To Tempe!

10/18/21

Today I took the Groome Shuttle from Prescott to the Phoenix airport, then biked along a canal-side bike path to my Warmshowers hosts’ house in Tempe.

Dori and Jon sent me off with a hearty breakfast (and a homemade burrito and some grapes for the road!) and Dori took me down to the Groome Shuttle office again. The driver was wonderful, and since there were only three of us passengers, there ended up being plenty of space in the back of the van to store my bike (inside the trailer this time) and two bags. I didn’t even end up needing to remove the wheels from the trailer, as I had thought I might.

The ride was pleasant and at times scenic (first, prairies with purple mountains in the distance, then some saguaro cacti!) although the van’s windows were not clean enough to take any photos. But the driver was chatty, and took an interest in my trip, so we talked about making life decisions to leave unfulfilling jobs when needed (he himself had done so in 2014, when he stopped working for the state and began the driving job, which he loves) and enjoying our lives to the fullest.

The two hours went by quickly. After the shuttle dropped me off, I reassembled my rig in the departure zone, then navigated through the airport to the Skytrain, as my Tempe host had helpfully instructed me to do. When I disembarked, I got on the canal bike path.

The temperature was a sunny 90 degrees, and I worried that my skin might get burned again, despite the sunscreen I applied immediately. (I’ll find out tomorrow, I guess.) The beginning of the path was industrial and not very scenic, but soon it became much more pleasant. Since it was right in the flight path of the airport, several planes flew close overhead as they prepared to land.

I crossed the river on an auto-free bridge that reminded me of Portland’s new(ish) Tilikum Crossing, or Salem’s Riverfront Park bridge. This is my first time in Tempe, and I really liked the feel of the riverfront path, and later the neighborhood streets, which reminded me of those of my beloved San Diego.

As I reached the south side of the bridge, I noticed that a half-Ironman race was just wrapping up, with several booths of volunteers cheering and handing out water and Gatorade to a few tired runners coming from the opposite direction. I navigated through them, and pedaled less than a mile more to my hosts’ house.

They were extra gracious to be willing to host me today, because they are in the process of moving (just a few blocks, and they did some of it by bike!) and had only spent their first night in the new house last night. Amazing.

Their new house and yard are beautiful, and they had various guests dropping by throughout the afternoon and evening, first helping to move and then just socializing on the porch in the evening, with pizza and drinks. I got to sample some gin that was made by their friends just a few blocks away in the neighborhood, and then a different gin made by different friends in Joshua Tree, where I will be visiting soon.

This is a serious cycling family, and among their many steeds are several Bromptons! Ryan is a cofounder of the “Brompton Mafia,” among several other bicycle-themed organizations, and he and his wife and four-year-old daughter go on many bicycle adventures all the time, including many short trips to places as far-flung as Mexico, Europe, and Japan.

Every January, they take part in a supported group ride from Phoenix to Tucson. They invited me to join them this year, and I’m considering it, since the timing may line up right. I’m very intimidated, though, since the ride is 100 miles, and they do it in one day! I’ve never done a “century ride” before, nor even come close. The most miles I’ve ever done in one day is probably around 60, and that was only once. I rarely exceed 50, especially on the Brompton.

But, who knows? Maybe after two months of cycling through California in November and December, by January I’ll be ready for such a challenge. We’ll see…

But I’m enjoying Tempe so far; I may want to even come back for a short visit in January when I’m in Tucson, even if I don’t end up doing that century ride.

Tomorrow I’ll be meeting another new host (who I met through the Buy Nothing Travelers Network) who lives just a few miles away in Tempe. I’ll also be meeting an old Portland friend for a walk in Mesa, and then visiting the Desert Botanical Garden, which I first (and last) visited probably about a dozen years ago.

The internet isn’t fully set up in this new house, so I’ll need to post this tomorrow, hopefully before my full day of adventures!

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