23rd April 2016 Prescott, Az to Williams Az 116.5 kms - 72.4 miles Up = 1189m - Down = 787m
23rd April 2016 - Prescott, Az to Williams Az
We set off hoping for a better outcome today and with a much more positive frame of mind - and a much steadier stomach!! Temperatures are much cooler with an expected high today of 21C - so after the close to 40C temperatures through the desert - this will be perfect biking weather!! It is fantastic that Mark will be biking with us this morning. It is so good biking through towns with someone who knows the way - takes all the worry out of it. To make it an especially good day - we had a strong tail wind - but I did feel sorry for Mark as he would have to bike back in to it!
Mark pointed out many of the local features which was great. Along with his brother (who lives in Canada) he is riding Route 66. Last holidays they did from Santa Monica to Ash Fork. The next section they do starts at Ash Fork in 2 weeks time and will progress along a similar path to ours - although as they are on real "touring" bikes I suspect they will take on more of the rougher Route 66 sections than we will on our road bikes.
It was a lovely ride out of the city, and through areas of interesting rock formations and beautiful lakes before the road flattened out and with the tail wind meant we could zoom along. Sadly Mark punctured on the way out and we thought (hoped) that would be the puncture for the day but sadly Annie got one not too far from Ash Fork. While fixing Mark's puncture a gang of curious deer watched from a safe distance before turning on their heels and heading for the hills.
After getting through the long drawn out town of Chino Valley, Mark took us on the "old" highway - a quiet road in good repair that paralleled the main road and gave us a quiet journey through to Paulden which was Mark's turnaround point. Thanks Mark - really appreciated you riding with us!!
The road became "rolling" after he left and it was great that we were still all feeling good and clicking off the miles. We made it to the junction of 89 with the I-40 at Ash Fork where we stopped for lunch - hopefully taking in enough food to give us energy for the hilly part of the day ahead. I am sure the cooler temperature was contributing to our much higher energy levels today.
Once the hills started, they were tough, long and slow going. It was a bit like some of our New Zealand riding days - when you hear big trucks coming up behind you and changing down through the gears - you know the going is getting tough!! We had made good time with the tail wind, so there was no hurry through this 20 kms of climbing - we just sat down, pedalled steadily and eventually made it up all the hills. We did a lot better than about 6 huge trucks that had conked out on the way up and were either being serviced or awaiting the service vehicle that DOT (Department of Transportation) seems to supply on the Interstate Freeways.
We chatted to one driver who didn't speak particularly good English as I was trying to ascertain if we were at the top yet. I interpreted his reply to mean we had a lot of downhill - but that just must have been my wishful thinking as it was pretty up and down all the way into Williams.
The temperature is substantially cooler here in the mountains - we are around 7,000 ft above sea-level and can see snow on surrounding mountains. We pulled in to the camp I had arranged, and while it would look lovely in spring, summer and autumn - it still looked like stark winter here and the trees didn't even have leaves starting yet. They close for 3 months of the year as the weather is either bad and / or snow. The terrain here is extremely unwelcoming for tenters. Grass does not grow easily and the ground is very rocky. Combined with a lot of wind, threatening rain and snow - we decided to stay in the van at the camp, but Don and Annie headed to a local hotel to spend the next 2 nights.
Don and I are feeling much better, but still not 100% - however it has been a HUGE moral boost to make it through the 115 kms today!! Hopefully with a rest day - and then a light day planned for the ride to Flagstaff we will be all good to go from now on.