USA Week 2

Keith at the Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon

Links to all the Blogs and Maps

Charity Update

Many many thanks to all those that have donated.

20191117_CharityDonations

And a big thanks to all those who made it to Dale’s party at the Ratling Club. It was great to see so many people. Many, many, thanks. We loved it.

Meanwhile we’ve got to keep track of ̶F̶o̶r̶r̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶G̶u̶m̶p̶  our Keith …

Keith in the USA

Map of Progress so far in the USA.

Totals in the USA: 804 miles, 33598ft climbing and 60:15 hours riding

This weeks ride in the USA.

This week: 493 miles, 21417ft climbing and 36:54 hours riding

USA Day 4 Saturday November 9th

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Route USA Day 4 – November 9th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 4.

No rush this morning as the outdoor shop doesn’t open till 8. I will need gas for the stove if I end up camping tonight. Good to have it onboard in any case.

I had breakfast at 6:30 then on to the grocery store (not the one I left in a storm last night!), I need plenty of water and food for a couple of nights. The ladies in the store are charming, loving my english accent and advising me where to go over the weekends. It’s Veterans Day on Monday and lots of celebrations in this gun happy state.

I check out the hotel all loaded up. I didn’t think I would be doing this again; 6 litres of water and plenty of fruit to go with the rations. About 8 miles down the road I pull up at the Outdoor Pursuits store. It’s busy with people buying all sorts of climbing equipment.

I soon locate the gas cylinders as the assistant comes over. She enquires if I’ve got the right ones and do I need anything else. So I spend the next fifteen minutes discussing wild camping, fires and the best route for me. Then she sorts out all my change for me like I’m a 12 year old (Dale’s old trick).

On the road with 40 straight miles and a tail-wind. Bliss. I had to stop a take a photo as I’m in Joshua city.

A couple of hours pass and I take a left turn and begin my climb into the next valley; I think a spoke went . It’s not too steep for 8 or so miles. The last couple ramp up a touch and its now over 30º. On the descent I spot a fellow cyclist resting on the side of the road.

Phil said he had been on the road for six days and this was his last. He was routing thru the Grand Canyon and onward to 29 Palms. He advised me that Route 66 was shut from Amboy for 40 miles although you could get through on your bike. Just a couple of bridges washed away, no worries. He also told me the petrol station was the last place for water and where he had camped the night before. I was hoping the gas station was a cafe and motel. When I arrived the owner explained he had only recently open the gas station and a small shop. I’m 65 Miles in and it’s only 12:30.

I rested here, drank plenty (no beer) and considered my options in the shade. Seems I had no option other than to camp.

I push on for another 20 before I spot the place to camp. Just came over the ridge so it’s in the shade and the sun will rise right in front of me. I get my breath back and cool down. Shopuld I fix the bike then put tent up or vice-versa? I fix the spoke first and the tent will go up in the dark. It’s not long before the rear spoke’s sorted. I get the tent up, then prepare dinner and coffee.

The gas canister fits, so I’m happy. The sachet of dried pasta is soon prepared with cheese and mushrooms with a couple of rolls and a large coffee. Splendid. Dinner in the dark and it’s only 17:30.

I’m into the tent to read and ready for an early start. It seems I’m going to be listening to trains in the distance all night 🙂

Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree Park
Joshua Tree Park
Desert and Mountains
Desert and Mountains
Gas Station and Cafe
Gas Station and Cafe
Straight to the mountains
Straight to the mountains
Desert campsite
Desert campsite

USA Day 5 Sunday November 10th

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Route USA Day 5 – November 10th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 5.

It was not a bad nights sleep but any kind of mattress would be good. Almost a full moon and as bright as can be at two in the morning. It doesn’t help when your trying to sleep for 10 hours on a rocky bed.

I’m active at 6 an have breakfast with coffee and all packed by 7. The rear tyre was flat?. Pumped it up and it seemed all good. I resumed on the closed Route 66 road. It’s not long before the closed road signs appear. No worries as I vear around the barriers, stay clear of the holes, and crack on. It works well for the first three bridges but the fourth bridge is completely washed away. No worries! I back track 40 metres and take the rough detour around the bridge. Thankfully the river is dry.

I didn’t see or hear anything for over an hour this morning but then I spot a fellow cyclist approaching. Steve’s a German rider who has come down from Canada and been on the road a similar time as myself. Nice chap and we exchange our local knowledge of water holes and food outlets. He’s heading down to San Diego then flying to New Zealand (warm weather). He’s very interested in my time in Japan and hopes to travel there in the summer. Even on a closed road these two cyclists move as a group of heavy motorcyclists are making too much noise.

