On the road again.
We left Carlsbad today heading toward the 4th state of our trip, Texas.
The ride was really uneventful. It was mostly level with a little elevation loss. The road started out great – a 4 lane highway with good surfaces, at least when we stayed just to the left of the right lane line because the shoulder was frequently dirty. The trucks all gave us adequate space so riding was good.
I say that the trucks gave us adequate space because virtually all of the vehicles we saw in southern New Mexico were trucks – big rigs or pick ups – or SUVs. I had first noticed it when we were riding by a Ford dealership on the outskirts of Carlsbad that didn’t have any visible cars. A Chevrolet dealership in town was the same and we saw few cars on the road.
Temperatures even started out good.
Our SAG caught up with us at 47 miles (we were in Texas now but neither Nick nor I had noticed a sign at the border). A couple of miles before that I had stopped so I could sit and take my shoes off. The one photo is of a roadside bucket I used as a chair. The short stop helped and when I got back on the bike my feet were fine. The cold water, ice and sandwich the girls provided with the SAG were great.
The temperature started picking up – it had been comfortable in the mid-90s – and Nick was concerned about the humidity. I still felt fine so I took off.
The road had changed to 2 lanes but then the shoulder improved. The ride remained pretty flat with a high of 4% grade, but that was pretty unusual. The temperature rose to about 107 but I had cold water to pour on myself and cold water to drink so I was actually riding faster than I had up to when we met the SAG, raising my overall speed from about 16.5 mph to 17.0 where I kept it until the stop and go of Pecos.
However I had about 5 miles of miserable riding, not because the temperature got to a steady 110 but because for whatever reason my feet were killing me. I was stubborn and resisted stopping until pedaling became just too difficult. Not stopping had been silly because when I finally did, it only took a couple of minutes with my shoes off to solve the problem. (After Nick got in he said that he had had the same trouble with his feet.) I dumped the rest of the water in my bottles on myself; it was now warm, but it still helped and I had drinking water left in my Camelback.
The last 10 miles to our motel went much better with my feet feeling better and if it hadn’t been so hot, I would have been tempted to see how fast I could finish. However, better sense got the best of me.
I want to thank all of you who have left Comments and who have sent private messages. My not having responded to the Comments has been due to a lack of time, not because I haven’t appreciated them
One that encapsulated what is in many of your minds said that he hoped we think we are having fun riding in the heat. That raises an interesting issue. Are we having fun riding in the heat? I’m not and Nick just confirmed that he isn’t either. However, that isn’t to say that we aren’t valuing the experience. We are a couple of 69 year olds – actually, one of us is now 70 – and we set out to do something that we haven’t done before, something that would challenge us and, with the theme of Laura’s Ride 2016, something that would have some value in addition to the personal satisfaction we will have when we complete what we set out to do.
Riding in the heat isn’t my first choice but Nick wasn’t available earlier and the summer was when we had the best chance of getting SAG drivers. And if we waited until next year, who knows whether we would still feel up to it. I certainly hope we would but, frankly, at our age, who knows? We certainly aren’t getting younger with the passage of time.
So, are we having fun riding in the heat? No. But are we sorry we are doing this? Absolutely not. And besides, it isn’t always too hot.
And let me repeat my appreciation to those of you who have wished us well, even if you do question our sanity.
By the way, Nick agrees with me that we are both also more confident than ever about our ability to finish this barring something that is totally unexpected.