There is an African saying "that when a strong wind blows, the mighty Iroko is felled, but the grass, they bend over and let it pass". I told this to George "Big Guns" Metzler as we worked together in that memorable desert wind from Willcox to Tombstone. His reply; "In that case my ass is grass".
The Arizona Desert supports very few trees, and the grass, their biggest problem is water. The excellent logistics of the Pactour crew provided ample hydration. The wind was no stranger, I had ridden in a three man echelon with the legend ultracyclist Lon Haldeman and Scott "The Mast" Stinnett in big winds breaking on the side of the wind every half-mile as we approached Douglas Az. A good tutorial, but it did not prepare me for the march into Safford Az. See the Video:
We had ample warning about the stage from Willcox to Tombstone, and it came on the heels of the previous day, a mountain stage with a climb to Mount Graham peaking at 9200 ft. This was followed by a second lesser climb that proved to be the Guillotine. Soon after we left Willcox, Mark "Windjammer" Thomas, found his legs and was in Tombstone before the Motel keys were available. So I worked with George, Doc Stinett, Phil "n' Good" Misek and Ivan "The not so Terrible" Umble. We blended our individual power for more efficient travel to Tombstone. The road did not belong to us and the shoulders were pretty bad, with a strong cross wind from the left, the echelon stretched from left to right, it required almost absolute attention. 3 miles from Tombstone and we do a right hand turn for the only fair-winds of the day and I get my only flat of the tour, I watched them fade into the distance but not before reminding George to check in his guns at the Sherriffs in town. Right there was John "The" Kramer, he had more than his fair share of mechanicals in this tour, but it had not touched his "other worldly" smile. As we got to Tombstone we were both ready to bury that day in Boothill Cemetary.
Next and final stage to Tucson was to be almost as windy, after an exhilarating descent to lunch, George, Peter "The Great" Beeson and I decided to end this thing.
Endorphins ran high.
And stayed High.
We of the Echelons, all thank the crew.
Please save a bone for Bisti our mascot.