I hope this note finds you well.
As many of you know Annette and I rode our bikes from San Diego, California to Saint Augustine, Florida this spring. There was any number of themes that caught my attention, but one of the first was the deserts and mountains of the American Southwest.
In the first thirty-six hours of our trip, we climbed from sea level to 4400 feet and then the next day we descended to the Imperial Valley of Central California at 195 feet below sea level. The next day we began climbing again this time through the Glomus Sand Dunes. We could just have easily been in the Sahara Desert.
For the five weeks, we climbed and descended through several mountain ranges. The highest point of our trip was Emory Pass just east of Silver City, New Mexico. In one afternoon, we rode sixteen miles up and over the pass at 8400 feet.
There were several stretches in Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas where there were no services at all for eighty to one-hundred miles. One of those stretches was just west of Del Rio.
The day began in Sanderson, Texas and ended at the Seminole State Park where the Rio Grande and Pecos River come together to form the Amistad Reservoir. We rode for 62 miles over steep mountains with bright hot sun and a 30 mile an hour head wind. Despite all of the endurance activities I have done in my life, I have never been as tired as I was that afternoon.
I truly began to appreciate what the desert is like. It is immense and seems to go on forever. Each rise was a false summit that led to another hill top or a screaming descent. My every thought was devoted to making sure I had enough to drink, didn’t get behind in calories and hoping I had one more lower gear. The desert is intense and unrelenting; the wind, the sun, the heat are more than enough to let you know that you are only a speck on the on the horizon. That is especially true of a 30 mile an hour headwind.
This was not a time for thinking or reasoning, this was a time to put those things aside for a while and focus my full attention on survival. I wanted to be and was out of mind and into the physical challenge of each moment. I realize this might sound hokey especially considering that I could have stopped anytime I wanted and been picked up by the SAG wagon; but, I didn’t want to do that, I very much wanted to keep riding. And I did.
Several other days along the ride I would be tired but nothing like the afternoon when I dismounted my bicycle in Langtry, Texas. In addition, I was changed. It is hard to explain how or even why but it was like I had re-focused who I was.
Have a good journey.