Rule 1: Mother Nature always wins
Today we all know it will be a difficult day. 90 miles, some climbing, and 25-40 mph headwinds.
5 of us meet to talk about a pace line to get through the day. Here cooperation is essential. As we start the winds are whipping the flags in Sanderson and it is just barely light.
For two miles the pace line holds in tact but then the front two decide “ everyone for themselves”…confused the Gazelle follows leaving two of us behind.
These rides are populated with Prima Donnas so I am not surprised but immediately have my doubts about success today on such a long ride.
Two of us pair off in 2 mile stretches to cut the wind and make the 20 mile mark in 2:15”… not too bad, By now it is 10 AM and the winds are up to 28 mph.
For the next 18 miles we pair off every mile but it takes us 3 hours to finish this gap. In addition the sun is at a UV index of 10 as it has been for the last 3 weeks.
Tired but still willing to go on we rest a bit.
The winds worsen and it takes me another hour to go 5 miles… by now the wind is so strong pace lines don’t work. The hills get steeper and downhill requires pedaling to go 7 mph. At 48 miles I begin to really tire and at 50 after 7 hours of this I call it quits… It is now after 2:30 pm and the intensity of the winds will peak between 3 and 5pm but last like this for the next 3 days.
I come upon another rider, a route leader, stopped trying to decide what to do. I tell him that I’ve had it and need to stop.
He is close to stopping too… we check… neither of us have cell service to call for help. We are very isolated in this spot.
I flag down a pickup truck and for the first time in my riding career hitch hike to the next rest stop. On the way there the Rest Stop Van speeds past in the opposite direction going to pick up two who were just ahead of me.
At the fourth rest stop , near the Pecos River
there are 4 of 7 riders left. They have never ridden cross country before and “ want to make it all the way”… they admit it is crazy to try but then anyone who does these rides is a little touched.
My thoughts… “ I am beyond that stage, been there, done that”.
The 4 do complete the ride… I congratulate them but wonder at the safety… two arrived after dark.
There is after all 1700 miles to go.
As I sit in camp that night I get very homesick for my family and very soon to be born granddaughter… so much that I wonder about postponing the rest of the ride.
I ponder whether or not Mother Nature is telling me to go home…
I look deep into my soul and decide yes that is the lesson for today… “ Today, now, you need to be home not here in West Texas.”
I have always trusted my instincts and gotten through tough times … so as in the past I listen to that part deep inside me and decide to take that path.
I have a flight from Del Rio to my son’s house tomorrow morning.
So ends this year’s ride just near the midway mark.
Mother Nature either won out or coaxed me to go home…whichever I feel good about my decision.
One route leader asked me if it didn’t hurt my pride to ride in a truck, not to finish the day, and then to decide to go home.
I answered quite truthfully “ At some point in your life Pride becomes meaninglessness”.
Maybe that’s another lesson Mother Nature taught me today…not a bad lesson to learn.