View of the San Francisco mountains behind me leaving Flagstaff
Leaving Flagstaff was quite harrowing because the roads were icy. Just as I got on I-40, emergency crews were dealing with a crash. The police yelled out for me to be careful. There were also big snow accumulations next to the shoulder. Sometimes, the snow drifts looked to be as high as 10 ft. Flagstaff had been hit with a storm just a few days earlier that dumped record amounts of snow and paralyzed the city. I had put in a request to stay with a WarmShowers host (www.warmshowers.org). They responded the snow was too high to get to their house!
Today's ride was mostly descending. Within the 1st 1,000 ft drop, the snow on the side of the road disappeared and the temperature rose. This was very welcome. I think the ride started at 24 degrees. I was wearing lots of layers including a face gaiter, plastic bags around my feet, a beanie, gloves, rain pants, and a rain jacket. All of these extra clothes kept me warm.
Rearview mirror shot.
Trike shot on I-40.
Time to switch the battery.
I stopped at a Navajo tribal run travel plaza to take a break and warm up. All my snacks had frozen and even my water bladder was full of icy slush. The place was exceptionally clean with a laundromat and showers. The people were very nice answering my questions. I learned the Navajo Nation is in 4 states and much bigger than I realized.
video of ride to Winslow
Most of the way, there was a frontage road I could see from I-40, but some of it was a mucky mess that looked to require a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Directions wanted me to take this frontage road but I didn't trust it and stayed on the very noisy I-40. By the time I arrived at Winslow, I had descended 2,500 ft and the temperature was close to 60 degrees. Wow, was this nice! I rode 61 miles with an average speed of over 14 mph.
Proud Winslow, AZ house
Coming into Winslow
Speed demon, Myrtle!
I had heard the Eagles' song about standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, and remember when the song was a big radio hit but didn't realize how popular it still is. I took a few photos to post on Facebook and the response was very enthusiastic.
I found Earl's Motor Court motel and got checked in. I love motor courts but this was a funny place with a bit of a strange story. I first met the friendly mutt of a dog, Bonanza, and 3 very young sons playing in the parking lot. The husband showed me a room that was old, tired, and worn out. When he said the nightly rate was $90, I asked why so much? He then asked how much cash I have. I counted out $56 and he said that would be enough. He also said his wife wouldn't be happy about taking the cash but, oh well. An hour after getting settled in the room there was a knock at the door. The wife was very upset and she needed to let me know why she charges $90. She ranted at me for quite a while. She didn't ask for more money and I wasn't sure what the discussion was really about. I promised to leave a good tip. I didn't know what else to say.
New lyrics to 'Take It Easy' from fellow recumbent rider, William Volk:
Well, she’s pedaling down the road trying to pull that load she’s got five wheels on her mind
Two that want to turn her, two trailing behind her, one that’s a tire on her mind.
Take it easy, take it easy
Don't let that motor in your rear wheel make me lazy
Well I’m riding around a corner in Winslow Arizona
And such a strange sight to see
I’m a girl my lord on a long trike tour slowing down to find a place to pee
Come on baby, don't say maybe
I gotta know if your amps are gonna save me
Tires may leak, and we might swim
Though we will never be here again
So pedal on, I'm climbin' in
So take it easy
Motor on while you still can
Don’t try to climb if you can’t
Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy
Come on baby, don't say maybe
I gotta know if your amps are gonna save me
'Take It Easy' Eagle wings
Standing on the Corner with Myrtle
Famous corner on Route 66 in Winslow
After getting such a big response from the Facebook photos, I decided to stop by the famous Winslow corner again in the morning to get more videos.
