We are done! It did not quite finish like we planned. We got to Hatch (where we were supposed to stop for the night) but it was only 11:30am. Neither of us wanted to sit around for the rest of the day and Las Cursis was only 39 miles away. We did 5 of these 39 miles and had to turn around and go back. From there we rented a car and drove the El Paso. Before I describe what happened, I need to go back a couple days.
We were about half done for the day (the day Jeri dropped us off at Mule Creek) and Dad was riding about a quarter of a mile ahead. Out of almost no where a dog came out of the brush and took off after Dad (he never knew it). Most dogs just chase. This one was clearly out for blood. fortunately for Dad a big truck was coming from the other direction and hit the dog just as it started to cross the road. I then rode buy as this dog was dying. I am not a dog lover and have little sympathy, and this dog would have done some real damage, but I felt bad all day.
I feel bad no longer. 5 miles our of Hatch two dogs came out to the road (one close to me, one close to Dad). I out ran the one by me. The other took Dad down. When I looked in my mirror all I saw was a pile in the middle of the road (dog went back into his yard). It ended up that a separated shoulder was the result. Pretty tough to bike with one arm. Dad did ride back to the emergency room in Hatch and talked about riding the rest of the way. But I knew it was over. Actually I thought he had broken his collar bone (a common biking injury).
While it did not end like either of us wanted to, we are so fortunate to have had this time together. We did all the climbs, which was my goal. When we did run into trouble, we were within 5 miles of an emergency room. We did ride further than either of ever has in one shot. It was a beautiful part of the country, that I would have never seen had we not been on a bike. (It is still cool, but it is not the same in a car at 60 mph.) On the drive down from Hatch, we talked about doing another 10 days next spring. (We will need a car for first 5 miles out of Hatch. hahahaha)
No tomorrow on this trip. I plan to take a week off and then start training for the Hotter-n-Hell 100 which is in Wichita Falls, TX on August 26. (That is 100 miles not kilometers.)
That was not fun! We started out this morning with the same temperature as yesterday. We also started with rolling hills. (When they say rolling hills out here they mean country like what is around Grand Travers Bay. Or for people in Florida going up and down one causeway after another.) I also started with burning legs. Burning legs is ok at the end of the day, but not at the beginning. It means that too much lactic acid has built up. The only remedy is rest. No rest was in sight for 6+ hours. Everything on my bike worked great. Everything on body (including my head) broke down. Burning legs, cold, back still sore, right ankle will not bend (cannot point my toe up), and I could not get out of negative head games. I knew that I could climb to the top of Emory Pass at 8,300′ but I kept thinking how long it was going to take at this pace. It was going to take me 3 hours to go 18 miles. (On flat roads I can just about do this in one.)
About half way up the road leveled off for a mile or so. It wound around in a valley with pine trees all around. (If it had been another day, I could have described how beautiful it was.) That is when it started to snow. (Again I am sure it was beautiful, but I was crushed.) Dad had been climbing ahead of me all day and this is when he came back for me. This was an awesome thing for him to do, but at the time I just thought I must really be doing bad for him to get so far out in front to come back for me. I was really getting cold (my chest and teeth were starting to rattle) and I felt defeated. I had two choices. The first was to stop, but I knew that there was no way for me to get warm with out an outside source. The other was to pick up the pace and warm up with the effort. I turned up the iPod all the way, stood up, and decided to pedal until I could no longer feel my feet.
