When we tell people about our next bicycle adventure they often say something like, “How do you train to bicycle 7,000 miles in five months? That’s nuts!” Maybe, maybe not.
In case you missed it in our last blog, “In 2019 we will be riding our tandem bicycle (“Violet”), unsupported, across the country as before, but this time there will be some twists. First, we intend to ride way more miles, approximately 7,000 over five months. Our route will take us from Washington State in June east across the middle of the country to the eastern seaboard where we will ride from Massachusetts to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, ending in New Orleans, Louisiana in late October. This will be our longest trip yet and will cover our final 21 states in the lower 48!”
It’s mostly mental
First of all, we don’t train to bicycle 7,000 miles, it’s just too daunting a task. Instead, we simply train to go for a bicycle ride every day until we get there, wherever “there” may be. We know people who have bicycled across the country, and farther, and not trained at all. It is doable with the right motivation but, it will definitely be painful. Ouch! Even if you do train, at some point in a long tour you run out of what you had (strength and conditioning) and must rely on what you have left. Ultimately, it is mostly mental.
If it’s mostly mental then why train? Training keeps us physically and mentally strong year round. I find training is particularly helpful at staving off the winter blues and weight gain that inevitably accompany our long Midwestern winters. Some of the best winters we have had in Wisconsin were training for a spring marathon or a long bicycle tour. Being physically fit early in a bicycle tour also gives us more options and keeps us safer. We often have to decide between riding, say 30 miles, to find food and lodging, too short, or riding much further, 80-100 miles, to the next town. Being in great shape allows us to bike the bigger miles we often need to accomplish our goals. Having the reserves to put in more miles can also get us out of a jam. More than once we have rolled into a rural town only to discover that the services we need are closed, full, or even gone. I guess we’ll just keep riding. Did I mention that bicycling across the country isn’t easy?
Years in the making
We didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to bicycle across the country. We have spent years building up to this trip, although we didn’t know it at the time. I stated bicycling longer distances in the mid-80s so I could try a triathlon, but it wasn’t until the mid-90s that we started riding longer distances as a couple/family. Our first rides were around the country block near our home in Green Bay after Tracy got done with work. As our fitness improved, and we became braver, we started taking longer and longer rides. Five miles, 10 miles, 50, 100. We eventually started bicycle touring, an easy transition because we both grew up camping. Overnight, one day, one week, two weeks. By the time we completed our first three-week bicycle tour we figured we could probably make it across the country if we just strung three-week tours together. Easy, right!
Coast to Coast on a Tandem
Our first cross-country bicycle trip was along the Northern Tier of the USA in 2014. (See our book “Coast to Coast on a Tandem”) That trip started in Bellingham, Washington and ended in Bar Harbor, Maine 4,362 miles and 72 days later. In 2015 we rode the entire length of the Mississippi River, and then some, 3,052-miles, and in 2016 we bicycled Historic Route 66, (Green Bay, WI – Chicago, IL – Santa Monica, CA), 2,603 miles.
The training is hard but worth it
When Tracy was 50 she decided to run her first half marathon and asked me to train her. Having run several marathons, myself, I agreed. The first week we ran a mile and Tracy thought she was going to die. The second week we ran two miles and, again, Tracy thought she was going to die. On the third week, after running three miles, Tracy once more said she thought she was going to die. I said, “Exactly, see how this works.” Ha! Tracy now has three half marathons and three unsupported cross-country bicycle tours to her credit. I don’t know about you but I’m impressed. Are you starting to understand why I have her on the back of our tandem, this woman is an athlete.
Get professional help
I have been an athlete all of my life, but at age 45 I had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in my left knee. As part of my recovery I worked with a professional trainer to help me get my strength back. Working with the trainer I suddenly realized that if this person could help me recover from an injury, just imagine what she could do if I was healthy. Tracy and I now consult regularly with a trainer to help us meet our, often crazy, goals. We haven’t found our limit yet.
