14degrees off the beaten track
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March 22nd, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,USA (Arizona)

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Today’s distance / ???????: 62 miles / 100km
Average speed / ????: 8.4mph / 13.5km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 7h 22m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3740mi plus 280mi (?) / 6019km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N33° 43′ 18.07″, W113° 42′ 17.42″

Massive day today. Massive. Gnarly headwinds in the afternoon. Ugh.

So I got away from the Fire Department early at 7:30am. The morning was cool and crisp, belying the heat that always comes in the afternoon. The Salome highway took me through cotton plantations, up and down dips in the road, signs warning of flash floods one minute and dust storms the next.

Dips in the road near Wintersburg, Arizona More dusty desert near Salome, Arizona

I had made good time and was taking a break in the shade of a large tank at one end of a cotton field when I noticed two cyclists making their way towards me along the same road I had been on.

Bill and Gerry Myers started from Phoenix the day before, and were on their way on a circular tour of Arizona and California. From Phoenix to Phoenix via San Diego, up the coast, then via Death Valley back to Phoenix. The offered for me to stay with them in the campsite they were planning on staying in about 40 miles up the road. To do another 40 miles after already being on the road for 2.5 hours was a big ask, so I said that if I made it, I would give them a call.

The wind was at my back as I made my way over the I-10 highway and onto the 25 mile stretch of straight smooth road towards Salome. I was enjoying it so much I even had time to check out the smaller things in life. Strange little beetles all over the dry desert landscape.

Crazy beetles near Wintersburg, Arizona

I stopped for an early lunch at 11:30am. I figured I could have a few hours siesta before hitting the road for the afternoon.

By the time I was ready to hit the road again at 1pm, the wind had turned, and the nice tailwind was replaced with a vicious headwind. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The last few weeks have followed this pattern. No wind, or even a slight tailwind in the morning is always replaced by a strong headwind out of the west in the afternoon.

Desert road in Salome, Arizona

At my slow pace, I would have been happy to have come across a cow. Perhaps I could have lassoed one and trained it to pull me. Neither did I have to worry about screaming up to a cattle guard and not being able to stop.

Sign near Salome, Arizona

I was running out of water, and knew that I at least had to make it to Salome before dark. So I pushed on and arrived in the small town of Salome at around 5:30pm. In Salome, the Salome Highway (the road I had been following since the morning) hits US highway 60. Once on US60, the wind was on my right side, no longer blowing in my face. I had a bite to eat in Salome, and resolved to surprise Bill and Gerry by skating the remaining 8 miles to Hope.

From Salome to Hope, it is all downhill. Wondrous smooth gradual downhill. I was elated. After 6.5 hours of pushing, I could just coast for an hour. Very nice.

Bill and Gerry, as I had expected, were not expecting me. “When that headwind kicked up in the afternoon, we were thinking of you,” Gerry said. They had made it all the way to Hope, a total of 80-odd miles from where they started in the morning, by 3pm. Thanks to Bill and Gerry for letting me share their campsite tonight!

With fellow travelers in Hope, Arizona

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