70 miles - Salome Highway, Cycling on Interstate 10, Meeting Ben in Buckeye - February 15, 2017
A Good Morning in the Salome Cafe
I had breakfast at the Salome Cafe and got
to chatting with a group of retired folks. Most of them were
snowbirds who live in Idaho and Washington outside of winter.
They talked about me and my bike across America trip like I was just another cyclist, as Highway 60 gets a plethora
of cross-country riders during the winter. They were friendly though, and I was glad to get a picture of them. :)
Outside of Salome, a sign indicated it was 30 miles to Interstate 10. That would be about 45% of today's planned mileage.
As I biked, a little voice crept in and asked, "Why the heck am I doing this a third time?" It was an unnerving question. I was already
adjusting to biking alone once more (with John gone) and feeling intimidated about a 70 mile ride to Buckeye. The last thing I needed was
Then issues related to being in my 40s (midlife issues) boiled to the surface as I pedaled. Things that bothered me. Things
I wished were different. Sad memories replaying over and over in my mind.
My mood reminded me of a child who didn't want to head to the bus stop to go to school.
I just didn't feel like riding, and yet the adult in me forced myself to go.
Maybe my mood wasn't the greatest early on, but wow, there were plenty of amazing saguaros to capture my attention.
My plan was to take the Salome Highway all the way to Buckeye. However once at Interstate 10, I noticed the
the road ahead looked rough similar to other abandoned frontage roads that receive little maintenance.
So I decided to hop on Interstate 10 and head east.
The Salome Highway runs adjacent to the Interstate with about 2-3 miles between them, and I figured I'd meet it later on.
Riding a Bicycle on an Interstate Highway
For those joining the journal late, yes, it is legal to ride a bicycle in this part of Interstate 10.
In the Western USA, the general rule is if there is no
alternative route for a bicyclist from Point A to B, then it's permitted for someone to ride a bike on the shoulder. That's what I did here.
Riding on the Interstate ...
I stopped at a few exits off the Interstate. I loved those palm trees surrounding the Chevron gas station.
Exit 103. A random sign.
It just seemed like an unusually large one.
I ended up staying on Interstate 10 for longer than I thought, taking it 35 total miles to an exit for Buckeye.
I kept watching my map, and it never seemed practical to make a hard 90-degree turn and head south to the Salome Highway.
I'm sure there is a debate over whether Buckeye is considered a suburb of Phoenix. If you see the houses and neighborhoods right off
the Interstate, then you'd likely say "yes." However, I biked south and went through isolated farms roads to reach the downtown area.
The main drag of Buckeye (MC 85) felt more like an old and sleepy desert town that has seen better days.
Whatever the case, I was overjoyed to be in Buckeye and stayed at the Ranchouse Motel.
Ben and I at the Chipotle.
An Unsung Friend, Ben Simo
Please meet a long-time friend who deserves recognition. This is Ben Simo, a guy I originally met on
Twitter and over the past 7-8 years, we've met in person
numerous times. For a while, Ben and his family lived in Colorado Springs, but now they're in Mesa, AZ (east side of Phoenix). Ben
had been tracking my progress online, and when I arrived in Buckeye, he made the effort to drive 50+ miles to see me! :)
It was great to reconnect with Ben. He took me to a Chipotle restaurant that evening, where I was equally exhausted and elated to be there.
Among so many friends who would help on this trip, Ben would be an unsung hero who'd make crucial appearances on
Day 8 and
Day 10 as well.
You are welcome to stay connected with me on my author page.
In Loving Memory of Rick Rud
I don't have a picture of Rick, but here's an Arizona desert and mountain scene from Interstate 10 in his memory.
I met Rick Rud of Chicago, who became a Team Garufi member in 2014,
when I was planning to do a third bike across America trip that fell through.
At the time, Rick too, was also planning a southern USA cross-country trip and there was a chance we could have met somewhere on the road.
When Rick made a donation to me,
we began to correspond by email and talked once on the phone. We discussed route choices out of Salome.
Commonly, most cyclists head east on Highway 60 towards Wickenburg
(or perhaps Prescott, if they're crazy), but he and I intended to take this Salome Highway to Buckeye.
Well, in February 2014, Rick followed through on his bike tour and began in San Diego.
He texted me a couple of times, including right before he embarked on this route. It would be the last text I would get from him.
About two months later, a relative obtained his phone and contacted me, informing me of the story: Somewhere on this route,
Rick crashed off of his bike. He ended up in the intensive care in a Phoenix hospital where
there was concern he might die and that if he lived, his spinal damage was severe enough that he might not be able to walk again.
Well, within about 10 to 14 days, Rick had recovered impressively and had been demoted to a less intense level of care.
It was there that by a freak chance he caught pneumonia and died.
Again, I don't have a photo of Rick. I never met him in person. I just got some texts, had a phone conversation, and received a generous donation. Still,
I thought a lot about Rick on the road today. There is a camaraderie you feel with others who dare to face their fears and take on this dream, whether they make it to the end or not.