We cross train to prepare for our trips. To move the tandem, we need to be strong. The total weight of the bike, our gear, and ourselves is approximately 400 pounds. To build our strength we weight train. We normally spend 6-8 hours a day in the saddle, a typical work day. To build our endurance we train aerobically. We bicycle, of course, but we also walk, run, and use various pieces of aerobic equipment at the gym, especially in the depths of winter. Finally, we work on our balance and flexibility to make ourselves more efficient on the bike and to help prevent injury. We can’t completely simulate the challenges of riding a fully-loaded tandem 75 miles a day, 6 days per week (on average) in all kinds of weather and terrain, but by mixing up our training methods, we can give ourselves a good start.
In a typical week we stretch, weight lift, run, bike, and yes, even rest.
We spend about 6 months training for a cross-country bicycle tour. Early in our training we emphasize stretching and strength, stretching most days, lifting three days a week and doing aerobics two days a week. Our weekly workout time is about eight hours. By the middle of the training cycle we are about evenly split between strength and aerobic training and work at it about 16 hours per week. At the end or our training, we are bicycling six days a week and lifting two for a total workout time of approximately 24 hours. (Love our Saranac bicycling and weight lifting gloves.) It is a huge commitment but well worth it, for us.
Training for the pain
Someone told me once that by the time you can run 13 miles in training for a marathon, you probably have the endurance you need to complete a full marathon. The rest of the training is mostly to teach your body and mind to deal with the pain. By the end of our training for a long bicycle trip, Tracy and I don’t feel pain the same way casual bicyclists do. Thank goodness.
It can be hard to fit all of this training in. One trick we have learned is to incorporate our training into our daily lives. We seldom drive our cars if we don’t have to, instead we walk to the convenience store (1.6 miles, 30 minutes), run to the post office (2.4 miles, 22 minutes), or bike to Badger State Brewing Company (6.6 miles, 40 minutes) for a beer. Give it a try.
Tracy’s injury recovery
On July 1 of this year Tracy was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. Not her fault. She had a concussion, whiplash, bruising to her right leg and back, and a torn meniscus in her left knee, which required surgery on August 13. (Thank goodness for her Road iD and Pinkert Law Firm.) Needless to say, Tracy’s training looks a little different for this trip than in past years. From the middle of August through the end of December, Tracy was limited to physical therapy exercises for her knee, some easy exercise bicycling, and limited upper body weight training. She is now cleared to resume all normal activities, except running. Because of Tracy’s injury, athletic abilities, and the rigors of our “normal” training, her surgeon has been very cautious with her recovery. The goal is to have her back to bicycling at 100 percent by mid-May. Because of her running limitation, Tracy is using our gyms aerobic equipment and walking more. Fortunately, bicycling is the number one recovery exercise for Tracy’s type of injury. She should be good.
Safety tip: Always walk and run facing traffic and bicycle with traffic when on the road. It’s safer, it’s courteous, and it’s the law!
All of this training and the tour itself burn lots of calories and require extreme nutrition to meet the extreme demands. I typically burn between 5,000 and 7,000 calories a day during a bicycle tour. To find out how we meet these challenges watch for our next blog.
Please follow us
We will be posting regularly to our social media channels leading up to our trip and during the trip itself. Like and follow us for the latest updates.
We couldn’t do this without the support of our partners. Thank you for investing in us and our cause.
Tracy and I are going for another “little” bicycle ride and we hope you will follow along.
In 2019 we will be riding our tandem bicycle (“Violet”), unsupported, across the country as before, but this time there will be some twists. First, we intend to ride way more miles, approximately 7,000 over five months. Our route will take us from Washington State in June east across the middle of the country to the eastern seaboard where we will ride from Massachusetts to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, ending in New Orleans, Louisiana in late October. This will be our longest trip yet and will cover our final 21 states in the lower 48!
Riding for a cause
The second twist is that we will be riding for a cause, “bicycle safety.” We will be sharing our daily adventures on social media as before, but we will also be sharing safe bicycling and driving tips. Finally, we will be encouraging our followers to support local, state and national non-profit bicycle safety organizations. Motorists and bicyclists, we can all do a better job!
