June 29, 2013
It's been a character building week. Who could have anticipated the record setting temps here in the Southwest. We knew it was going to be hot, but not deadly hot.
June 23. The tour had a celebration service at Vanguard University. Then the riders headed to the beach six miles away for the formal tire dipping.. It was a grand parade. We (all 100 riders) were instructed to keep together and then keep going even through the red lights. We were yelling and cheering, and the on lookers yelled back. It was fun. We made a spectacle at the beach too. I have not been taking any pictures, but there are plenty to see at seatosea.org. In the evening we had our first safety training meeting.
June 24. Vanguard to Redlands, CA. The route this day was mostly on a bike trail along the Santa Ana River. The route was marked with sidewalk chalk by the riders from Kalamazoo who rode it on June 22. This was a great help to me 'cause that's going to be my job for a little while. Hope Community Church (CRC) invited us to stop by for treats. The servers there were enthusiastic and welcomed us with a lot of joy. The riders all (most) reported a good first days ride - except one. One slipped off the trail , fell over and broke his leg big time. Surgery two days later will fix him up, and he and his wife will be heading home in about a week.
My role, as I mentioned, is to go ahead of the riders to mark the roads. So I drove to Redlands to start marking the route from Redlands to Coachella. I got to Arrowhead Christian Academy and there met an angel. Now I can hardly believe that angels really interact with humans, but sometimes humans take on angel qualities. Phil has them. No, NO, Not me. A different Phil. He had been reading the stuff on seatosea.org and became enthused about it. I told him what I was about to do and mentioned that I was looking for a volunteer to help. He thought about it and said he would do it. Since he was a Redlands resident he knew exactly where the turns were. He drove and I jumped out to mark the road. It's a good thing we went ahead of the riders because the map we were following led us to sandy service roads for the many windmills in the area. We finally figured out an alternative to go into Palm Springs. There we made a wrong turn and I made a wrong mark on the road. We got lost. We finally figured out our mistake and we quit marking. I could do the rest tomorrow. Phil insisted on buying all our meals and he even paid for gassing up the van. When we got back to Redelands, I said good bye to Phil my new best friend.
June 25. Redlands to Coachella. I knew I had to correct my error in Palm Springs, so I bought some black paint to to cover it. I drove the 40 miles, found the bad mark and ( I thought) covered it. Apparently I didn't cover it enough because a few riders took that wrong turn and got lost. Most however gave praise for the clearly marked route.
The day was hot but manageable. The stopping place was Jourdan Christian Ministries. We could camp in the gym with loud blowers, or in tents on the grass in the heat. Guess which one I chose - Motel 6.
We began to realize that the heat was going to be a major factor not just an irritant.
June 26. Coachella to Desert Center. Phil showed up again. He became another SAG. What a guy. He said he was going to be with us until Phoenix The route today went through Box Canyon. It was beautiful and not particularly steep. THEN the riders had to travel on I-10. Actually they reported that it wasn't too bad. There were enough SAG stops positioned well. Desert Center is an oasis in the desert. The club house was air conditioned. Most riders slept shoulder to shoulder on the floor. A few slept in their tents outside. Guess which one I chose. Nope. Not a Motel 6 for 40 miles. I slept (poorly) in my tent. Oh well.
June 27.Desert Center to Quartzite. Heat becomes THE factor. Must of the day the riders traveled on I-10.
Temps were in the 100-115 range and even hotter at the pavement. Many riders got forty miles or so before they couldn't go any further. Calls went out for help, and we drivers were running all over the place picking up folks from the road and bringing them to camp. The SAG vehicles are all equipped with water, electrolytes, ice, icy foot baths and icy towels to take down temperatures . Many riders who thought they are looking at deaths door were revived enough to continue on..
The city park were were going to use had no shade. Phil agreed to follow the last rider all the way in. He drove the whole length of I-10 going about 10 miles per hour with his flashers on. No one was left behind. No one had heat stroke. Fortunately there was an air conditioned community center at the park. Again there was wall to wall sleepers and no tents outside. The was one motel - Super 8 - was available and it jacked up the price when he knew were were coming. We filled it up. Everyone could sleep in air. Our friend Claire fell a few days ago and "hurt" her wrist. Turns out it was fractured. She is continuing with the tour and hopes to ride again in about 10 days.
June 28. THE BIG DECISION. The desert Southwest is experiencing record high temps. It's national news. We could not continue. The riders were relieved to hear that the tour was suspended. We had to get outta here. One of the riders has access to semi-trailers. Two of them were brought in to transport the bikes. A bus was hired for 54 people. All the tour vehicles were loaded with the rest. And the tour skipped
three riding days and the whole batch was transported past Phoenix to Payson. The fields we were to stay on were unavailable because of a softball tournament. A soccer field at a middle school was the only other option. It had no showers, so the tour rigged one outside. Riders are using it with bathing suits on. There is a park with showers and a pool about 1/2 mile from the field. The next riding day will be Tuesday.
My duties however carried me to Phoenix. One rider need her bike fixed and arranged to have it done here.
One other rider wished to visit his daughter so he rode with me. There were additional rides joining us here, so I have corral them and get them to Payson. So now what? Where are we going to stay? Some Phoenix folks knew the tour was coming through and offered their homes. Jerry and Linda Dykstra were one of those. We invited ourselves over. They graciously received, fed, and cooled us off in their pool.
June 29. I hung out at the Dykstra all day. Mostly I had administrative duties and I could get them done in air conditioned comfort. I heard that the folks in Payson are really relaxing. Temps are at about 100. It cooled off nicely for sleeping. They are going to be there another three days.
Originally the tour was going to spend two nights in Phoenix. There were church services planned and some riders were going to give a short reflections on the ride. Well. The church services are still on, but there are no riders to give a talk. Again, Phil gets his arm twisted to come out of his comfort zone to make a short presentation at two services. The bike is fixed, the other rider has visited his daughter, the new joiners have been corralled, and after two services tomorrow, we will be on our way to join the others in Payson 91 miles away.