Day 6 passed very quickly. I am not sure if it was actually easy or just that the past few days have been so hard by comparison. I rolled out of the hotel early gunning along a nice wide two lane highway. The road was smooth and mostly downhill so it was a great chance to chew up a few early miles before the days work really started. After a couple of miles Barry caught up with me, pedalling as strong as ever. We rode along together, sharing the work and ticking off more miles. It was a beautiful morning and I couldn’t help thinking how much stunning land there is out here. I am not sure what you would do in these harsh conditions to make a living but the land is beautiful nonetheless.
At around the 15 mile mark, the road started to rise up in front of us and so it was time to say goodbye to Barry, as he tapped out an accelerated pace in front of me. I watched as he pullrf 100 yards ahead, then 200, then 300, then he was a distant red flashing light until he disappeared altogether. I was content to pick a gear I could turn smoothly, and Irma and I began the 12 mile climb up Mingus Mountain. I was pedalling through the Black Hills mountain range in the Prescott National Forest, that I believe (I was told this) is a transition zone between the Sonoran Desert in the south and the Colorado Plateau in the north. What I am sure about is how much fun it is to ride a bike through this stretch of forest. The road winds through pine trees all around, with the odd Yucca or Cacti thrown in for interest, constantly weaving in and out of the early morning shadows cast across the road from the tall pines. I found my rhythm with Irma and we began to climb the 14 miles up to the summit and our first SAG stop of the day.
Occasionally someone would pass me by or I would pass someone who had stopped to rest, so I never felt quite alone on the winding mountain road even though I was by myself. Up and up Irma and I went without much problem other than hauling a probably 20 lbs overweight body, which was sat on a very tiny seat, dressed in Lycra on a hot day, climbing grades of between 3-10%. I made one stop on route but only for a few minutes to rest Irma from thr excessive load (me) and to rest my excessive load from Irma’s tiny seat. We finally made it to the top and an elevation of 7,023 ft. The good climbers were all standing around the SAG already, comparing notes on this climb and no doubt others they have enjoyed or want to do sometime in the future. Given my newbie status in the world of cycling, I have no idea what they are talking about most times, but it is interesting to hear about their adventures nonetheless. My endless golf knowledge is of of use on this trip. I am sure nobody here wants to listen to my endless tales from the golf links of the world, which is probably a good thing for them and for me!
After a quick stop to fill up my bottles and grab a couple of snacks I was on my way again but this time it was for a wonderful 6 mile decent all the way into Jerome, AZ. There is something about descending that makes me feel really alive. It isn’t the danger of the speed, as I corner well thanks to Coach Julie. It isn’t even the adrenaline of thinking one mistake and I’m toast. It is something else all together which as of yet I can’t pinpoint exactly. I know I really do enjoy finding the correct line on a road that actually seems to make Irma very stable yet fast. Anyway enough talk of speed or Deirdre will be calling this whole thing off!
Following a wonderful (very very slow Deirdre) decent down the mountain I arrived into Jerome. This sleepy old mining town sits looking across a wide sandy valley about half way down the mountain. Like a lot of these types of towns no longer on the main routes, they are left trying to make a living showing visitors what Jerome used to be like. At just before 11am there was a line of Lycra clad men standing outside the Haunted Hamburger restaurant waiting for the doors to open so we could eat! I made myself laugh (a common occurrence inside my head) thinking we are like some brightly colored swarm of locusts travelling across the US eating anything and everything in our way. I had a My chilli burger with jalapeño coleslaw, and although possibly a dangerous choice it was a necessary one for me as I am finding plain food hard to get down on the trip so far. Luckily my body agreed with my mind and no further thought, actions or medical assistance were required. The food was just what I needed and I think it hit the spot for all of us. A couple of the guys did order a local beer called ‘Road Rash’ but not wanting to tempt fate I gave that a pass. From Jerome it was another fast five mile twisting decent and then a final flat easy run into Cottonwood and our hotel for tonight.
One of many great things Deirdre has done for me (there are many) is to send a card to every hotel along the trip. Each has a note of my last ride and a saying which relates to each day.
’After climbing a hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb’.
I think you could read that in a number of ways. If your glass tends to look generally half empty, it might be like the false summits of yesterday where it feels like the hills will never end. If you’re like me, and tend to always sit in front of a glass half full, the saying reminds me how wonderful if is that we will never run out of hills to climb up or in fact fly down in our lives. Today was a good day, and another hill made me feel very much alive and well with my world.
On a final note which I will talk about on my rest day further (even just saying the word rest makes me feel great) I cannot thank people enough for their wonderful donations to the Mayo for specific research into WM. I am truly blown away by the generosity of everyone so fat. I know this adventure will do me good, but if I can do some good for others with WM then it just makes it that extra special.