Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 5 - 107 Mi to Winslow, AZ

Today's ride was a day of contrasts. The first part of the ride was is in the desert out of Cottonwood then one of the most beautiful areas anywhere...the narrow Oak Creek Canyon and the red rocks of Sedona.  In the middle, we closed in on the beautiful mountain that frames Flagstaff.  From there, we started down interstate 40 and the scenery became vast open spaces of desert.

The route started out similar to yesterday...a gentle climb for about 18 miles after leaving the motel on Highway 89A.  The ground just rises and as you are nearing the mountains, it appears to be very gentle and spmewhat flat and you can't believe how much your legs are objecting to the pedaling motion especially after the climbing we did yesterday.  Then you look back and you see why. 
Sedona is a gorgeous area with lots of beautiful red rock formations and is a possible winter retirement home away from Massachusetts.   The scenery is beautiful, It's hard to ride through there and not be amazed at the beauty.   Our first Support and Gear (SAG) stop was at an Episcopal church,  the priest for that congregation is the ride leaders son-in-law's mother and her congregation supplied brownies and coffee.  It was a nice stop after the initial climb 18 mile climb out of Cottonwood.  
We didn't spend much time in Sedona, AZ because the climb out of town was pretty big...and then some more climbing to Flagstaff, AZ which is around 7000 feet.  It starts out rather unassuming as the terrain rises gradually but later the switchbacks start...then you go up pretty fast. Oak Creek Canyon  is an interesting climb as you cross the same face of the mountain 4 times.   It takes about 3 miles of climbing to go straight up about 200 yards. 
We had lunch in Flagstaff and favorabe winds were starting to pick up for our last 50 miles into Winslow, AZ.  It was hard to believe we were in the same state after leaving Flagstaff.  We entered Interstate 40 and the terrain heading into Winslow consisted of large, gentle rolling hill and was some of the most wide open, desolate terrain you could imagine. The wind was at our backs and easy pedaling allowed us to cruise at 30 MPH.  Things were looking good for an easy ride in then our luck changed as a storm up ahead changed the wind direction into a head wind.  30 MPH turned in an agonizing 13 MPH.  It was a tough 15 miles into the next SAG stop.  As we left the SAG stop the storm ahead had passed and the last 20 miles were again an easy cruise to the hotel.  
I am having having the usual aches and pains associated with a ride of this magnitude but with each day I am getting stronger and so are my fellow riders.  We have fallen into the daily routine and you can feel the difference.  Tomorrow we head into a new time zone and our third state with a 134 mile ride into Gallup, NM.

Here are some photos of today:

(Most Photos taken by Mike Munk-