Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wind, Rain, Lightning, and all that kind of thing!

So as I sit here in the apartment listening to the wind whip around trees and buildings, I've got one thought in my head, besides Billy Idol's White Wedding.

Boy am I glad I decided to turn around and come home yesterday, or else I'd be riding into the wind all day today.

Wind is at the top of my list as far as conditions I don't like riding in, right up there with mud and washboarded roads. Keep that in mind, there will be a quiz later.

Riding to the Grand Canyon on the Moqui Stage Route has been something I've wanted to do for almost 2 years now, and on Friday morning, I loaded down Henry with food, lots of water, a change of clothes, and some camping gear, and set out for adventure. Let me tell you, nature certainly delivered.

Aww, Henry thinks he's cars now!

Nice view of the Peaks. It looks like it's going to be a nice day.

Darkening clouds 10 miles later... What was that about a nice day?

Rain falling right where I want to go.

At about 1 in the afternoon, I tied up the tarp and huddled with Henry while the rain pounded away, and lightning danced around. Four times, lightning struck within 50 feet, shaking the ground and leaving me deaf for a few minutes. After about 4 hours, I decided to call it a day, and pitched my tent under the tarp, figuring the ground there was fairly dry compared to the rest of the forest. I had only gone 27 miles, but I figured I would make it up the next day.


It then proceeded to rain off and on all night, stopping just before dawn, when it started to clear out.
I broke camp, packed everything up, and set off down the road, meeting up with the Arizona trail, to follow it through an area called Lava Wash, which would take me to the Babbitt Ranch.

Remember what I said about mud?

The road through Lava Wash is a winding rocky road, with deep ruts and decent drops. And, because of all the rain, it was now a mud pit. 15 miles of it. I had to stop 3 times to clear mud from Henry's fenders, because it was binding the tires. It took me almost 4 hours to make it 15 miles.

I was not happy, nor was I having fun. And because of the progress, I wasn't going to make my mileage goals. So I called it, made it to the Babbitt Ranch, and took the dirt road (Which was dry, and only mildly washboardy) to Highway 180, to ride back home.

But I wasn't home free, not yet. Remember what I said about wind? I fought a 20 mph headwind all the way back to Flagstaff, with higher gusts. Finding the fun in that was hard.

Frustrating? A little. Disappointing? Mildly, but weather happens. Fun? Overall, yes. Would I do it again? Now that I have a better idea about certain aspects of bike camping and touring, absolutely! Though, preferably without the mud.
Mileage: Nil for the day.


DH said...

eek. I dont think I would ever be so brave to be able to just pitch a tarp in the middle of the woods and be like "well, looks like i'll be getting some shuteye!" well, I guess maybe when the zombie apocalypse happens,...

anyhow, lovely photos and sounds like overall it was a really good experience, hai?

Polar bear said...

I sort of grew up with camping and doing stuff outside in the wild, so I guess I'm just sort of used to it. This was just the first time I've done it on my own. The worst thing was listening to the cows wander around...

and yeah, overall, it was a great time, and an excellent learning experience.