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Day 8: Buckeye, AZ to Apache Junction, AZ

63 miles - Biking Across Metropolitian Phoenix via Lower Buckeye Road and Baseline - February 16, 2017


Bike Across Phoenix
Bike Across Phoenix
Photo Above: Yes folks, it can be done. My route from Buckeye to Apache Junction.

Before I would bike across America, I would need to successfully haul myself across Phoenix. As I planned my route, the idea of crossing this city was intimidating as a lot of people warned me about "bad neighborhoods" and crime, but I didn't see anything too bad. In fact, I did fine. My route was MC 85 east out of Buckeye to Lower Buckeye Road eastbound. Then I'd head south on S. 91st Avenue and turn east on Baseline where I'd ride for 30+ miles to Apache Junction.

Saguaro Cactus
A tall saguaro at the Buckeye Valley Museum. So pretty!

Photos

Yesterday took a lot out of me. The effects of the sun and a 71-mile distance was plenty enough. There is an anxiety in knowing you have to ride. Most days, I don't think my body ever got used to the demands of being up and going every 24 hours, with the beating it would take day in and day out.

Still, I was positioned to bike across metropolitan Phoenix and had a date with urban destiny.

Buckeye, AZ From downtown Buckeye, I biked east on MC 85 mostly through farmlands to Lower Buckeye Road. When I crossed the Agua Fria River, that's when I began to encounter the mass of human activity.
Lower Buckeye Road Moving along on Lower Buckeye Road.
Tolleson, AZ

Tolleson, Arizona

Occasionally I'd hop onto the sidewalk if I didn't feel safe on the road, but those were rare occasions.

Biking on a sidewalk in Tolleson ...

Facing south on S. 91st Avenue in the southwest section of Phoenix.
Baseline in Phoenix AZ

Phoenix, AZ

Baseline Road

I'm the type of cyclist who likes to keep things simple. When I choose a route through a city, I want a minimal amount of turns.

I knew Baseline would take me across two-thirds of the city. So I hit Baseline from S. 91st Avenue, where Baseline dead ends at the Salt River.

At this spot, I was within the Phoenix city limits, but it felt more like I was in farm country with just a few hints that I was part of the largest city in the Southwest.

Hey, those are nice mountains too. They need to be climbed. :)

Bicycle Lane in Phoenix AZ Much of Baseline has a bicycle lane with the exception of two sections: All of Tempe and a 1.5 mile section around Guadalupe.

For Tempe, there were usually three traveling lanes, which made it easier for vehicles to pass safely. The section in Guadalupe was sketchy -- just be careful and hop onto the sidewalk if you don't feel safe.

All in all, I would recommend biking across Phoenix on Baseline. You could certainly do worse.

Prensa Hispana Newspaper Somewhere south of downtown, I grabbed a copy of Prensa Hispana.

Here's what I thought of it ...

Palm Trees Phoenix goes on and on. Thankfully, there were many beautiful palm trees to entertain me.
Tempe, Arizona

Baseline in Tempe, AZ

Tempe, Arizona

Like I said, there was no bicycle lane on Baseline in Tempe, but I did okay.

A video during a rest break ...

Palm Trees Gas Station So many gorgeous palm trees surrounding this gas station. Wow!
Gilbert, Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona

Happiness when I crossed into Gilbert. Why? I knew from my 2011 trip that there'd be a designated bicycle lane the whole way through this town.

Cycling on Baseline in Gilbert ...

Jack in the Box Food

Ben Simo

Ben at the Jack In The Box

I biked about 50 miles and hadn't had a prolonged break all day. Part of the problem was my nervousness about having another bicycle stolen, as I had experienced nine years earlier on Trip #1. Obviously I passed so many stores, restaurants and gasmarts where I could rest, but would my bike be okay... even with it locked?

I finally stopped at a Jack In The Box in Gilbert where I could sit and watch the bike from a window. I was eating my taco and curly fries when without warning, Ben Simo was standing in front of me.

Ben and I are connected on Swarm (formerly FourSquare), the app where you check-in wherever you're at. He lives nearby and when his phone notified him that I was a short distance away, he came by! :)

I was tired and sunburn. The desert sun had done another number on me. I kept apologizing to Ben, because I could tell I wasn't my usual self around him, and even he admitted I looked worn out. Right there I told Ben that maybe I'd return to Phoenix so he could hang out with me when I'm happy, talkative, and my usual obnoxious self.

Saguaro on Baseline Road A saguaro in the median of Baseline on the east side of Gilbert.
Apache Junction, AZ

Apache Junction, Arizona

At Meridian and Baseline, I saw this "Welcome to Apache Junction" sign and stopped here.

Brian Powers (see photo below) would be here shortly to drive me to his home in Scottsdale. In about 36 hours, he'd shuttle me right back to this sign on the morning of Day 10.

Green Chile Cheeseburger A green chile cheeseburger and fries for dinner.

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

Brian Powers and His Gang
Brian Powers and Friends

Meet Brian Powers (center), the kingpin, the brass, the man who would make everything happen for the rest of Day 8, Day 9 and the morning of Day 10. Brian grew up in Wisconsin but has lived in Scottsdale for decades. He's a cyclist himself. Get this: last year he bought four signed copies of my book -- one for himself and the others for family and friends. It was obvious Brian was a special guy who was willing to help any way he could.

Brian met me in Apache Junction and transported me to his lovely home in Scottsdale where I'd sleep in his living room for two nights. He insisted on eating out and paying for me every time. What a generous host.

Above is a photo at our first dinner. Also included was his son Joshua and his friend Annie. Good times. :)

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