Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer in the High Country

 The Wind has been fierce - it kept me inside after work, and on the weekends.   First Day of Summer and the Wind has died down - so really need this time to get out on the bike and ride, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  Last time I think I rode was June 6th, in Bozeman!

 A few weeks ago, a fire started at a camp ground up here on the Reservation.  Somebody was careless, and then the wind really got to  blowing!  A fire was out of control right away.  Here it is the day it started on a Friday afternoon.

 By Saturday you can see that it has grown - actually split into three separate large fires.

 Several days later, it's still going.  Pretty much just burned itself out.  Many people have summer camps in the area, and people's cattle and horses out grazing.  Fire Fighters for the Navajo Nation helped round up fleeting stock.  I also heard that many camps were lost, and some spiritual areas were destroyed.  Medicine People say that the fire was telling the The People to pay attention - the think about things and be respectful - and mindful - about life and the spirit side.  Being careless, thoughtless, and unfeeling can result in destruction.

 I wasn't sure how ready I was or how far I wanted to ride - but once I got on the bike, I started feeling happy!  I just keep riding and spinning - the wind was gone - and I was flying down the road.

 Even Benally Hill didn't seem so tough.  This is right at 7200 feet, according to my Garmin, so it is the highest spot around.  As always, hills for me are tough.  But living in the high altitude has conditioned me - and I'm glad.

 I've just turned around to take a shot for you of where I've come from.

I make good time down the road and I just kept going past the first Pullout, and then the second, which was Antelope Pullout.  I found in all my stuff, my little Messenger Mirror from my Tucson Days.  I was glad I had it, as I could see behind me - and see that there was little or no traffic.  At one point, I saw headlights on a few miles back in my mirror.  When I turned to look, I could see about about 50 or more motor cycle riders now about a mile behind me.

As I rode on, I began to hear the roar of the machines, and soon they were passing by, two-by-two for what seemed forever!  I waved and all waved and beeped their horns as well.  I was on the long long stretch or straight road as they passed.  I could hear them all in chorus as they pulled into the Antelope Pullout and wound down the scenic lookout into Canyon de Chelly.

I rode on and the sound faded.  I began the fast descent into Chile, Gentler Reader, and soon was coming to the last few miles of steep and curvy road that led to Visitor Center.  I was glad no traffic was behind me -glad I had my little mirror - as I was able to speed down and then zip right into the parking lot!  The 25 miles I rode down, I averaged 15.4 mph - which I thought was awesome!

While at the Visitor Center refilling my bottles and eating a Cliff Bar real quick - several Italians arrived by car and began asking me all kinds of questions about Route 66.  They saw my Oklahoma Jersey, and the Route 66 shield and told me they had stayed in Tulsa as part of their trip.  They had started in Chicago and were driving 23 days ending down to San Francisco - actually Hwy 66 ended in Santa Monica, but no matter - they were happy and took my photo as I took theirs too.  And as always they wanted to know where I had ridden my bike from, as the area is a bit remote.  After all that good cheer and well-wishes for safe travel, I started the big, long climb out of the Park and back to The College.

 I had only gone a few miles, climbed out of the hardest part, when I heard a ping, or zing.  Not sure what was going on - but started to notice I could not shift into my bigger gears on my three-ring.  I was in my small ring (granny gear) because you need it to climb out of the canyon back up - and then saw the break.  Yikes!

Well, I tied to pull the cable to try to get the gear to change.  I tried to pull the chain onto the middle ring, but only got my fingers greasy.  I was in a climbing gear and that's where it was locked, so I just went with it and climbed back home - but a bit slow.

I just let the tailwind I had do most of the work.  When I was able to pedal with the one gear I had, I did okay - and really what was the rush?  I was lucky that I was in a small gear and not stuck trying to mash a big gear home for 25 miles.

 Finally after all the big long climbs, I got to this sign here - which meant about 6 or so miles of flat road, with a few small climbs, until one last climb up Benally Hill - then four miles of fast descent to home.  The tailwind aided me so I just went along for the ride.

From here, I get the full power of the tailwind.  This is my favorite part because with the wind at your back, you don't get the roar of the wind in your ears as you're flying down from the mountains.  It can be a surreal experience for a few miles, Gentle Reader.

With a climbing gear all I had, I was able to get back up Benally Hill with out much effort - it was just a slow and steady pace.  Then, I simply coasted down and really picked up some speed.  I reached 35 mph quickly!

 I called out to the ponies by the road.  They sure don't like the bike!  They can't hear me coming or if they do, they're just not sure what to make of it - but they always seemed annoyed and bolt off into the trees.  I keep seeing this pair (one is just behind the tree) so I think they're starting to recognize the sound or whatever.  A few times I've come right on them, and other ponies, and I didn't see them and they didn't see me - they sure are quick to run and bolt out on the road and to some place to hide.  Kind of fun, but don't want to cause an accident!

Thanks for stopping by the Blog!

Cheers!  Bruce


Dan Trued said...

Beautiful country, and unknown to most in AZ I bet.


Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Hi Dan, I hope all is well!
Cheers! Bruce