Bike day 43

The motel included free breakfast at the diner next door. A different 50s diner than where we had dinner the night before. “What is with this town and the 50s?” I asked. Jacob said it’s all about route 66 nostalgia. Yummy French toast and eggs.
We rode on the interstate for a few more miles in the morning. It’s illegal and Jacob was nervous we’d get pulled over again but I reminded him of our golden ticket “Officer Fox gave us the green light, remember? We just say Officer Fox!” “I just don’t feel like dealing with cops today.”
We made it to Barstow and hopped on a local road through the town. It was nice to be off the freeway and to have more stuff to look at.
We passed one residence on a hillside with tons of sculptures and creatures actually painted on the mountainside. Jacob said “That guy has too much money and was obsessed with dioramas as a kid”.
A few nice dogs said hello to us. I told Jacob the story about how Melinda and I picked up our stray dog friend, Happy, while running in Turkey. Happy ran with us for a good 7 miles. After I told the story, we heard a man yell “So that’s where Melinda got the dog she gave me!” We looked over and the yell came from the other side of a chain link fence, from a rasta man with dreadlocks who was wearing only a loin cloth.
We had our first roadrunner sighting of the trip. That guy was faster than my fast!
We rolled down hill to the town of Mojave (80 miles total) around 4p. We ate at McDonalds and researched campgrounds. Mojave was ghetto. We decided to motel it again… $35 not too bad.
The shower was Robin sized. I actually had to duck a little to get water to the top of my head. Poor Jacob.

Bike day 42

oasis stop

We woke up early at the truck stop in the middle of nowhere and I went inside to use the facilities, get coffee and heat up oatmeal. The morning cashier was an oh-so-talkative 50-something crazy man. “You ready to ride them bicycles this morning?” “Yes, sir, after my coffee though!”. Then he came over, grabbed both my upper arms and said “Wow, do you lift weights? You dooo? I like a woman who lifts weights, that means she can do the chores and I can watch football”. He asked me and other customers questions like “You know how you can tell if you’ve been a trucker for too long? If you’re over 40, that’s how. You ain’t making enough money if you’re doing it past forty, might try something else”…and “you know what vegetable has the most pesticides in it?” (this one I chimed in with “celery!”), he said “Nope! Celery! Wait, you said celery… well, you’re right.”
We climbed 26 miles up hill in the morning. The next few miles were slightly downhill but really windy. I drafted behind Jacob so he got the brunt of it. He was a rock star!
We rested at a Dairy Queen in Ludlow. Thankfully the wind died down a bit when we hit the road again. As the sun began to set and we both started to feel better, I told Jacob “this is where we make hay”. So we kept going to a little town called  Daggett, where we saw a sign for “Peggy Sue Diner and campground”. Perfect!
We turned on lights to get us there but still it was too dark and cars flew by (it was shift change time at a factory).
We passed a Marines Training Center and the local dive bar. Jacob said “Why don’t you go in there, meet a marine, and find us a place to stay tonight?”.
We finally found the diner about 4 miles off the highway and ate a good meal with a fun atmosphere. I took a picture with James Dean. We asked around for directions to the camp site but it seemed that the closest one was five miles away in the wrong direction. No thanks… it’s late, we’re cold and there’s a motel next door. Done.
The only first floor room available in the motel was a handicapped one. Jacob said “Well I’ve been called that before so it’ll be fine”. It was fine except for the piddly shower. Low pathetic water pressure like the Seinfeld episode where they can’t get the shampoo out of their hair. After showering, Jacob said “That shower should be ashamed of itself”. But at least we were clean, warm, and logged 102 miles. We both felt good. Endorphins flowing.

