For all of five seconds, you might have shared the right lane along the U.S. 60 with this guy and his fully-loaded steel frame bicycle over the weekend.
Frank Marchetti is one of few who have braved the ride from Superior to Globe on a bike, a 2142-foot climb total, passing cars within inches of running him off the road, horns blaring.
“It happens almost everyday,” he says.
Just under two weeks ago, Marchetti, hailing from Canada, began a cycling trip that started in San Diego, California. Now he is looping through Arizona, riding four or five hours a day, and has already passed through Yuma, Dateland and Casa Grande. Thursday he rode the 20-plus miles from Superior to Globe. From Globe he is making his way toward Tonto Basin.
While some choose to explore places by staring out of car or bus windows, Marchetti prefers hiking, trekking and cycling his way through his world travels.
“You appreciate it on a deeper level when you see it slowly. You appreciate it even more when you earn it by sweating your way through,” he says. “Instead of hearing a motor or the noise of a car, you hear the wind breezing by… And you can just stop and soak it in.”
As a seasonal worker, he can afford to take trips like this every year. Marchetti runs his own bug business, so whenever he is not selling trichogramma wasps or fly parasites, he heads somewhere away from home.
This time, for the second time in his life, he decided to take a long distance cycling tour. (His first tour was through Chile and Argentina.) Since it’s about 50 degrees warmer here than it is in Guelph, Ontario (Marchetti’s hometown), a trip through Southern California and Arizona made sense.
He explains all of this while securing side bags to his steel frame, preparing for his ride to Tonto Basin. Not only is he pedaling his own weight, his bike is loaded up with things like: cooking gear, a sleeping bag, a tent, mixed nuts and Clif Bars, orzo, granola, clothing, 74 ounces of water, bike repair tools, a tire patching kit and extra cables.
Aside from cycling with a heavy load, there are other things that can slow you down, he adds, like headwind, the quality of the road, the hours of daylight, and, most importantly, the terrain.
The ride to Tonto Basin is more than 40 miles from here, with about a 1,000-foot elevation change. Marchetti allocated himself six hours to do it, including breaks. From there he will ride to Show Low, and then loop his way back west toward California.
By the end of January, he will end up in Los Angeles, where he will stay for one month before cycling up to Redding in Northern California.
So, next time you spot a cyclist on the side of the highway, consider giving him or her some room. They are, in fact, heading somewhere, just like the rest of us.
Jenn Walker began writing for Globe Miami Times in 2012 and has been a contributor ever since. Her work has also appeared in Submerge Magazine, Sacramento Press, Sacramento News & Review and California Health Report. She currently teaches Honors English at High Desert Middle School and mentors Globe School District’s robotics team.