Today, I tried an alternative route out of Winslow listed on the ACA (adventurecycling.org) maps. The first 8 miles were a very nice and quiet ride. I got a few photos and even flew my drone a bit, something I can't do on I-40. There was a turn on Territorial rd and the route became impossible for me to continue on. This was an unpaved road with a washboard surface that I couldn't get traction on with my rear wheel. The trailer was bouncing terribly on the washboard surface and I had no choice but to turn around. 16 miles into the ride with 500 ft of climbing and I was back where I started in Winslow. Luckily, today's ride was shorter at about 35 miles otherwise I would have had to stay another night and try again in the morning.
Brad's Highway Desert Inn, Holbrook
Once back on my favorite I-40, I had a very strong tailwind that blew me into Holbrook. On my way into Holbrook, I was happy to see a Safeway grocery store and stopped to get fruit, veggies, and already-cooked chicken sausage to make a home-cooked stir-fry dinner. Many motels along Rt 66 through town were only available to monthly paying customers. Some of them were downright scary looking. I did stop at the Wigwam Hotel which is a collection of teepees for rent with vintage cars parked out front. Unfortunately, it was closed. I got checked in to Brad's Desert Highway Inn and loved it. This is another motor court motel. The room had a small kitchen that gave me more room for cooking. The owner heard my story and dropped the price from $88 to $65. So far, I've been paying much less for hotel rooms than I expected. In fact, these prices have actually been within my budget which is a huge relief.
Video of ride into Holbrook
I have to say, I've been disappointed to not be camping, yet. The overnight temperatures have just been too cold. Maybe I'm a bit of a wimp but I can't camp in temperatures less than 40 degrees. Before I started the trip I practiced camping in the yard. A few nights the temperature got down to the low 40s. My gear kept me warm enough. The tough thing is having to be in my tent and sleeping bag once the sun goes down to stay warm. And then tearing down camp in the morning in the freezing cold. There will be plenty of opportunities for camping when the days are longer and nights/mornings aren't so cold.
Not many services along the way.
Cycling is permitted on the Interstate.
Chambers hotel room
Video of ride into Chambers
For me, the most important thing, every day, is to make sure I have a safe place to spend the night. Travel, in general, can be exhausting, and I think making sure I get a good night's rest is vitally important. If I don't sleep well that is when I start to make poor decisions. A few poor decisions and the tour starts to not be fun. On this section of the Route 66 bike route, there are not many options for places to stay. But, luckily, I have found safe places within a comfortable distance. One of the benefits of staying in hotels is I've been able to put together a video for every day's ride, so far. I doubt I'll be able to continue that while camping.
Today's ride was again on I-40 with a huge tailwind. The tailwind was blowing over 30 mph at times. It was so massive that I questioned if riding was actually a good idea. At one point, the temperature dropped enough to need to stop and put on my rain pants for warmth. The wind was so strong I had trouble putting my rain pants on. I wondered if I had a mechanical or needed to fix a puncture if the winds would be too strong to complete the repair. Luckily, I arrived at the small town of Chambers without incident. The last few miles were through hail and light snow flurries. The 'town' of Chambers was nothing more than a gas station and Day's Inn hotel. I got checked in for $75. This was a big room with plenty of space for the trike and trailer. I-40 traffic noise was heard all night long.
I have never publicized any of my previous tours and the preparations for this tour have been far more complicated than any other tour. The reason for publicizing, is mostly, that there are some big differences with this tour that I thought people would be more interested in than previous tours. As for the timing of the tour, we are learning to live with Covid and I simply didn't feel comfortable touring during the height of the pandemic. I do now. Some other distinguishing features of this tour are that I'm 64 years old, doing this tour solo, and self-supported. This tour is in the US, 9,000 miles, and will probably take 10 months. I'm looking forward to checking off lots of bucket list rides such as Route 66, the Katy trail, GAP, and TransAmerica routes. Another big difference from previous tours is I'm using e-assist and, I'm guessing, lots of people are interested in knowing what touring with electric assist is like. I've been touring all over the world since 2007 and I've never worked so hard to prepare for any of my previous tours. Luckily, I find all the detailed research and decision-making to be rewarding. I have been very public about how I prepared for this tour. The interactions with followers, supporters, and fellow trikers have been a lot of fun.
