Stage 11 – Wednesday, September 21, 2016
The Inside Scoop by Spitfire
I slept right through my alarm this morning. The days have been long and the nights short. It’s beginning to wear on the entire crew. We woke to steady rain, which was not a welcome sight. Riders began donning garbage bags and goggles, taking last sips of warm coffee, and regrettably not wanting to stop to use a restroom because of the additional clothing. The Motorcycle Cannonball is truly a test of both man and machine. Who will endure to the end?
Only 58 riders started out today. Currently, the five front runners have been steady guiding the two Harley-Davidsons and three Hendersons along the route. Today we face more steep grades as we climb into the high desert. We face 262 miles of highway with elevations of 3,700 to 8,400 feet, with a stop at Four Corners Monument. The monument immortalizes the intersection of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
Mixing with traffic today was even more stressful since the water spray on the road made the riders extra hard to see. We were on a four-lane highway with a 65 mph speed limit. I prayed for safety and grace. Just then a vision of something I saw in the past appeared to me; painted on the roof of an old building was the word GRACE. I took this sign as a premonition that all would be OK.
As we went down to two lanes, I found #59, Steve Gonzales, pulled over. His clutch was slipping and he needed to do an adjustment. He pulled his rain soaked tools from his canvas saddlebags and went to work. Sometimes the best thing for me to do is be quiet and just let the person do their work. I stepped back to my bike and pulled my “Slow” sign out to provide more safety while he worked on the left side of the bike.
We got to Four Corners as the rain subsided and pulled into a gravel-filled, muddy parking lot. We were able to take a few pictures along with the many tourists who were already there, before the sky let loose again and everyone huddled near the vendors to seek shelter. I had left my rain gear on my bike so I had to run out to retrieve my already soaked gear. Ugh!
A little further down the road many riders pulled into a small trading post for gas. It was busy with curious locals retrieving mail and buying supplies. Darlene, a local Native American motorcyclist stopped to talk to me. She had just ridden home from a visit to Texas and was delighted to see the bikes. As we pulled out I saw another painting on a roof; Love Life. Yes I do.
I took more pictures of scenery than riders today. The red rock formations were fascinating and made you wonder what it would have been like for cowboys of the old west on horseback looking for shade. Trees and water were scarce. I saw many people walking along the road. About two miles before we got to one of the larger towns, Kayenta, I saw a woman and child walking with a dog following them. Later I saw them in town. A motorized bicycle would be nice for them, especially one with a sidecar!
We arrived in Page, AZ for the night. The sweep trailer had 10 bikes secured and more had been picked up by their crews. While some people were done for the night, many others busied themselves with maintenance and repairs. I made my usual check of riders and crew to make sure everyone was fine before getting to my room around 9pm. Another long day, but at least tonight I was able to eat supper for the first time in four days. Tomorrow we visit the Grand Canyon. For more information about the Motorcycle Cannonball and to check the standings and point totals so far, visit the Cannonball link below.