April 5, 2001 - Tucson AZ 123.4m**

And now a word from our sponsors. If you havent joined or contributed to the Sierra Club yet, nows the time. Just go to www.sierraclub.org and do your good deed for the day.

While youre at it, check out www.aridewithareason.org. This is Bob Lees ride across the country. Hes about 2 weeks ahead of me, and Ill never catch him. But hes riding for a couple of very worth causes (ALS and Hospice, check out the site) that merit your consideration. Hes raised over $80,000 so far. (He mentions me in the 3/27 or 28 or so entry under ride with Bob.)

Back to my ride Its been windy and rain threatening for the past couple days. It rained a lot last night. I awoke to wetness all around and packaged my valuables (computer and camera) in extra plastic. Then I stalled with a pre-ride breakfast (not good) and left. I missed the 238 and just stayed on the 8 (no frontage roads, but bike friendly) to exit 172, where I had to get off and go north (more below).

Gila Bend was actually a nice historical town, a crossroads with roots dating back hundreds of years. Read the local papers and town brochures and were things different I would have explored further. Then there was this little 32 mile slow climb heading out of town.

This is Interstate 8, about 20 miles east of Gila Bend, looking back (downhill). This was my 3rd day on or right next to this road. The ridges were there to protect the cars from me, as I occasionally checked out the scenery and drifted toward the 75 mph vehicles. They would be, at least the cars, moderately damaged if they hit me.

The only change in the ongoing scenery (desert and irrigated fields) was no more irrigated fields, and no sign of man other than the road. No RR tracks, no poles with wires – just desert as far as you could see in all directions. The Southern Pacific (now part of Union Pacific RR) went a more northerly route to avoid the climb, and civilization followed that route. There were some road signs though.

When bored, these provide useful information. They tell you where you are (e.g. 29 miles from Casa Grande), how far some place is away (e.g. Casa Grande is 29 miles away), how far it is between places (e.g. Casa Grande is X miles from Tucson, you do the math) stuff like that.

The end of the 32 mile climb left me at a dilapidated RV park (are there any other kind?) where I went into a dilapidated gas station and had my usual no other choice snack/meal. At this point I was averaging only 10 mph. Better than the road to Julian.

The camera had a timer. The orange windbreaker is my buddy,.

I left the 8 at the 2nd of 2 exits for Casa Grande, where a bunch of bicyclist threatening signs directed that I exit and head north (I was hoping for SE). Didnt see the Hunter Douglas wood plant (I hear theyre shutting it down, but an old friend, Kevin Armstrong theoretically still lives in the neighborhood). Got to Jimmy Kerr Boulevard, a two lane ribbon heading exactly SE, and rode into a good component of headwind.

Eloy is maybe 8 miles SE of Casa Grande. This sign indicates that I am 800 feet higher than I was in the morning (not bad) and the fact that the windbreaker tied to the pole is limp indicates that there is a bag of sunflower seeds in the pocket.

I just rode and rode and rode. Jimmie Kerr turned into Frontier road which turned into Frontage roads alternating from one side of the 10 (the 8 and 10 join at Casa Grande, producing 10x-20x the traffic that was on the 8.

The frontage road was little traveled (good for me) and perhaps with all the recent rain, some pretty little plants grew out of the pavement. Desperate for an interesting photo

A few times a day I run across crucifixes like this by the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere. Youd think that someone died or was buried there, but it really doesnt make senses. I also took a picture of a famous rock (hill? Mountain?) at around the 121 mile marker on the 10 (30 miles NW of Tuscon).

Then, in the midst of about 20 miles of construction along the frontage roads heading into Tucson, I got to Tucson, where I checked into a Ramada Inn.

I realize this is not altogether too interesting. Theres just not much to inform oneself about riding along desert interstates for 3 days. Hopefully things will get better. But you do learn something everyday, and today I learned that cheap wines come in really big boxes which some restaurants pour into carafes and serve as house wines.

God bless. Join now.

Bob

PS. I do not review, edit or think much about this at the end of these somewhat tiresome days. If you have corrections or suggestions, let me know.

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