Video of Day 1 - Needles to Oatman
To start the Moto-Myrtle USA trike tour, my friend Joni drove me, my trike, and the trailer to Needles, California. This is the closest point on Route 66 to where I've been staying over the winter months and where I left my RV trailer and truck for the duration of the tour. Big thanks to Joni for all her help and generosity!! (A lot of people have commented that I'm missing the California section of the route by not starting in Santa Monica but I'll be doing this part of Route 66 at the very end to get back to my RV trailer and truck.) The drive to Needles was 3 hours and, even though we started out early, I probably made my 1st crank pull at about 10 am. The journey of 9,000 miles begins with the 1st turn of the crank arms. As I started through Needles on Route 66, I was very nervous and felt like this tour was the craziest thing I have ever done. Needles is on the border of California and Arizona. The border between states is the Colorado River where I lost an hour crossing the bridge. I had completely forgotten about the time change and this bit into my 1st-day plans. I had spent quite a few hours planning out my ride and stopping points for the first 4 days. Those plans went out the window within the first 30 minutes of my tour start.
Getting Myrtle set-up
The day was beautiful with clear, bright blue skies, temps in the 60s, and light winds. This area is known for big winds and I felt fortunate to start off in such perfect conditions. Once out of the bigger city, traffic quieted down, and I began to enjoy cycling more. I ended my first day in Oatman after riding 28 miles with 1500 ft of climbing.
Ever since I first started talking about this tour, I have made a big point about needing to camp. I have even made videos going over my camping and cooking gear. Hotels in the US are pricey and, for me, a budget buster. There are places in Oatman to camp but, looking at the weather app on my phone, I saw the overnight temperature was going to dip into the 20s. This is too cold to camp and something I had not thought about. The only hotel option was a cabin for $150 - ouch! The first cabin they showed me was a 1 bedroom but the water was turned off. They gave me a 2 bedroom for the same price. Even though this is more money than I can realistically afford to spend every night, for the first night, I was very happy with the decision. Going online and seeing all the supportive and enthusiastic comments on Facebook, Youtube and emails was a nice boost as well.
A huge surprise at the end of the ride was getting a notification of a big and generous donation for the tour from my bike club in Portland, Oregon - the Pacific Northwest Recumbent Cycling Group. I've been a member of this cycling club for over 15 years. They are very active and responsible for putting on the Recumbent Retreat on the Oregon coast every September. The Recumbent Retreat is the oldest recumbent event in the country and this year will be the 25th anniversary. It is held every year at Ft. Stevens State Park the weekend after Labor Day. This park is located right where the Pacific Ocean meets the mighty Columbia River. It's absolutely gorgeous with miles and miles of cycling paths. The lighted bikes parade is legendary. I love this club and was completely blown away by their generosity. In fact, it made me cry.
I have been receiving lots of support, enthusiasm, and well-wishes for this tour from many, many people all over the US and even the world. If you would like to contribute please check out the links below. I am very grateful for any donation no matter how big or small. Many thanks to everyone!!
I slept well even though the cabin was quite cold. There was no heat in the bedroom and I used my own sleeping bag to be warm enough. The water also had dirt in it. I used a pan on the stove to make oatmeal and, at first, thought the pan hadn't been used in a while and rinsed it out. But no, there really were actual dirt clumps in the water. Very strange!
Outside my rustic cabin in Oatman
Sitgreaves Pass, the 1,000 ft climb out of Oatman
I got packed up and on the road out of Oatman by 8 am. There is a 1,000 ft climb out of Oatman that is famous for having 191 curves and hairpins. I probably spent an hour climbing and then 10 minutes on the descent. There was no traffic on this section of Route 66 at all. I have a Garmin Edge cycling computer with the Varia radar rear blinky that tracks vehicles as they approach and pass. In the first 20 miles, 18 vehicles passed me. I had a man on a motorcycle ride alongside to tell me how visible I am. He said he could see me for over a mile. Another lady stopped to hand me $5. This was a beautiful and fun ride.
