Monday, March 1, 2010


Highway 93 south from Vegas may just be the most boring road in the world. Apart from passing over the Hoover Dam, which is just outside Vegas, the journey south was a long, straight, flat desert road. The days are getting longer. The cactus are getting bigger and many of the towns I'm passing are abandoned and given some of the craziest names. The town of Santa Claus,_Arizona with its boarded up windows , all covered in graffiti and children's swings still standing in back yards. Then there was the appropriately named Nothing,_Arizona . I didn't risk going in here as a sign outside warned 'KEEP OUT - BIOHAZARD'. I pedalled on down the road and before reaching Surprise , I passed Bagdad,_Arizona . Neither of these last two towns were abandoned, but in all I must have passed almost a dozen abandoned or close to abandoned towns during my time in America. There's something really chilling and eerie about seeing relatively new homes and business just boarded up and left for the desert to take.
But highway 93 eventually got me to Phoenix, Arizona. It took 6 days of pedalling so I was due a rest day. The lovely owner of the HI hostel here, Sue, was completely bonkers but in the best way possible. She enjoyed hearing tales of this long bike ride and as I checked out, she offered me free accommodation just to stay on. But I'm ready to leave America now. I'm excited about getting down to Mexico. America has been great, but as a cycle touring destination it lacks the excitement of what Europe and especially Asia has to offer.
Getting from Phoenix south to Tucson was going to be a bummer. I had 2 options;
1. Take the interstate highway which is a massive motorway that connects the 2 cities as the crow flies. Unfortunately bicycles are prohibited.
2. Take a big detour through the back roads of the Sonaran desert mountains.
I was making great headway on option Number 1. The long conveys of fast moving trucks acted as a great tailwind and I was flying along at 30+KMH. In fact I was half way to Tucson before the Sherriff arrived with flashing lights. Considering I was only in Arizona a week, he accepted I was unaware I was making a traffic violation. After a bit of a chat about Global Cycle Ride, this friendly officer decided to give me a police escort down the interstate for a few miles where I could make an exit and follow the railroad all the way to Tucson. This was great. I haven't had a police escort since Iran. As I pedalled down the Interstate freeway with the beacons flashing on the police car preceding me, I wondered what the passing traffic were thinking. Could they be witnessing the ultimate low-speed pursuit.

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