Why bicycle safety?
Tracy and I have dedicated our personal and professional lives to promoting safe and enjoyable bicycling for the past twenty-five years, so this just kind of makes sense. Our company, (WE BIKE, etc., LLC) specializes in the areas of Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and Encouragement for walking, bicycling and healthy communities. But, there’s an even more personal reason as well.
Tracy’s bicycle crash
On July 1 of this year Tracy was hit by a car while bicycling, just three miles from our home. Tracy had the right of way, but the motorist ran a stop sign. This was her first crash in over 100,000 miles of riding, including three, unsupported, cross-country trips. Tracy who was wearing a helmet, bright yellow vest and gloves, sustained a concussion, whiplash, bruising to her right leg and back, and a torn meniscus in her left knee, which required surgery on August 13. When the motorist got out of her car to check on Tracy she said, “I didn’t see you.” Really? Tracy has been doing a lot of physical therapy and was finally cleared to start bicycling again on September 28 (my birthday). She is getting stronger every day and is expected to make a full recovery (minus a bit of meniscus). She was really quite lucky!
Not our first rodeo
This is not our first major bicycle ride on the tandem. In fact, it is becoming kind of a thing for us. Our first cross-country bicycle trip was along the Northern Tier of the USA in 2014. That trip started in Bellingham, WA and ended in Bar Harbor, ME 4,362 miles and 72 days later. In 2015 we rode the entire length of the Mississippi River, and then some, 3,052-mile, and in 2016 we bicycled Historic Route 66, (Green Bay, WI – Chicago, IL – Santa Monica, CA), 2,603 miles.
We’ve written a book
We took 2017 off from extended bicycle touring but we wrote a book. “Coast to Coast on a Tandem: Our Adventure Crossing the USA on a Bicycle Built for Two” chronicles our 2014 trip across the Northern Tier of the USA.
“In many respects, Tracy and Peter Flucke are like many other active couples. They work a business together, they enjoy long-distance bicycling for exercise and fun, and their shared interests play a key role in building a strong and loving family. What sets them apart is the length to which they will go in the name of scratching their adventuresome itch – 4,362 miles to be exact.”
“Coast to Coast on a Tandem”
This book, written from both of our perspectives, and based on our actual trip blog and Facebook posts, will give you a good feel for what we will be up against, both physically and personally, during our upcoming adventure. The book is available through WEBIKE.org and Amazon.com.
Please follow us
Starting today we will be posting regularly to our social media channels about our next trip. Leading up to the trip we will talk about Tracy’s recovery, training, nutrition, route planning, equipment, our partners, and the multitude of other things that go into making this a reality. During the trip we will do our level best to make you feel as though you are right there with us and to give you opportunities to interact with us directly. Have a question? Ask. There are no bad questions and we appreciate the company. It can get lonely out there. Please Like and follow us for the latest updates.
We couldn’t do this without the support of our partners. Thank you for investing in us and our cause.
We will be highlighting each of our partners in later blogs.
We hope you enjoy the ride!
August 16, 2016
We returned home on July 29th after an enjoyable two day train ride on Amtrak. We arrived in Milwaukee, WI on July 28th and were greeted by Tracy’s mom and dad at the train station. Unfortunately our bicycle did not make the journey from Chicago, IL to Milwaukee, WI so we stayed overnight in Milwaukee at mom and dad’s house. The next day we picked up our bicycle at the train station and headed back to Green Bay.
We finally made it home and our daughter Melissa and two cats were waiting for us – it was a nice welcome home!!
We wanted to thank everyone for following our trip on the blog and Facebook. We also appreciate all the messages and good wishes sent. They kept the loneliness away and also kept us going.
Special thanks goes out to all our sponsors. Our trip would not be possible without their support. Please consider them if you are looking for a new partner!!
