This stormed followed me all day. Thats a little egotistical really, I followed this storm all day. When the sun dropped lightening surrounded me while heading down to the work centre. I had intended to call in here and get some more water but it was just before midnight so pushing on for a little bit I found a tree to curl up underneath again with pine needles for a mattress. It was a little disconcerting hearing a tree tople close by and I had to admit to shining the tourch over the treee I was under to gain some piece of mind as to is abiilty to stay upright until the morning. It did not help hearing about the north bound rider who had been pinned under a falling tree south of Steamboat Springs.
This seems to be most photograph bicycle I own (that Im sharing with the world).
Water!! This came at the right time I was knee deep here filtering for what ended up being the worst day of my race. Finding water in a very dry part of the state cheers you up no end.
A shit bit of track when tiredness and thirst affect coordination. I can imagine it would be a nice bit of track when you're fresh. The gravel road that leads you to this point as deep in gravel and sucked any forward momentum right out of the wheels. There was climb after climb after... you get the idea. To keep my mind occupied all the climbs I compared back to an easy climb in Brisbane - Mt Cootha. 2.2km with a vertical asscent of a whopping 200m. Passes I went over that peaked at 3.6km that had 1.2km vertical assent was 6 Mt Coothas one top of each other. Clearly the comparison had its limitations but it occupied my brain along with imperial to metric distance calculations. The mile to km calcs I found rather therapeutic if you use the 1.6km to a mile conversion factor. Using1.609km to a mile soaked up more of the limited brain capacity. Brian will disagree its therapeutic nature. On day two when for 4 hours I had claimed a continual 140km to go to get to Eureka. This proved more entertaining for me to see how long it would take Brian to figure out I was fucking with him. Four hours before he mentioned anything.
Locals. On the road to the boarder I encountered more of these locals than I'd prefer. 20 miles from the end I was focusing on what looked like a crab crossing the road. What was a crab doing out here in the middle of New Mexico. Holy crap, that aint no crab, its a bloody spider!!!! Im not sure what other people think but personally, you should not be able to see a spider crossing the road at a distance of 100m. I'm glad I got to see a number of these, I'm even more pleased to have seen them on my last day. Ignorance is bliss when you are bedding down under a tree in an area infested with these little buggers. Shortly after the crab look-a-like spider I had to swerve to avoid a coiled snake on the road. It was not happy to see me and while it had all the characteristic of a rattler, I can't claim it was one since my headphones were well and truly jammed in my ears to hear a rattle.
The spider in the last photo is beside my back tyre.
One of the few corners on the final 100km push to the boarder.
I scored a lift from the boarder with Sara Dallmans planned exit strategy. My plan was to wait til someone turned up and offered a lift or jump in a van leaving Mexico. If these failed, it was a ride back up the road and head for Deeming. Whats another 150km on top of what I'd already completed?
I met Sara 4 or 5 days earlier climbing the horrid Mesa just after Albiquu. I was struggling to find motivation to ride sand and rock and Sara was nursing her knee. With determination to beat her previous time Sara rode and walked to the boarder over taking me everytime I bedded down when my sleep monster took over. Then the next day at some point we would trade positions again. We ended up arriving at the boarder in a similar time fashion. I managed to get a lift to Lourdesburg with her, Roger and his sons. Roger has been picking up and dropping off riders and hikers for a number of years. We were depostied in Lourdesburg with the offer to join thier family for Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks.
I threw all non cycling clothes out in Banff and managed to outfit myself at dollar saver for the grand total of $17. T-shirt and shorts. It was a terrible outfit. These were to be my glad rags for a BBQ and fireworks. It cheered me up to arrive in the dark.
Lourdesberg is a cowboy town with regard to fireworks. The normally sleepy town came to life at the possibility of setting off fire rockets. Walking to the BBQ we narrowly missed be hit by gun powdered propelled objects and were lucky to see the volunteer fire brigade figure out how the hoses work on a small bush fire. It was an exciting walk. The main firework display was incredible. It went for 10-15 minutes and I got to see my first fourth of july fireworks display kicking back in a deck chair with a plate full of BBQ. I want to thank Roger and his very large family again for the ride and the hospitality. The perfect end to the ride. Thanks to Sara also for splitting a room. It was great to be able to have another person/racer to talk to after the race. So much had happened in three weeks and I rode the majority of it without someone to listen to the jibber jabber.
Having claimed to not enjoying large sections of the route was more poetic license. It was just hard and truth be told I loved every minute of it (now).
This has been 2 years in the making and finishing an event that takes up more time than is healthy leaves a void. A month after the event the void is still present. It does not seem real that I rode and finished this race. In my mind it was just getting up each day and heading to the next town and never really thinking I was going to make it, until I left Pie Town. The only aspect I'm not happy with is having to take 2 days out to take care of my knee. While it was necessary in order to complete the race. When people ask me how long it took my ego has to explain 2 of the 22 days were me sitting on my butt in Kelispell. I'm finding it hard to accept that this is part of my race when I wanted to be faster than this.
The clock says 22 days 4 hours and change and thats what I have to live with until I can give it another go.