Day 4 - Wickenburg to Cottonwood

Greetings from Cottonwood folks! Today was our best day yet by leaps and bounds. Although Ralph decided to follow the doctor's advice to rest for one more day before taking it back on the road, he was with us in spirit as we trekked the 106 mile ride to our destination. I'm so happy to see that despite being on the sidelines for the moment, my dad's spirits are high and he was more than willing to help support us in any way he could. 

The weather finally cut us a break as we began our climb out of the stifling Arizona desert to make our way into the mountains. We left a little earlier than usual, and it was actually cool enough to wear a light jacket if you wanted as we pedaled out of Wickenburg. But after only about 5 miles the temperature was the last thing on my mind as the mountains began to dominate the skyline.

As we drew closer to the first big challenge of our day, I felt my heart begin to pound. You may have noticed in some of my previous photos, but I'm a little top heavy. Not an ideal body type for someone about to tackle a serious of big climbs like the ones we were facing down today. I was nervous that this was going to be my breaking point. After all, there aren't exactly a ton of mountains in New Jersey to train on, so this was going to be my first real experience taking on a steep incline like the ones waiting for me. 

But no matter, on this trip it's not how fast you tear up the mountain, it's simply getting to the top that counts.

And that's exactly what I did. Head down, sweat pouring off my face in the cool mountain air, I rode at a steady 8 mph for as long as it took me to get up the next crest of hill. Just when I thought that I had reached the mountains peak and the climb was finally over, I would round the bend to be greeted by yet another rise.

Our first climb of the day looms ahead

Our first climb of the day looms ahead

We faced off against three big climbs today, starting at an elevation of around 2,400 feet and climbing a total of 80 miles of our ride to reach a peak elevation of 7,000 feet. I have to say there is nothing quite like fighting a slow and steady incline for hours before finally reaching that sweet sign showing you've reached your goal. 

We were fortunate enough to have a few downhill reprieves and flat stretches of road to rest our weary legs in between climbs. Still, I knew I was going to need every scrap of strength to muscle my way up those mountains. The going was slow and steady, nobody was going to be breaking any sound barriers today that's for sure. 

Between the first and second climbs, I found myself alone as the group spread themselves out with the same mentality to pace themselves and save their strength for the climbs. Along the way I rode through a great little town called Prescot, a beautiful area with some bike friendly lanes and friendlier people. Since I wasn't on anyone's schedule but my own, I thought I would take a little time off and grab a snack as I enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. 

After resting up I continued pressed forward, knowing that we had two more tough climbs ahead. The last was the hardest by far, with the steepest portion of the hill reserved for the

Made it!

Made it!

But our efforts were rewarded by a long and wild descent into the town of Jerome, an awesome place built right on the mountain itself. The welcome sign claimed that Jerome used to a be a mining town, founded in 1876. You could feel the history of the town as you rode through the dusty streets and old fashioned buildings. A few more miles after that and we were riding into our hotel, our clothes stiff with sweat and grime but filled with exhilaration at literally conquering the mountain!

Tomorrow we will be heading into Winslow, I'll be sure to "Take It Easy," for all of you Eagles fans out there! 

Danielle Rivenbark