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Blue Team 'Tickled Pink' in the South

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Day 1 Los Angeles, CA

Touch down!! Our first days in LA were a great introduction to the American Dream. We picked up a swish automobile, loaded it with our belongings and away we went in one smooth transaction. Once we'd established the right side of the road to drive on, how to u-turn without causing a head-on and what the heck a flashing red light means at a cross junction, we swiftly turned into seasoned road trippers- full of promise and ready to roll!

United Relay Baton
United Relay Baton

Task one for us was to pickup some more wheels - a bicycle to be specific. We headed down to Santa Monica, strolled in with misplaced confidence and managed to land ourselves a sweet deal from a lovely lady called Pam, who was completely baffled by our task but handed over some solid advice- "YES Joel you do need cycling shorts -despite the fact they're 'not your style'!"

This my bike ...
This my bike ...

Bike in boot, sorry trunk(!), and Sunday arrives: Group Stage! What a lovely group they were. We were relay newbies at this point but we were given the motivation we needed from this great bunch. Too many runners to give thanks to in LA, but they all did a magnificent job and the baton moved east without a hiccup all day long.

LA Group Stage
LA Group Stage

Day 2 Joshua Tree, CA

The sun is shining bright for Molly and the Marines today- nope that's not another new band you haven't heard of but instead the fitness marvels that are Molly- a seasoned runner and local charity fundraising superstar, passing the baton on to a group of incredibly fit marines who have kindly donated their day off to run the baton 90 miles East to the state border. They had it covered, Joel and I just needed to be on hand in case of any problems arising - there weren't any so we had a ball with our first Walmart visit and ate at the Cross Roads cafe before travelling onto Arizona. Howdy Parker!

The American Dream Team
The American Dream Team

Day 3 Sonoran Desert, AZ

During the night we are reunited with the baton, in a sleepy state we happily welcome it to Arizona. After a questionable breakfast - high on syrup, we head out on the open road. We have lots of cycling to push through today, we feel ready though- ain't no stopping us now! The roads are flat, the sun is hot, the wind - fairly strong. Joel's 'taking advice' skills fail him again, apparently sunscreen isn't a necessity when you think you know better- he doesn't know better. Joel gets sun slapped on the hand... & wrist!!

The sun won
The sun won

An incredible day is had - Arizona is beautiful and we finish the day content, (exhausted) and looking forward to the morning (wishing it would just be a little further away).

Must get pictures!
Must get pictures!
United Relay rides
United Relay rides
Only a 'few' more miles...
Only a 'few' more miles...

Day 4 Phoenix, AZ

We accompanied the baton all the way to Phoenix, beginning our day just outside of the city, we met Andrew and Jeff who took the red responsibility over a lot of steep climbs, past Lake Pleasant and handed over to seasoned runners; Traci and Barbara. We had massive admiration for these guys, the thermometer was touching 32 degrees, we were melting in our shaded vehicle, so to run 10/20 miles in the heat was, to us, incredible. We were assisting in the baton switch overs all day- meeting amazing people, including one toy chicken named Gertrude. After handing over our baton responsibility for the night in scenic Papago Park, we get some rest awaiting a 4am baton changeover with Jin - thanks for a great effort Jin!

Hot hot hot
Hot hot hot

Day 5 Gold Canyon, AZ and onwards

One participant drop out couldn't stop us today, we meet Lisa who steams us 30 miles east from Superior. The run was tough, going through Top of the World which as the names suggests is rather high. She loved the hills though and even at the end of 30 miles she smiled gleefully and casually told us she was heading to work shortly- oh my! Lisa gave us a great insight into what's to come on our cycling days ahead, canyons and Treees, actual trees, we haven't seen those in a while. She was completely correct and as our day edges to an end we hit the mountains, the green green mountains - where the air is a little cooler and the hills a little bigger.

Smiley Lisa
Smiley Lisa
Lisa in action
Lisa in action
Specks of green
Specks of green
Lots of green
Lots of green

Day 6 Crossing the border from Arizona to New Mexico

On the road early, we're sad to leave these pleasant mountains. We both start with jumpers/sweaters on this morning - oh how it feels like home! Cycle cycle cycle day and it's a beautiful day too. The scenery is forever changing and we don't get very far without needing to dig the camera out. Heavenly clouds and continuous reveals of views across plains and mountains keep us pumped for a big day on the bike. We stop off for lunch at a local spot about 50 miles from our start point and we're both delighted for the break but nervous for the menu. We love Mexican food, but after 3 continuous days of both purposely and accidentally ordering similar Mexicana dishes, we're certain we'll mix it up and not make it 4... Whooops, we've seated ourselves, unknowingly, in the only Mexican in town and drinks were ordered before this is made known. No going back now- we order our bean burrito, drink pints of mega sodas and head off with full bellies- there's always dinner! We cross the border- woooo- not far into NM we stop, Magdalena looks like the perfect rest-bite spot, good old Magdalena.

Run run run...
Run run run...
Cycle cycle cycle...
Cycle cycle cycle...
Arizona - New Mexico Border
Arizona - New Mexico Border

Day 7 New Mexico

We had stayed in a very small village called Magdalena, which was overlooked by the Lady on the Mountain. And no, this isn't some celestial being; it is a mountain formation encasing the village. It was hard to keep our eyes on the concrete road in front of us with such amazing views in our periphery; but remember kids, safety first.

Lady on the Mountain
Lady on the Mountain

We said goodbye to route 60 at Socorro. It was a sad goodbye, as it had given us so many great experiences, the landscapes will forever be burnt into the back of our retinas; the sun made sure of that. It was an arduous journey up and over the rolling hills that came, and the wind was putting too much effort into holding us back. Pedaling as hard as you can to go down a hill is definitely not as fun as rolling freely down it; with the wind in your hair like a dog hanging out of a car window.

Star jumps
Star jumps
Wind is picking up...
Wind is picking up...

Day 8 New Mexico

We felt as if we had traveled back in time as we stopped in the old town of Lincoln in New Mexico, where they proudly advertise the town as the last escape of Billy the Kid. We didn't feel like outlaws as we cruised through Billy the Kid's stomping grounds, but we did feel rebellious to our body's cries as we cycled along route 380 towards Roswell.

Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid
Fandango
Fandango

The sun had been hiding behind the grey clouds all day, which was a pleasant relief for us (Sarah) as the skin had begun to redden: Sarah's a secret chameleon.

We knew that Roswell was holding some kind of secret within it's borders, a BIG secret. The year 1947 is an important year in Roswell's history, and indeed, earths history, for it IS the year that an alien ship piloted by a learner driver crash landed onto our unsuspecting planet. We decided we needed a non-human to carry the baton for a bit, even just hold it. After all, the United Relay of America is all about equality, so if we were to enlist an alien to do the job, Roswell would be the place to find them.

They took some persuading
They took some persuading

The most important find of the day...ITALIAN food, that's right, we ate until we exploded - no beans, cheese or even a hint of spiciness. Thanks Roswell!

Stay tuned for more of Sarah and Joel's blue route antics...

Alien invasion
Alien invasion
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