The trip started out with about twelve miles of slow, rolling uphill, out of the Round Valley, which contained Springerville/Eager. I probably climbed to a peak of about 8500 feet, with snow in the shady areas along side the roads, and on the volcano mounds all around me. The fields and hills were all golden grasslands, with dormant grass being the only thing that will grow on the volcanic ash and rock that make up the area. Trees and shrubs will not grow in the ancient lava fields. After peaking and beginning the very gradual descent towards Show Low, Arizona, juniper trees and shrubs gradually became more abundant, and the rest of the trip was rolling grades through the Sitgreaves National Forest. The juniper trees gradually mixed with Ponderosa pines, which are huge, straight, tall trees, that sound quite noisy when the wind begins to blow. I usually know that I'm going to get a wind gust before it hits me when Ponderosas are around.
One of the highlights of my day was seeing a few prairie dogs in a field, near the road, early in my ride. Unfortunately, they would not pose for a picture. It was about 46 miles to Show Low, which was less than I wanted to do on such a nice day. Pam couldn't find a campground there, which surprised us, because its a pretty big town. I stopped at a convenience store in town, and had a hot dog and an ice cream bar to power the rest of my trip. The nutrition really didn't help on the gradual six mile climb out of the Show Low valley, and my legs really started to feel like pulled pork on the second half of the trip. There were times when I actually could test my legs on some mild climbs, without the immediate searing pain I experienced at the higher elevations of my previous couple of rides. I'm not sure if its being about 500-1000 ft lower, or about having four days to rest, but hopefully I'm getting acclimated. The temperature was dropping rapidly at about 6:15 when Pam came by in the Jeep, and I had about 13 miles to get to the campground that she found. I was happy to end my ride early, and get to warmth. The rest of the evening was spent watching TV, as the two idiots who bombed the Boston marathon were brought to justice, and news was still breaking.
|Oh great! More cross winds. Notice the snow up ahead|
|Heading down the highway|
|The snow is getting closer......|
|April 19 and here is snow!|
|The police were escorting this down the road (it took 2 lanes and part of the shoulder) and they told me to get off of the road until this passed. It is part of a giant dump truck!|
|Sculpture in downtown Show Low|