Oracular Journey

Fraught with Peril

It was a blustery March day. Maybe not the best day to set out on a bicycle trip from the Superstitions to Tucson. But it was the only time that would fit into our schedules.

By "our" is meant Gail, Burford, and I (deuce). We were originally meant to be a foursome, but Fingers dropped out because, as he put it, the trip was "fraught with peril."

What, we wondered, could be perilous about a stormy day bicycle trip through the desert on a little-traveled highway? And what, we wondered, does "fraught" mean, anyway?

We went to rent bicycles at a shop in Tempe that doesn't accept advance reservations. We showed up just after opening, but all their rental bikes had been cleaned out by some class called "Becoming an Outdoorswoman." We called around, finally locating a shop that would rent us two bikes for three days for $95 each. It wasn't difficult to talk them down to $75.

We went to Trader Joe's, where we filled shopping baskets with CLIF bars (only 89 cents each! I bought 14 myself) just as a TJ employee was trying to restock them. She asked why we were buying so many. I told her, "We're bicycling to Tucson today." She laughed, as if to say, "Fine, don't tell me, then." I said, "No, we really are bicycling to Tucson today." She just smiled. I was becoming indignant. "What--we don't look like the type of guys who would bike to Tucson?" "Nope." She was 66.666% right.

Above is our staging area, a house at the foot of the Superstitions--seen uncharacteristically, and perhaps ominously, shrouded in clouds.

Gail & Burford are at left, readying the bikes and the bike trailer ("BOB" to the initiated) Burford has rented--and somehow managed to hook to my bicycle, a rented $1,200 Mongoose. The plan was to trade off pulling the trailer. Of mice & men, I say. I hate it when I wax prophetic. . . .