José Hawes

Hi, I'm José

On March 29th 2024 I set off from Arizona's southern border (with Mexico) and pedalled North.

My goal for this vacation was to "wing-it". With camping gear and a credit card, I wanted to ride as much as possible. I had no desire to carrying my bike, or be near cars. After 12 days on trail I made it to Mormon Lake, just south of Flagstaff. I'm glad to have some unfinished business with Arizona! Best trip yet 🤘

The Map above shows my actual route, tracked with my Garmin Inreach and displayed using an open-source WordPress plugin I created.

Payson, AZ to Mormon Lake, AZ

Posted on April 14th, 2024

My break in Payson was much needed… I am running out of steam! Cycling over a conveyor belt of mountain ranges turns out to be tiring work!

Leaving Payson it was clear than it was going to take more than 3 weeks to get to Utah. With lots of mountains (and the Grand Canyon!) between me and there, I decided not to extend my trip and make a big push… I’m on vacation after all! Also I miss home 🐙🐕🏡♥️

Instead, I decided to continue on-wards (…and up-wards!) and see what the next few days hold. After that, I need to seriously figure out getting home!

North of Payson was a big day of climbing, up to 2200m / 7200ft. My route took me up an at-first quiet, then silent (deactivated) mountain tracks that I had completely to myself. The only people I saw for the next day were a lovely family who were very interested in talking to me about my adventures (yes they did have cold beer!).

High up in the mountains I was cutting tracks through large patches of untouched snow, surrounded by thick pine forest instead of the usual cactus. A major bridge across a river had been removed, which explained why no one else was coming this way. Luckily the river was low enough that I was able to (very carefully) make it across. Not for the faint of heart up here!

Two Elk ran right in-front of me as I was enjoying a nice bit of (rare!) downhill. That’ll keep you on your toes. I saw many herds of wild Elk that night before setting up camp high up in the mountains.

I woke up the next morning on the ground (leaky/dead air mattress), covered in a layer of frost. That’ll get you going at first light!

Poor trail conditions (true mountain biking!), low food and my first hike-a-bike (randomly witnessed by some impressed thru-hikers!!) were all the I signals I needed. It was time to get off trail.

A few hours (of road-riding) later I was sitting at a saloon bar with my own cabin booked across the street. Gotta love America!

Without much more peddling in me I am now focused on being lazy and figuring out how I am going to get home! ✈️🇨🇦✌️

Oracle, AZ to Payson, AZ

Posted on April 11th, 2024

I left Oracle around noon a little inebriated after having two unnecessary brunch beers… but when are they ever necessary?! Stocked with food I had big smiles all day as I enjoyed the AZT single-track and beautiful scenery. I stopped for lunch and enjoyed chatting with a couple of thru-hikers at a rainwater collector, which was built specifically for trail users… to keep us alive.

The birds and animals here have been a real treat: exotic birds, birds of prey, cows cows cows (and bulls) and I even ran into a family of (wild?) bore.

I have been on the roads a little more than I would usually like, but it means that I am making bigger distances and have access to more treats. I had a rather nice almond danish and cappuccino at an historic mining town… for example!

So far the trip has been a nice mix of single-track (AZT), back-roads (gravel/rock/sand/mud) and road. While the road portion has mostly been highway, there has almost always been a generous shoulder (look out for broken glass!) and a rumble strip. Which is nice.

The scenery is BIG here and very easy to underestimate just by looking at the map (as I am discovering repeatedly!). I have been going through some stunning scenery, but the price of admission has been working my way up and over mountain rang after mountain range! … which ain’t easy.

I am taking some time off in Payson to rest and recharge. I also need to look at the rest of my route… paying particular attention to elevation gains!

Arizona, Incredible.

Patagonia, AZ to Oracle, AZ

Posted on April 5th, 2024

My day off in Patagonia was well-timed, because it hammered rain all day! The next morning the skies had cleared, so after resupplying on beer and brisket (!) I headed back towards the mountains. Wind and hail ensued, which is one thing, but the Arizonan mud/CLAY quickly made me change plans.

This sticky adobe quickly filled my tire tread (so no more grip) and the bike got so clogged up it completely seized. I couldn’t even push it! After detouring around the mud, I made it to the historic Kentucky Camp and slept on the porch.

In the morning I chatted with the friendly caretaker who offered me me freshly made coffee and a couple of small oranges.

GORGEOUS single track down into Vail. I stocked up on beer, burgers & bullshit at Montgomery’s Grill & Saloon before making more miles. Slept under the stars (on top of a HUGE sign, out of sight… randomly) on the outskirts of Tucson.

I massively underestimated the Mt Lemmon (2,792m / 9,159 ft) mountain pass from Tuscon to Oracle! It looked soo close on the map! With accommodation in Oracle arranged I knew I was in for a big day, but after ascending for 9 hours the sun was setting and I was on the wrong side of the mountain range!

Some bike issues (only one functioning brake) and a navigational error delayed my descent… in the dark (not recommended), so I decided to call it quits and cowboy camped next to the trail.

The next morning I knew I had made made the right decision as I navigated (UP… down… UP.. down) the foothills down to Oracle for a well deserved rest.

Mexican Border, AZ to Patagonia, AZ

Posted on March 31st, 2024

I have been instantly blown away by Arizona. I am having a blast!

I took an extra day in Tuscon because on top of building and packing my bike, finalising my route I am getting over a head-cold. This has me both coughing and leaking from nose. Not ideal biking conditions, but you know… more baddass?

The closest I could arrange for an Uber (XL) to drop me and my bike off was on the wrong side of a mountain range to the Mexican border, and the start of my route through Arizona. So as a “warm-up” I biked up and over to get to the Mexican border, which is 1600 meters / 1 mile above sea-level! I was happy to have gotten dropped off as close as I did and enjoyed working my way up through the terrain.

I rode all the way to the border and took some photos, completely quiet aside from the birds and occasional cow. From there I put in a few hours of gravel/forestry riding, enjoying making progress. They are doing controlled burns in the area, presumably for forest fire control; so I spent the time riding past hundreds of firefighters doing their thing.

Like a mirage, I noticed a couple of campers and trucks just off the road. As is protocol, I went over to try to scrounge a beer. Long story short, I was detained by this lovely Mexican-American family having an Easter gathering. It turns out they had many coolers of beer and were quite interested in what I was doing. It soon got dark and the beers were flowing. What an amazing family, they humored my endless questions and I was genuinely touched by their kindness. I cowboy camped near their camp and said my goodbyes their next day. Tio Luis, Stephanie, Luciano, Mike… email me! ♥️

The next day was spent almost exclusively on AZT singletrack – WOW! Navigating yet another mountain range was tough work, with a few pushes up steep chunky sections. Mostly though it felt like riding through a video game, fun trails through jaw-dropping scenery. Lots of wildlife too! 🦌🦌🐃🐃🐃🐃🐃🐃🦅

Being “delayed” last night meant I was running low on food today, so I decided to see if I could make Patagonia while food might still be available. A lovely ride down into the valley, which I did partially in the dark. I arrived into town and very quickly had acquired beer, pizza and an AirBnB for the next two nights.

Patagonia is a lovely little town, very friendly and has been the perfect day off. I spent quite a bit of time sitting at the bar at the Wagon Wheel Saloon and also made a new friend, Lee who I hope to see again on my trip.

Royston, BC to Tuscan, AZ

Posted on March 28th, 2024

JUST about got everything packed and triple checked in time to get to the airport. Thanks Carls and Chris! ♥️ Managed to get some sleep on all 3 flights amazingly. Got a nearby hotel and even a sympathy shuttle ride to a warm bed 🍺🛌