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Day 10: Apache Junction, AZ to Top of the World, AZ

44 Miles - Superior, AZ; Ben Simo as my SAG Vehicle; Jeff the Unicyclist; Queen Creek Tunnel - February 18, 2017

Brian Powers

Photos

Brian Powers drove me to the very spot where I stopped in Apache Junction. I gave him a hug and got a picture of him. It was sad to say good-bye.
Cloudy Sky Yesterday I was warned repeatedly that the weather forecast called for a rain day in Phoenix. And I would laugh. "Are you kidding me? This is the desert. How much could it possibly rain?" I said. I've lived in the western USA for 20 years and notice how it rains. Clouds will form, there will be a downpour for 10-15 minutes, and then it will clear with the sun coming out. That's what I figured might happen intermittently throughout the day.

Well, as I pedaled east on Baseline in Apache Junction, this is what the sky looked like. Soon it began to drizzle ... and it kept drizzling ... then it turned into a moderate rainfall.

When I got to the Chevron on 3265 S. Goldfield Road (between Baseline and the Superstition Highway), I sat at a table inside the mart. Some people made comments about how it wasn't a good day to be riding a bike, and I cringed in frustration, feeling a little foolish.

Highway 60 I hung around the gasmart for about 30 minutes. The rain kept coming down.

Then there was a break for about 5 minutes, and for better of worse, I went for it. I figured I'd make it to Gold Canyon, where there are a couple of gas stations to take cover if the rainfall resumed.

Adjacent is a shot of the Superstition Mountains in the distance. What a pretty mountain range.

Superior would be an easy goal, but if it all went well, would I make it to Globe? :)
I talk about it in the video, but the "Under a Triumphant Sky" title of my book comes from my experiences in this section.

Go ahead and watch. Enjoy. :)

Purple Flowers Brilliant purple flowers on the roadside.

Sonoran Desert

Arizona Desert

The Sonoran Desert between Florence Junction and Superior is gorgeous.

I could spend weeks exploring that area.

Bike Across America

Cycling in Arizona

Steve Garufi Cycling

As I biked upward to Gonzales Pass, it began to rain once more.

Around that time, Ben Simo (see photos below) came by in his truck to help me.

Like I've said, pictures of me riding are rare and appreciated. :)

Riding Along
Steve Cycling
Ben made a .gif image. Oh how entertaining! :)

Gonzales Pass, Arizona

Gonzales Pass

Before you take on the Queen Creek Tunnel and the ascent to Top of the World, you've got to get over Gonzales Pass. It's a nice little climb.

Meanwhile, the rainfall persisted and grew in intensity. :o)

Ben Simo

Ben and Tiffany

Ben and Tiffany

Do you recognize this guy? Yes! Yes! Yes! This is THE Ben Simo -- the same guy who drove way out west to see me in Buckeye on Day 7. He'd also see me in Mesa on Day 8. And now Ben had driven east to Superior so he could follow me into the Queen Creek Tunnel for protection.

Ben brought his granddaughter Tiffany who has been a fan of my "not too shabby" videos throughout her short life. :)

Picketpost Mountain, AZ

Picketpost Mountain

Picketpost Mountain is an extinct volcano that sits prominently to travelers on Highway 60. You can't miss it!

I'm happy to say that I hiked it in 2012. :)

Superior, Arizona

Steve Garufi Bicyclist

Superior, Arizona

By the time I got to Superior, my camera lens had gotten wet. :o)
Unicycle Across America

Unicycle Across America

Ben, Tiffany, and I had lunch at Eduardo's, a pizzeria in Superior. We noticed a unicycle outside and that's when I remembered someone told me about a guy who was unicycling across America!

Inside, we met Jeff. The long story made short: Jeff had biked from San Diego to Superior, and he was sitting there downtrodden. He was considering quitting. He said he wasn't having much fun and that he had grown tired of tongue-in-cheek comments like "did you escape from the circus?"

While in the parking lot ...

Superior, AZ Canyon

Queen Creek Tunnel, AZ

The rainfall stopped. With Ben supporting me, I took everything off my bicycle to lighten it.

The climb to the Queen Creek Tunnel is steep and short. You just have to take it slow and pace yourself.

Lots of heavy breathing ...

Queen Creek Tunnel

This would be my third time cycling through the tunnel. I had plenty of pictures from previous times, so instead I recorded my entire ride through it. It might be boring to watch, but hey, it's proof. :)

Scenic Mountain Riding in Arizona

Notice how dark and dreary it was.

More Climbing to Top of the World
Steve Cycling
It began to rain beyond the Queen Creek Tunnel and would not relent for the remainder of the day. Much thanks to Ben for this second .gif. :)

Magma Mine Road At the Magma Mine Road (elevation 4000 feet), it was raining hard.

I told Ben I just wanted to get to Top of the World and then I'd get into his truck for cover.

At this point, I was drenched. My fingers and toes had grown cold. The riding conditions had also become dangerous. The rain was thick enough that even with my lights and some shoulder, the visibility for motorists was probably fair to poor.

Top-of-the-World

Top of the World, AZ

Top of the World, Arizona

It was wild to be riding in such intense rainfall for the final four miles. There was more climbing. It was so wet that my cyclometer stopped working. Beyond every turn I longed to see the Top of the World sign. It felt like I'd never get there.

The main landmark I wanted to reach was the Top of the World Trading Post. When I finally arrived, I was at the high point between Superior and Globe at 4,528 feet.

I had mixed emotions. I was ecstatic to be finished and to finally get into Ben's Truck. Yet I was also disappointed because I knew I could have made it to Globe with how good I was feeling physically. All things considered, I was proud over how I did my best with the conditions.

Ben would shuttle me to a motel in Miami, and the next day I'd return to Top of the World to resume the journey.

You are welcome to stay connected with me on my author page.

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