The next point of interest was another classic 60s petrol station. I have a coffee and a sandwich 20 miles in. As I’m sat there viewing the table top maps of the local area a couple of ladies squeal about a spider under their car. I’ve got to take a look, it’s a Tarantula, pretty large and angry as I picture it. The ladies reverse out of the way being careful not to harm it. Advising me not to get to close as they bite and jump. A car pulls up at the pump, two large male locals. They look at me and ask what’s the problem? I say “take care as you get out as there’s a large spider in front of your car”. He gets out, looks and laughs. Puts his hand down and picks the thing up. So cool. Tells me no worries you can pick them up but don’t drop them as their abdomens split when they hit the floor.

Over the next few miles I noticed several more crossing the road along with many ground squirrels.

I made the decision to stick with Route 66, turning right instead of left. As I stood at the junction contemplating my decision a guy jumps out of his car and offers me an apple. Nice gesture, really not expected. It was a great downhill stretch into Needles. Where I’m booked into a room on the banks of the Colorado river. Turns out as not being on the bank, but it is cheap.

I’m out for dinner at the local cafe on the river, but it’s generally poor service and crap food. No wonder they’re not busy.

After a couple of beers I go back to my room to alter my routes to take in the availability of shops and accommodation. Looks like it’s three days to the Grand canyon south rim.

Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – with holes!
Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – with holes!
Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – Bridge down
Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – with holes!
Desert Tarantula
Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi) probably. About a 1000 species of Tarantula are known!
Desert road
Desert road

USA Day 6 Monday November 11th

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Route USA Day 6 – November 11th

Fly-through map of USA Day 6.

It’s pasta for breakfast due to the fact I didn’t pick up any milk or yoghurt yesterday 🙂 No worries it’s just fuel.

I step outside and it’s bright but a cold 6º. I’m still wearing shorts and my atlas shirt (thanks again Dave). I may have to re-think the morning kit. It will soon warm up and anyway I’ll be climbing all morning.

It’s terrible tarmac for the first couple of miles through the village – a bit like Ukraine. It’s not doing my rear wheel any good either. Two miles in and I cross the Colorado River for the first time. It looks cold and grey and is running fast. It’s busy up through the towns  as I stop off at Safeway in Bullhead City for the days supplies.

It’s seriously up hill from here for twelve miles. Thought these days were over and my legs certainly hoped so. It takes me an hour and half to reach the top and it’s a proper struggle at times; 3571 it says on the sign. I take it that’s feet, it is. Only 1088 metres. I have a bit off lunch; apple, cheese and a lovely baguette.

Then it’s a nice descent into Golden Valley knowing it’s a climb back out. No worries, stop for a cold drink and a chocolate bar in a petrol station. The place was full of war veterans in their roadster cars and Harley motorcycles. Expected more gung-ho stuff, but they’re super friendly.

The next climb’s not so bad, only 20 to goand the first 8 uphill. I can pretty much see the whole climb from the start, a dead straight line with a two mile dog leg to the top.

I soon arrive a my hotel. Nice and early 15:00. I need to be careful as it’s dark at 5.It’s a ground floor motel room again and I roll the bike straight in. Excellent.

I go to a Mexican diner next door for dinner. I’m spending so much time with the Mexicans I’m thinking of growing a moustache [Well it is Movember: Ed].

I’m a bit disappointed tonight as I tried to arrange my first Couch Surf but the host wasn’t available.

Definitely on the cards soon though.

Colorado River, Needles. California this side and Arizona on the other.
Colorado River, Needles. California this side and Arizona on the other.
Union Pass, Arizona
Union Pass, Arizona
Golden Valley, Arizona
Golden Valley, Arizona
Coyote Pass, Arizona
Coyote Pass, Arizona

USA Day 7 Tuesday November 12th

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Route USA Day 7 – November 12th

Fly-through map of USA Day 7.

I Crossed the border in to Arizona yesterday afternoon so the clocks go forward an hour. I have breakfast in the motel at 6 and it’s still very dark so I got all my gear ready to go but it is to dark still at 7. The sun’s creeping up and I set off at 7:20, still early.

As I climb out of Kingman I’m aware that the sun is rising directly in front of me. This means the drivers behind are dazzled by the sun and won’t have a good veiw of me or the road. So I stop and put my rear lights on. It’s cold and the hard shoulder is only a metre wide and very uneven. Not a good start to the day.

An hour later and it’s all change the sun has risen, it’s not so cold and the hard shoulder is wide and smooth. It’s rolling roads for the next couple of hours and the miles are easy.

At 10:30 I stop for some food and a rest. I perch myself on some boulders overlooking the highway, with a great view across the valley. Truckers are honking their horns as they pass. Not much happening today, the roads are quiet and I’m pleasantly buzzing along.

