GLOBE, Ariz. — Finally, the weather has moderated.
We have been climbing through the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix the past two days. On Tuesday, the toughest part of a 58-mile ride — Gonzales Pass (2,651 feet) — came near the end of the route when the temperature was more than 100 degrees. I was toast when I finished.
So I dreaded Wednesday’s ride, which included a much harder climb over Signal Mountain Pass at 4,829 feet. But the weather gods smiled on us overnight. Clouds had moved in and morning temperatures had dropped into the mid-70s. A few drops of rain fell as we were breaking camp in Superior, Ariz., for the start of a short day — only 26 miles to Globe.
The hardest part of the route was navigating through road construction near the summit. The Arizona Department of Transportation was repaving one side of U.S. 60, so only one lane was available for traffic. Workers with stop signs halted traffic in one direction for 15 to 30 minutes at a time to allow traffic from the opposite direction to pass through. Once our eastbound traffic was allowed through, the trick was to stay on or as close to the shoulder as possible as cars, pickups and 18-wheelers whizzed past.
Arizona highway planners seem fond of rumble strips, those rough ribbons of pavement between the highway and the shoulder. They may save lives by alerting motorists that they're veering off the road. But they're a menace to cyclists. It got a bit hairy at times on the steep descent from Signal Mountain Pass, trying to thread a fully loaded touring bicycle along a path about a foot and a half wide to stay between the rumble strips and the outer edge of the shoulder.
But we all made it into camp, which on Wednesday night is the grounds of the Globe Community Center, a shaded swath of grass with the same westerly breeze that pushed us up the mountains.
Please note the photo of the roadside shrine. There’s an interesting tale about that shrine which I hope to tell in a later blog post.