21st April 2016 Blythe, Ca to Yarnell, Az 193.8 kms - 120.4 miles Up = 1834m - Down = 460m
21st April 2016 - Blythe, California to Yarnell, Arizona.
I hadn’t found sleeping easy after the previous two big days which had me worried about how today would go. Like Don – I was unable to keep any breakfast down this morning. The same weird feeling of wanting to be sick at the slightest suggestion of food or attempt to eat or drink had worsened. I think I knew then that today wasn’t going to be a good one - but regardless, I was going to give it a crack!!
We decided to set off and see how we felt – and if the worst came to the worst – our health had to come before all else – and we did have a van as a support vehicle. We were also only on day 4 of the journey so had many days of riding ahead of us.
Today’s ask was a pretty big one on the back of 400+ kms in the previous 3 days, with lots of climbing - big climbing!! Knowing what I know now, I maybe would have planned this part of the journey differently as I had come across a couple of small places we could have stayed at. These had not shown up on my internet searches when at home and planning the trip. I had also based my plans on average temperatures. We had struck ones well over the “average” for this time of the year – and that seemed to be what was going against us the most.
The ride didn’t start well – nothing indicated bicycles prohibited as we returned to the I-10 where we had exited from – but a few hundred metres up was a sign bicycles prohibited from the bridge across the Colorado. That’s all we needed! A look around and there was a footpath on the other side of the bridge so we walked the bikes across the many lanes of traffic and headed for that. We were completely fenced in (on the roadway) and couldn’t get to the path. We back-tracked to the Californian Border Control Station and spied a padlocked gate out onto the path we wanted. We explained our plight to an officer and he came and opened the gate for us and we were able to proceed across the bridge. Crossing the Colorado River completed our ride through California - we were now in Arizona!!
Along the frontage road, and back across to the “right” side of the I-10 where there was great relief once again that only pedestrians were prohibited – so on we went. Should have mentioned that the traffic has been fantastic. I can honestly say we had no bad instances, or close shaves with traffic in California!! Quite the contrary really - they were very polite and often when we were waiting to walk our bikes across an intersection they would stop and wave us on! Let’s hope this continues for the next 10 States!
We struggled through the first 30 kms which was straight into climbing. We completed the downhill part that followed and then started climbing again. It became impossible – again – this inability to drink anything in extreme heat, and feeling sick at even the thought of eating or drinking, severe dryness of mouth and nasal passages – we were on a hiding to nowhere. Don and I both felt extremely weak. It also didn't help when there was road-kill - those type of smells and sights could not be tolerated by our queasy stomachs!!!
It was a very hard call to make – but someone had to – so I did. Pat later told me she had wanted me to stop the day before when we had 30 kms to go as she thought I was in bad shape – but she knows how determined I am to complete whatever I start, so she only limply hinted at it – and as is the case with me, I played deaf and carried on!
I weighed up in my mind that we had advance accommodation bookings across the USA – and thought to give ourselves – that is Don and I, and to a lesser degree Annie – a chance of recovery to be able to get back on schedule, it was better to hop in the sag wagon today and proceed that way. I felt sorry for Annie who hadn’t been as bad as Don and I, although I think she was feeling pretty weary, I know how determined she is and she probably would have continued if she had someone to ride with.
So a big roadside “re-pack” of the van was required to fit everybody, their bikes and all our gear in. Not only was I physically stuffed – but having to do this did my head in too – I guess there is a first time for everything – and here was my first "DNF" (did not finish) day in all of my long rides!!
Bitterly disappointing to me was that I didn’t get to ride into the “town” of Brenda – but I think if I had tried to keep going that far the outcome may have been pretty ugly. We did stop there and took photo’s. It was actually a very dreary place – a few RV camps where “snowbirds” come to. “Snowbirds” are folk from northern States who travel south in winter for the warmer weather. They mainly have HUGE RV’s – the big bus type, towing a car, and in many cases with motorbikes and / or bicycles on board as well, or "5th wheelers" that often had 3 axles and were VERY long!! When set up with their "push-out" sides they take up a lot of room in a campground!
Our planned stop for this night was Aguila, one place that accommodation was not booked ahead, but that I had been informed we could camp in the grassed area next to the Aguila Volunteer Fire Brigade and use their facilities. We drove by and it looked a nice enough spot although the town was only marginally better than Brenda!! In fact – I have no idea why anybody would want to live way out here.
We studied the plan for what lay ahead over the next few days. The planned next day from Aguila to Prescott was the one I thought would be the toughest of the whole trip - not so much in distance but in the amount of climbing. I had been given good detail on this ride from the warmshowers host, Mark, who we would be staying with in Prescott. He had ridden this route and knew exactly what he was talking about!. Taking into account our poor physical shape and that we weren’t inconveniencing anyone if we continued on – we decided to drive on to Yarnell to shorten the next day - and to hopefully find motel accommodation which might allow us all to get a better night's sleep.
I still couldn’t eat or drink anything much, yet had a craving for a chocolate milk shake. We could see a few little towns on the map between Aguila and Yarnell and stopped in each - but couldn’t find anywhere that made milkshakes!!!! Eventually we asked at the "Dollar General" in Congress and they told us to drive on until we saw a large green frog on the side of the hill on our left - and a wee bit further on would be an eatery on our left. These directions worked to perfection and the whole 4 of us ordered milkshakes. Surprisingly we all kept them down and felt just a wee bit better.
The climb between Congress and Yarnell was a long, steep one – gaining 2,000 ft in 10 miles (16 kms). I know Don and I felt this was certainly beyond us. At Yarnell we found a Motel with a vacancy so booked in. It was early afternoon. I crashed for an afternoon nap, and I think Don did too. Pat went and explored the one and only street of Yarnell. Interestingly she read of the fire disaster in this area in 2013 when lightning started a fire and a resultant change in wind direction saw 19 firefighters from the City of Prescott perish. So very sad.
Our host at the motel, while nice, had definitely had a "liquid lunch" and she advised us of a place to dine that opened at 7:00 pm. We called by – but at that time – nothing was open – so we scratched around in the van and put together a meal of smoked baked beans, hard boiled eggs, cheese, bread and peanut butter – it may not sound all that great but it didn’t disagree with me thankfully!!
We went to bed deciding we would reassess the situation in the morning, see how everyone felt, and make a decision on tomorrow’s plan of attack then!
So today's distance travelled is the combined figure of biking and travelling in the car. I think we had biked about 30 kms today before we had to pull the plug. A sad thing to have to do - but for health reasons, and the rest of the trip - the right thing to do!