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Day 2 - Green Valley to Sierra Vista - 61 mi / 100 km


With my body clock still in the Eastern Time Zone, I am awake early and look out of my hotel room window to the East.


They had been hidden in yesterday’s thick low rain clouds. Besides, I had been totally focused on getting from point A to point B (airport to Holiday Inn), totally concentrating on a wet and windy highway. 

However, there is no denying this morning’s reality – today I would be heading east up into the mountains – they are very pretty visually, I don’t know what it is going to feel like.

A word about trip preparation -  Back in 1998, the Internet was still early stages – Mapquest was a delightful new on-line thing and Internet access was through a blazing (at the time) 56KPS dial-up modem. Most of trip planning was using paper maps

Tucson El Paso

As I studied the paper maps, I didn’t pick up on meaning of a road getting all squiggly.


The day starts out well enough, given the locale – an early morning classic American continental breakfast (cardboard coffee, watered-down juice, and muffins deciding whether they were moist sponges or ready to be preserved for the eons, with a blueberry flavour accent)

Temperature-wise, it is very cool – okay, cold. I have no gloves. It is late fall, but it never occurred to me that I had to be concerned about freezing in Arizona.

I stop at the local WalMart and am greeted by friendly plump middle-aged women dressed in Walmart Blue and very happy to help me find gloves and a long sleeved T-shirt.

Now reasonably equipped to confront a fall Arizona morning, I head south on del Canada Blvd and curve left and east towards White Canyon Road. The morning warms up and soon my newly acquired gloves and top are squeezed into my protesting overpacked paniers.

As author of this self-absorbed missive, I have the latitude to point out certain observations that many attentive and supportive readers would be prepared to gloss over in the spirit of getting on with the story.

So here’s the short list:

  1. The cyclist is on a mountain bike with knobbly tires more suited to trails than highways
  2. The bicycle’s pedals are open, without foot straps, meaning there is no opportunity to efficiently maximize energy.
  3. The panniers are packed, PACKED, bulging with material possessions that would be more appropriate to an ocean cruise, containing things like:
    1. Books
    2. Writing Journals
    3. Juggling Balls
    4. Extra shoes
    5. Road food for two weeks

WHAT WAS I THINKING??????????????

I was going to be lugging 10-15 lbs of DEAD WEIGHT for 400 MILES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MILE 15 - looking back.......

leaving Green Valley

I have a reasonable start - note the lack of traffic






A bit of a surprise - my asphalt highway morphs into a long and winding dirt road.

The picture to the left - a beautiful waterfall, whose pristine visual and aural presentation was somewhat tempered by the fact that I was miles away from anything that would be remotely useful to me.






MILE 25 ( I think)

Arizona snow

So here I am, cranking away on my overloaded bike - I'm in shorts and tanktop, and all my pumping away on my gym's Lifecycle has not prepared me for this - curving and looping wet dirt roads leading into snow-capped mountains, and I'm in the middle of nowhere as far as resources go, and the hills are endless.

I look at my bike speedometer and realize that I would be faster if i got off and pushed my bike...............

I am in over my head.


I reach the top. The white is snow.

I'm looking down into a moment where water flows either to the East or the West - I've reached the Continental Divide for Arizona:

White Canyon


Thankfully, the landscape flattens out, and within the relief - a distant view of tomorrow:

Arizona Mountains north of Sierra Vista



Soon after, I reached Highway 83 and was passed by a cyclist in full Tour de France gear - completely integrated with his roadbike, very little gear and very comfortable in his setup.

The moment was a revelation for me.

Yes, I'm committed to completing my trip, and the next time I would be properly equipped and properly prepared.

And now, I have to finish my trip with the tools I have.


I turned east onto Highway 82. I'm out of gas. I still had 30+ miles to go and my legs were dead.

As I grind away, a tractor-trailer appears on the distant highway. It's pulled over to the side and the driver is dragging HUGE tires around the rear end of the trailer.

I stop and ask if I could lend a hand. Tom is totally ready to have someone help him pull off the flat tire off his rig and to drag up the spare and hold it onto the wheel mount while he sets up and tightens the bolts.

Once the work is done, he thanks me and readies to head off - I ask him where he was going and he said he was off home to deliver his trailer full of Mexican tomatoes to Minnesota.

I ask him if he could give me a lift to the next highway intersection five miles away - I'm in pain and my butt needs a break.

Tom is totally amenable to that - he breaks the seal on his refrigerated trailer, I heave my bike in with all the chilled tomatoes and then climb into the front cab with him.

The front cab is like a living room - This was Tom's space: a cooler with food and drinks, pictures of his family across the sun visor, paperback books and country music cassettes piled up in the passenger seat where I was perched.

I couldn't imagine a more pleasant guy - happy to chat, in love with his wife, proud of his two kids - and hauling fruit and vegetables across North America was his way of making ends meet.


We reach the intersection of Highways 82 and 90 - Tom is heading East, and i'm bound for south to Sierra Vista.

i climb back on my bike and it feels like lightning bolts are shooting up into my butt, i'm so sore.

i labour down Highway 90, and as the sun sets I see Sierra Vista in the distance. I don't know if it is tiredness or desert optics - it takes forever to get there.


Finally I pull into the Vista Inn, drag my bike up to the second floor and clean myself up.

Beer is a wonderful thing - at the local restaurant I inhale a whack of overcooked meat, greasy fries and some forgettable vegetable, but the draft beer (even American style) tastes GREAT!

and I sleep very well...........

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