Day 4 – Picacho to Mesa – Friday, March 23rd

Our Campsite at the Picacho KOA, Malcolm Still in Bed

Note that we didn't set up the shelter over us that night, since there was no threat of rain.

After eating breakfast in the camp restaurant, we started cycling at 9:30 AM, turning north on highway 87, toward the town of Coolidge.

Emily and Laron agreed to take some time looking for Michael in the truck. Though they did not find him, they found that he had stayed in a motel in Eloy. They didn't have a lot of time to look, because Laron had to catch a shuttle to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, because of him unexpectedly being summoned back from vacation to work.

The road was good as we cycled north, and the conditions were pleasant.

Heading North on Highway 87 From Picacho

We soon reached the next town (La Palma), but there were no stores here, so we cycled on.

Blue Mountains and Green Fields, Heading North on Highway 87

We finally reached the town of Coolidge, and ate lunch in a Mexican restaurant there, which was a welcome break, though somewhat long because they were struggling to serve a large group that came in before us.

But we were once again underway.

About two miles north, the highway turned to the west, and it was (unfortunately) a bad section of highway to cycle.

This was part of the price to be paid for changing routes in mid-trip (not having a chance to research the route on the Internet). The road shoulders were narrow or non-existent, with abrupt edges, and there was a lot of traffic. Where there were shoulders, they were filled with pressure-ridges, which gave you a big bump every 6 to 12 feet of the way. In such conditions, we would cycle in the roadway if there were no cars coming, returning to the shoulder when traffic was present.

The pressure-ridges seemed to be fairly common in this hot area of Arizona, with only the newer road-surfaces not having them. They were an argument for having a bicycle with a suspension (which neither of us had, and hadn't needed before this trip).

On the Bridge Over a Canal, on Highway 87, Heading West

This section of the trip was also the hottest, driest part of it, with the most desolate, least interesting scenery. Before long, we entered the Gila River Indian Reservation.

On the Gila River Indian Reservation, Near a Road Junction

In some places (such as the above), the road shoulders were okay, but it was hit-and-miss, and usually bad.

Before long, Malcolm was pouring water down my back to keep me cool (where I don't have working sweat-glands). That would cool me off (and give me a better attitude) until I dried off, and needed to be wet-down again. It was good that we had adequate water supplies.

Desolate, Desert Mountains

Saguaro Cacti and Desert Mountains

It was a long, boring stretch – the least interesting part of the trip so far, though perhaps my attitude was influenced from being in an over-heated state.

Last Picture From the Wilds

We were now headed more north, toward the Santan industrial area. We were hoping to see a service station or convenience store, but there were none.

We finally came to the turn-off for Gilbert Road, and we turned north into Chandler. It was a long, gentle climb. This was one of those times when a tail-wind can be a problem, because it resulted in no breeze passing over me, causing me to over-heat more.

At long last, we reached the buildings and houses of Chandler, upon-which the long uphill turned into a gentle downhill. Soon there was a strip-mall, with a Chinese restaurant, for a long-awaited meal, and cool refreshment.

Supper, at a Chinese Restaurant in Chandler

The rest of the trip was like cycling in the Salt Lake valley from Sandy all the way to downtown Salt Lake City.

We watched the addresses count down to zero in Chandler, then in Gilbert, only to march up in numbers with north-addresses.

Finally we reached Base Line Road, which is the border of Mesa, and we watched the south-address numbers count down toward zero. At long last, we reached the intersection of Main Street and Gilbert Road, where we re-joined the route we cycled last year, and ended the trip.

Emily (and Michael) were waiting for us there (we had contacted them by cell-phone earlier, giving an estimate of our arrival).

The End of the Trip, at the Intersection of Main Street and Gilbert Road, in Mesa

So, at long last, we had finished cycling a contiguous route from Canada to Mexico, at 7:15 PM.

What Happened to Michael?

Michael had gone on ahead to what we had said was the next town, namely Eloy. We had said that before checking the map more closely, and seeing that the town of Picacho was before Eloy, and that the highway we needed also turned north before Eloy.

When we didn't show up, he got a motel.

When we didn't show up the next morning, he purchased a map, and figured out his own route to Mesa, albeit longer, and with some unexpected difficulties along the way.

Yet he persisted, and succeeded, learning the details of planning a cross country bicycle trip by doing.

Being a stronger cyclist, he arrived in Mesa at 2:00 PM. Since we had talked of perhaps meeting up at the Commemorative Air Force Museum, he went there, and toured the museum. Someone let him use their cell-phone, and he contacted Emily, who met up with him at the museum. Later, we contacted Emily, and they met us at the end of the trip.

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