Well, today was a stunning day — with both sheer agony and ecstasy — on our ride. We got up in Cottonwood, Arizona, with a temperature around 60, expecting some light showers as we moved through Sedona and Flagstaff on our long 130 mile–plus day. By the time we moved through Sedona — and what a stunningly beautiful place that is, with amazing red rocks — it began to pour cold rain...then hail...then freezing rain...and by the time we got 12 miles from Flagstaff it was raining and snowing hard and fast and cold. None of the riders were dressed adequately for the very difficult and cold conditions, and by the time we got to Flagstaff, we were all experiencing hypothermia, shaking and in extreme (and dangerous) discomfort. I have never been so cold and uncomfortable in my entire life and barely made it into the lobby of the Hampton Inn — bless them — which opened their lobby facility to us once they understood that our physical safety was at risk. Some of the riders required blankets and rubbing to return to a semblance of normalcy, and I and most of the other riders were shaking for almost an hour. But we changed into dry clothes (our bags were off-loaded) and had lunch, drank lots of hot liquids, and slowly recovered from the extreme conditions. Remember, two days ago in the desert we were experiencing 110 degree temps, worried about sun stroke — it is wild out here in the West at this time of year! But we waited until about 1 pm, the sun came out, the temperature rose, and those who were feeling better (all but 5 riders, 13 hearty souls) decided to finish the day with some 67 miles to Winslow, Arizona.
And what — and here comes the ecstasy part of the day — a glorious, fast ride we had! The sun and clouds were amazing and beautiful, the landscape sweeping, dappled in sunlight and bold, and the 20-plus mile-an-hour tailwinds sent us like prairie schooners racing across the wide open spaces. At one point, I was sailing along at 35 miles an hour, spiritually breathing in the stunning openness and beauty of the Arizona high desert...my heart soared in a way I never would have expected a few hours earlier. I can't describe what an exhilarating afternoon it was — even for someone as wild and adventuresome as me — something rare and amazing to be a part of.
So now it's 7:30 pm and I am (tired as I am) getting ready for bed (after a bit of television news) ready for our big ride tomorrow to Gallup, New Mexico — our third state, and another long day in the high desert!
The other good news (beyond my getting through this day in one happy piece) is that an "angel" from Vero Beach has anonymously issued a challenge grant to "The Ride To Beat Hunger" in the amount of $10,000! As of today, every additional dollar donated to the ride will be matched by this wonderful and compassionate patron...so please consider a gift now, even if you have already contributed. The ride committee — so ably chaired by Don Croteau; thank you, Don! — now believes we will reach our ambitious $50,000 goal, and with your help I know we will reach this important goal, and even surpass it. Blessings to you all. See you tomorrow on the blog!