Badger State Brewing Company – provider of our favorite cold beverages and a great dose of culture http://badgerstatebrewing.com/
Woodman Financial Resources – our financial adviser http://woodmenfinancial.org
Bellin Health – our fitness club and trainers http://www.bellinfitness.com/
J B Cycle & Sport – our bicycle shop who keeps the tandem in great shape http://www.jbcyclesport.com/
OSGB – Orthodontic Specialists Green Bay – our orthodontist who gave us our smiles http://www.osgb.com/
Brodhagen Dental Care – our dentist who keeps our teeth healthy http://www.brodhagendentalcare.com/index.htm
Baycare Clinic, LLP – supporting safety, bicycling and us https://www.baycare.net/
Verizon Wireless – provider of our communication gadgets http://vzwmidwestarea.com/
From the Finish Line – provider of live tracking device http://www.fromthefinishline.com/en/events/we-bike-etc-route-66-adventure
Finally, we will be doing a presentation on our Route 66 Adventure on Thursday, November 17th at the Badger State Brewing Company – 990 Tony Canadeo Run. The presentation will start at 6:30 pm in the Barrel Haus (their beautiful new reception hall). Mark your calendar and plan to join us for a fun night of bikes and beer!! More details to come.
Day 49 July 21st Arcadia, CA – Santa Monica, CA Miles 39 Total Miles – 2,603
Weather: 90 degrees, sunny, light wind
We were excited to get going this morning because we knew we would complete our bicycle ride today. Although we only bicycled 39 miles it was all urban riding with lots of traffic to share the road with. The drivers were good but it still was a challenge and you really had to pay attention.
We took a slight side trip to the Walk of Fame and had a chance to see many of the stars along this famous roadway. Unfortunately there were also thousands of others looking at the same stars and it was difficult to get thru with a fully loaded tandem. We didn’t stay long and soon were on the road again.
Unfortunately a couple of miles later Tracy said the back tire feels weird, so we stopped to checks it out. Yes, the sidewall on the tire was failing and we needed to stop and put a new tire on. So about 7 miles from our end point we were fixing our tire, right next to a Starbucks store!!
On the road again and a great ride thru Beverly Hills, amazing homes in this area. We then dropped down to Sunset Boulevard, Broadway and Ocean for our final push to Santa Monica. The ride down Broadway was very nice with a bicycle lane and slower moving traffic.
We finally hit the end at the Santa Monica Pier – YEA!! We were very excited and enjoyed the limited time we had on the pier. Between the traffic and tire repair we got to the end much later than planned and our ride was to arrive between 2:00 and 3:00pm. So we had 45 minutes to explore and get our pictures.
A childhood friend of Tracy’s – Rick was picking us up and taking us to his place to spend a couple of days. Rick lives in Riverside about 90 miles from Santa Monica and was in Santa Monica for work and agreed to pick us up and save us a 90 miles ride back to his house – YEA Rick!!
We are glad to be done with the trip but enjoyed meeting all the people and seeing some amazing sites. We will take Amtrak back on Tuesday and arrive back in Green Bay the evening of July 28th.
Thanks for following our blog, we hope you enjoyed it. Plans are to do a presentation on this trip at Badger State Brewery in the next couple of months – watch for more information in the future.
Day 48 July 20th San Bernardino, CA to Arcadia, CA 50 miles Total Miles 2, 564
Weather: Warm 98 degrees, sunny and slight head wind
We woke up today in California – YEA!! Our first task was to return the U Haul to the closest rental agency, so we packed up our bags and put them and the bicycle back in the U Haul for our approximately 3 mile drive to the return site. Once there we pulled everything back out of the truck, checked the truck back in and headed west on our bicycle.
After the first eight miles on the road we arrived at the Pacific Electric Bike Trail and were in for a great 18 mile ride on one of the best trails we have ever been on. The trail took us thru cities, orange orchards, rose gardens, residential and commercial/industrial areas. It was very well designed with many intersection crossings, some with priority push button signals across smaller roads and the crossing of major roads with the route taking you to the closest controlled intersection. It was interesting they even had separate push buttons at the intersections for walkers, bicyclist and even horse back riders( their buttons were up high so they could reach them from horseback).