Just a little dusting of snow
I loved the scenery
191 curves up and over the 1,000 ft climb
Myrtle is enjoying the view
My idea was to ride into Kingman and then look at the map to see where I could end the day. Turns out, there isn't anywhere to stay within 50 miles beyond Kingman so that was my stop for the day after 30 miles and 2100 ft of climbing.
Day 2 - Oatman to Kingman, AZ
The room had poor heat and not enough blankets. Again, I used my sleeping bag. In the morning, I set up my cooking gear to make coffee and oatmeal. I also had fresh blueberries which handle the road very well.
Not much out here
Historic eastbound Route 66
Myrtle and the trailer in the room
Day 3 was going to be a big test. I had 63 miles to cover with more than 2800 ft of climbing. On such a big day, I need to know with certainty that a place to stay is available. There were only 2 options. One was a tribal lodge in Peach Springs. They quoted $165 for a single room! I called the second option which is 12 miles east of Peach Springs and booked a room for $99. I knew the wind was going to be howling as well. It started out blowing 10-15 mph as a tailwind. Just because a wind starts in one direction doesn't mean it won't shift during the day or the road won't turn away from the wind. I did a battery swap at a cool, typical Route 66 roadhouse stop. The guy running the store, Rubin, loved the trike. He has a Youtube channel, Valentine Station, and I did a short interview with him. We exchanged Youtube tips and stories of struggles as well. The wind became much stronger and turned into a massive tailwind. I think it was blowing around 30 mph and pushed me right along. My next stop was at the tribal lodge which has a restaurant. There was nothing special about this lodge. In fact, there are railroad tracks 100 ft behind the lodge and when trains pass they sound the horn. I would have been very upset to spend $165 to hear trains passing so closely and loudly all night long. While waiting for my take-out food order, I met a man and his wife who are trikers from Illinois and follow my Youtube channel! You can't imagine how small this place is and what a coincidence is was to run into fellow trikers. Very fun!
Burma Shave sign
The shoulder wasn't in good repair but the road was fine
I can't remember the last time I did such a big-mile day, especially with so much climbing. The tailwind and e-assist made all the difference. The Grand Canyon Caravan Inn is very old, tired, and worn out. I got the Beatles room which has pictures, records, and posters of the Fab-4. The bathroom had an Abby Road sign on it. I actually had to remove snow from in front of the door to get my trike and trailer inside. Luckily, there were no trains. There was also no food and I was very happy to have planned ahead and picked up a take-out meatloaf dinner.
Day 3 Video - Kingman to Peach Springs
After another cold night where I used my sleeping bag to stay warm, I was surprised I didn't feel any muscle soreness from the big ride the day before. As I started pedaling to Ash Fork, I could feel my legs were tired but they didn't ache. I stopped into a grocery store in Seligman to get supplies where I got some apples and grapefruit. My idea for food on this tour was to pick up veggies and some cooked sausage and then use my cooking gear to make my meals. I was shocked there were no vegetables in the grocery store. None! So much for my idea.
I'm using the Adventure Cycling Association maps for this ride on Route 66 to Missouri. The ACA is a bike advocacy group that makes terrific maps with everything listed that a touring cyclist could need. 5 miles before Ash Fork, Route 66 merges with I-40. Interstate 40 is Route 66. In Arizona, interstate cycling is permitted. The shoulder on this stretch was horrible. It was as rough as a rumble strip which I think is extremely dangerous for cyclists. For 5 miles I can put up with just about anything but I was very happy to get off of I-40 getting checked into another old, tired, worn-out hotel room. There is no grocery store in Ash Fork. There are no restaurants either. I went to a trading post at a nearby gas station travel center to pick up 2 6-inch subs. One for dinner and one for lunch the next day. Food choices along this stretch of Route 66 were a big disappointment.