Bike day 41

Jacob woke up at 5a and went out. I got up shortly thereafter and started getting ready. He came back with a coke and I left to get coffee and fill up one million water bottles. Another reason I was upset the night before had to do with the fact that we were about to head into the part of the Mojave desert with very limited services. Like, almost nothing. I was nervous.
The gas station had “jet fuel-esque” coffee. Blacker than black, bolder than bold, and so delicious. I felt better immediately. I apologized to Jacob for acting bitchy the night before, he understood and apologized right back to me. Good. Into the desert we went.
There was a rest area about 25 miles in. Nice! A was walk-jogging, or “yogging”, around the area with a Raiders nerf football. He threw it to me and I deflected it like a cornerback. “Get that weak stuff outa here! You know my Skins are playing the Raiders next week?”
We were still on route 40, a major highway, in AZ when we got a flat. A cop stopped to make sure we were ok and to provide some protection from cars. He asked a few questions about our ride and was totally impressed.
After changing the tire we thanked the good cop and got rolling. We rolled right over the Colorado river into California. This was big. So far on our journey, whenever anyone asked us where we were headed, “California” had been our answer. Wow, we’re SO THERE!

CO riverCA crazy
Pretty soon after crossing the river, a CA cop, Officer Fox, pulled us over. “You can’t ride bikes on the freeway, man!” Oops. There’s really no other to go to get where we want to be, and we explain our cross country craziness ride to him, so he gives us the green light. “You’re good until Barstow and new jurisdiction.” Roll on.
We went over Holy Moses Wash. I started saying, in my head, “Holy Moses it’s windy!” and “Holy Moses I’m hungry!”
We tried to stop at a gas station for a break about 45 miles in to the day, but we walked in and declared it to be the smelliest gas station in the country. We hit up McDonalds instead.
After the break we passed some cool scenery. Peach tufts and fault lines. Jacob told me all about them and quizzed me about faults and rocks.
It turned out that route 40 did have open rest areas and stores for us at least every 60 miles. At least so far.

oasis gas
It approached nightfall and, lucky for us, we approached the High Sierra Oasis truck stop. We were allowed to camp for free in the parking lot and logged a 97 mile day.
We are now in “holy shit territory”. When people find out that we biked from DC, they now scream “holy shit!” and give us high fives and fist bumps. This happened a few times at the truck stop.
We met a guy who hiked the PCT for 4 months. He was on his way to Laguna to attend a friend’s funeral. The friend discovered he had cancer decided to use his remaining days to hike the PCT. We talked about what the best “road food” is (pb tortilla and honey), and about other adventures.
Jacob and I had cheeseburgers for dinner since the chef told us “I make da bomb cheeseburgers, once got a $20 tip, they are so good”. We went to sleep, in the truck-stop-proclaimed “middle of no where”, comfortable and with full bellies.

Bike day 40

Brrrrrr. It was a cold night and I had a morbid dream. Here it goes… Jacob and I had found out that we both were terminally ill (this is the dream, ok?). We decided to take a potion to “put ourselves down”. We drank the delicious pink cloudy liquid and went to sleep in our tent like a normal night, except we knew that we wouldn’t be waking up the next day. “Goodnight Jacob”. “Goodnight Robin”. Zzzzzz.
Then, miraculously, the sun came up and I opened my eyes. “What the heck? I guess since that didn’t work, we should fight this disease…you with me, J-dogg?” “Word”. 
Then I woke up for real. Jacob said at one point in the night our backs were touching and that was the only warm part of him. Then I moved and he was frozen again. Sorry! 
After telling Jacob my dream he told me “If that scary dream happens again, an easy way to know that you are dreaming is…if it’s our last night alive and we are in a tent together, know that I will put the moves on you. So, if I don’t, it’s a dream”. “K thanks, good to know”.
The day started off ok. We saw a truck carrying a propeller for a wind turbine. The propeller was roughly the size of the blue whale on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s museum of natural history. You know that one that takes up the entire gigantic hall? Yup. Ginormous. 
On to more miles. There were a few rough patches of road, followed by smooth road, followed by a shoulder that was grated…the bumpiest road ever! My teeth chattered and everything shook. By 12:22 we had three flats and I broke a spoke. Not big ol Jacob…little ol me! Uggh. We had to cut the day short to find a bike shop in Kingman AZ. 
Jacob called a shop and asked to use their bike stand. “no prob”. Then we biked all around town looking for the shop. We stumbled upon a different bike shop (yay!), walk in, and Jacob doesn’t like the vibe so we walk out again. Seriously?? 
I got frustrated at this point. We biked all around again looking for the good bike shop, went through some construction sites with lane closures, stop light after stop light, and finally made it to the good shop. Jacob fixed my wheel in a jiffy and we took another roundabout tour of Kingman to find a cheap motel. 
I was frustrated at myself for not being more proactive as far as getting directions. I was tired and cranky from a long day with not many miles to show for it. I was frustrated at Jacob for messing up directions, not asking me for help and not communicating to me why the bike shop we went into first was not suitable. Just breathe, Robin!
After checking in to the motel I asked Jacob if it was ok to eat dinner separately. “Yup!”. He didn’t want to deal with me either! I ate at Denny’s “table for one” and afterwards crashed in to bed hard. That foreboding dream was a bad omen. Tomorrow is another day.