About 3 songs into it Michael W Smith’s Don’t Give Up came on. I have heard this song 3-4 times in the last month and every time I think of my son Beau. Today was no different only this time instead of feeling sorry for him, he inspired me. He has chosen such a difficult path. One much harder than Emery Pass. I knew I could make it to the top eventually but was thinking of quitting. He does not even know which way is up right now, but continues to push along anyway. There is a particular part of this song that is Beau. “…but I’ve seen your eyes. No compromise, when you set you mind on a matter. Be strong through the tears and your sight will clear. Your gonna get what your after. DON’T GIVE UP. Anti up. Got the whole world at your feet.” Don’t Give Up by Michael W Smith
I did ride until I could no longer feel my feet. I did make it to the top. I did make it down as well. It did take me almost 3 hours to stop shivering after going inside. While I am not looking forward to tomorrow, I do know that I can make it the last 150 miles to El Paso. All the climbing is done. We do not even have any days over 55 miles left. Real life is only 4 days away.
While Emery Pass may not have been a life changing event, it is the closest I have come to quitting in a very long time. I have some cool pictures of Dad and I at the top with the snow coming down like a blizzard, but I am not going to include them today. The picture attached is one I took just as the road wound into the forest and up the final 2,000′. This was taken just before it started to snow and just before my Dad came back for me. It was taken just before I had to be strong through my tears.
Down hill most of the way to Hatch, NM – 42 miles away. (Maybe I can get Dad to sleep in to 6:30pm. Maybe if I slip him an extra Tylenol PM he might even sleep until 7:00am. hahaha)
March 21, 2006
*Rode from Mule Creek, NM to Silver City, NM – 57 miles
*Climbed a total of 3,150′
*Maximum elevation – 6,391′
*Burned a total of 3,366 calories (consumed 3,5628)
*Total time on the bike – 5 hours and 21 minutes
*Total time on the road – 7 hours and 11 minutes
*Average speed 10.7 mph
One year ago I would not ride outside in weather anything under 60 degrees. I would look at the outside thermometer in my office and if it was 59 degrees I would go to the health club. Today Jeri abandoned us at Mule Creek at 7:00am and it was 21 degrees. I had on everything I brought with me and knew that I would never be warm again. In my recent bible study, I told the other men that I do not snowmobile because I do not like being cold. At least those guys dress for 21 degrees. They will really think I an nuts to ride a bike at 13 mph at 21 degrees with one short sleeve shirt, one long sleeve shirt, and one rain jacket.
Despite this cold start it ended up being a great day. The sun stayed out all day (not one cloud) and the wind was nothing until the last 15 miles. I had such low expectations for the day, and it ended up being really good. I never really got cold. When we rode into town at 2:30pm it was 60 degrees. (It was actually colder at the end than the middle because we were biking into a strong head wind.) While I have not intention of lowering me expectations so that I can be pleasantly surprised, it does make me thing again about attitude.
One other interesting phenomenon we talked about today. Yesterday Jeri picked us up and drove the rout we biked today into Silver City. We then drove the same route this morning. It seemed to take forever in the car. I remember thinking, “We are not going to get back to the hotel until 5:00pm tonight.” While biking, however, the miles clicked by just like they always did. Before we knew it we were 30 miles in with 30 to go. Once again, it would have been better not knowing what the exact path to the future looked like.
The last climb of our trip. We go up over Emery Pass which is just over 8,000′. Hoping for a West wind for one more day! No more e-mail until Friday night.
PS Jeri did not abandon us this morning. She offered to stay for another day, but I pushed her to go back. I bet it was tough for her to drive away knowing that we were cold and had a long way to go today.
March 20, 2006
*Rode from Safford, AZ to Mule Creek, NM – 59 miles
*Climbed a total of 4,939′
*Maximum elevation – 6,306′
*Burned a total of 3,897 calories (consumed 3,5628)
*Total time on the bike – 5 hours and 23 minutes
*Total time on the road – 8 hours and 16 minutes
*Average speed 10.9 mph
Commentary (written by Jeri)
You know what I love? I love to slouch around in the morning with a good cup of coffee. None of that high octane jet fuel coffee…but the kind that has a lot of cream and sugar in it…enough that it looks like hot cocoa. I love that. I got a morning like that today. I got to get up, make a pot of coffee, slouch around until at least 8 am, shower and then walk across the parking lot of the Comfort Inn in Safford to Jerry’s home-style restaurant (established in 1966 and is from all accounts completely unchanged since then). At Jerry’s I sat and enjoyed my breakfast with yet another cup of coffee and the USA Today where I searched and found confirmation in writing that the Hope College women’s basketball team won the division III finals. Go Hope!