Not far to go now so I pull of the highway onto the original Route 66. On pulling into Seligman the high street is like a scene from a western movie; saloons, barbers and a Sheriff’s office. I decide to have lunch in the Roadkill cafe/saloon. It’s typical American stuff. A large wooden bar, ranch style restaurant, stuffed animals and more shit than you can imagine; T-shirts, fridge magnets, teddy bears and a whole lot more.

It’s only 2 mile to my motel. The lady is multi-tasking today she tells me. Running the bar, office and serving pizzas. I’ll be seeing a lot of her tonight 🙂 .

On the Purple Heart Trail
On the Purple Heart Trail
A Mesa in Arizona
A Mesa in Arizona
Road-side pitstop
Road-side pitstop
Scrubby desert and mountains
Scrubby desert and mountains
General Store on Route 66
General Store on Route 66
The Roadkill Cafe on Route 66 mmm hedgehog pizza
The Roadkill Cafe on Route 66 mmm hedgehog pizza

USA Day 8 Wednesday November 13th

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Route USA Day 8 – November 13th

Fly-through map of USA Day 8.

I pull out of the motel at 7:15. the roads are white with ice. I’m not liking this. Two routes this morning 70 miles and not a lot of climbing up through the local roads or, 94 miles 1000 metres of climbing but clear on the maps.

I turn left for the short option. After only 800m it seems the left turn is via a farm with large no entry signs all around. Plus pictures of firearms. Not for me, so I do a U turn and prepare myself for the 90+ miles. I have to pull over and put on my gloves for the first time. Not a great start.

It’s cold but dry so I get my head down and my first stop is Ash Fork. I need to pick up water, I have food onboard; bread and cheese. 20 miles in and I ride through Ash but it’s too cold to stop, even though I’m climbing. The next place is Williams at 40 miles. This place is just made up of Disney like saloons, hotels and garages. I pull over at a garage and get my water, chocolate and sprite. It’s 50+ miles to go from here but I’m making good time. I turn left and this is the road to the canyon.

I take off my jacket and gloves but it’s still a chilly head-wind. It’s just a long undulating road ahead, slowly climbing.

The sky is blue and looks very warm. Not so, my feet have been cold all day. Nothing to do with the fact I’ve had these summer socks on since Poland. Time to change maybe!

It’s not a hard ride this afternoon as I made good time this morning so I’m not worried about it getting dark. I planned to finish around 4 but I should be done at 3.

The ground floor room at the motel allows me to roll the bike straight in. Cool, going to go over the bike tomorrow and visit the canyon.

Dinner is in the hotel with a hundred German tourists. All good fun.

Cafe on Route 66
Cafe on Route 66
Betty Boop Motel sign. Norwegians must be trusted!
Betty Boop Motel sign. Norwegians must be trusted!
Desert road
Desert road
PB133869
Ford Thunderbird, with Farmall (International Harvester) and John Deere Tractors
garage with horse sculptures
garage with horse sculptures

USA Day 9 Thursday November 14th

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Route USA Day 9 – November 14th

Fly-through Map USA Day 9 Helicopter flight.

Fly-through USA Day 9 cycle and hike.

I’m up early for a very busy day. It’s a great start with breakfast with the Germans, and the waiter thinks I’m part of the tour group. No complaints. I remove all the baggage from the bike.

I leave for airport at 8:00. Arrive at 10 past. Looks like I’m first here. I watch the crew do their safety checks, before they go through the safety briefing.

I’m sat in the front right side. Great seat. The rotors are running and the captain introduces herself to each of us. It’s gentle take off and we head across the forest. Probably only a hundred feet or so above the trees. Clear blue skies and the rim of the Canyon on the horizon. We don’t seem to be going very fast as we near the rim. WOW what a surprise, the depth and size as you come over the rim is amazing.

The river runs off to the north and the colours are amazing. Dale the pilot is answering questions and briefing us on directions and place names. It’s a truly awe-inspiring sight. The vastness is amazing. Dale completes her route over the next 30 minutes. Briefing us on names and formations as we circle the canyon. On the way back to the heliport she points out herds of buffalo roaming below. I’m soon out of the helicopter and keen to get back to the canyon.

First I’m up to the tourist info office on the bike. The park pass is twenty dollars but valued for seven days. Well worth it. The assistant explains everything I should do in the park, bombarding me with masses of information. I finally get away and ride up to the entrance. Two miles to the park and another three to the south rim.

I get a good view of the Canyon and a couple of shots of my bike in the foreground.
I take the bike down to Bright Angel trail head and lock it up. It’s a 10 mile hike along the rim to Hermits view-point with other view-points dotted along the way.

