14 August – Day 23
Flagstaff, Arizona to Tucson, Arizona
Distance: 481 kms
It was hot today. Really hot.
Imagine going outside in the middle of one of Sydney’s sweltering summer heat waves. You’re wearing socks, pulled up to mid-calf. Jeans – really heavy, Kevlar-lined jeans. A tshirt. A solid black jacket with inbuilt armour at your back, elbows and forearms. Feet encircled in calf-length leather boots. Head encircled by a full face helmet. Hands being smothered in gloves. Now, while outside, stand in front of a blow heater switched to the hottest possible temperature, on high fan.
That’s pretty much what riding today was like. The mercury topped 44.5 degrees C (that’s just over 112 degF) and riding on the bike meant we were also dealing with ‘wind heat factor’ (not sure if that’s a real thing – the opposite of wind chill?!).
At every stop, I poured cold water down my back, doing the ‘ooh it’s cold’ dance while icecubs shimmied down my spine. I then started to pour water down both of our jackets while riding… which was great, at first, while the water was still cold. It didn’t take long for the water in my drink bottle to become so warm it was more like someone was peeing down the front of my shirt rather than anything remotely cooling.
It was so hot, that Adrian was only half-joking when he said he hoped Beamsky’s* tyres wouldn’t melt on the asphalt.
And – it’s going to get hotter from here!
The heat meant it was a pretty slow day of riding – or at least, it felt that way. There was some lovely scenery south of Flagstaff, through Oak Gorge and a couple of other smaller towns… and then it was mostly highway riding to Tuscon. It was the first day that I’ve seen cacti in the desert – so it definitely felt like we were in Arizona. Some of the cacti we rode past were taller than telegraph poles, with long skinny cacti fingers. A few looked like they were flipping us the bird – in a ‘ha ha – take-that-Aussies-with-all-your-protective-gear-on-riding-through-the-desert-in-summer-ha-ha-in-YOUR-face!’ kind of way.
Anyway.. we made it into town and went straight to Ironhorse BMW dealership (http://www.ironhorsemotorcycles.com/) where Adrian was planning on getting new tyres and also needed to replace the globe in the front headlight, which had been out for a few days. Although we hadn’t booked or called ahead, they were able to sort us out on the spot which was just great. All of the staff were super friendly and helpful – down to even googling and printing out local restaurant recommendations for us while we were waiting for the bike!
And then it was time for dinner at a fantastic vegetarian/vegan restaurant close to where we are staying. Wow – so good! 75% of all food they serve is from local, organic farms. Definitely my kind of food. And meat-eating Adrian also really enjoyed it… you know veggo food is good when a meat-eater is into it.
We’re in Tucson for two nights and have a heap of things to do tomorrow before we cross the border into Mexico and continue heading south… it’s hard to believe that the North American part of the trip is nearly over!
*Note that the use of the name ‘Beamsky’ to refer to the bike, a BMW, has not in any way been endorsed by Adrian.