By the time I was done with my breakfast and coffee my studly husband and father in law had already completed 3 hours of grueling cycling and endured 2 flat tires. My assignment: Find the bike shop in Safford and purchase 6 long stem presta valve tubes and CO2 Cartridges…which I did…after perusing my email and checking out of my cushy hotel. Bike tubes and CO2 in hand, I loaded up on gasoline for the ride, some additional Gatorade and some Subway sandwiches for my men. I headed out of Safford at around 11:30…. 5 full hours after Jeff and Larry left…yeah, do the math…they were on the road at 6:30!
The road out of Safford was relatively flat from my perspective with a nice shoulder. Once I made the turn on to 191 North it was different. First impression (Jeff said it best) was “The road to infinity”. The road was so long and you couldn’t tell where it ended…it looked like it ran right into the mountain range ahead. It was a steady uphill though. You couldn’t tell driving in the car but it was probably a continuous 1-2% grade uphill and it was a good 10 miles or more long…it sure was deceiving…looked flat from a mini van at 65mph. Once I hit the mountain I was surprised (even though I shouldn’t have been) at the steep grade, it seemed like it went on forever…rolling & winding continuously up. I stopped at a place called “3 Way” which was exactly what it sounds like…a three way intersection. There was a tiny little convenience store where I stopped and bought a gallon of water.
One of the things that is so striking about the mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico is how clean it is. Once you get away from the towns…it’s just so clean…and very rarely do you spot any road kill…or animals for that matter. After 3 way, it didn’t take long to catch up with the guys. They were just starting the largest climb of the day. This wasn’t just a steep grade…it was a mountain. My van even struggled to climb it. There were several switchbacks and then just a winding road that seemed to go straight up. The scenery was amazing…pictures will never be able to capture the beauty of the mountains I saw today. The same goes for the grade…you could never show in a picture just how steep the roads were. Jeff and Larry were amazing. They made it look easy, even though I know it wasn’t.
Tonight, we managed to find a great little restaurant…a far cry from my breakfast this morning and the company was the best. I’ll miss being here to watch these guys finish.
Mule Creek, NM to Silver City, NM – 56 miles. Rolling hills with no bags. (Staying at same hotel as tonight.)
March 19, 2006
*Rode from San Diego, CA to Safford, AZ – 516 miles (310 to El Paso)
*Climbed a total of 17,025′
*Maximum elevation – 4,800′
*Burned a total of 31,044 calories (consumed 27,295) difference of (3,744)
*Total time on the bike – 43 hours and 15 minutes
*Total time on the road – 61 hours and 00 minutes
*Average speed 11.9 mph
Dad and I got separate rooms last night. With no riding today, this meant watching TV late into the night (watched the Patriot) and sleeping in. I actually did sleep in and went for breakfast at 9:00am. Had waffles and sausage. (Should have had oatmeal and fruit, but I am building carbs for tomorrow. Yes, I know that this does not really work, but my taste buds do not yet.)
Jeri is coming in today! We need her for because the next stop is 117 miles away, but I am also really looking forward to seeing her. We talk every night, but sometimes it is just not the same. I think my Dad is looking forward to talking to someone besides me. hahaha Her plane ended up being canceled out of Grand Rapids so she had to fly into El Paso. (A 4 hour drive instead of a 2.5 hour.) Still she got here and the three of us went out for dinner. Food was not very good, but the company was fantastic.
No more rest days. This was it until we are done next Saturday.
More climbing. We will go up about 4,000′ with a maximum elevation of 6,300′. No bags. Jeri will pick us up at the top of the mountain.