Saturday, March 14, 2015
Day 8: Catalina State Park, Arizona
We met up with our riding group, I am going to call them my boys--Jeff, Roger F, Ken W, and Udi. They were massively helpful in blocking the wind for me, but it was still a lloooooongg stretch into the wind after our second sag stop. We broke it up a bit by stopping at a Dairy Queen and tried to introduce Udi to this American yumminess... alas, he got a vanilla cone.
We made it to Nico's for lunch, had an excellent pollo torta and as we were preparing to leave, the drought-ravaged land and wind combined to create a blinding dust storm that covered all surfaces.
OK, on the road again, but headed straight into the wind again for 12 miles--does not sound like much, but it was brutal, our group only reaching speeds of 9-10 mph to try to keep us all together. It seemed every time we stopped to take a break or make a turn, the wind changed with us, and not for the better.
One of us dropped off, so Ken and I rode on slowly while Jeff went to see if there was a problem. Ken and I finally decided just to stop and wait. By the time the others joined us, I thought my tire looked funny, reached down, and it was flat! Ugh, another postponement to keep up from Catalina State Park a little longer. With assistance from the whole group with advice and pumps, etc., we got rolling, and I think Udi said it best, "This day is neverending." It sure was the truth, we were nearing 5+ hours on the bikes, and still had several miles to go before hitting the park. There are these strange looking, what I called "cactus trees" here in Tuscon, so thought you might enjoy this pic.
Back to our journey, we rolled into the glorious Catalina State Park and to our campground logging 6 hours on the bikes. However, the park is beautiful with probably the best bathrooms and showers on the trip, so it really was like hearing a choir of angels singing "Hallelujah!" when we did arrive. Some cold drinks, snacks from Anne, our chef, and a shower made all the difference in the world. as they say "misery loves company," and after comparing notes on the day with other riders or just seeing their worn out looks, it was somehow comforting to know we all shared the same experience. We had a wonderful dinner, met some visitors here to share the day off tomorrow with some of our fellow cyclists and cheered in our last rider together, so there were definite uplifting moments to share, it is never all bad. Sharing this experience and being surrounded by the beauty that is Catalina State Park, well, that is hard to complain about!
And tomorrow, we get to sleep in, re-arrange our bags, do a bit of laundry that did not make it into the laundry run today (sleeping on fresh sheets tonight--hurray!) and just kick back and relax--well, that is my plan. Jeff has a long-awaited goal to achieve tomorrow, which he will post about tomorrow night!
UK Update: Graham had a hard day, too, like all of us. However, I (Lisa) sat next to him at dinner, and we had a lovely conversation. I really wanted to know more about his dad BEFORE Alzheimer's. Sometimes, when someone we love goes through an illness that ends their life, that is what their life's memory becomes. However, I was sure that Graham's dad was much more than just an Alzheimer disease sufferer, and I was right. It was delightful to see Graham's eyes light up as he talked about how his dad used to take him on hikes and also took his grandsons on hikes, he was an actor who also taught other amazing actors the craft at a respected UK academic institute (including Dame Judy Densch, to drop a name!) and was just a remarkable and loving father and grandfather. Alzheimer's really affects the lives of everyone near to the patient, while the patient mercifully has no knowledge of how his world or personality has changed. It is a heartbreeaking disease, and anyone who has a chance should give to the fundraising campaign to find a cure for this disease.