Friday, 18 October 2013

Day 13 - Lead me through the darkness

Attempt number 2 at posting this....

So I set off in the dark... dont worry I had lights.. and ironically felt safer on the interstate going out of amarillo,  due to the headlights of the cars and trucks. I quickly realised that I needed my headtorch in order to avoid the inevitable debris on the hard shoulder.
Did I mention that it was cold, close to freezing cold, but for the first few miles I didnt notice as I was entranced by the way the sun rose, gradually lighting up my world, I.e the tarmac, until I no longer needed my light to see my way.
After the sun rose, it got colder - wierd huh. The wind grew stronger and it got colder as I got further away from amarillo, meaning that I had to stop every 30 mins to stamp some feeling back into my feet. I couldnt stop for long as not only did the rest of me get colder as my feet warmed up, but I was also painfully aware that I had to make the miles today or risk jeopardising plan b and having to think up a plan c.

I was also made aware of the fact, via a billboard, that I hadnt reached halfway yesterday, signs for the halfway cafe showed a distance of around 25 miles still to go. This made me determined not to stop properly until I got there and it was this that drove me onwards, against the freezing headwind, albeit at a crawling pace. I found myself hating it yet at the same time enjoying it and was muttering incentives/expletives at myself to keep me going! I did stop for 5 mins to stuff down a cookie dough protein bar, which is one of the worst things I have ever tasted. It did the trick however and 3 hours after I had set off, I crawled into the cafe, to be greeted with a hot cup of coffee before I had even sat down.

The cafe had a gift shop, where I managed to avoid buying anything for once and I spent time there taking photos, signing the visitor book and catching up with fb. A special mention must go to Dave Spragg here who wished for a tailwind for me and when I finally emerged from the cafe, the wind had changed direction... it was still freezing cold tho, 3 degrees not including the wind chill factor.
Whilst in the cafe, I chatted to a lovely couple about the ride and the charity and nodded to a few bikers, with whom I shared an understanding about the elements on the road. It is talking to people like this that make this about the journey, not just the destination.
So once again I set off, and with the wind behind me, I managed a good pace.
The texas panhandle is at quite a height and when I reached the point where the road descends off the plateau, the view that greeted me, beautiful, desolate and vast made me fairly emotional. Whether it was the fact that I had battled hard to get here, or maybe it was the thought this morning that I woulnt get this far today, or just the sight of such a spectacular landscape, but as I prepared to descend, tears sprang to my eyes.
Now descending in itself isnt easy at speed, but add in a fully loaded bike, a side/tailwind and dodging road debris, it made for an adrenaline fuelled 15 mins. At that point, one of the bikers that I had nodded to, sped past, beeping his horn, his fist lifted in a triumphant salute of solidarity on the road, this and the scenery  were my reward for the hours of toil I had endured... I felt on top of the world....
As I descended it got slightly warmer, it was still  cold, but warmer nonetheless. With the greater speed lifted the worry about making the miles and I was able to get my head up and enjoy the views.

I stopped at the motor museum and although I dont particularly have an interest in cars, I was viewing the history of route66 that I am now feeling connected with.. that and a nice hot cup of coffee, set me up for the next leg of the day.
I continued along the road and as I crossed the border into New Mexico I let out another inner whoop of joy to have reached my 5th state in 13 days. New Mexico greeted me with sunshine and with the pressure of making the miles planned lifted for the day, I was able to relax and enjoy the views. Although I was on the interstate there were stretches where I was alone and I found the inner peace that comes to me when I am surrounded by nature and breathing fresh air. The view remained breathtaking with mountains rising up in the distance and vast areas of scrubland stretching out in front of my wheels.

Im not sure I mentioned in my blog yesterday about my first snake sighting (live), not a rattler but still. It was lucky to remain alive, I just managed a last minute dodging manoeuvre as it slithered into the scrub. With this in mind, I kept my eyes firmly on the road ahead and to the side in the hope of seeing a rattlesnake, whilst still dodging debris, including 2 areas of nails strewn across the shoulder. Unfortunately did not see one, but if I do, rest assured I will get my camera out!

The next stop was at a place that my actual mother as well as my work mothers would have frowned upon me visiting, a truckers rest stop, but it was here that I met Jesse, a cancer fighter, who was very interested in the ride and the charity and kindly offered to spread the word on fb, as well as offering advice on what to do in electrical storms and tornados.  He might also be in LA for the end of ride gig and it would be pretty cool to see him there. It is meeting people like Jesse that make my day complete and I hope I meet many more people like him on this journey. So thank you to him...

The last 30 miles or so to tucumcari were more of the same special scenery and I really enjoyed it, the legs felt good, even on the hills and the sun warmed my bones up. When I reached the town, I turned off the interstate and felt so good I didnt stop at the first motel I saw! Instead I leisurely made my way along the main road, taking in the old buildings and feeling at peace with the world.
I stopped at one motel, got settled in, only to find the wifi didnt work. Now despite being british, I complained, packed up, got my money back and strolled across the road to another motel.

Now just a warning, tomorrow I have a huge day, 134 miles to cover, so will be setting off early and finishing late, but I may not be able to blog. Spot will tell you that I am safe, but I need to cover the miles in order to havd a short 30 ish miles into albuquerqe for my rest day the day after tomorrow.

So I have been led through the darkness, through the tears (tho not bitter) and guided to hope...
LHS as always