Holbrook, AZ to Ramah, NM
Today's ride was long (close to 80 miles) at altitudes up to 7,000 feet, and all uphill -- at least it seemed that way to me. Nothing very steep, but nothing downhill either. That definitely got old. We were all tired from yesterday's 58 mile ride, and it wasn't pretty at times but everyone did great in the end. The long slog was made worthwhile by the incredible scenery along the way. We rode across the Colorado Plateau leaving Arizona for New Mexico, winding our way through pinon pine forests (with antelope and hawks checking us out), then through the red mesas and cliffs of the Zuni tribal lands. There is water everywhere here right now. All the arroyos are flowing which gets us Arizonans very excited, but we had to explain the significance of this to Bruce and Raza who are from Ohio. A few running streams didn't have much meaning for them.
Bruce undoubtedly had the worst day -- two flat tires, he and Raza got slammed with a huge spray of rainwater from a passing car, and Bruce's bike was almost STOLEN at a gas station while he used the facilities! (I'm probably not supposed to tell you that last part.)
At our finish line today, we were greeted by cheers from a group of teachers and school children from the local elementary school. It was such a great ending to a long and beautiful ride. Some of the teachers talked to us about their own experiences with family members who have struggled with Alzheimer's disease. Every story is different, but every one of them is inspiring, and I am always amazed at the strength of families who deal with this terrible illness on a daily basis.
Tomorrow we head further east, more uphill for the first 20 miles until we cross the Continental Divide at our peak altitude of 7,950 feet where we will begin the long, long descent towards Cubero, New Mexico. Then another day's ride to Albuquerque. It's been a blast so far. I can't say that my butt thinks the same thing, and we'll see how well it does after another 5 hours in the saddle tomorrow. But this ride has been more than worth it.
Lee Ryan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Psychology, University of Arizona