Bike day 39

Flagstaff to Seligman. Easy day!
Abe and Ike left for school nice and early so we said goodbye and hit the road shortly after they did.

We had lots of downhill. We took route 40 which parallels the old route 66, so Jacob warned me “Watch out, you might start to feel your kicks coming on!”. Whatever it was… the downhill or the kicks, we felt good.
We waved to a cyclist who was going east and climbing. This was one day where westbound is where it’s at! No wind and down down down.
After an easy 75 miles we stopped at the Roadkill Cafe where I ate the Drug From the Sea Special (trout). Jacob bought one of those smashed penny things, a “smashed penny holder”, and some route 66 stickers. “What, Robin, your bike is too cool for stickers?”
In Seligman we set up camp at an RV park behind a general store.
I walked to a grocery store about a mile away and got there around 5:45. One lady forgot her wallet and the cashier said “just pay me tomorrow, hun, I’m trying to get outa here”.
Back at the park we talked to a lady who had lived at the park for 33 years and who’s family owns the Roadkill Cafe. She told us that most of her family lives at the park and they’re moving in another one of her nieces into the double-wide in back.
It got cold when the sun went down! Brrrrrr. We bundled up and got in sleeping bags. I was asleep before 8p. I did, however, get up at 10p for dinner. Clif bar and peanut butter…mmmmm.

Bike days 36, 37, 38

We were in Flagstaff AZ for 4 glorious “vacation-from-biking” days.
Before we left Arlington in August, Jacob had shipped a package to Abe, his professor from NAU and our fabulous host in flag. This package included my running shoes. RUNNING shoes! Oh, how I have missed you! I hugged and almost kissed them.
So, first thing Friday morning I went for a slow 5mi jog around the NAU campus. Flag is at 7000ft altitude, plus I hadn’t run for 5 weeks, so it was a slow slog…but it felt wonderful!
I watched the Today Show and tried to watch the 4th hour with Hoda and Kathie Lee (guilty pleasure!), but the times out west were weird. They delay the news! The “new”s is delayed. I caught them a few hours later.
Jacob drove me to Macy’s, the “coolest coffee shop in town”, and he went on a tour of bike shops in order to pick up a new hard-to-find tire.
In the afternoon, Jacob and I met up for a drink at Beaver Street bar. A couple sips in to a giant beer, Jacob notices (on Facebook) one of his buddies was, at that moment, in Flagstaff around the corner. Jacob got jittery and anxious “he’s right there that’s so cool!”. I said “go get him!”. Jacob slugged the rest of his beer in under 30 seconds and ran off, leaving his backpack and, as the bartender kindly pointed out, leaving me with the bill. No worries, I finished my beer at a more leisurely pace (while guys kept coming up to the bar for shots of moonshine all around me…I did not partake since I only do shots of moonshine via ice luge at Judah’s crab feasts), I paid the bill and left to met Jacob.
We had another beer with Jacob’s friends Ben and Elena who were celebrating their wedding anniversary. Ben works as a cop in Page, AZ, and he told us about the numerous stabbings that have occurred at the Red Lake convenience store.
After drinking, chatting and saying goodbye, Jacob and I left to pick up Abe, our host, who had been on a business trip.
We ate dinner at Fratellis, a yummy pizza place and for dessert Abe surprised Jacob with an apple crum pie from Jacob’s favorite pie shop.
Saturday morning started with breakfast at Crown Railroad Cafe with Jacob’s NAU friend Rob and their former professor, Nancy. They reminisced about college days and geology trips. It was cool to hear stories. They call Jacob “Cubby”.
We waited for Jacob’s friend Ryan who had tried to meet us for breakfast but had driven to the wrong end of town. The restaurant was “next to Walmart” but there are two Walmarts in flag. Oops!
He finally made it and we headed to the grand canyon for a hike. First stop was the taxidermy shop to check on the status of Ryan’s elk head. Not done quite yet, but he did give Jacob a big bag of elk jerky and a few elk steaks.

