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'Larry' and the unicyclist

The desert seems to attract the oddballs, the characters, the misfits, the marginal.

The stereotype is the bearded prospector on his uncertain quest for gold.

But on the streets of Salome, Ariz., I encountered some of the desert's most colorful characters.

I found . . . Larry (not his real name), a loaded touring cyclist from England who set out from L.A. to bicycle across country. Larry is middle-aged, with very good gear, and he is alone.

Larry and our group have more or less adopted each other. He is traveling more or less at the pace of our women's group, and seems glad of the company.

I didn't see Larry today, however, when the temperature soared to 93 degrees.

We did see, however, the unicycle rider (pictured) who is also riding across country, on his large unicycle (see photo). I never learned his name, but he is tall and thin with a full beard.

Our unicyclist intends to get to Florida by the end of June.

In the true spirit of the characters who live in or cross this desert, I guess the fellow on the unicycle takes the prize. But in the normal course of things, why are those of us on this tour that much different, riding bikes on a straight, slightly uphill road, in temperatures in the 90s, in a headwind?

Then there is the town of Salome, Ariz. The complete name on the town sign is: Salome, where she danced. Then there is the town of Hope. Leaving town the sign reads: Your (sic) now beyond hope.

Deserts do demand a sense of humor.

To read more of Pat's blogs from her cross-country trip, click here.

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