I biked clear across the rest of Phoenix today, and all of my route looked like the posh suburbs I had seen outside of town.
Remember that grungy old Soundgarden video from the 90’s with all of the elongated smiling? For more than a few reasons, I was reminded of that video while touring this massive suburban metro. For a city as large as Phoenix (it’s actually the most populous city I’ve biked through so far,) it certainly don’t look like it. The skyscraper part of town covers only a scant few blocks, and the roadside scenery consisted almost entirely of residential zone. But zoom out a bit and look at Phoenix from a distance, and its size becomes apparent. So many of its houses look exactly the same, and they’re all arranged on a grid of streets that stretch tens of miles. When I would pass one block and glance down the adjacent street, all I would see were countless more of these low-rising single-family homes stretching all the way into the horizon.
Phoenix is a bit off-putting. It’s too perfect, white and American to be true. I have a theory: this sterile and artificially domestic limbo is actually a bit insane underneath all of its expensive cars and cheap houses. It’s a vision of the American dream that can be reproduced with factory efficiency, and its not exactly what I would call “wholesome.”
Somewhere between Phoenix and Peroria, a lawn sprinklers was fruitlessly clicking away at a grassless gravel yard. Amidst the 90+ temperatures and drought conditions, I felt something in my stomach turn. I rode past an elementary school, eerily silent and motionless. Not a soul in sight. The loudspeaker was mumbling an announcement, and the only thing I was able to make out was “… and resume your normal schedule… after the Phoenix PD…”
Two white helicopters hovered hundreds of feet above the palm trees and sandy roofs, and I spotted a police car seemingly waiting on me at the next intersection.
“Can I turn right here?” I asked.
“Not now, maybe in 20 minutes or so” was the officer’s reply.
I inched forward enough to look down the street, and saw a huge blockcade of emergency vehicles parked a hundred yards down the street. At least eight cars strong– police vans, fire trucks and ambulances crowded the streets next to this school, sirens blaring.
“Whoa! I’ll, uhh, just go that way now then…” I said as I bicycled in the opposite direction.
Someone had phoned in to the police claiming bloody murder. They now suspect it to be a hoax, but at the time the police rushed to lock down the entire area.
Did I mention that I was sick throughout this whole ordeal? Something caused some extreme nausea and vomiting this morning. About two hours into the ride, I pulled over into a Jack in the Box and gastronomically ejected out all of my morning’s breakfast, plus all the water I had been drinking while riding. Mike would’ve been impressed.
My chest was on fire, it felt like my entire torso would be the next thing to come out. My legs were weak and cycling was slow, and I had a powerful headache as well. An hour later, an unquenchable thirst and hunger overwhelmed me as my now-empty stomach was helplessly grasping for nutrition. However, the slimy warm water in my bottles only made me feel worse. I’ve always been afraid this would happen while on the road. Last time this happened, I had the good fortune of being near a bathroom and bed.
This time, I at least had the good fortune of being across the street from a fast food joint. I was also only a few miles from a cheap motel. I checked myself in for the night after only bicycling 30 miles over the course of seven arduous hours.
After sleeping for nearly 14 hours straight, my heath has seemingly returned. I hope my body isn’t lying to me– with me being so close to my destination, I wouldn’t be able to stand sicking another day out.