bright angelGrand Canyon
Rob, Ryan, Jacob and I had a great time on the hike. As we strolled down three Bright Angel Trail, Rob (who’s a HS science teacher) shared some of his original “science-paleo raps”. He reminded me of Mr Zito from yhs and Mr Carroll from wms. The “cool mad scientist teacher”. Jacob told me all about the rock layers of the grand canyon and showed me exactly which layer we were looking at as compared to his forearm tattoo.
After the hike we met up with Abe at the NAU Lumberjacks football game. They were up big time when we arrived, but almost lost it at the end.
We ate pie for dinner. Mmmm.
Abe took me for a mountainous trail run at 8000ft elevation on Sunday morning with one of his running buddies. I will butcher his name if I try to spell it  so I will refer to him as Dutchman. Flying Dutchman too since he is speedy!  We ran a beautiful but technical trail called “sunset” and “little gnarly”. It felt like I was trying to blow up a balloon the entire run, but my legs felt ok. It was chilly and almost looked like it could start snowing at any time.
After the run we hit a farmers’ market for fresh veggies and organic beef. Back at the house we ate breakfast burritos and Jacob drove me to Buffalo Wild Wings so I could catch the redskins game. I was the only one in the bar watching the Skins. When RG3 threw the deep completion for a TD (before the call was reversed) I stood up in my bar stool, hands raised in celebration, looked around for high fives…and everyone pointed and chuckled at me… the lone skins fan.
After the game a guy came into the bat, sat down next to me and said “Wow, it’s a miracle that the lions beat the redskins!”. I have him an ugly look and didn’t talk much after that.
On my walk back to Abe’s I saw a lady taken away from Walmart in handcuffs.
We ate hamburgers and pie with Abe and his son Ike before hitting the sack.
I really enjoyed playing around in Jacob’s adopted home of Flagstaff. Abe, thank you so much for the hospitality. You rock!

Bike day 35

After dark and before going to bed on day 34, at the scary convenience store where “the drug dealers hang out”, a dude approached our tent and asked “whooooah,, so you’re just gonna sleep right there, huh?”. I said “Yup!”. Then he offered us candy bars and held out an Almond Joy and a Snickers. I wasn’t really sure what to do, as I didn’t want to offend him (and not sure if this was going to lead to a potential drug deal transaction)… so I tried to be as polite as possible as I refused the candy. “No thank you, man”. He left us alone.
It was very windy overnight. From inside our tent we heard the tarp over the bikes swaying back and forth. It really sounded like someone was out there messing with our stuff, but it was just the wind. I still kept the mace within reach all night. 
The convenience store cashier, Justin, had told me they opened at 7a. Time is weird in AZ on the reservation. They use standard mountain time but the state of AZ doesn’t recognize daylight savings so really no one knows what time it actually is. Basically they opened one hour later than what Jacob and I planned for. So we waited for bathrooms and breakfast. 
As we waited we met Tom and Ruth, high school age kids who live on the reservation. They also arrived at the store an hour early. Tom wants to be a motorcycle mechanic and Ruth likes to ride her mountain bike about 12 miles for fun with her daughter in a child’s seat and her mom following in a car. When we asked what they were doing that day, Ruth replied “Getting some money so we can be rich for a while”. Apparently this convenience store will cash whatever check she had that other stores had refused.
We got a late start, 8:30, and had over 100 miles to go to reach Flagstaff AZ and a “vacation from the bikes”. Please no headwind!
The morning wind was gentle and we rode an easy 20 miles to Tuba City where we stopped for cold beverages. 80 left.
Our next stop was Cameron trading post with all the tourists. We ate a leisurely lunch at the restaurant. Fry bread galore. It’s like pizza dough and funnel cake.  A German motorcycle gang was seated next to us. They tried to order beer but, alas, no alcohol on the res. 
Jacob bought some cactus candy for the road and we got back to work. We did a lot of climbing. I channeled Will Ferrell’s Elf: “I love climbing (smiling)! Climbing’s (smiling’s) my favorite!”
We passed the 5000, 6000 and 7000ft elevation signs. Jacob pointed out the first pine tree and told me that we made it to the alpine zone. When two white vans passed us going the opposite direction, Jacob kept turning his head to look at them. “What is it?!?” I asked. “I think that was my old professor Nancy!”. “Cool! Keep climbing though, ok?”
We made it up and over the summit and had a nice downhill to Flagstaff. Jacob said we had about five miles left to go and we got on a bumpy bike trail. It was a loooong five miles if you ask me. But we made it. 
We got to Abe’s  (Jacob’s professor from NAU) house, found the key, dropped our stuff, ate about five pounds of Abe’s trail mix, showered and hit the town for a “real” dinner. We decided to get burgers at Diablo Burger and were undecided whether to go out for drinks or go back and crash. “Flip a coin?” It ended up “tails go home”. Fine by me. Exhausted, goodnight!

