bb’s First Bike Tour: Day Five

I wake up and decide it is a day for resting and writing. I spend the morning with my hosts who offer me pancakes and some advice about where to go. They recommend a place called Sabino Canyon on the outskirts of the city. It’s a rare place because the landscape includes cacti AND water. Usually the desert “trees” stay far away from the liquid of life. I’ll go there tomorrow.

For now, to the coffee shop, and biking is the only way to arrive in style. I remember Epic Cafe which I visited on my second day in the city, a homey local place where students go to study, date other students, and a bunch of old guys show up to shoot the breeze with each other. I snag a table by the windows and start typing, staring at people, typing, staring into space, drinking my coffee, and typing some more. Soon the whole afternoon passes.

I pedal back to my new home which is 30 minutes east. When I get home I get a tour of the composing toilet and outdoor shower, and then try to catch a glimpse of the tortoise under it’s dirt mound. I get down on my knees and look into a hole at the side of the mound, but all I can see is darkness. It’s too far submerged!

Next: Fixing a flat and the road to Sabino

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bb’s First Bike Tour: Day Three

By far the hardest of days. It begins innocently enough. I wake up to signs of my period and grabbed the diva cup, go outside the tent and cook some oatmeal. An RV pulls up next to my campsite, and out steps an professor of History from Purdue University. He wants my campsite because a group of hunters with dogs are moving in next to the site where he and his wife have been staying. His wife doesn’t like the idea of seeing bleeding animals strung up outside her RV window.

We make small talk as I pack up my gear, and at one point he steps away to answer a call from his wife who is checking out another campsite further down the road. I ask if she’s found a good one. He doesn’t answer my question, obviously concerned with other things. “One day you’ll be married to a man who you like to check in on and make sure he’s doing things right.”

The professor tops off my water bottle which is a huge help since I would have otherwise had to backtrack to a small stream in a gulch a few miles away. He holds my bike for me while I heave on the panniers, and I bike away toward the nearby visitor’s center, hoping to charge my phone which is near dead. I arrive to find a few construction workers restoring the old ranch home, and a woman coming out of a trailer next to the visitor’s center. I ask her about charging my phone and she says, “No! You can only go in if you need information. It’s for visitors.” I don’t have energy to argue with her, so I keep on my way, knowing there is really only one road I can take back to Vail, the blessed and speedy 83.

I zoom down the road, past the mountain ranges and cacti which look completely different than they did on day one. The sun performs stark wonders on the landscape, everything now harsher, more aggressively showing up before my eyes. The road back to civilization is fast, almost too fast, and the land changes from high to low desert as I descend the Catalina foothills.

 

I laughed as I was going up a small incline and thought of why I came on this trip. My ex-boyfriend made fun of my Jamis Renegade. He mocked people like me who had nice bikes and didn’t use them. He is not an evil person but he said evil things about my body. “If there was a Bethany with less weight, I’d be totally in love with her.” The day after we broke up, I booked my flights to Tucson. I had to get away from that story he was telling about me. Otherwise I’d start believing it. I am telling my own story.

The night of day three, I found a campsite at Colossal Cave Mountain Park. It was sandy and very windy. I settled down at a freshly built platform. I was twenty miles outside of Tucson, and surrounded by tall saguaros, prickly pear, and mesquite. Once again, I peeked at the stars before holing up in my tent, so content and alone, the night quiet, my legs sore. In my journal I write a thought that occurred to me while biking: “I am a Bethany carrying 90 pounds of pannier every day. I am the heaviest I’ve ever been. I am the happiest and strongest Bethany.”

 

Read about the final day of the tour!