Day 4 - Peach Springs to Ash Fork, AZ
In the morning after another cold night using my sleeping bag for warmth, I checked the ACA map to see how far I needed to be on I-40. I went into a panic when I saw that Route 66 is on I-40 all the way into Gallup, NM. I didn't know how I was going to ride on such a wretched shoulder for more than 280 miles. The shoulder into Ash Fork was so rough I couldn't ride faster than 8 mph - and I have full suspension. I figured I could ride 20 miles into the next town of Williams. There is 2,000 ft of climbing and if the road surface continued to be terrible I could call it a day there. I was considering riding into Flagstaff the next day and probably renting a truck or van into Gallup, NM. I couldn't think of a good reason to continue riding on such a poor road surface.
I was surprised that maids only expect $2
Much improved I-40 shoulder
I-40 is Route 66
I was immensely relieved when I got back on I-40, at Ash Fork, and the shoulder was smooth and wide. It was like a gift. Interstate riding isn't my favorite but it's also not all terrible. The road surface is usually smooth with a very wide shoulder. The interstate will offer all services including phone service. The hardest part of interstate riding, for me, is the constant vibration and loud semi-truck traffic noise. I have air-pods with noise canceling which help a lot. One of the biggest concerns while interstate riding is the off-ramps require special attention when crossing over to remain on the shoulder. Most traffic is local and drivers don't always use indicators. Traffic speeds are so fast, you can't make any assumptions and need to be certain the off-ramp lane is clear before crossing over. There is also no privacy on the interstate. The bush I picked to pee behind was more of a suggestion of privacy than actual privacy. There is also lots of oversized cargo transport. Years ago, these trucks had a lead car to warn that the cargo will take up more than a lane of traffic. Now there is only a follow car. The oversized cargo will often spill beyond the white fog lane and even over the rumble strip. I ride as far to the right in the shoulder as to not be surprised by encroaching cargo. I also miss the photography/video opportunities of smaller roads and experiencing quaint rural life. I certainly can't fly my drone on I-40. There is also lots of tire wire that is very sharp and a big puncture threat. But, for the most part, I feel completely safe riding on the Interstate.
Gateway to the Grand Canyon
Locked outside the Safeway grocery store
I got off the interstate in Williams where there was a Safeway grocery store. Being able to pick up fruit and veggies made me happy. Williams is a very quaint historic town that is known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon. It is a bit of a boutique town with lots of hotels and restaurants. From there I continue on to Flagstaff. I-40 continued to go up. It was very cold and windy. I wore a beanie, a gaiter over my face, gloves, rain pants, and a rain jacket. I also wrapped my feet in plastic bags for more warmth. There was lots and lots of snow accumulated on the side of the highway. It was impressive and I was happy the sun was shining. I made a mistake thinking I was going to cross over the Continental Divide on this ride. I did cross over the Arizona Divide at 7,335 ft. I had never heard of the Arizona Divide before this ride. I later learned I have a few more days riding into New Mexico before climbing again to 7,200 ft to get over the Continental Divide. I'm looking forward to that and being able to descend into warmer temperatures.
Beautiful mountain view
Big climb for the day
Feet in baggies for warmth
This was a tough ride and I was exhausted arriving in Flagstaff and getting checked into a Day's Inn. I picked this hotel because, on Google, it advertised a rate of $40/night. Of course, the cheapest rate they gave me was $77. Getting off my trike, I saw that everything was covered in mud and muck. This had never happened before and I think the wind turbulence from the passing trucks on I-40 made the snow melt spray back at me. There was mud on my jacket, Garmin, e-assist controller, handlebar bag, and on both sides of the trike as well as the trailer. The front desk lady wasn't surprised by the mud and offered me a bucket. She showed me where a water spigot was to rinse everything off. The mud actually rinsed off easily. I'll probably need to do this after every ride on I-40.
