Day 10 - Clint's Well to Payson – Monday, April 25th

We got up early this morning, eager to eat (at long last) at the restaurant not that much farther down the road.

Sheltering from the wind, awakening the next morning

It's not that we were too cheap to get a room (which we had hoped to do). It's just that the 'bankers hours' kept by the staff were not conducive to getting our business. We were long-gone before they opened in the morning.

As I had guessed, we came to where the Lake Mary Road joins highway 87 about a mile and a half down the road. We turned right, and a hundred yards or so down the road, the restaurant, service station, and convenience store at Clint's Well came into view.

After a great breakfast, and with refilled water bottles (including the our pairs of 2-liter extra bottles), we stopped at the convenience store to replenish our emergency food supplies (nearly gone), and were again underway, pedaling in a more south-westerly direction.

Profile from Clint's well to Payson (2nd half of the profile)

As you can see in the profile, we had a 200 foot climb & descent, followed by a 600 foot climb, first thing in the morning. After that we would have an exhilarating 3,000 foot descent down the Mogollon Rim, with significant climbs after Strawberry, and just before Payson.

Pleasant cycling in the early morning sun

Resting in the shade after a big climb

Still more climbing – will it ever end?

Met a man from Tucson, riding a mo-ped (with a trailer) to Flagstaff

Near the end of the 2nd climb, we met a man on a mo-ped, headed to Flagstaff. Years back, he had pedaled his way across the continent to Springfield Missouri. He said he had 'retired' from that much pedaling. With the setup he has now, his pedaling supplements the engine power, which is not enough to climb the hills on its own, but is much easier than climbing the hills on leg-power alone.

He said most of the mo-peds on the market don't last long (the engines wear out quickly). The one he has uses needle-bearings in the engine, and has lasted very well – much better than the sleeve-bearings in most mo-peds on the market.

Not far from here, we reached the top, and prepared to descend the Mogollon Rim.

At the brake-check turnout, just before descending from the Mogollon Rim

We stopped at a brake-check turn-off, where Malcolm explained the safety concerns of long, steep descents. He explained that sometimes (at least on road bikes), the heat generated from constant braking can explode tires, with disastrous results.

The other side of that coin is that you can get going so fast that you cannot properly control the bicycle. From personal experience, I have noticed it is possible, on a fully-loaded bicycle, for a back-and-forth oscillation to develop, which I prevent by very smooth steering, and by not allowing my speed to exceed 33 M.P.H., which I consider to be my maximum safe speed.

We started the descent, hoping for a good place to stop and get a picture of the Mogollon Rim, but didn't find such a place. We just kept going on the long descent, with Malcolm in the lead. He got quite a way out in front, but I would not exceed my safe speed, and I didn't want to be so close behind that if he had to stop suddenly, I might run into him.

We soon reached the town of Strawberry. This appears to be a resort town, and had what appeared to be several interesting restaurants. But we planned to eat in the town beyond it, which was a regular town, with (hopefully) regular prices.

The stretch of highway from Strawberry to Payson is not good for bicycling, having narrow shoulders. I had assumed that the shoulders would be similar to the wide shoulders we had for much of the highway earlier, but that assumption was wrong.

Another interesting (some would say annoying) thing about the highway, was that to go from one town to the next town, a big climb up the intervening ridge was required.

We had a short, steep climb after Strawberry, and now we were at a much lower elevation, it was hot climbing. Fortunately, the climb was not long, and we soon coasted down into the town of Pine, where we refilled water-bottles, and purchased emergency food. We then ate at a restaurant in the town.

Lunch stop in the town of Pine

After this town, there was a 400 foot climb, followed by a long, gradual descent to the East Fork of the Verde River. The highway still had narrow shoulders, and there was a fair amount of traffic.

Where we were at a lower elevation, the vegetation was significantly different. It was nice that we were descending, which gave us a good speed. We had a bit of a head-wind, but that helped keep us cool. Occasionally, there were turn-offs, where we could take a break from the traffic rat-race.

Heading south-east, after Pine, at a turn-out

Resting in the late afternoon shade, at a turn-out

The East Fork of the Verde River – here our long, gradual descent ended

All good things must come to an end, and as one of my 'laws of bicycling' so aptly states, “For every pleasant, downhill glide, there is an equally obnoxious, uphill grind.”

Here, it was a 4-mile climb, the first 2.5 miles of which were too steep to cycle. We got off, and started pushing. It was a long walk.

Walk-up hill, just before Payson

Fortunately, about 2/3 the way up, there was a brief descent, followed by a less steep climb, and we were able to cycle the rest of the way into Payson, which is a fairly good-sized town. Here we found a non-chain motel (the kind we prefer), and had a night of luxury, following our two-day trek though the hinterlands, dogged by strong crosswinds. It was good to be back in civilization!

On this day, we traveled 40.5 miles, with an average speed of 7.2 miles per hour.

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