We’re getting better and better! On the road this morning at 7.30 am sharp, gassed up from the night before. I discovered first-hand this morning most people travel Route 66 east-to-west – not just because that was the pattern of migration that underlies Route 66 but because the sun in your eyes in the morning is blinding – we had a quarter-mile or so to drive from the hotel onto I-40 to start our day’s journey and that was enough for me.

We had been expecting snow, from the previous night’s forecast, but the day started fine – but bitterly cold.

Our first stop, about 90 minutes on, was at the Contintental Divide, where rainwater falling on the west side of the divide flows to the Pacific, while rainwater falling on the eastern side flows to the Atlantic. We used the sto to warm ourselves with coffee – and put on our rainsuits to keep out the biting wind.

Tom and myself stradding the Contintental Divide

Tom and myself stradding the Contintental Divide

Then through Native Indian territory on Route 66 on into Arizona, where we gained another hour. We used this wisely for an early lunch at the restaurant in the Visitor Centre at the Petrified Forest National Park. We explored the park and had a group photo taken by two American girls from Washington DC.

(from left to right, back row) Joe, myself, Tom, Sean and Paul); (front row) Declan, Gerry, Siobhan and Nobby

At the Petrified Forest National Park: (from left to right, back row) Joe, myself, Tom, Sean and Paul); (front row) Declan, Gerry, Siobhan and Nobby

On then, in pouring rain, to Winslow, Arizona – to stand on the corner! I bought an Eagles CD with ‘Takin’ It Easy’ on it and used the CD player on my RoadGlide to blast it out while we took photos.

(from left to right, back row) Joe, myself, Gerry, Tom and Paul; (front row) Declan, Nobby, Sean and Siobhan

Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona: (from left to right, back row) Joe, myself, Gerry, Tom and Paul; (front row) Declan, Nobby, Sean and Siobhan

Sitting on my bike on a corner in Winslow, Arizona!
Sitting on my bike on a corner in Winslow, Arizona!
note the "Thank You" to the Eagles!

The shop across the road from the corner in Winslow, Arizona: note the 'Thank You' to the Eagles!

Excitement over, we made our way to Flagstaff. Across the plain, I-40 doubles as Route 66 so, for 40 miles of so, we fought winds from the south that threatened to blow us, not just off the road, but halfway to Canada. Still for such bad weather forecasts, we escaped with colder temperatures than we were prepared for, some rain, and strong winds – and arrived safe in Flagstaff.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is a day off – much needed! Most of the 66ers are going to the Grand Canyon or Sedona – I’m planning a day of idleness, interspersed with bouts of blogging!

It’s been a hard – but interested – week. We have travelled nearly 2000 miles – not much left to go to reach our destination in Santa Monica. But we’ve seen little of the country – we’ve been travelling fast, with short stops for petrol (gas!), coffee and lunch and only one or two ‘tourist’ stops each day. Shame perhaps, but the Challenge is about covering the distance, not sightseeing.

As a group, our team has come together well – there’s lots of slagging – and we’ve grown to know and to trust one another’s biking abilities. Certainly, I’m a better biker after this week – in six days, I done about 60% of the mileage that I have covered in the past 16 months on my own bike, over a much wider range of conditions and situations. It’s been great! I’m looking forward to the next few days, crossing the rockies and descending through California to the sea – and our end-point!

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