Bike day 34

Remember that tailwind from yesterday? The wind changed. Goodbye to Mary Poppins, hello torture. 
We had breakfast at the Red Mesa gas station. I had coffee with an added packet of folgers black silk and raisin bran with a scoop of protien powder and an apple…weird eating habits on the road. 
The morning started out cool but windy. In the FACE windy. An hour after sunrise it got hot. And windy. So windy. It felt like the dentist…you know, when he puts the spit-sucky thing in your mouth and you have no saliva left? Yeeeeah…that feeling. I started keeping my mouth closed and breathing in and out through my nose (usually I do in-thru-the-nose out-thru-the-mouth) but that didn’t really do any better. The back of the throat still became parched immediately.
The wind plus the traffic plus the awkwardly placed rumble strips made it impossible to reach for and drink water without falling over or going off the road. We had to stop every 20 mins or so just to drink. It was ridiculous. And we were seriously pedaling hard and going 4mph. On a relatively flat road. Uggh. 
I went slightly ahead of Jacob when I saw the Burger King sign in the distance. It was about 4 miles away…we could SEE it…buuut that damn sign did not get any closer, despite pedaling our brains out. It was about this point when I thought of that part in Forrest Gump…the part where he’s running and just stops and says “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now”. I was beat. Can I go home yet? Nope. 
Well, we made it to Kayante after seeing the Burger King mirage sign for about an hour. We ate at McDonalds. Eff that BK tricky sign. I drank 3 large (gigantic McD’s large) half-powerade half-waters. Still felt dried out. 
After our lunch break Jacob asks “you ready for another beating?”. I reply “Ready or not, we gotta go”.
The next few hours were the same torture. I started feeling shaky. At the next convenience store (few and far between on the res) we stopped for snacks and cold drinks. I started to feel a little better although I was doubting whether I’d make it 52 more miles to Tuba City. It was already 5:30. 
We met some reservation puppies at the store and if Jacob had his truck I’m sure he would have adopted a few cuties. 
We also met a nice man and his 5 year old son. The kid was playing with brass knuckles and was visiting from Alaska where his mom lives. They have horses on the reservation and sled dogs in Alaska. 
Finally around 6:30 the wind died down a bit and we could move at a normal pace. Thank goodness. We got the lights out and found one dead and the other dying. Uh oh. 
We ride by the Elephant Feet rock formations and get to the base of a hill when POP goes Jacob’s tire. We still wanted to ride 21 more miles to Tuba, but all signs pointed to stopping immediately. I rode to the convenience store at the top of the hill and Jacob walked the bike up to meet me. When I asked to camp at the Red Lake convenience store, the nice kid Justin said “You want to camp heeere? Ummm, at your own risk”. Apparently the store is a hang-out for drug dealers. Unfortunately we didn’t have options so we locked the bikes together, put the tarp over them, pitched the tent, put our mace canisters within reach (Jacob said “show me your mace!”), and crossed our fingers for “no trouble”. I was nervous but happy to have a 6’8″ Jacob-body guard. He said “text somebody that we’re here”. So I texted Melinda our location and told her to send Matt to get us if she didn’t hear from me the next day.
Spoiler alert… We survived!