Wednesday July 18, 2012
How quickly we settle in to this kind of touring. Coffee, breakfast, check bike and get on the road. I shouldn’t speak for other riders, but I get into an altered state of alertness and relaxation, that flows along the road as long as nothing goes wrong.
Today was a day many were looking forward to – the Grand Canyon. From Flagstaff, we got on highway 180 and traveled north to the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon. We stopped, checked out the view and continued through the park to the East Entrance.
While the route seemed simple, other conditions provided challenges. One was the heat. Flagstaff is high enough (in altitude!) to remain cool. The rim of the Grand Canyon and the roads around it were much warmer. One way to deal with the heat is to ride without protective gear. Wearing a helmet is not required in Arizona, but goes against my experience and training. I like to protect my skin from the sun, the bugs and road rash were I to fall off my bike. Evaporation is another way of staying cool so I frequently wet my scarf, hair and/or t-shirt.
Another problem was fuel. Gas stations were not always available where we expected them to be. One rider ran out of fuel, not once but twice on this day. My bike managed to cover an indicated 144 miles on 1.8 gallons of gas. The tank holds 2 gallons.
However before we reached the gas station in Cameron, Jeff’s Venom stopped. We were in the middle of the desert, but he managed to find a place to pull off the two-laned road. There was no shade. There was no water except what we carried. We looked at the flora. We shared a drink of water. Various VOCNA members stopped by and offered to help. Jeff diagnosed the problem as a stuck float bowl, and took it apart.
About half a mile away, at the top of an incline towards the Grand Canyon, we could see the silhouettes of other Velo riders also broken down. It wasn’t until Pete rode down to find out if we carried any oil (I did), that we heard what happened. The Endurance that Jeff had lent to Dai had puked oil all over Dai’s leg. Both of Jeff’s bikes broke down within half a mile! I figured there was an energy vortex here with Jeff’s name on it.
Jeff however, was determined to fix something. He hitched a ride back to where Dai was broken down. The problem was that a rocker fitting feed came loose. Using the spanners that Pete carried, Jeff was able to tighten the connection. Then the oil I carried, plus some from Alison’s truck went into the bike and Dai was on his way.
It was another story for the Venom. Jeff found no dirt in the float bowl. Everything seemed to be operating correctly, but the bike wouldn’t start. He put the Venom on the chase truck and rode back to camp with Alison and Judith.
All of this took time. After I got fuel in Cameron, Fred and I decided to skip the Wuptaki National Monument and Sunset Crater and we headed straight for camp.