After having moved 25 miles in 4 days it was time to get back on the bike. I was feeling well rested and that’s a good thing as there was a 90+ mile ride ahead of me. Originally, Blaise had been going to ride out with me, but things changed at the last minute and so I went by myself. Considering how strong a cyclist he is, he is currently working on the logistics to break the cross US by Penny Farthing record, that might have been good for him as I’d have been a bit slow. The only problem when I was leaving was that he’d forgotten to leave me a key so I got to throw my bike and things over the fence before hopping over it too. A fun way to start the day!
I was a little nervous about the ride across Phoenix as I’m really not a fan of going through large sprawling metropolises. However, if you can find them, Phoenix has a good few bike routes down roads with minimal traffic and few traffic lights. A combination of Google Maps and the ACA route meant I could and so it was actually a pleasant experience getting across the city to US60.
US-60 out of Phoenix is often criticised by people who ride the ACA Southern Tier route. Being the only road out of town heading east, traffic can be quite busy and there are places where the shoulder can be minimal to say the least. There is also the slight issue of Queen Creek Tunnel, one of the few tunnels I’ve been through in the last 8000 miles. Bettykay who lives just outside of Phoenix in a place called Gold Canyon has actually made a crazyguy blog to explain how to avoid the worst parts of the route.
Having read all the negative stories, I was fully prepared to take Bettykay’s recommended diverison. Maybe because it was a Monday afternoon, or maybe I’m more used to big roads than others, but the ride ended up being much better than I had been lead to believe. There wasn’t much traffic and the things that came past gave me plenty of space. Even going through Queen Creek tunnel wasn’t that bad. I only had two cars pass me as I climbed the 1/4 of a mile through it and they both gave me space, I assume they saw the light on the back of my bike!
Getting up to the top of the climb was Top-of-the-World which I had heard about and was eager to take a picture. You can imagine how sad I was to find no official sign welcoming me. I had to settle for a picture of a sign telling people to go to SaveTopOfTheWorld.com which doesn’t even seem to exist! Sadness.
Thankfully the descent from Top-of-the-World through Miami and Globe easily made up for my sadness. It was a spectacular drop and my enjoyment was only tempered by the failing light as the sun was starting to set. I had wanted to get pictures of the copper mines to my left as I descended, but it didn’t make sense to do so as I wanted to minimise the amount of time I riding in the dark.
A little later and I found myself arriving in Globe at Troy and his families place. It was their first time hosting someone on warmshowers and I had a lovely evening. After cleaning up, they took me out for dinner and then told me that they had a sauna. I relaxed there and even ended up having a lovely nap to end another good day.
As a foot note – I realised that I forgot to mention my plans. I had originally been intending to get to Phoenix and then either head east to Austin or south to Mexico. As my visa got extended I am intending to take the Southern Tier route back towards Florida. I probably won’t follow it religiously, but will be using it as general guideline to get me where I want to go. As I’m eager to have cycled in as many states as possible, even if it’s just cutting through corners of somewhere like Oklahoma, I may well be taking a detour here or there, but that’s very much up in the air as of now.
Thoughts on the ride out of Phoenix
Queen Creek Tunnel – not best focus but you can experience my climbing speed