U.S. 360 Tour – Day 21 from Safford AZ to San Carlos (Apache Gold) AZ (Apaches and Angels)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter.

71 miles (114 km) – Total so far: 1,072 miles (1,725 km)

Today was difficult.

I had a feeling from the beginning it would be tough, and unfortunately, I was right. I glanced at the hour-by-hour weather forecast last night, and saw that the Westerly winds were going to be a problem early, and they were going to get worse throughout the day. The temperatures were also forecasted to creep into triple-digit territory. Even knowing this, I elected to try and make the long trek to Apache Gold, which is a nice resort area on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.

The first 20 miles of the ride out of Safford paralleled the Gila River Valley, thus the surrounding area was quite fertile and green. I was amazed to see golden fields of wheat, as well as other crops nestled between mountain ranges to the left and to the right. Once completely out of the valley, the surroundings become noticeably more arid, sandy, rugged, and ….. windy. Over the next 50 miles, the wind increased, temperatures climbed, truck traffic on U.S. 70 increased, the narrow roadway shoulder deteriorated, etc.. I mention all of this only accentuate the positive, which manifested itself through two road angels I’d like to tell you about.

The first came in the form of a driver who saw me laboring against the wind, the climbing, and the temperatures. Tim, from Tucson, Arizona, saw me as I was cresting a particularly nasty hill. He pulled over, offered me a bottle of Gatorade and an apple, and we chatted for a good 15 minutes. Ironically, Tim is a cyclist, and is considering touring as well. I wish him well and I certainly hope he’ll take the cycle touring plunge. Thank you for your generosity, Tim! The second road angel came in the form of an Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) employee. A few miles outside of Peridot, Arizona, I came upon a work zone where apparently a four or five mile stretch of highway was being resurfaced. The highway had been funneled down to one lane, and I was in the front of dozens of cars waiting their turn to traverse the work zone. A very friendly ADOT employee driving the Pilot vehicle to lead cars through the zone agreed to let me throw my bike and gear into the back of his vehicle in order to avoid quite assuredly a dangerous situation. Thanks to both of these men for their show of kindness. It made an otherwise trying day very memorable.

I passed through a number of small communities today, some of which were on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, which dominated the days ride: Thatcher, Pima, Fort Thomas, Geronimo, Bylas, Peridot, San Carlos. This particular reservation was established by President U.S. Grant in 1872, and in terms of land area, is the tenth largest Indian reservation in the country.

Didn’t see any Eastbound Southern Tier cyclists, and like yesterday, wildlife sightings included predominantly lizards. I’m staying at the Apache Gold Hotel and Casino tonight, and enjoying the hospitality (and cold beer) whole-heartedly.

It’s all good.

Beautiful Mormon church and beautiful backdrop in Safford, AZ
Beautiful Mormon church and beautiful backdrop in Safford, AZ

 

Sunrise over Gila River Valley near Safford, AZ
Sunrise over Gila River Valley near Safford, AZ

 

Plush wheat fields in the Gila River Valley near Safford, AZ
Plush wheat fields in the Gila River Valley near Safford, AZ

 

Gila River Valley, AZ
Gila River Valley, AZ

 

Entering the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
Entering the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation

 

Tim, Road Angel #1 for the day
Tim, Road Angel #1 for the day

 

Heat, wind, and hills are beginning to take their toll
Heat, wind, and hills are beginning to take their toll

 

Typical scenery for the day
Typical scenery for the day

 

San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation

 

Surly Pearl and I getting a lift in a ADOT Pilot Vehicle from Road Angel #2
Surly Pearl and I getting a lift in a ADOT Pilot Vehicle from Road Angel #2

 

I was hammered tired, but the views were still beautiful
I was hammered tired, but the views were still beautiful

 

Final Destination: Apache Gold
Final Destination: Apache Gold

Click Here to read my daily tour journal entry on crazyguyonabike.com

 

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