Boy oh boy was today interesting. Here are the pictures:

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Today I rode for Sandy Waites at the request of Matt Vahlberg, my boss at SAIC where I interned for two years!

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This morning we left our host with the best cheer we’ve ever done courtesy of Matt, Jeremy, and Kirk. It’s quite the performance and I hope that we can perform for everyone in San Diego when we get there! We were told that the ride was downhill pretty much all day and we were pretty excited about that. (It turns out that was a huge lie but I’ll get to that later) The first part of the ride was in fact downhill. About 2000 feet of downhill through Coconino National Forest. The forest was gorgeous and I couldn’t believe that it was in Arizona! Arizona just doesn’t look like that in my head! There were tons of switchbacks and sharp turns and windy roads on what has to be the most beautiful pavement I’ve ever seen. Yes. Pavement. Oh the things we appreciate out here on the 4k… But seriously, it was glorious. We did have one person fall during this downhill due to a random rock in the middle of the road. The rider is completely fine, a little scraped up, and needs a helmet replacement, but the helmet DEFINITELY did it’s job and did it well. It’s good to know we don’t wear them just for looks.

We continued on, and I got another flat. Go me. I’m up to 11 tubes in the trash. Whatever. We kept rolling on until we reached Sedona which is a very pretty town, but just my luck, I fell off my bike and added some more (really minor) wounds to the ones that are already healing. A HUGE road work, cat machine, tractor thing decided not to slow down or give me any space when the shoulder ran out. With no time to unclip my feet, I had a choice between going under it’s tire or laying down in some gravel. I chose the latter. I was going really slow, so I kind of just fell over. With nothing else to do but get back up and dust myself off, we kept riding.

We rode on and on until (SURPRISE!) we encountered a 3800 foot, 17 mile climb through Mingus Mountain. Yeah. Not making that name up. It was just what we expected after being told today was all downhill. We climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed. We probably averaged about 8mph through the whole thing, so that comes out to over two hours of climbing straight uphill. Plus, we had a water stop in the middle, right at the entrance of Jerome, AZ (interesting little town known for it’s mining) where we had to wait for some heavy rain to pass through. Crossing the mountain took a LONG time. Did I mention that we climbed a lot?

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That’s Jerome. There’s about 4 or 5 switchbacks through those buildings you see and we rode through all of them! Anyway, at the top of Mingus Mountain we had our lunch stop with Chickfila and Chipotle! We decided to get a move on when we saw rain clouds in the distance. We flew down the mountain and it rained so hard it felt like hail. We were freezing cold, and after about 10 miles in 25 minutes, we pulled over and took shelter because it started to thunder and lightning. We waited for a little over a half hour for the storm to pass, then continued on to finish out the last 16 miles where my group (Eric, Danny, Kirk, and Kenny) decided to rap the whole way there. We made up raps about soaked socks, and road signs, and life on the 4k. It was pretty hilarious.

We finally arrived at our host Prescott Life Church in Prescott, AZ after 91 miles. With all the stops, it took us over 11 hours. Here is the GPS route and stats: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/552044687. Make sure to look at the map and zoom in to see all of the switchbacks we had to ride today! A couple more stats for you: Today was our 24th ride in July. In June we only had 24 rides. We have ridden 180 more miles in July than in June and it took us 12 hours less time to do it! Plus, in July we climbed 66,000 feet compared to 33,000 in June. Thats double! Our total mileage is around 3730 miles. If I had to guess, I’d say that by the time we hit San Diego, we’ll be close to 4500 total miles!

When we arrived at our host, it was sort of late, so food was mostly ready for us! We ate burgers and dogs, had free coffee and hot chocolate, and ice cream! Our hosts treated us amazingly! It was so nice to be able to hang out and interact with them and to eat such delicious homecooked food! After dinner and showers, they had their monthly Monday night worship/jam session where members play music and pray simultaneously. I sat in for that and it was really cool! Mychal gave a sermon (I guess that’s what you’d call it. It was very informal.) that was very fitting. He talked about how even though religion guides you to live within certain boundaries, life is supposed to be fun and adventurous! He said that everyone should strive to push their limits and step outside their comfort zones and try new things, but to let religion keep them from doing things that would otherwise harm them or go against their values. I thought it fit really well with the adventure we are all on as 4k’ers. Afterwards, we had a 4k team meeting where we told our personal high and low moments and spotlighted our teammates for the awesome things they do every day! Then, I went back to hang out with the church members. They were all really cool and we talked about wakeboarding and lacrosse and biking! After talking to them for a while, we figured out that Nikki, Mychal’s wife, was from Pasadena, MD! We kept talking and realized that we actually went to high school together and she even played field hockey with my little sister! I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me, but it’s crazy that we encountered each other across the country! After a little more chit-chat, it was time for bed.

Tomorrow we have a 64 mile ride into Wickenburg, AZ. It’s supposed to be around 104 degrees, so we are trying to leave as early as possible to get there. I haven’t checked out the elevation myself, but apparently it is supposed to be all downhill. We’ll see if that actually turns out to be true. If it is, then I think we can make it to our host before 1pm. Maybe even before noon if we’re lucky. We’re also giving out our second and final scholarship tomorrow!

One last note about the new map of our route that I posted yesterday. There was a little confusion. I made the first map of our route (with the red line) back in January or Febuary. Our route was changed in April or May, so I made a new map (with the blue line). Being the lazy procrastinator that I am, I didn’t upload the new map until yesterday. However, the list of cities that I’ve had posted since the beginning of the ride has always been correct.

Today was super interesting and so many things happened! How could you not comment?!

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