We’re on the road again! (Forgive us Willie for our howling rendition of your signature song) Not by tandem bicycle, or sailboat, or Amazon riverboat, but our comfy motorhome, Turtle. We’ll be seeing America by the backroads, stopping at special places: our hometowns, places with memories like Greensburg, Kansas, and especially, places we’ve never been before.
We’ll follow a couple of minor themes all the way; fun times and bike rides, and also special Turtle boondocks; places we find to hide away, to eat and sleep and … Mostly they’re free, though we’ll pay a few bucks for a public fishing area, town park or forest service campground.
In the first week, we found two new bike rides of just over 50 miles; fun and challenging in very different ways:
The first ride was 51 miles in the beautiful White Mountains of north central Arizona, one of our favorite places to hang out when the temperatures in Tucson decide to stay in triple digits for a week at at time.
The triangle ride begins at the intersection of 260 and 273 near Eagar at a little over 7,000 feet in elevation. We headed west on 260 into a brisk wind and climbed to well over 8,000 feet, where at about 16 miles, we turned south east on 261. The recently paved road closes a triangle between Eager, Big Lake and 260. The new road is smooth with minimal traffic. It winds through high meadows, from about 8500 to over 9,000 feet, and crosses the upper reaches of the Little Colorado River. Even though the distance was moderate, we really felt the altitude on the hills.
At Big Lake the route turns left on 273 back to Eagar, through more rolling high meadows where we saw a few pronghorns. This area was at the edge of the giant Rodeo fire a couple of years ago, but the burned areas are patchy, and interesting against the seas of blonde grass, bright green aspens and cobalt sky.
The last few miles are a gloriously fast, serpentine descent that will test your nerves and sharpen your cornering skills.
This is a new ride for road bikes, and worth a trip. It would make a great road race. Nearby Eagar and Springerville have all the services, and there is great camping in the National Forest along ride.
The second ride we took was from Greensburg, Kansas (more in a future post), is an out and back. All rides in Kansas have one thing in common: wind. You either ride with the wind first, and suffer on the way back, or the reverse, which makes sense to us. The winds are so hard usually that I couldn’t imagine fighting a side wind both ways. I guess you cold do a square (there are only right angle roads in Kansas) but most of those would be 100 miles or more, and involve 50 miles of headwind. Someday.
We rode south from Greensburg into a moderate wind in the morning to the small town of Coldwater, loaded up on drinks and carbs, and returned in the early afternoon blown along by a stiffer breeze. That strategy was planned, and made for a fun ride through the low rolling wheat and corn fields. At times we were maintaining 22 miles per hour uphill. The scenery wasn’t exactly as spectacular as Arizona, there were as many oilwells as trees, and we only saw one red tail hawk. We could see Greensburg’s wind farm for 20 miles, breaking the rolling horizon.