Holbrook, AZ to St. Johns, AZ
It was a cloudy morning in Holbrook as myself (Bruce Lamb), Raza Lamb (my 15 year old son), Lee Ryan (an Alzheimer's disease researcher from the University of Arizona) and Cathy Wasmann (a friend of Lee's and cycling buddy) met to receive our daily briefing for our upcoming ride. It was going to be a 58 mile ride to St. Johns, with a total of about 550 feet elevation gain. After introductions (including a new crew member, Kyle McLaughlin, who was to be the "caboose", a driver who would follow the riders), breakfast and packing our stuff on the Pony, we were ready to start our day. However, we quickly realized that a new ritual had been initiated as part of the bike ride thanks to Michael Sierks. Not the passing of a baton or a torch, but rather the passing of the brain (a foam, squishy brain) that we received from the rider of the previous segment, Matt Huentleman.
The first few miles were spent becoming acquainted with one another, and getting a feel for our legs. Suddenly both Lee and Cathy exclaimed in joy! Raza and I looked around trying to figure out what was the object of their attention. After some time we realized that it was water in a stream bed. While for us Ohioans this was not a striking sight, the sight of a storm swollen river bed was all together different in the desert Southwest! A bit further into the ride, both Cathy and Raza got their bikes trapped in some mud that had been strewn onto the road, but both escaped unharmed. At the first rest stop, Lee decided to connect the squishy brain baton onto her bike, so after some quick brain surgery by Kyle and Lee, the brain now occupied front and center of Lee's bike.
The ride continued past fairly flat, desolate, yet beautiful scenery, skirting the edge of the National Petrified Forest, which appeared almost other worldly. Through the next section of ride, however, we climbed through part of the Zuni Reservation, which had more bushes, trees and small mesas. As we descended from the top of the climb, a light rain began to fall. Thankfully, however, we did not encounter the heavy rains and lightning associated with the monsoon storms that frequent the Southwest this time of year. Finally, we arrived somewhat soggy in the tiny, desolate ranching town of St. Johns. After cleaning ourselves and our bikes, we welcomed dinner at Iggy's (at which we were also joined by two stray dogs that wandered in from the street), the only restaurant in town, and settled in for a well deserved rest at the only hotel in town.
-Bruce T. Lamb, Ph.D., is an Associate Staff Scientist in the Department of Neurosciences at the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, as well as Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and in the Departments of Neurosciences and Genetics at Case Western Reserve University.