A Southbound Stride

Date: April 4th, 2017

From/To: Page, AZ/Flagstaff, AZ

Daily Mileage: 120 miles

Total Mileage: 2110 miles

Current Elevation: 6890 feet

Conditions: Sunshine, mide 50s and tailwinds!

You read it right, 120 miles on the saddle today! It’s a new record for me, retiring the previous 115 mile record from Tallahassee, FL to Panama City Beach, FL. I rode south from Page, AZ with the wind at my back, I had a newborn confidence once again. I knew most of the ride (aside from leaving Page and nearing Flagstaff) would be downhill or at the least level. The wind made the ride seem effortless at times.

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Todays trek from Page, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ.

Mom and I got up early to see Antelope Canyon. We had a tour scheduled for 8:10, then planned to see Horseshoe Bend as I made my way south out of Page. Those were the two reasons we went north to Page for a night, and one of them didn’t work out. We showed up for our tour only to find out the morning tours were canceled. I was devastated, this was one of the highlighted places I wanted to visit while I was out here. Long before this trip I saw a picture (shown below) in National Geographic and decided to make it a priority to see this place. We were told by the Native Americans that because it rained all day yesterday, risks were high for severe flooding inside the canyon where all the water flowing downhill concentrates (this is how Antelope Canyon formed in the first place). In the spring it’s not unusual that the Natives close down the canyon to protect tourist after a flash flood killed 12 hikers in 1997 (read more here). If there’s one thing we’ve been told by experienced travelers, it’s to listen to the Natives, they know this land better than anyone else. Mom and I decided that we didn’t want to wait out the potential flood threat because I already had a long day of riding ahead of me. I’ll be back in Phoenix this summer training for TFA so maybe I’ll make the trip to Antelope Canyon then. Natives say the summer time brings the best light exposure through the canyon anyway.

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A view inside Antelope Canyon taken off Google Images.

We then decided to make our way to Horseshoe Bend, a horseshoe-shaped incised meander of the Colorado River. The bend wraps a stunning 270 degrees in circular range and started cutting its course through the sandstone over 5 million years ago. Conceivably, at some time far in the future, the river could erode through the narrow neck of rock, creating a natural bridge and abandoning the circular channel around the rock. This could possibly happen but it wouldn’t occur any time shorter than a few million years. At the bend I met with a reporter from Page to interview about Ride4Parkinsons. He wrote down some notes for the local paper and told me he’d keep me updated on the release date. After the interview mom and I hiked 15 minutes to the edge of the bend, neither of us getting very close to it.

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A screenshot from some drone footage I captured flying over Horseshoe Bend. The winds were dicy but I decided it’d be worth the risk to capture this shot and it certainly was (stay tuned for the video!). There was one strong wind gust lasting at least 20 seconds that nearly knocked me off my feet. I was worried my drone was somewhere in the Colorado River after that but upon clicking “Return to Home” on the controller the Mavic Pro reappeared over my head high up in the sky. It’s an amazing product I have to admit. 

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After seeing Horseshoe Bend I set off for Flagstaff, a southbound trek with south winds carrying me the entire way. Not only was the ride scenic, I finally had some good weather on my side.

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A third of the way through my ride I pulled over to call into Kimberly & Beck on Radio 95.1 in Rochester, NY but the signal dropped as soon as I went on the air. I couldn’t believe the bad luck. I had good signal on my phone until the second I started speaking, then my bars dropped. I rescheduled the call for 5:30PM EST tomorrow (4/5/17), so if you’re in the Rochester area tune in if you’d like to listen! I continued along my route for the remainder the afternoon. Just before reaching Cameron, the halfway point of my ride, I felt an odd friction as I was riding along the road and looked down at my back tire… flat #3 of the trip.

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It didn’t take long to find the puncture.
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It took even less time to find it inside the tire.
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I’m not sure how I rode over this nail so perfectly, but I must’ve hit it just right to cause such a dramatic puncture. I’m lucky there wasn’t any more damage to the rim or tire.
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By this point mom had made it out to the scene. She decided to help the cause by documenting the tire change. I managed to change the tire in less than 10 minutes (it’s second nature by now) and I was back on the road soon after that.

 

About 100 miles out a white capped mountain came into sight. It was far off in the distance, but I knew I had to pass it today because Flagstaff was located on the other side. I later found out it’s called Humphrey’s Peak, the highest natural point in Arizona with an elevation of 12,633 feet. Humphrey’s Peak is the highest of a group of extinct volcanic peaks known as the San Francisco Peaks.

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Humphrey’s Peak, seen from about 20 miles out.
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Here it is seen from about 10 miles out.

 

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Not only was I racing to the other side of this volcano, I was racing the sun across the sky. I started off early with the sun to my left and watched it gradually make its way to my right throughout the day. It’s amazing to see time go by like that.
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Here’s a poor quality shot of another smaller volcanically formed mountain. You could clearly see the crater at the top, maybe not so clearly show here. Sorry!

I made it to Flagstaff around 7:00PM, just avoiding the chilly temperature drop after the sunset. It wasn’t necessarily a challenging day, but certainly prolonged compared to most other rides. I’ve been making really good time lately but my body is paying a price for it. Tomorrow mom and I are going to see the Grand Canyon and check out the village located along the south rim. It’ll be nice to take a day off and spend it with mom before she heads out on Thursday. Time with family is always time well spent!

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

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