After we got off the trail we were traveling on city roads with great bicycle accommodations. Many of the roads had bicycle lanes so we had lots of space to travel along the busier roads. California does a nice job of building their roads for all users – it is really nice to see.
We have started to see lots of Palm Trees and Joshua Trees, it is fun to see different types of trees and flowers.
Tomorrow we will complete our trip with about thirty miles to go to Santa Monica. We have enjoyed the trip but it has been a lot of work so we will be glad to get done.
Special thanks to Verizon Wireless for providing devices to us, in many situations we would not have been able to put up our blog posts without the Jet Pack. It also allows us to put up all the videos and pictures for you to view.
Day 47 July 19th Peach Springs, AZ to Kingman, AZ 59 miles Total Miles – 2,514
Weather: Partly sunny, 65 degrees in morning to 95 late morning, slight headwind
Kingman, AZ – San Bernardino, CA Traveled by U Haul – Total Miles – 277
We got up really early 4:15am, had breakfast and were on the road by 6:00am. Most of our trip was downhill and the wind was a tailwind early. One of our stops along the route was at a fun Route 66 convenience store in Hackberry, AZ. The store had tons of Route 66 memorabilia and it was fun to check it all out. They even had a very friendly cat that Tracy enjoyed playing with. After our stop we cruised right along and got to Kingman by 11:00am.
When we were on the edge of town we saw a touring bicyclists ahead of us and eventually caught up with him. He was from Germany and started his trip in New York and was heading to Las Vegas and then up to San Fransico. He had been on the road since April 1st. He said he was having fun but was getting sick of the constant headwinds. We agreed!! We wished him luck and continued on our way.
We got to the U Haul rental place early and they had the truck all ready for us. So we changed clothes, loaded the bicycle and our bags into the back and took off towards California. As we were crossing the desert we were very glad we were driving thru rather than bicycling. It was 110 degrees in Needles, CA and did not drop below 100 all the way across the desert. The route would have been difficult also – in one section we would have been on a very busy Interstate 15 that was under construction and had made no provisions for bicyclist to get thru safely.
We got into San Bernardino, CA about 5:30pm, we were tried, hungry and grumpy – not a good combination. But after a shower and dinner we felt a whole lot better!! Tomorrow we return the U Haul and then we will once again continue on the bicycle towards Santa Monica.
Day 46 July 18th Williams, AZ to Peach Springs, AZ (Grand Canyon Caverns/RV Park) 69 miles Total Miles – 2,455
Weather: Partly cloudy, cool, 80 degrees, soaking rain late in day
This morning we had a few things to take care of before we took off. Peter went to the post office to mail a package home (yes more beer glasses) and Tracy was working on getting us a car rental from Kingman AZ to San Bernardino, CA. We have decided to drive across the desert after talking with local bicyclists, checking our maps and the local weather forecast.
This time of year the temperatures are well into the 100’s and we will not have services(water and food sources)in sections for over 60 miles – that is just too far in those conditions and we don’t believe we would be safe. So we have been trying to rent a car – not an easy task. We finally had to resort to renting a U Haul Truck – they just do not have any one way rentals from Kingman, AZ.
We finally got on the bike at about 9:00am and started our downhill ride to the Grand Canyon Caverns/RV Park near Peach Springs, AZ. Right outside of Williams we got on I – 40 and started a 13 mile downhill ride to Ash Forks. It was a great ride with beautiful views as we buzzed by. We got to Ash Forks in about 40 minutes – we were averaging about 30 miles per hour on the downhill.
Outside of Ash Forks we got off I – 40 and back on Route 66 – evidently this section of Route 66 is the longest continuous section thru the whole corridor. It was a nice ride with lots to see, including the rain clouds surrounding us. Luckily the rain held off for quite a while but after our break in Seligman it started to rain a bit – which actually felt good it was getting a bit warm again.
Unfortunately about 10 miles down the road the rain came down in buckets – we got soaked. We had seven miles to go to get to the Grand Canyon Caverns and were hanging out at the convenience store warming up and deciding if we should bicycle the mile up to the campground or stay at the Caverns Hotel. We decided on the hotel because we were soaked and Peter was feeling a bit under the weather. It was a good choice and allowed us to warm up and take care of some other logistical items.
