Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Casa Grande (Coolidge), AZ to Gila Bend AZ March 11

Cx 69.0 miles in 4:59.... I started out the day with a crazy notion to do 125 miles to Ajo, but wisely, Pam reeled me in with a campground in Gila (Heela) Bend with $13 for full hookups. Gila Bend was originally  going to be my lunch stop, before turning south for 45 or so more miles. It was wise for Pam to stop me, but I knew deep down that the longer distance would probably have put a hurting on me. I will get up and do that left over distance plus a little bit more tomorrow.  The trip today was backtracking, east to west, and I had a headwind, which wasn't terrible, but if I would have turned south, the SW wind would have smacked me some more. 115-125 would have looked good on my resume, but wisedom for the long haul prevailed. The crazy GPS chick told me that she could get me there in  96 miles, on ALL DIRT ROADS!!! What's wrong with that chick? I turned her off, fairly early in the ride.
I got started by 9AM, and the wind was already at a decent velocity. Fortunately, it didn't build, like most days, but actually back off some, I would say. Shortly after leaving, I hopped on AZ 287 for a 13 mile ride into the surprisingly large town of Casa Grande. 287 was nice with a decent shoulder, through unplanted cotton fields, underneath Interstate 10, and turned into a four lane all the way through town. Traffic was busy, and it spent a little bit of time on sidewalks, because there were no bike lanes. 
Once out of town, I was in scrub tree paradise until nearing the small town of Stanfield. With a headwind, the aroma told me that I was in cattle country....and sheep country. There were several of the huge cattle feeding farms that I've seen out here, about a square mile of black and white cattle, packed into feeding pens and ready to become McDonalds hamburgers and other beef that I love to eat, but this scenery is not very appetizing. There were also sheep farms and pallets of wool that they must give up before becoming lamb kabobs. All that fresh country air was stirred by rows and rows of waste know what that means. Trainloads of cow manure, in various stages  of production, for future sale and spreading. Mmm. Mmmm. 
After riding through a very small town of mostly abandoned buildings and a mobile taco stand, a gradual ascent began, and I climbed, ever so gradually, about 700 ft over 12 miles. I was still averaging about 13-14 mph, so the wind and gradual climb wasn't slowing me much. AZ 84, which I picked up in Casa Grande, then ended and merged right into Interstate 8, which runs from Tucson to San Diego. I climbed for a few miles, before beginning a gradual  30 mile descent, all the way to Gila Bend, which really helped with the headwind that was never anything like two days ago, but always there. I-8 traveled through the Sonoran Desert National Monument, almost 500,000 acres of saguaro cactus and desert environs. As I rode, there were constantly thousands of these tall cactus in view, that only grow in the Sonoran Desert. Traffic was very light, and the shoulder was amazingly clean for an interstate. At the end of the National Monument came Gila Bend. Pam was set up in our $13 camp sight, near a Shell station, and a Subway. I was there before 3:00, so we spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out, and I even went over to Subway for supper while Pam had leftover spaghetti  (she doesn't like Subway). And Oh Yeah, highlight of the day: I saw my first live scorpion on I-8 on the black shoulder. He showed up because he was brownish. I almost ran over him but he scooted out of the way pretty quickly. Scorpions are fast !

Cattle feed farms in Stanfield, AZ

Waiting for the hot dog that never came.......

Piles of cow manure!

Roping competition on a Tuesday afternoon along AZ84

This piece of desert is a park

Tens of thousands of Saguaro (pronounced Sa War O)cacti are in this National Monument

Bike taking a pee break

Makes you wonder who are the 5 old crabs??!

Our campground had all these metal statues

Mike riding the Gila Monster

And fighting the snakes!

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