Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Good Recovery

The alarm went off at 7:30 and I was in no way ready to get out of bed. After a couple of minutes I managed to get up and go over to the window to have a look out of the window. I paused a couple of seconds before I pulled the curtain aside and when I did, the ground was wet. Fortunately it wasn’t raining and the weather report said the sky would clear throughout the day. It was 36 degrees though.

Between lolling about in bed and taking a long hot shower I didn’t get pedaling until after 8:30. Within two minutes of riding all the cleaning I did on the bike was for naught. It was a chilly morning and I was regretting not taking some plastic bags for my feet. I had planned on bringing shoe covers but at the last minute decided I probably wouldn’t need them. Not one of the smartest decisions I had ever made.

I was able to ease in to the day with a long downhill to start me off. Also, there was no wind to speak of, so I considered that a win.

Shortly in to my ride I stopped to talk to a few guys on the side of the road that were going coyote hunting. They shared a story with me that mountain lions have been chasing down cyclist as the looked like fleeing prey. I wish I didn’t know that, but I pedaled on. We would leapfrog one another throughout the day as they kept driving to new hunting spots in the same direction I was heading. Nice guys.

By 11:00 I got my first bit of real sun. While it felt awfully good, I didn’t dare open my jacket more than a few inches. By 12 though, it had warmed up significantly and the day took on a whole new demeanor. The chances of me getting rained on abated and my legs felt better. It was such a pleasant ride.

I stopped in a small convenience store to pick up some sustenance for the next 40 miles of riding. As I was in there a guy came in with a handful of change to get what he could in gas. I have been to places in Asia and Africa where poverty is a way of life, but it isn’t really something I think about in America. Sometimes we get isolated from certain things as we all live in our own little world. The great thing about this trip is that it exposes me to so many new things, good and bad.

By early afternoon there was an American flag waving in the direction I was riding. Finally! I had the wind at my back. It hit right when I needed it. I had planned on riding about 115 miles, but had a cut off at 75 if I didn’t make it to a certain town by two o’clock. I wanted to be sure I didn’t get caught as I did last night. While the morning was a bit sluggish, I was able to knock off 30 miles in a little over an hour to beat my cut off time by 15 minutes. Man, did I love that wind.

Many of the tiny towns that I had passed had seen better days. For many of the businesses I wouldn’t think they were open other than there being an “open" sign in the window. One good one was a gas station that had closed back when gas went for $1.24. The sign was still up.

The last 30 miles of riding was just glorious. The landscape was so wide open that at one point I could see the road 5-½ miles ahead (I clocked it). There was so little traffic in the afternoon and the sun was shining. All I could hear was the turning of my cranks, my tires on the road and the wind blowing from behind me. If anyone who remotely enjoys cycling was along with me this afternoon, they would instantly see why I am doing this ride. Had they been there 24 hours earlier, they probably would have questioned my sanity. I would ride a week of days like today before having to ride another day like yesterday.

Another great thing about the day was that I didn’t need any directions. I stayed on the same road for 115 miles. It bugged me that the shoulder of the road was in pristine condition; as was the road. There was no traffic on the road so I rode there and let the shoulder go unused. Where was that shoulder when I needed it on that freeway back in California.

I had to climb 3,600 feet on the day, but I barely noticed it with a few exceptions. Everything was coming up Kevin. The worst past of my day riding was dodging the periodic tumbleweed that came across the road.

I ended my day in a tiny town with only one motel. It was a gas station/motel really. Initially I had passed it thinking the place had been long shut and was glad I didn’t have to stay in a place like that. No, that was the motel. It was open. I was thinking back longingly to my room in Salome that had the goat outside my window. Worse yet was that when trying to turn the bathroom faucet on it didn’t work immediately so I didn’t think about it. When I came back from dinner at the lone cafe in town, the faucet decided that it wanted to work that whole time. I came back to a sopping wet floor. The last thing I wanted to do was spend a half hour mopping the carpet, but I did the best I could. I squished around in my shoes for the rest of the night.

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