Day 43 July 15th Flagstaff, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ 0 Miles. Total Miles – 2,353
Weather: Sunny, 90 degrees, slight wind
Today was a day off in Flagstaff. Our friend Greg picked us up at the hostel at 9:00am and we were off for a day of fun and adventure. Greg took us on a beautiful drive thru the Oak Creek Canyon, beautiful. Also very steep Peter and I were glad we were not on the bicycle. The ride took us thru Sedona, AZ which is a very cool town with lots to see and do.
After driving thru the canyon we stopped at Red Rock Canyon and climbed Cathedral Rock. It was quite the climb with beautiful views along the way and at the top. After the climb we went to the river that flowed thru the canyon and played in the swimming hole and stream. The cold water felt great and we could see the climb we made from the stream.
We then stopped at a local winery for lunch. It was a great day and we enjoyed spending it with Greg. That evening we went out to dinner with Greg and his friends Danielle and Phillip. We met at a local brewery and had dinner there. It was fun to meet some of Greg’s friends and learn more about Flagstaff. We really enjoyed our day off the bike and seeing more of Arizona.
Day 44 July 16th Flagstaff, AZ to Williams, AZ. 33 miles Total Miles – 2,386
Weather: Sunny, warm – 90 degrees and slight head wind
Today we had a short ride to our next destination only 33 miles, so we got up a bit later than normal and were on the road by 8:00am. Our ride was also pretty much downhill – YEA!! We traveled on I – 40 for the first part of the trip to the city of Parks, AZ. Parks is a nice little city with lots going on. They have a small campground right across the street from the gas station, post office/convenience store and had a rummage sale going on at the campground. It was a busy place for a town of 1,100 people. They even had a Little Library in the gas station/convenience store. Tracy was excited because she needed a new book and was able to find a good one there.
After leaving Parks we rode on Old Route 66 which had recently been repaved. The road was in great shape and had a nice wide shoulder on it. This part of the ride was thru a heavily wooded area. It was nice to see some trees again, we really enjoyed the shade and wind block!! We followed Route 66 into Williams which is a really cool town with lots to see and do.
We got in early so Tracy had a chance to wander around town and check out all the shops – she really enjoyed that. Peter sat on a bench near the hostel and watched the world go by – each of them enjoyed their afternoon. Around 2:00pm we were able to check into our hostel. It is a really nice place – Grand Canyon Hotel – each room is unique and special. The owners are very nice and willing to help out in any way. We have found we really enjoy the smaller non chain hotels and hostels.
Day 45 July 17th Day off in Williams, AZ 0 miles. Total Miles – 2,386
Weather: Beautiful, 85 degrees, partly cloudy
Today we took the Grand Canyon Railway up to the Grand Canyon. Our train left at 9:30am and arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon 2.5 hours later. It was a fun ride in a Pullman Car with real cowboys putting on a show before we got on the train, holding up the train and musicians playing and singing on the train.
The train ride was fun but Grand Canyon was amazing. It is an unbelievable site that everyone has to see, words can not describe the vastness and beauty of this area. We had about three hours to explore the park which was really just enough to get an overview of this amazing place.
We were surprised at how well the park could handle all the people, it did not seem crowded at all and you certainly could do whatever you wanted without having to wait. All to soon we needed to make our way back to the train for the 2.5 hour ride back to Williams. The ride went fast and before we knew it we were back in Williams.
After returning we wondered over to the grocery store to pick up supplies and something for dinner and breakfast the next morning. As we were heading back to our Hostel, Peter said that guy in the cross walk looks just like Randy Johnson. Tracy said that is Randy and Julie and their granddaughter, they are our neighbors from Green Bay. What a small world, it was so great to see them and talk for a while. They are on a two week vacation and were traveling across the United States as well. Peter and I have been feeling kind of lonely lately and it was very nice to see someone from home!!
