As of today I am 45.3% done with the route, leaving approximately 179 miles (60 in Utah, 69.4 in Colorado, and 49.5 in New Mexico).
As well, I have completed a whopping 70% of the climbs.
Here are some gems from the day’s ride:
You will face giants. Monstrous giants. Today I climbed more than any single given day in my riding history, and that includes the day I rode from Lehi to Heber, straight up Provo Canyon. That day I walked several times. There were several climbs in Oregon and Washington where I walked. I have been afraid of this day since I figured out that it pretty much had to be in one day, even though I decided that I was “allowed” to do it “backward” (North West instead of South East). But I gave myself permission as well to just complete it. Walk, crawl, whatever. Just get in and do the work. I rested when I needed to, and didn’t walk a single hill. When I exercised my tiny faith, the mountains DID. NOT. MOVE. I did. Keep moving, and nothing can stop you.
Today was the first day (with under 200 miles left to halfway) that I thought, “I think I can do this!” At the end of the ride were 14 absolutely glorious downhill miles, and I just got to play for 45 minutes (yes, mom, I’m still careful) while I soared down the beautiful hills of Moab. But it wasn’t during those miles it first occurred to me. It was during one of the first 3 or 4 climbs (there were several shorter-ish climbs, with 5 real doozies) where at the bottom I thought, okay – just get to that mile marker I can’t read from here, and then I can walk. As soon as I passed the mile marker, I looked up again and thought, nah, I can make it another 30 yards before I walk. As soon as I passed that spot I only had 20-30 more yards to the top, so I just kept going. And nothing hurt. Nothing in me said, “seriously, this is the dumbest thing you have ever thought of trying.” And then a good downhill and I got to repeat the process on another climb. Even the 5 heartbreaking climbs – while slow – were almost fun. So… let’s see. The first (roughly) 163 hours of something are the hardest? Keep going. It gets better.
One super fun thing that happened began from a moment of anxiety – as I was coming into Moab, there was a stretch of road construction about a mile and a half long. The road was narrowed to one lane each way, with no divider, and the construction was cordoned off with orange barrels. Normally I will ride just inside those orange barrels, but they sat on the edge of roughly a two foot drop into gravel, so there would be no riding on that. It is also one of the biggest weekends of the year for Jeep enthusiasts who like off-roading, so there were hundreds of “open” Jeeps with groups of fairly rowdy people in them. They’re never threatening to me, but that stretch of construction with the roads so narrowed made me extremely nervous. The road wasn’t going anywhere, though, so I chose to just keep going, and decided that if I got cars trying to pass me too close I would get off the bike and walk in the construction gravel so as not to get hit.
So I was riding and there were no cars coming toward me from the opposite direction. A few cars passed on my left. Then a long line of cars were coming toward me when I was about 1/4 mile into the construction. I looked behind me and there was an equally (or longer) long line of cars behind me. So I slowed down to get off the bike, and as I started to slow down, the guys in the Jeep just behind me hit their CB broadcast and said, “Keep going! We got you!” Well, I’m going slow enough that wearing seat belts wasn’t really necessary for them anymore, so they were standing up and cheering me on as I rode on this beautiful new asphalt. When the construction was done (really it was only a delay of about 4-5 minutes for them) they whooped and hollered like I’d just won the Tour de France, and all the subsequent vehicles passing me followed suit. I felt a little like a celebrity.
I’m going to relax and watch a movie or something. Will write more later.
Life is good. Enjoy the ride!