It’s 10 am in Tempe, Arizona. Today I will begin my ride, heading south.
Today’s destination is Casa Grande, 50 miles south of Tempe. I will stay with Trevor and Janet Heath from Couchsurfing.org.
Thank you, Inertia Dewitt and Britta for letting me stay at your apartment, again.
Mapping the route, all by myself! AHHH!!
Wish me luck and tailwind.
EDIT UPDATE at 10 pm
Now I remember what I missed about being on the road. (Only half kidding)
I started the ride at 10 am from Tempe, leaving Inertia’s apartment. During the first half of the ride was nice. The sun was out, but not too hot. For about 12 miles from Tempe, all the roads I took had bike lanes. The highway shoulder of the S Arizona Highway was so ideal. I was cruising, comfortable, and really proud of myself for my first day riding solo.
Then.. the highway to hell
The 87 highway entered a shack village desert. The shoulder narrowed into a skinny gravel strip. Fortunately, the cars were courteous to move over for me. My face was starting to burn where the sunscreen rubbed off. The headwind was coming from the n/e about 5 mph, although it felt stronger than that. There were shacks along the freeway, some occupied, and some were not. As soon as that the abandon shacks came into picture, the DOGS began to appear.
The first couple encounters were mama dogs and their pups, barking and running towards me. Dog encounters are not foreign to cyclist, as I experienced this on my U.S. ’10 tour. Those days I would pedaled faster to out run them. This time, with the trailer and a skinny shoulder, I knew attempting to run would excite a chase that i couldn’t handle. I dismounted from the bike, faced them, and shouted at them to BACK OFF. I think I fended off about 10 PACKS of feral and front yard dogs. It was a nightmare when I entered a small Indian reservation north of Case Grand. There were feral dogs EVERYWHERE. I spent more time in that town standing off the side of the road with mace in my hand, not spraying because I was scared. I was 20 miles away from Casa Grande, and I was just about to break down. Thankfully a woman pulled up since she saw me in distress. I was in tears by then.
Her name was Dorthy and she is a mother living on the reservation. She got out and assisted me getting a hold of Trevor, my couchsurfing host. Dorthy went to pick up her daughter while another younger woman walked me halfway back to the shell station. She was nice enough to walk with me, but hardly looked or talked to me. Dorthy pulled up in a car with her daughter, Michelle.
Dorthy walked me back to the gas station where Trevor was to pick me up. I thank Dorthy and Michelle for guiding me though that. I wanted to finish the ride, but I forfeited because I was not sure if I had to spend the next 20 miles fending off wild dogs. Turns out, about a mile out, I would have been out of K-9 hell.
Trevor picked me up and took me to his home, where Janet had vegetable curry waiting for us. Trevor assured me that I’m going to have to get use to the dogs. Even for motor cyclist cruising through the villages, they will chase. At least, according to Trevor, my encounters with dogs, are a relatively greater concern, than ever dealing with narco’s or villains.
Trevor has driven his motorcycle from Seattle to Panama City with his daughter. He has a lot of information to share about traveling Mexico and Central America highways.
I felt better talking with Trevor about route options and places to see in Mexico and Central America. He loves to talk about traveling and I can tell he enjoys sharing his stories and advice. He is going to help me with some route planning and gave me books to read on Mexico- South America.
Although today reached a frighting climax for me, it at least got me back to psyching myself for bike touring. I have the next 1/2 days to chill out and research and a couple weeks in Tuscon to figure out how I will rendezvous with Amelia. I also felt like I made a small step in conquering a fear of dogs and maybe someday reaching the confidence that the reservation people and Trevor have- just knock them over the head with a newspaper or mace them. I know (they) and I prefer not to mace them… but it may be necessary to when there are packs of them following me.
Back on the road, again…
Just no more dogs, please.