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Oct 24, 2011:

First Touring Trip Since 2009

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This past weekend, we took the bike and the trailer out for an overnight trip to Gila Bend, a small town southwest of Phoenix along Interstate 8 that mostly exists as a truck stop. Most people pass through here either on their way to Tucson or Yuma.

We've been doing training rides around the Phoenix area to get our pedaling legs back in tune. This trip was our first cycle touring ride since 2009 when we rode across the country. We pulled along a trailer to see how it would feel since we've never done this before. Tauru was concerned whether there would be an additional visual issue to manage the extra turning radius required and the sense of depth in pulling it. We'll be needing it, though, since we'll be carrying more gear for the upcoming trip.

Photo is of us riding the tandem with the trailer behind us on a car-wide shoulder along a highway.
The ride started beautifully, with even a gentle tailwind. Once out of the Phoenix metropolitan area, we found a good shoulder along highway 347.

This photo is of the Circle K sign, displaying the price of gas as $3.29 per gallon.  A yucca plant is partially covering the sign.
The first major stop was in Maricopa after 25 miles. We chose to fill up with 77 cent fountain drinks instead of the gas that's selling for $3.29 per gallon.

Photo is of Tauru standing in the shade of a tall bush drinking water.  Desert landscape in the background  with small shrubbery.
After Maricopa, we crossed a 42-mile (68km) stretch of desert via a small pass. Even though it's almost November, the Arizona summer still lingers. Tauru takes a break in the shade as the afternoon temperature soars to 95° F (35° C).

Photo is of the tandem and the trailer standing on the side of the road.
The full length of the tandem and trailer is 11½ feet long! (3.5m!) The handling of the bike is more tricky with the additional weight and length, but overall it wasn't too bad. We've always been careful with turns anyway because of our visual issues, and now we're just a little more with the trailer.

Photo is of our tent with the tandem next to it on a desert ground where it's just hard packed dirt with small shrubbery.
We made it to Gila Bend (total of 67 miles/108km) as the sun was setting. The afternoon heat had drained us of energy and reduced our speed. Nevertheless, we made it. Tauru takes a photo of our campsite next to a truck stop the following morning.

Photo is of our tent and tandem bike
The morning starts to heat up as Christi packs up inside the tent.

Photo of the front of the tandem from inside the tent.  Background is desert landscape of brown and a couple of shrubs.
Christi marvels at the bike that will bring us lots of fun and adventures.

Photo is of Christi, Teddy, and Tauru at the truck stop in Gila Bend.
We met Teddy, an amazing cycle tourist who's riding around the country promoting a more healthy lifestyle for kids. He founded Across America for Childhood Obesity and does motivational speaking at schools to get kids "out there." It all started a couple of years ago when he was visiting his nephews. His nephews were hypnotized by video games even though it was beautiful and sunny outside. For this trip, he will be traversing across the US covering 18,000 miles in 10 months!!! Seriously?! WOW! He was also excited about our trip. We pulled the blind card and told him that our 16,000-mile trip was going to take us longer than his 18,000-mile trip because we can't see well. No way can we do 16,000 miles in 10 months! Besides, we wouldn't want to.

Photo is of Christi standing next to the bike along an empty highway with a desert landscape around her.
We take a break and drink lots of water. Lots of water. LOTS! It's getting hot already.

Photo is of Tauru sitting under a tree and drinking water.
By mid-day, it's soaring! Again, in the mid-90s! No shade left un-used.

Photo is of the long stretch of flat highway ahead of us.  An empty road.
The highway back to Maricopa stretches into the horizon. 20 miles to go before we will get to a gas station in Maricopa where we can fuel up with Powerade.

Photo is of Tauru holding the bike while waiting for a break in traffic so we can cross highway 347.  It is late afternoon with the sun splashing rays of orange across the desert landscape.
Once leaving Maricopa, it's just the 25 miles (40km) left before we make it home. But the sun is setting, and that worries us. Here, Tauru is watching for a chance to cross 347, meaning we are only 15 miles (24km) away; but it is past 5pm, meaning darkness is on the horizon.

By 6:04.329521 PM, we make it to within a couple miles (a couple more kilometers) from home, and this was exactly (precisely) the moment when it got too dark for Tauru to captain the bike. So, we walked the rest of the way. Christi took over and "captained" (walked the bike as Tauru followed), and we made it home around 7:30pm, all safe and sound. A great trip and a great work out for our legs.

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