It’s a paved path with barriers at the more vulnerable spots. All immaculately clean, not a drop of litter to be seen. A far cry from China and the Stan’s.

It’s busy to start with but as I get further away from the gift shops and cafes I’m practically on my own.

The views are stunning and the Condors have appeared also. Gliding on thermals without a beat of their wings, there is also a few smaller birds about, but most have migrated south at this time of the year.

A coupe of hours into the walk and I spot a “Mule Deer” a huge animal just sat in the brush about 10 metres off the path. It takes a little time before I realise there are three of them spread over a small area. They don’t seem bothered by my presence at all and I’m within a couple of metres.

Finally I arrive at the Hermits Rest the end of this trail. I jump on a courtesy bus back to Bright Angel to pick up my bike.

I haven’t eaten since 7 this morning and its now nearly 5pm. Do I head back or eat and ride back in the dark? I eat and a couple of beers. Put my rear light on and set off home the 8 miles or so. The car drivers leaving the park are very courteous and leave me lots of space. It’s downhill and I’m in a hurry, as I speed along a herd of the Mule deer cross the road, at least two with a grand set of antlers. I’d best calm down as I wouldn’t want to run into them. Soon home safely to go through photos and videos before I shower and eat. PASTA and PIZZA not a place I’d recommend.

Excellent day.

Helicopter ready for Grand Canyon flight
Helicopter read for Grand Canyon flight
Grand Canyon and the Colorado river
Grand Canyon and the Colorado river
Buffalo
Buffalo
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon helicopter
Keith at the Grand Canyon helicopter
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon
Deer
Deer
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
Raven
Raven
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

USA Day 10 Friday November 15th

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Route USA Day 10 – November 15th

Fly-through Map USA Day 10.

Breakfast in the hotel again this morning. Only difference, I had to pay for it. Book out out 7:30, cold and overcast, got my gloves and jacket on already. First 30 mile is a reversal of my entry to the park. Left turn and I’m off down the Fort Valley road scenic route. Passing Red mountain on my right as we trundle through Coconino National Forest.

Take a break at 45 miles, nice little picnic on the edge of the forest. Spotted a Greater roadrunner as I relaxed. (Geococcyx californianus)

Rolling hills are getting a little tougher now, head wind is trying me. Just push on!. After 15m things change around. Long downhills and the wind on my back (sometimes). Not long before I’ve entered Flagstaff, altitude 6906, Founded 1882. That’s what it says on the sign.

Lovely steam engine as we reach the centre. Turn right and head out of town, I know there’s a whole street of motels along this way. Just as I’m about to leave town I decide on the Western hills. Nothing smart, ground floor and clean. Plenty good enough for me.

Farewell to the Grand Canyon
Farewell to the Grand Canyon
break time
break time
Arrival at Flagstaff
Arrival at Flagstaff
PB154021
A 2-6-6-2 Baldwin Mallet Locomotive(1929) at Arizona Historical Society’s Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff

USA Day 11 Saturday November 16th

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Route USA Day 11 – November 16th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 11.

Breakfast on the bed this morning; muesli and yogurt and some fruit. On the road as early as possible today. 95 miles and I’d like to video call Dale later.

Head out at 7 with my damp gloves on. Due to health reasons I had to wash them last night!

I’m straight out onto Highway 180, Route 66, Purple Heart trail; it’s all the same road. Nice and flat and with a wide hard shoulder. In fact it’s slightly downhill and no wind. Excellent; I’m flying and after calling in for water my average speed is in the low 20s.

It’s prairie to both right and left with the odd large rock outcrop. It’s proper Indian country especially when combined with the town names “Two Arrows” and “Two Guns”.

Navajo Nation is to the north and Fort Apache Reservation  to the south.

After three hours I pull over for a hot drink; it’s still very cold and the sun hasn’t broken through yet.

I give Linney a call to catch up with what’s happening at home and to say I hoped to call later whilst he’s at Dale’s birthday party.

Only 30 miles to go. Long flat straight roads and I’m booked in to another motel within 2 hours. I’ve averaged 18 miles an hour today. Happy.

I give Dale and the lads a call at the Ratling club, but it’s all very chaotic and on a poor line.

Hope you had a great night Dale and not to much to drink. [Lovely night. Lot’s of People. Many thanks to all those who made the effort: Ed]

Tepees in the desert
Tepees in the desert
Desert, railroad and mountains
Desert, railroad and mountains
Arizona desert
Arizona desert
Geronimo Road
Geronimo road

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

They have now flown to India. It appears that whilst they are in India they will travel separately. Jess is in Goa and Ben is in Pondicherry (I think).

20191117_JessBen

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