Day 11 - Payson to 1/3 the way to Mesa – Tuesday, April 26th
This was to be a short day of cycling, because my bicycle was in urgent need of repairs.
Since before Flagstaff, we had noticed a noise coming from my bicycle's rear wheel bearing. Initially, it would only happen with me pedaling on my fully-loaded bicycle, so we didn't deal with it in Flagstaff. But it had gotten progressively louder as we traveled to Payson, to where it was very noticeable as we cycled to the motel.
Fortunately, there was a good bicycle shop in town, and they were kind enough to fit us in, despite their busy schedule.
Bicycle shop in Payson, where we repaired my rear wheel
Checking the least expensive possibility first, the mechanic opened the bearing, and inspected it. Not seeing anything obviously wrong, he re-greased it, put it back together, and re-adjusted it. This did change the sound it was making, but it still made a sound that was not good. Both Malcolm, and the mechanic were fairly sure it would make it to the Phoenix area.
For better or worse, I have always been a person who believes that I have 'bad luck'. Because of this, I go to great pains to always have contingency plans, and avoid leaving things to luck, to the point that people would swear that I have 'good luck'.
In line with this, I chose to avoid the risk, thinking of the long miles of wilderness between Payson and Mesa, and opted to buy a new wheel, which was definitely more expensive.
Getting a new wheel was not without problems, since my bicycle made use of older technology, and the newer parts were not compatible. The shop owner did have an older wheel, but my cassette of gears on my wheel could not be used on that. We purchased a new set of sprockets, but they did not gear-down as low as what I had, so I would not be able to cycle up as steep a slope as before.
Nevertheless, the repair was soon made, and after paying the mechanic some well-earned money, I cycled away with a bicycle without mechanical problems, which would therefore not contribute to worries of whether or not I could finish the trip.
After the repairs, we ate at a restaurant, and began cycling at 2:50 PM, so it would be a short day. It would, however, position us to where we would be able to make it to Mesa on the following day.
This was another of those long stretches where it took more than one day to make it to the next store, so we made sure we had adequate supplies of water, and emergency food.
Profile from Payson to Mesa – on this day we ended at about mile 26 after Payson
Leaving Payson, ready to do the long descent to Rye
Heading south from Payson, with better road shoulders, and a divided highway
At the end of the long descent, just before the town of Rye
The long descent was easy, and long, but the temperatures were higher, bordering on hot. As you can see in the picture above, after Rye, it is flat for quite a way, but then it begins climbing again.
We did not see any stores, or restaurants in Rye, so we were glad we stocked-up in Payson.
Climbing, after Rye
At the top of a major climb after Rye
After this series of climbs, we had a big descent to the bottom of a river/intermittent-stream, then the road began a big climb. There was no place to camp at the bottom of the hill, and it was too steep to cycle, so we got off and began pushing.
As we walked along (and the daylight diminished), we watched for a place to camp at the side of the road, but saw no good places. Malcolm said that if there were nothing better, we could camp at some of the less-bad places, but he remained hopeful we would see a better place. I pointed out that we would not have enough daylight to make it to the top of the big climb.
Finally, we found what looked like a suitable place. We stopped there, as if we were only resting, our bicycles fully-loaded, and pointed as if we intended to go on. The reason for this is that we didn't want any potential (rare) human predator to know we were planning to stay here.
When it got dark enough, we quickly pushed our bicycles back toward the fence, farther back, more hidden from the road, and set up camp. Again, no rain was forecast, so we slept under the stars, though the shelter was handy, should the need arise.
We made sure to have a good meal of our canned food that night, so we would have energy the next morning.
We were careful to arrange our sleeping bags so that the wind came from the direction of our feet, so it wouldn't blow into the top of our sleeping bags, making us cold. True to form, however, the sneaky wind changed directions during the night, and blew into the sleeping bags from the direction of our heads, making it necessary to once again sleep in our coats within our sleeping bags.
Such is life. At least there were no thorns here, so we both had pads to sleep on.
On this short day, we traveled 27.2 miles, at an average speed of 7.0 miles per hour.
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