Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Biking from Quartzite (almost) to Lake Havasu City Feb 27

63.79 miles in 3:54....Did anyone notice that I averaged 16.3 mph for almost four hours, something that I don't normally do? I was just bragging to myself the other day about averaging 15 mph! As you might guess, a tailwind, a major tailwind, as well as a 35 mile gradual descent, was responsible for the demonic leg speed. The weather was gorgeous, but a weather front, with potential desert rain, is beginning to move in, which will also drop temps into the 60s for the weekend, hence the wind. Since we are camping south of Quartzsite, my first six miles were on the same US 95 that I rode from Yuma. Then, as I crossed Interstate 10 in Quartzsite, US 95 disappeared, and I was riding on AZ 95, without ever making a turn! Most people might not notice this subtle detail, but it bugged me. With a little research later that night, I discovered that US 95 turned west on I-10, then it goes north in California. AZ 95 goes north to Lake Havasu City. I guess it's only important if it makes a difference what side of the Colorado River you want to be on, because there are NO bridges, only a ferry in Lake Havasu City. Anyhow, I was on the correct side of the river, but when US95 turned to AZ 95, it became a death trap for bicyclists. As I left the Greater Quartzite Area, AZ 95 lost any semblance of a shoulder, and truck traffic, presumably from I-10 was heavy. The only thing heavier than the truck traffic was the RV traffic, as there must be a million RVs around here, both in Quartzite and the greater Lake Havasu area. Not only that, all the Canadian snow birds are beginning to roll back towards the north already! This combination made this ride as potentially deadly as any road I've ridden on. I know I've said that before, but it ranks right up there. Thank God that there were very few hill crests or turns, just straight desert for as far as you could see. Other death traps I've ridden on were curves with blind spots. This one was just packed with caravans of big vehicles with crazy cars passing at high rates of speed in both directions at the same time, which to me means there were four lanes of traffic on two lanes of roads. Think about that! Many RV ers drive a little slower, which is conducive to caravaning and impatience. All this combined with no shoulder in many areas was BAD. I was practically brushed by vehicles at least a half a dozen times, but once I got out there, it would have been the same deal if I turned back, so on I went. I rode 35 miles, continuing a descent to the Colorado River Valley, that started at the Stone Cabin I spoke of a couple of days ago, halfway between Yuma and Quartzite. As I was dropping into the town of Parker, which is on the CRIT (Colorado River Indian Tribes) Reservation, AZ intersected with AZ 72, and traffic increased as the road began to rise and fall, as well as curve and swerve. Holy S%#T! My best advise to any bikers is: DO NOT RIDE AZ 95 FROM QUARTZSITE to PARKER, at least this time of year! Now, US  95, I don't know about. That's the difference between US95 and AZ 95. It could be a matter of life and death.
I did have a few moments to notice the desert on my ride. The cactus practically disappeared, especially the saguaro and teddy bear cactus that were so obvious south of Quartzsite, and the dark, volcanic rock and generally rocky surface south of Quartzsite turned more sandy and dirty, therefore more prone to dust storms in my very small experience in this area. Creosote bushes and dead or dormant brown grasses showed up. The flowers that followed me along US95 disappeared on AZ 95. Once I got to Parker, things changed dramatically, as far as road conditions and topography. Parker is a beautiful city, where AZ 95 meets and follows the Colorado River. The water is a beautiful greenish blue, and RV resorts line the shoreline. A casino, where Kenny Rogers is scheduled to appear on March 22 is property of the CRIT tribes whose reservation the town resides on. I rode a two or three mile stretch along the river called ingeniously, Riverside Drive, instead of AZ 95 through a business district. North of Parker, the RV resorts with palm trees and boat docks continue, and a couple of fertilized, green golf courses appear, with fairways both on the flat river valley and in the brown, stark mountains that rise from the river.  The ascent out of the Colorado River Valley begins just north of town, and after 41 miles of gradual descent AZ 95 begins to ascend. Mountains pop up, and the colors that define Sonora, the Grand Canyon and northern Arizona begin to take hold. The road is very wide in town, and the shoulder between Parker and Lake Havasu City is at least four foot wide all the way. 'Share the road' signs show up, and the entire trip becomes worthwhile and beautiful. Fifteen miles north of Parker is the Parker Dam, a smaller version of the Hoover Dam, which is a power plant, flood control, and recreational in nature. It forms Lake Havasu and filled canyons form wildlife refuges that branch out from the main body of water. Once I was about halfway between Parker and Lake Havasu City, Pam came by in the Jeep, and I ended my ride so we had some time to do some things in Lake Havasu City. The last fifteen miles of the ride would have been along a mesa, with the Colorado River and the state of California with jagged mountain peaks to my left, and Arizona mountains of red and brown to my right.
When we got to Lake Havasu City, we found a thriving, growing town, with the centerpiece being the London Bridge. I had heard the London Bridge was now in Arizona, but I didn't know the entire story. The guy who designed Disneyland, also designed Lake Havasu City, and bought, transported, and rebuilt the bridge across a channel built for a tourist area around the bridge. The first London bridge was torn down in London (a long, long time ago), and the one that is here is the second one. It was sold by the city of London, because it was sinking, due to twentieth century traffic weights. The light posts on the bridge in Arizona are made from the melted down cannons of Napoleon Bonaparte's army. A small island receives the bridge from the mainland of Arizona, and it contains a sandy beach and recreational area. A ferry departs the island and carries passengers to the California side of the sizable Lake Havasu, and to a casino that was somewhere out there. The area also contains 1/3 size replicas of 32 lighthouses from all over the US. Unfortunately, none are from the Outer Banks. The town wasn't incorporated until 1978, so it's a pretty new place. Pam and I strolled the area, walked across the bridge, and headed toward home before dark. We stopped in Parker and ate at a little restaurant that I had seen on my ride.

Headed north thru Quartzsite, notice the camels on the sign

Boondockers everywhere!

Hopi, Navajo, Mojave and Chemehuevi make up the Colorado River Indian Tribes
Railroad tracks in the middle of desert

33 car train

Mike caught the train in Parker and had to wait for it to pass

The Colorado River

Golf courses dotted the desert in Parker

Heading into Red Rocks and mountains north of Parker, AZ

RV resort along the river (not ours!)

Rock formations along the way

Parker Dam

Parker Dam

Water level at Parker Dam was full

Parker Dam

Lake Havasu

Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge along the river

Approaching the London Bridge, fountain and other landmarks

London Bridge is now in Lake Havasu

About purchasing the London Bridge from London

A channel was created so the London Bridge could span it!  This is the channel and the walkway on the island.

Panoramic view of the channel

The London Bridge (in Arizona!)

Looking at the bridge from the walkway

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