Tomorrow we head to Grand Canyon Caverns a campground near Peach Springs, AZ. Again we will be heading downhill the whole day – YEA!!
Day 42 July 14th Winslow, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ 63 miles Total Miles: 2,353
Weather: Sunny, upper 80’s slight headwind
Sun rise was at 5:09am and breakfast (coffee and tea) was available starting at 5:00am, so we got up way too early got our tea and coffee and supplemented it with our oatmeal and dried fruit. We were on the bicycle and heading out of Winslow by 6:00am.
Again today the heat and wind was to go up about noon. We had a climb to Flagstaff of over 2,000 Ft. Thank goodness the bulk of our ride was on I- 40 so the uphill was pretty gentle and steady. After 40 miles on I- 40 we got off at the City of Winona and then began the last twenty mile climb to Flagstaff. The climb was not too bad but definitely steeper than the climb on I-40, we were bicycling on Old Route 60/ Townsend-Winona Rd. Luckily they had just repaved a huge piece of the road and it was a pleasure to ride on. We had a nice wide/clean shoulder to use. Enjoy the video of the newly paved road.
We reached the outskirts of Flagstaff and our maps said Hwy 89 was not fun to ride too much traffic and no bicycle facilities. We were pleased to find a bicycle lane on the road when we turned the corner and had no problem riding the last 8 miles to the historic downtown area of Flagstaff. We are staying at a Hostel tonight – Motel Du Beau. It is a great place right in the middle of the downtown area and within walking distance of just about everything you need. Imagine this there are even three micro breweries within walking distance of the Hostel – Peter is in heaven!!
We are taking the day off tomorrow and our friend Greg who lives in Phoenix will be picking us up in the morning. Greg used to work at J B Cycle and Sport in Howard and Peter and him used to bicycle together. He is an amazing bicyclist and routinely kicked Peter’s butt. He will be our tour guide for the day. It sounds like he is taking us hiking and out to lunch. It will be great to see him again it has been years, we are looking forward to a day off the bicycle and a chance to catch up with an old friend.
Day 40 July 12th Chambers, AZ to Holbrook, AZ 72 miles Total Miles: 2,251
Weather: Sunny, warm 89 degrees, nasty headwind 24 mph for last 20 miles
We got up early so we could try to beat the heat and wind a bit. The first 23 miles of our ride was on I-40 and it was down hill until the last five miles going into Petrified Forest National Park. Once in the park we traveled 28 miles from the north park entrance to the south entrance. The road was in great shape and there were very few cars and the ones that were on the road were moving very slowly.
Our first stop was the visitor’s center to get a map and the scoop on what to see. After a snack we were on our way to explore the park. We did drive byes of several Painted Desert Overlooks. Unbelievable beautiful colors weaving thru the rocks. Our first stop was the Painted Desert Inn, a restored trading post, turned inn, turned museum and National Historic Landmark.
Puerco Pueblo was our first hiking stop. We walked the fairly short trail to see some petroglyphs and pueblos. It was very interesting and something Tracy had never scene before. We stopped and talked with a volunteer working at one of the building and she got so excited when she saw Peter’s Packer hat – she is a hard core Packer fan from Arizona.
Our next stop was Crystal Forest which was really cool. It is an area of the park that has thousands of pieces of petrified wood just laying around. The petrified logs glimmer with quartz crystals along the trail. Our final stop was the Rainbow Forest Museum and visitor center. The Giant Logs Trail was also located here – we did not hike it but just looked it over from the visitor’s center.
We took a short break at the Rainbow Forest Museum and were sitting by our bicycle relaxing when two young ladies and a young man from Arizona stopped to ask about our trip. They were very interested and asked lots of questions, I think we talked with them for about a half hour. They were very nice and we enjoyed talking with them and learning more about Arizona. We gave them a business card and suggested they check out our social media and also told them to send us a message, they said they would.
We then wandered over to the visitors center to fill up our water bottles and hit the bathroom before we left. Upon our return to the bicycle there were four women sitting on the bench near the bicycle and we talked with them about our trip. They were also traveling Route 66 but by car. They were quite the ladies and were obviously having a great time exploring together. We had to ask them to get up to get our bicycle out. They stood right up and said they certainly did not want to hold up our trip. We talked a bit more and then headed towards Holbrook for the last 20 miles of our ride.
