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The Arizona Trail on Unicycle: Day 9, The Hang Man


April 8, 2017
We woke up and got an early start and were rolling by about 7AM. We chatted again with our neighbors and gave them some demo riding while Jamey bummed some coffee from them. Erick from Phoenix arrived at our camp spot to join us for the day on his 26 muni. 

So the four of us made a turn off our dirt road and onto a paved road and rolled away. The road was rather boring up and down. I had my short cranks still on the unicycle and I would fly down the downhills. Erick was an amazingly fast rider and zoomed along with us at a decent pace. 

The sun wasn’t too hot out, and a semi overcast was keeping us cool. The area was striking beautiful, with gorgeous red canyons surrounding Canyon Lake and a lot of people passing us with boats in tow.  

Eventually the pavement was supposed to end, so I zipped ahead on my short cranks to the final town of Tortilla Flat (I think) to have some time to change the cranks. I flipped my pedals into the longer 150mm holes in preparation for the climbing and rough road that was probably ahead. The town was an awesome little surprise. It had maybe 3 buildings fashioned like an old time cowboy town. There was a saloon full of dollar bills pasted everywhere the eye could see. Outside was a hang man advertising the general store. They sold ice cream, so I took the opportunity to get a cone and a soda. A little extra sugar never hurts out in the desert! The others arrived and did the same, and after a brief rest we were off Adam. 

Jamey had again stashed some water on the side of the road, so we all topped off again about a mile past the town, but we were rolling in the liquid at this point and ended up dumping a gallon or so out so that we could carry the empty plastic bottles with us. He wasn’t sure how accessible water would be and it is always better to be over prepared than under.  

Not too long after the water stash the paved road turned to dirt. It was a bit tougher going due to a washboard like effect from sand and dirt collecting. Still, we could ride most all of it, and the washboard didn’t slow down people towing boats as they were still dragging them down the dirt road to make it to lakes even deeper into the desert. 

The canyon views never let up. We passed by some more majestic rocks right above Pristine clear rivers. People were pulling over on the side to snap pictures of the area and I was just soaking it in, enjoying some downhill dirt road action. The road was pretty nice and easy to ride without too many bumps. 

All the downhill got me worried about my brake pads. Jamey said he had been going through them really quickly while uni-packing due to the extra weight. I had looked at my pads and they were starting to get low. I was hoping to make it to Flagstaff to get new pads, and decided to just spin my legs faster and brake a little less, or just use my leg power to slow down. I mean, no brakes, no problem, right? 

While on the dirt road we passed Jamey’s second water stash. We ended up pouring a lot out, but the safety net of having good water was nice to know. 

After about 32 miles of riding we were hitting the time to find a campsite. It looked like there was some lake access a bit off the road, so we stopped to evaluate the situation. Should we ride another mile down another dirt road off our main path to go camp by the lake? Would it be nice to hop in the water? Jamey and Erick were excited about getting wet, so we went for it. 

The area down by the lake was chocked full of Saturday lake visitors. We easily found a campsite and hopped in the water to get refreshed and a bit cleaner. It was still relatively early in the afternoon, so Jamey asked a few nearby campers if he could buy a few beers. They obliged by giving him two cans of Coors Light, which we shared while playing bocci ball. Yup! Jamey brought a travel edition of bocci ball, so we busted out a game of fun. Jamey took the win for the day, as he is an old hat at the game. 

Once dusk started approaching Erick headed back up the road to hitch a ride back to his car. He later told us that he almost didn’t get a ride and was going to head back to our camp and crash with us, but at the last minute someone picked him up and gave him a ride. 

Dusk also brought out the load camp music. Some of the local lake visitors were blasting some thumping base from their cars as we were trying to go to sleep. So much for peace and quiet in the wilderness!




(c) 2008-2017 Corbin Dunn

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