Phoenix to El Paso

When divided into 3 segments--Western 
States, Texas and Eastern States, the 
ride now is approximately one third 
complete.  With more than 35,000 feet 
of elevation already climbed, the most 
difficult portion with intense heat and tall 
mountains is behind us.  The climbs were 
extremely fatiguing but the downhills 
phenomenally rewarding.  On one downhill,
I coasted 14 miles without pedaling. 

The scenery has been amazing!  Desert 
beauty with saguaro cactus hundreds of 
years old gave way to Superstition Mountains hiding the Lost Dutchman's enchanted gold mine.  Copper mines producing more than 60% of the nation's copper shared space with agricultural fields and citrus groves.  It has been a welcome change from that of Florida.

There has been an inordinate number of flat tires so far.  Thorns, broken glass, sand spurs and many other road hazards have taken their toll.  Several riders have experienced 8 or more flats over the first 2 weeks. My bicycle suffered only 3 punctures to date so I consider myself quite fortunate.  Flats are a given on any cross-country bicycle ride and, although sometimes impossible to avoid, we try to minimize them by steering clear of any and all debris in our lane.  

Unfortunately, there has been one serious accident.  After a long day of climbing, one rider hit either a rut or a rock on the fast downhill.  Her wheel twisted and she was thrown from her bike.  Flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital, she had suffered a concussion and major road rash.  A helmet saved her life.  After 3 days, she was able to fly back to her home in Orlando.  She is employed by Disney and quite often wears the Pluto costume in the Magic Kingdom.  Therefore, we purchased a toy Pluto and each of us takes turns carrying it.  As we ride across the country, she continues to travel with us in spirit.     

There are 2 scenarios for the rattlesnake picture and I will give you your choice as to which one you wish to believe:

A.  While pedaling along the highway, the 
Rattler struck from a bush and only narrowly 
missed my rapidly moving ankle.  I quickly 
turned around, grabbed him by the tail and 
swung him around to crush his head on the 
pavement, thereby saving other riders from 
a possibly unfortunate fate.  

B.  While pedaling along the highway, the 
Bike the US for MS van passed me and 
stopped a few hundred feet farther up the 
road.  Duncan, the tour leader, pointed out 
the rattler so I could avoid it.  However, after 
prodding it, we determined it was no longer 
alive and I picked it up for a great photo op.  

El Paso will be our home for the next 2 nights 
as we take a rest day here.  However, a 
service project at the home of an MS patient is scheduled for tomorrow so it will not be completely restful.    

The more difficult the task, the more the happiness in achievement.