Our ride to Holbrook was tough because again the west wind had kicked up and we had a 24 mph headwind to battle – no fun at all. At least we were going downhill primarily. About half way thru the ride we both were “I am so done with this”, when we experienced a much needed random act of kindness. We had our heads down and were just working on finishing up, when Tracy looked left and saw a van right next to us with a woman holding out two ice cold bottles of water and asking if we wanted them. Tracy asked Peter and he said absolutely so we stopped and took the water. It was so great, here was a young couple with two small children teaching them how simple it is to help people out. We were excited about the cold water and it helped the rest of the trip go much better!!
We made it to Holbrook about 45 minutes later and got settled in Wigwam number 16 at the Wigwam Hotel. The Wigwam Hotel is a Historic Landmark on Route 66 and has antique cars parked outside the wigwams. Very fun to stay in and it had everything we needed.
Day 41 July 13th Holbrook, AZ to Winslow AZ 39 miles Total Miles: 2,290
Weather: Sunny, low 80 early in day, 100 degrees by noon, slight tailwind early to headwind after noon
We woke up in our wigwam early to get our miles done before the temperature and wind all rise!! We were on the road by 7:00am. The first 20 miles were on smaller county roads to Joseph City. As we were traveling towards Joseph City a car came up to us as we were taking a break, they were going really slow. We were wondering what was up and then they pulled along side us and it was the four women we met at the park yesterday. They were taking a side trip to see a cool bridge they heard about. It was fun to see them again and they told us they saw us heading out of Holbrook that morning while eating breakfast at a local restaurant. This time we gave them our card and told them to follow our trip and send us messages – they said they would!!
Joseph City was suppose to have a convenience store and restaurant but not anymore. They evidently are closing the power plant located near Joseph City and many people in town have lost their jobs and the businesses have also closed up because the people are gone. Luckily a local volunteer fire fighter had just arrived at the fire station we were bicycling past and was kind enough to fill our water bottles for us.
From Joseph City we traveled on a frontage road to I – 40. The road was in bad shape and was bouncing us everywhere, but we just slowed down and eventually it got a bit better. The good thing about being on the frontage road was we got to visit the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. We had been seeing signs for it for miles and miles. As we were pulling in a gentleman was standing on the side of the road video taping us as we pedaled up. He was from Indiana and was in Arizona with a youth church group to do some volunteer work at a local Native American group home. He also is a bicyclist and had lots of questions for us, which we dutifully answered. The gentleman explained the children in the group home were up to age 18 and how incredible they are when you hear the terrible situations they have been taken away from. Hopefully this situation will help them to lead a successful life in the future.
We then got back on I- 40 and followed that into Winslow. We got in nice and early and were able to get into our hotel room at La Posada Hotel, Restaurant, Museum and Gardens. The hotel was designed by Mary Colter who was hired by the Harvey Company. The timing of the opening of this amazing building could not have been worse – 1930 right at the start of the Great Depression, the building never prospered and closed to the public in 1957. In 1961 the property was gutted and transformed into offices for the Santa Fe Railroad. (The tracks are right behind the building and it also serves as an Amtrak Depot). In 1993 the railroad was going to dispose of La Posada but luckily in 1994 the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the property on its endangered list. Then came Allan Affeldt who purchased the property and has renovated it. It is an amazing property and has several unique hotel rooms. If you are ever in Winslow, AZ definitely stop and check it out and better yet spend the night.
We of course had to stop at the corner in Winslow dedicated to the Eagles top hit “Take It Easy”. The corner has a bronze statue of a man leaning against a lamp post with a guitar in his hand with the words “Standing on the Corner” on a sign above his head, on a window sill in the background is a stuffed eagle and a picture of a blonde in a red flat bed truck. If you have not heard the song it is a good one and they say it helped put Winslow, AZ on the map!!