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Arizona Not-Quite Hiking

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Last week I was at the Astricon show in Glendale, Arizona (near Phoenix), running the registration system. Not being one to pass up a chance for hiking, I had arranged to stay an extra day to hike the White Tank mountains. There was one problem though, I didn't have transportation to the park.

After some thought I hatched what I thought was a good plan, getting there on a mountain bike. The plan was to pedal about 15 miles from the hotel to the trailhead, hike one of the trails (about 8 miles) and then return on the bike and finally donate the bike to a charity before flying back home.

Getting the bike was the easy part. I bought a relatively cheap one from a nearby Wal-Mart and after making sure that it was road-worthy I had the hotel store it for me until later. By the way, being on a bike brought back some good memories of my childhood and that feeling of freedom one gets on a bike.

On the day of the hike I stocked my backpack with water and food and I was on the road by 7 AM. It was predicted to be a hot day but at that time the desert air was still relatively cool and pleasant. As I biked my way closer to the park, I started to hear the thunderous sounds of fighter jets, apparently from training flights at the nearby Luke Air Force Base. By then I had biked nearly 8 miles and decided to pull over the side of the road for a quick drink of water and some food. That's about the time when my plan unraveled.

As I got ready to jump back on the bike and pedal away, I noticed that the front tire had gone flat. On closer inspection, I saw that the inner tube had slipped out and wrapped tightly around the front brakes. It was a hopeless situation. Even if could untangle the mess, and even if the tube was undamaged, I had no air pump to bring the tire back to life, and I was in the middle of nowhere.

Standing by the side of the road and considering my options, it quickly became apparent that I really had no options. I had to scrub the plan and started the journey back to the hotel on foot, leaving the bike behind.

Sometimes you have to see the good side of an adverse event. While disappointed that I couldn't make the planned trek, I was treated to a decent air show with the fighter jets buzzing overhead, and sometimes flying low in tight formation. And instead of hiking the park, I ended up hiking by the roadside in the desert heat all the way back to the hotel. At least I had enough water.

Plans sometimes fail. I might have mitigated the problem had I brought an air pump along, but no point dwelling on that. The way I see it, I got a good aerial show and still had a decent hike. And if I make it back to this place, I'll be sure to be more prepared, at least for a flat tire.

The hapless bike with the inner tube tangled

looking back at the forlorn bike and the unhiked mountains just beyond


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