us. Fascinating guy. He is a former businessman who now runs “Be a Blessing Window Cleaning” to raise money for his ministry. His only form of transportation for the last six years has been his bicycle. He tows a trailer behind his bike loaded with bibles and other materials and travels throughout this area providing religious instruction to communities and raising money for the poor and homeless.
At 11am, we finally left for Salome in the midst of a light rain shower. For the first ten miles, we had a gradual climb through the mesquite filled desert under skies of rain and dappled sunlight. The moisture released the fragrances of the many spring blooms enhancing the dramatic vistas around us. As we turned to the southwest, the headwinds increased and the temperature dropped. We stopped at the Coyote Café in Aguila (pop. 1,000) for a green chili hamburger and, more importantly, warmth. I noticed several posters in the café advertising a local triathlon. Given the small size of the community, I wondered about the size and distances of the event. It turns out this triathlon consist of horseshoes, pool and darts.
As we left the restaurant, I got a call from Don in response to a text message I had earlier sent him about the tire issue. Don was in Blythe and went to the bike store there to confirm that they have the correct size tires in stock should we need them. Don is heading off to San Diego to end his ride. I’m a bit sad not to have the opportunity to camp or ride with him again on this trip. Meeting him has been on of the more enjoyable parts of the trip, but I know we will connect again.
The remaining 30 miles to Salome were a relentless grind into the wind. In some places, the wind blew clouds of dirt and dust that were visible for miles. As the rain dissipated, wonderful cumulous clouds appeared. I found myself stopping to take dozens of photographs of the different formations – and also to get a break from the wind. I felt sorry for Drama; yesterday he had the high heat and today the wind. I hope tomorrow gives him something more pleasant or I will never be able to get him to join me on a trip again.