Today was intended to be a relatively easy 84 miles from the Grand Canyon to Tub City, the unofficial capital of the Navajo nation. Our first international leg!
The morning was brisk and, frankly, a welcome respite from the sweltering heat that has accompanied every single one of my miles since Santa Barbara. We left the South Rim at a swift spin and my body was feeling good following a day out of the saddle. Life was looking up.
My bliss was soon interrupted by what was nothing short of catastrophic bike failure. While shifting gears, my rear derailleur gave up and heaved itself into my spokes cracking into a useless heap and ripping from the frame hanger. Had it stopped there, I could have waited a couple of days for some replacement parts. Unfortunately, the momentum of my pedaling hurled the derailleur, now wedged in the spokes, up and around into my frame, shattering the carbon of the stay. Game over little buddy.
While the Trek Travel folks do have a spare bike or two and got me back riding again, I have to admit I am sad to see my mere four-week-old ride meet its end in the prime of its youth.
Hopping on a loaner bike, I enjoyed a couple thousand feet of downhill on the way out of the park and along the Little Colorado River Gorge. The scenery was astounding and gravity was boosting my spirits. Alas, the conditions couldn't hold up forever.
Sure enough, with 27 miles to go on my ride, a left turn put me directly into a 25 mph headwind that swirling, driving windstorms with it and almost comical gusts shoving me across the road without warning. While not aerobically difficult, the ride was nonetheless a challenge as it reminded me yet again: when is this wind going to be at our back?
Eventually, I pulled into Tuba City in the Navajo nation. Predictably, the area is acutely poor and evidences an economic desperation eclipsing what I have seen in the hardest hit of the Central Valley in California.
On my last mile of riding, I noticed an almost incongruous skate park teeming with local kids. After a quick shower, I stopped by and checked in with all the young shredders on behalf of the Tony Hawk Foundation. (More on this tomorrow). They were happy, sharp, witty, and sincere. And, it all made my day.
So, as I fall asleep before 90% of the senior citizens in this country, and as I think back about my bike's bad luck, I nevertheless have a big smile on my face thanks to those skaters and the overall sense of gratitude that comes with having this opportunity to see and experience so much of America.