Another short day, supposedly... the climb up from Prescott to the top of Mingus Mtn. took 4 hours. Part of it was on the very scary Hwy 89 during rush hour traffic. Not my favorite kind of riding. General Santa Ana was with us again: north winds at about 30 MPH (5 less than yesterday). We climbed very slowly against the wind, stopping frequently to rest and refuel. I stopped at a store for an indoor bathroom (yes!) and called Erika and asked her to send me some shorts with bigger pockets and my digital camera so I can post pictures without waiting for a place to develop them... I finished the disposable camera today, and will get it developed tomorrow at Flagstaff.
When we reached the top of Mingus Mtn, at 7,023 elevation we celebrated with food and photos. We did not waste a lot of time though, knowing we still had the big descent ahead of us, planning on having lunch in Jerome.
The descent started at mile number 26.3 into the trip, and what a descent it was. I have never been so afraid on a bike, not even when I learned to ride without training wheels! It was very steep, with a lot of switchbacks and banked curves. We still had the wind in our faces when it was not blocked by the mountain itself. I did get a chance to look at the views this time, because I was so afraid of being out of control on the bike hurtling down the mountainside that I stopped for breaks to cool off the bike brakes and get my head together. I have blisters on my thumbs from hanging on the brakes!
The view was spectacular. You can't really see it in the photo below, but off in the distance was a beautiful snow capped mountain with the red rocks of Sedona below. It was breathtaking! Some of the times that I stopped I just sat and looked. It was awesome being up so high and seeing the panorama. The photo with Amy was taken on one of those breaks. After the break Amy went on and then I continued my scary descent.
By about mile 32 I had had it. I was just so afraid! Brendan, a very nice gentleman from England who is on the tour with us, stopped and patted me on the shoulder. I was literally in tears on the side of the road. He told me to follow him at his pace instead of trying to keep up with the others (which I couldn't do anyway) and thus escorted me down the rest of the descent. When we were almost to Jerome, Ron, another of our riders, came UP the mountain because he had heard that I was in trouble up there. So with Brendan in front of me and Ron behind me I made it down to Jerome.
After having lunch with Mary Ann, Janie, and Mike, we got back on the bikes and continued our descent into Cottonwood where we are staying tonight. Tomorrow is a climbing day, from here through Sedona and on to Flagstaff where we have our first rest day. I am ready for a rest day!
I never thought I would hear myself say that I would rather climb than descend, but there it is. I found out at dinner that a lot of other people were scared too. I'll bet that when I am in the midwest in some flat area I will fondly remember hurtling down the mountain today!