The Penultimate Day

Arizona is suppose to be such a bike riders state. A place with excellent riding. Rolling roads and nice weather. In ten days of travel we have seen a grand total of about 20 riders, ten of which I would categorize as commuters and 10 either people that ride for fitness or are training for one thing or another. I guess my expectation was a little high. The possibilities for riding here look good. Much more difficult than the flat lands from which we hail but I think if one were to spend a year here his/her climbing skills would improve greatly. They would have to, either that or give up riding. The hills here are long and the grades are relentless.

outside phoenixAnother day of travel, head back to the spot we started a week and a half ago. Often, in the past few posts, we have mentioned the changing terrain and scenery. Today holds a little of each of the types of land we crossed while traversing the highways of four states. We start in Holbrook, Arizona, the land is flat without much vegetation at all. Our route is another ‘scenic drive’ SW towards Phoenix. Not long after we start, we tip up and gain a lot of altitude, there is a forest of Ponderosa Pine trees for as far as you can see. Half way to our destination the tall evergreens morph into a very dense forest of short and bushy evergreens. Similar to Muego Pines but not. The landscape continues to change and very fast, we don’t even notice the transition, just that what we see is totally different. The evergreens give way to scrubby sage brush bushes and grasslands. The sage brush disappears and there is grass to the horizon. Out of nowhere Saguaro Cacti are the dominant feature, sage brush and grasses become the undergrowth. This is the desert as us nondesert dwellers think of as desert. And, we see more riders today, in one day, than we have total in the other nine.

outside phoenixAside from all the architectural sites, new and old, we visited, the landscape has been the most interesting to follow, but I think the folks in this area deserve a mention. They are most friendly and polite. It is not as if they greet you on the street, although some do, but if there is any occasion to engage a person they were helpful and very chatty. The store owners and in particular the art gallery employees greet us as we enter, even though we are not dressed as we might be if we were going to buy a $50,000 painting, and thank us for coming in as we leave.  It seems the clerks at the hotels and stores are truly interested in making us feel important, they are not gushy about it, it is just the way they approach their work. I never feel I am a tourist or a bother.

As with all places these days it is unlikely we will return, it is not because we do not like it here, in fact I think this is one of the nicer places to visit, it is just there are so many places we have not been and only a limited amount of time to go. In the mean time I will ride my bike on the flat lands of Alberta and pretend that I can climb the hills around here.

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