As of September 3, 2018 I have crossed 1,905 miles of the route from Westport, WA to Key West, FL.
Today the format of this site changes, as well as the way I count miles. I counted “up” for the first half. Now I count down. 🙂
The “last day of the first half” was amazing. I found a great epsom salts soak that includes Arnica and Eucalyptus that is very restoring, and when I got on the bike on Labor Day I couldn’t even tell that I had ridden on Saturday – and I’d gone 69 miles in the corner of Colorado.
Speaking of Colorado, what a day! The first 20 minutes of the ride I got rain, hail, sleet, and snow (along with a good bit of wind). Of course it occurred to me to stop, but it wasn’t miserable and there wasn’t lightning anywhere close-by, so I pressed on. At about 20 minutes in it was all over and I could hardly believe it had been so ugly just moments before. It did take a few minutes to dry out, though, and as the day progressed, there were storms rolling across the horizon that did have lightning and thunder, but I had sun over me and Randy was pretty close-by, so I wasn’t worried about the lightning and thunder – I got to just observe the beauty of a series of great desert storms in late summer.
The last 55 miles of the first half were in New Mexico. To be sure, New Mexico west of Albuquerque may be the flattest pieces of planet Earth ever. But North of Albuquerque is filled with some of the longest stretches of hills I have ridden. Oregon had some of the steepest slopes, for sure. But New Mexico would have 2-3 miles of steady uphill. The key to uphills – especially steady ones – for me is keeping my head down and plodding ahead. On short rides I have “juice” in my legs for the long climbs to be able to stand up and charge them. On long rides, the “juice” needs to be reserved, so I just keep pedaling, easiest possible gear, and ignore almost everything around me. It wasn’t this trip, but I forgot to blog about it when it happened because I was so tired, so here’s a fun story:
I was plodding up a long hill in New Mexico on a Navajo Reservation – right around Cuba, New Mexico. Which is to say, miles and miles from anywhere or anything. There are so few cars on this particular road it felt very much like I was the only person left alive after an apocalypse, but I did see one every 20 minutes or so. About 100 yards from the top, I hear the “blip” of a police siren behind me, and the officer said on his loud-speaker, “Ma’am, will you pull over please?” Well, I’m going between 3-4 miles per hour climbing. I’m not going anywhere fast – and I’ve still got some climb ahead of me. If I stop before the top, I’ll have to walk it. So I call back to him, “May I stop at the top? I promise I won’t try and outrun you when I get there.” He laughed and said that was fine.
Turns out someone driving past saw me out there and knowing how far the next town was, got concerned that I was going to die out there in the desert because I was lost! (I wasn’t lost, and my support car was just up the road a few more miles – but they didn’t know that.) They called the police because they didn’t want to scare me (I am quite obviously not Navajo), and they knew the police would take care of me if I was in a bad spot. The officer had grabbed ice, water, protein bars, and other snacks from a convenience store about 30 miles back and had them in his car just in case I was in a bad way when he got to me. I politely declined the food, but did refill my ice and water.
Fun times on the byways of America!