San Diego to Phoenix
The ride is off to an excellent start. After dipping our rear wheels in the Pacific waters of Ocean Beach, there was a nice secure bike path leading us out of bustling San Diego. In most cases, it tunneled under heavily trafficked thoroughfares so we didn't even have to wait for traffic signals. Once out of the city, we traversed lesser used back roads while the autos jumped onto the Interstate.
But then the climbing began...
In the first 3 days, we climbed over 8,000'. It would not have been too bad if temperatures had been 20 or 30 degrees cooler. However, this region typically is the hottest in the nation and temps quickly rose above 100 degrees. At one point, my bicycle computer registered 126 degrees. Admitted that was in direct sun and on an absorbent black top road--but that was exactly where I was sitting as well! Fortunately, the Bike the US for MS van had scheduled stops at approximate 15 mile intervals to refill our bottles with cold water. I never have drank so much water in my life.
While the hills were tall, they were not very steep. In most cases, they were easy 1-2% climbs over many miles rather than the much steeper hills found in the eastern part of the US. This allowed reasonable speeds while climbing. Another major benefit is that the downhills, being considerably more gentle, last incredibly longer so you can fast cruise for several miles with only light pedaling.
There was one dynamite exception. On Day 3, after thousands of feet of climbing, we found ourselves at the top of Inkapa Pass with a phenomenal 3,000' descent of 6% grades lasting 10 miles without pedaling one stroke. What a rush! The only available road was Interstate 8 and we had a wide full size lane to ourselves. There were occasional escape lanes for vehicles with brake problems. We didn't use them. With warnings of dangerous crosswinds that possibly could turn over a truck, we had to temper our speed to some degree. However, my computer registered a fastest speed of 44.34 mph on the descent so there wasn't much tempering. The ride down was both really scary and truly exhilarating!
Today is a rest day in Phoenix, AZ and it certainly is welcome. Along the way, many have expressed a genuine interest in the ride and the MS cause. Hopefully, we can do a small part toward raising awareness and making life better for anyone with MS. And with clean clothing and rested legs, tomorrow we ride again...
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.