Day 17: (46.5 miles) We awoke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the sun peeking in through the blinds as we were wrapped in our warm blanket in our warm bed. After a good night’s rest, we were up and packing our bags, Margaret was already preparing a delicious and hearty breakfast spread including bacon, eggs, strawberries, bagels with cream cheese and oranges. We all enjoyed our coffee and tasty breakfast together and all got ready for the road. Margaret was biking with the bike club that morning at 10:00 am, it was a hill day, and she still so kindly insisted she show us the way to highway 89. So the three of us set off and about four miles later we were exchanging hugs before navigating through the round about. We stopped in Chino Valley so we could do some computer work, and then kept on, with Ash Fork as our destination. Even through the morning had been a bit brisk, with the climbing necessary to reach Ash Fork, we were slowly peeling our layers off. It was another day of rolling hills, not as bad as the two previous days, but still tiring. This was also the day of the our first major repair, when Shayna thought it would be a great idea to hit a rock at downhill speeds. Luckily Chris’ bike mechanic skills are sharp, and we were back on the road in no time. We made it to Ash Fork around 5:30 pm and checked into the RV/Camp site. We had officially made it to Route 66. We set up our new tent, which feels like a 1-bedroom apartment compared to the last, and made ramen with a side of tuna for dinner. With hunger curbed, we settled in, and were quickly asleep.
Day 18: (18 miles) Awaking with the sun lighting up our new bright orange tent, warmth was long to follow. We forced ourselves to emerge from the comfort of our bags, pack up camp and head east. Unfortunately, our first day on “Bicycle Route 66” consisted primarily of I-40 and one heck of a climb. Eventually cresting the top, we coasted into Williams AZ. Our bodies sore from four days of climbing and inclement weather conditions, we decided to make it a short day, and Williams was a great place to pick. Route 66 is alive and nearly bustling, although we can tell it is busier in summer, the character is ever present. Once our bikes were safely in our room, we each appreciated a hot shower, took a walk to do some sight seeing, enjoyed a flight of beers at Historic Brewing Co. and dinner at Goldie’s Route 66 Diner.
Day 19: (35 miles) After waiting longer than anticipated to make our waffles (somehow the Travelodge doubled in guests overnight), we packed up our things and headed to Flagstaff. We were back on I-40 for a bit, and just before our exit, Shayna got another flat. This time the front tire, and this time the responsibility fell more on the inconspicuous staple than the rider. Chris fixed ‘er up, and were were moving again. Our route took us off the highway for about 6 miles, which took us along old Route 66, quiet farms, homes, and lots of trees. On this road, we had an even better view of the snow capped mountains that we would reach by days’ end. After reaching our highest elevation to date (7,300 ft, heck yeah!), we rolled into Flagstaff around 1:30 pm, found a bike shop, replaced one of the two tubes we had recently used, and did a quick clean up & chain lube on the bikes with the public bike stand. We intended on staying with a warmshowers.org host, however he was called into work, so we stopped at the Single Speed Café to utilize their internet for plan B. We ended up finding a steal on a Travelodge ($37!) right along our route. We checked in, ditched our bags, and pedaled our much lighter trusty steeds to the movie theatre where we would finally see Beauty & The Beast. We’ve been waiting since it came out because many of the small towns we’ve traveled through don’t have movie theatres- well, lets face it, we’re lucky if they have a grocery store. Before getting our tickets we figured we’d grab a quick bite at the mall food court across the street. We timed that right! Since they were about to close instead of paying $9 for a ‘3 side meal’, we paid $5 for a ‘little bit of everything meal’- whatever was left over, which was more than enough for the both of us. We finished, grabbed our tickets, and watched the epic love story of an awkward girl finding true love in a hairy brute.