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  • Writer's pictureAlana

23. Flagstaff to Joseph City, AZ

May 6, 2024

Today I learned not to sleep in a ditch next to the train tracks.

I had not planned to sleep in a ditch next to the train tracks. Instead, I was looking forward to a long but fast descent from Flagstaff to Holbrook via Winslow (of "Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona" fame).

But the debris-strewn hellscape that is the I-40 had other plans for me. For some reason, certain Departments of Transportation do not clean up after accidents on this freeway. So strips of radial tires are left to disintegrate, leaving tiny, sharp steel threads in their wake. These threads lodge in bike tires, giving me two flats today, as well as the flat I had in Needles, CA.

Today's first flat happened early and took me about 45 minutes to change. (My tire is hard to get on and off, patching the hole took a hot minute, and then the damn tire wouldn't seat.)

But the last happened as the sun was going down.

A sweet guy named Tom pulled over to help. He too is a cyclist, a veteran of the TransAmerica route that runs from Oregon to Virginia. (I will hop on this trail in Missouri.) He offered water, food, and Monterey rosemary collected on his trip to California, and then helped guide my wheel back into its drops. More importantly, he made me feel less alone out there.

Tom offered to drive me to a hotel, but I decided to try my hand at stealth camping. A server at a soda fountain back in Winslow had advised that one could camp without much trouble on Jackrabbit Road in Joseph City, a tiny Mormon town down the way.

I found a space hidden from the road behind a bush next to the train tracks. Figuring that trains must decrease in frequency after sundown, I lay down to sleep.

Hahahahaha. A train and sometimes two roared through every fifteen minutes, lights piercing and horns blaring. Plus, a family of coyotes decided to have a very yappy reunion not far from my tent. Then the temps fell down to the thirties, which meant I woke up several times to put on more clothes.

Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep. When the sun rose at 5 am, I was ready to roll.

Distance: 77.51 miles

Cilmbing: .64 K feet

Totals: 1,080.4 miles, 40.4 K feet

Song: "Take it Easy" by The Eagles


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