A strap on my right sandal had come loose and looking at the Shimano website didn’t fill me with much faith in being able to get any warranty service especially as they had been bought back in England. I showed them to Peter while I was loading my bike up and by the time I had finished loading he had repaired it. He used some super-strong super glue which would take an hour or two to set and so added a couple of screws to keep it there until it set. The left sandal looks like new so it’s a shame that if this doesn’t hold I might need to buy a new pair.

After saying my goodbyes to Peter & Geni I headed into the nearby Cottonwood to get something to eat for the ride. I was looking for peanut butter, but stumbled across discounted donuts and my mind was made up. 12 donuts for $2.99 was too good a deal to turn down. As well as being cheap, it would give me some training for the Krispy Kreme Challenge I might be doing in February.

Leaving Cottonwood I started the slow ascent to Jerome. I had been warned about the road up, people on crazyguy talked about pushing their bikes up and Chris from Sedro-Wooley had said

I don’t recommend the route that takes you through Jerome, unless you catch a lift “up.” I’ve done the ride, unloaded when I was fit, and it was like the steepest climbs I’ve done in the Dolomites, but it didn’t end!

To me that added to the mystique in a way. As well as that, the wonderful thing of touring is the lack of concern I have. I’ve been told my take on rides is quite Zen in that I live in the now. Having a big climb ahead of me doesn’t bother me as it doesn’t change things. Whether I know about it or not, it’s there. To talk about the ride to Prescott in particular there wasn’t a viable alternative. Either I rode up to Jerome or … I didn’t get to Prescott. In the US there are plenty of pick-up trucks and so if I had somehow been unable to get up I could have thumbed down a truck. As it was, it was a little steep and I dropped to a low gear but made my way up and found myself in Jerome.

Jerome is an old mining town sat on the side of a mountain. It’s got character without being overly touristy. I hadn’t planned to take too long to go through, but it took over an hour. Every time I stopped to take a picture someone would come up to me and ask me questions about my bike and my trip. My five minute donut stop turned into twenty-five minutes trying to leave the car park I had pulled into. I stopped by a t-shirt shop to grab some water and then headed out of town to continue the climb.

The rest of the climb past Jerome seemed to flatten out a little. There was nothing compared to the apparent 17% grade climb through the middle of town. Another hour or so of climbing and I was up to the top of Mingus. It was slightly chilly and there wasn’t really anything at the top so I started the descent to Prescott Valley immediately. It was invigorating and I found myself singing along with my iPod as I rode the 20 miles into town.

I arrived at Ray’s place in Prescott and 5 minutes later he turned up. I was immediately bowled over by his positivity and energy. He isn’t a road cyclist but an avid mountain biker and was full of questions. After I cleaned up we headed out to the grocery store and then for dinner with a client and student of his from the local university. It was an illuminating evening as they were all ex-military and so I learnt lots, including a bunch of jokes, the highlights being – How do you know a pilot has entered the room? He’ll tell you. What does a pilot use for contraception? His personality.