Yesterday was by far my most challenging day. Montana snow day was scary. Today was challenging and frustrating. By the time I got into bed in Eads CO, I broke down. My hard, strong, resilient, stubborn attitude from the day slithered off me into a puddle on the ground and my tears just flowed. I was trying to figure out exactly why I was crying. I think it was out of relief and letting go of the frustration I felt for about 40 miles of pedaling. I was physically and emotionally done.
Let me tell you about the wind. The last 3 miles took me an hour. There was a point yesterday I had to remove my sunglasses since the wind was beating on my face hard enough to make my nose sore. My helmet mirror wouldn't stay straight. I was in triple ring on a flat surface all day. My right ear hurt from the cross wind mostly coming from the south. It was so loud all day I was concerned about hearing loss. So, I put a bandana on my head to cover my ears. But remember, it's about 95 degrees. And, heat exhaustion/stroke is a very real problem. So, I had to use water to drench my head every so often. But not too much since I'm in such a remote area, I can't waste my water.
Most of the day was challenging, but not spirit-crushing like the last 20 miles. Prior to finishing the last 20 miles, I stopped in Haswell, praying there was at least a gas station to load up on water. There was (barely), but the best part of the day was meeting MaryAnn (mom), Erin and Bethany. From Maryland, Erin and Bethany decided to bike the TransAm (east to west) and mom (Erin's) joined them for a few weeks!
We discussed how empowering it was to see fellow women cycling (WE ROCK!) and how much ice cream we've eaten. In retrospect, I should have camped with them in Haswell in the city park... instead of pushing on. I enjoyed meeting them and we would have had a fun evening (no facilities, but who cares!). But, I pushed on. I encourage you to check out Erin and Bethany's blog at bikingthetransam2013.blogspot.com
See photo below of the three of them.
Let me be clear... it's not about the speed, or lack thereof. I would be fine climbing a hill at 4mph all day. It would be physically harder, but nowhere near as frustrating as the wind. Remember, I did cross the continental divide 10 times in the last month!
Layer on top of the wind... full exposure, nothing pretty to look at, isolation, and heat. And, it's demeaning to be able to see a town 13 miles away (have I mentioned it's really flat and there's nothing here?) and it takes 2-3 hours to get there. Now, I'm not typically a negative-Nancy and I knew there would be incredibly challenging days... But I don't want to write and capture just my easy, happy days. That would be leading you, the reader on to believe it's all fun and games. It's not. It's hard.
I finally got to Eads, stopped at the city park to use the restroom and looked down to see I had a flat trailer tire. Ugh. Fixed it and since it was so late (7:45), I went straight to dinner. My body was shaking. From fatigue and exhaustion. I ate and decided not to free-camp it in the city park, but rather pay $50 and stay the night at a motel. I showered and collapsed (and the tears came). I felt safe enough to finally let go and it felt good to let all the frustration and anger out. I fell sound asleep once I was fed, clean and safely in bed.
What did yesterday teach me?
- I can't put in 80 miles in this heat and wind. Although, sometimes in this remote area, you really don't have mileage options
- I need to start early, when it's cool and the wind hasn't quite picked up as much
- Most of these tiny towns have city parks that you can camp in... But being alone, that doesn't always feel like the safest decision for me. So, I opt for motels
- That this section might continue to be incredibly challenging and lonely
- It's important to still try and have fun and have a sense of humor... Even if I'm alone, feeling ugly and dirty (see photo with flowers in my hair)
- Tomorrow is a new day