Day 5 Video - Ash Fork to Flagstaff
The winds were blowing strongly as I arrived in Flagstaff and the forecast called for even stronger winds the next day. I decided a rest day was in order and felt like I had already accomplished a lot on this tour. Not a bad week, not a bad week at all.
The last few weeks have been very busy. I've had friends and family visits while getting everything ready for the big tour.
Beautiful new frame for Myrtle
The biggest news is that HP Velotechnik, my trike manufacturer, contributed a new trike frame for the tour. I've had Myrtle for 11 years and ridden probably close to 60,000 miles on the frame. There wasn't anything obviously wrong with the frame but they decided a new one would be fitting for such a big tour. Over the last 6 months, they have also given me a new seat, fenders and 2 extra batteries for my e-assist. I feel like I have a whole new trike.
Bent Up Cycles in North Hollywood, California is a new sponsor for my Youtube channel. I have known Dana Lieberman, the owner, and Raina Anthony since I first started touring. Raina did all the work transferring parts from the old trike frame to the new one. The only original parts left are the front wheels and Avid BB7 brake levers. Otherwise, the oldest part is my Rohloff Speedhub which is 4 years old. Mel from RecumbentPDX also donated a new rear rack he had laying around his shop. The new frame is bright yellow and so beautiful. It will take awhile for me to get used to such a big change.
Fun video of the new trike frame
Newly built wheels on Velocity Rims
Raina also ordered new custom Velocity rims and built up new trailer wheels. Even though the wheels are still 16", I can now use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. All 5 wheels have Marathon Plus tires. This should really help with flat tire protection.
Stylish mechanic Raina
Raina showing the new trike
I've been riding and testing the 'new' trike with the trailer for the last week. The trailer rolls beautifully and it tracks perfectly. I've had it up to 29 mph without issues. On the flats and downhills, I can't even feel the trailer behind me but uphill is another story. I am very happy to be using e-assist for this tour and think this will make the ride much more enjoyable.
New Trike with trailer
There are a couple of big differences for this tour compared to past tours. One, this will be my 1st tour during the summer months. All my previous tours have been fall and winter riding. The other big difference is I'll have to camp much more. Hotels in the US are far more expensive than in other countries and, for me, a real budget buster. Even campground rates will be anywhere from $30-60 per night. I will also be cooking more than I do on tours out of the US. I have good camping and cooking gear and also enjoy cooking. By cooking in camp I'll save money and have more control over my diet.
Camping Gear video
New tent video
Another big change I've made is switching out my Nemo Hornet 2p tent for a Big Agnes Copper Spur 2p bikepacking tent. The Big Agnes is bigger and free-standing which should make setting up easier, especially in windy conditions. I am expecting lots of wind on this tour. The Big Anges also has a feature where the vestibules can turn into awnings. My plan is to lock the trike and trailer together and tie them to the awning. It's always been precarious camping in a tent where the tent-fly zippers shut for the night. I typically lock my trike to a tree or the picnic table but overnight I have never been able to see out. If I hear something there has been no way to know if it's an animal sniffing around or a person messing with my trike. If I became alarmed, I would have to get out of my sleeping bag and then exit the tent to check out the situation. With the awning, I'll be able to have the trike and trailer inches away and I can easily look out to make sure everything is ok. I keep the world's loudest whistle and bear spray within easy access while sleeping in the tent.
Big Agnes with awning attached to trike and trailer
There is only a few days left until I leave and I'm finishing up last minute preparations. I've been waiting for contact lenses that were back-ordered to arrive and I should be able to pick them up tomorrow. The weather in Southern California has been very stormy but it looks like temperatures are going to warm up. I think I'll have a window of a week where there is no rain and daytime temperatures will be in the high 60s. It's getting real now!