Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Conventional wisdom says you should 'ride your age' within a couple weeks of your birthday.  Since my birthday is in November and I live in an area of snow and cold, I tend to pick a unique event to fulfill my age ride and am not concerned when I do it during the year.
I was introduced to The Mother Road in elementary school; our class 'traveled'  from Chicago to Los Angeles on route 66 while the teacher provided lessons on the cities and states we passed through.

During the '60s there was a television series
which touted the adventure and excitement of Route 66. When I celebrated my 66th birthday, it was a forgone conclusion (to me) that I would ride my 66 miles on Route 66.  The only question was when I would be able to do it.  Weather in the spring and early summer precluded any sort of training schedule and there was a family reunion we could not miss at the end of July.  After the reunion, weather again became a factor as we went from weeks of temperatures being in the low 60s to consistent 80s and 90s. Last week I mentioned to my wife that we should just do it and she agreed; so, with very little training (longest ride this year has been 35 miles) and very short notice (decided on Wednesday, left on Monday) we were off.  We took a somewhat relaxing four days traveling to where I would start my endeavor: Seligman, Arizona.  Although I had intended to do some riding on our journey, events seemed to conspire against me; when I started my ride on Friday it had been over a week since I'd ridden any distance.
The morning of the ride dawned bright and cool with dead calm winds.  I began riding east from Seligman, as we had pre-driven the course and the prearranged pickup point at Hackberry was only 60 miles west of Seligman.  After an uneventful 6 1/2 mile out-and-back, I stopped at the Li Lo Cafe for a pancake breakfast.  We ate dinner twice at Li Lo's and were very satisfied.  However, I wish I'd ordered something other than pancakes for breakfast; it's not that they were bad--just flavorless.  After eating, I continued onward.   
Several miles down the road the temperature (and I) had warmed sufficiently for me to remove my light jacket. The gentle morning sun brightened the colors of the vegetation and provided pleasant viewing.

A few words about the road here. 
The surface was chip seal and, in retrospect, I should have inflated my Big Apple tires to 50 rather than 65 psi.  There was usually a four to six foot shoulder and the two sections (1 to 2 miles each) where that was not the case, the road widened to 3 lanes and there was no problem riding in one of the lanes.  Traffic was generally very light and infrequent and drivers were very accommodating. 
I got to Grand Canyon Caverns (31miles)

about 11:30 where I'd planned to eat lunch. However, I didn't realize that the restaurant was about a mile and a half back off the main road so I just had a snack that I'd brought with me, refilled a couple of my water bottles and continued on to Peach Springs (43 miles.)  The restaurant there had nowhere I could park and see my trike while I was inside, so once again, I ate some more of my snacks and set forth. 
Throughout the trip there were numerous reminders of a by-gone era.

 A minor disaster struck as I was going downhill into Truxton (52 miles):  my speedometer quit!  The cafe at Truxton was well suited for keeping an eye on my trike as I munched on real food instead of snacks; the iced tea and water were also very welcome.  I called Barbara to let her know I would be a bit later than we had planned.  As it turned out, she was only 10 minutes behind me so I waited for her and sucked down more water.  We decided that the loss of the speedometer was a minor concern since we'd pre-driven the route and knew where the 66 mile mark was.  So I left her at the cafe with a revised pick-up time and resumed my adventure.  By this time, it was late afternoon and the heat was definitely having an effect on me, but I kept drinking and using my watch and the mile markers to get an idea of how fast I was going and how far I had to go.  I was extremely thankful for the long stretches that were shaded by roadside cliffs.

A somewhat brisk headwind began picking at about the 62 mile mark, but at that point, nothing short of a full blown tornado could have stopped me. Finally, the end was in sight and Barbara was there with a camera to record me pulling into the lot.

I was extremely satisfied with myself for completing the ride, considering how little I had trained for it and I now have another month before I have to start figuring out what to do for sixty-seven.


Just Frances said...

There is something fantastic about completing a long distance journey! Even better is having someone at the finish line to cheer you on! It sounds like a fab time and I hope Mom had a great time, too!

As for the 67-mile route, just say the word and I'll start investigating potential journeys in Scotland for you ... :)

Royann said...

Way to go Dad!

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