Saturday, 19 October 2013

Day 14 - Hardland, ripped and torn apart....

They say a picture speaks a thousand words but today im not sure any of the 4 pics I took would even come close to telling the tale...

I think I set myself up for failure today... 134 miles ambitious even with all conditions perfect...
Id got up reasonably early but was kicking myself that I didnt set off before the sun came up. Breakfast was not offered where I was staying so off I went, but found nowhere open between the motel and the freeway... mistake number 1. I did eat some more of the god-awful cookie dough and some other bits and pieces left from yesterday so I wasnt without sustenance.

I had had it on good authority that there was a big hill on the way out from tucumcari and as I hit it, before my legs had stopped the screaming, I thought that this wasnt the best way to start the day,

Did I also mention that it is still pretty cold here...once again my feet turned to iceblocks and although (emma dunne) I have been colder it wasnt great ti start the day with numb toes.
The morning sky was full of the promise of a beautiful day... the sun was shining over the hills and some warmth hit the ground. The sky was sooo blue, without a single whisp of cloud and for short while all was well.
The initial hill climb was ok, long but not too steep and after Chris Summerrill's welsh training camp, I span up it with a reasonably good pace, got to the top and took a photo smiling brightly... the shadows were definately laughing at my joy tho, because once at the top, the wind grabbed hold of me with a vengeance, head/side wind once again, slowing my progress to a crawl, almost knocking me off my bike at times with a strong gust. It took a good amount of energy to keep the bike going straight, never mind up and straight.
And up is where the road was going... never really steep but long long drags ever upwards (no one mentioned the 2nd to 5th climbs). Downhill sections provided no respite because even pedaling I was scarcely reaching forward momentum speed.
All the while time ticked rapidly onwards until 3 hours had gone and I hadnt made any headway. On one of the good days I would have been at santa rosa by this time so with every second that ticked by, the goal of the day seemed more and more doomed to fail... I say fail cos that how it seems, I set my mind to do stuff and then go do it, but time was not on my side and darkness would hit and if things continued in this way, I would be looking at 2 to 3 hours cycling in the dark. I wouldnt have minded too much, but remain ever conscious of the promises I have made to many people to stay safe.
What other options do I have... this was primarily what I was debating in my head as I continued the struggle towards santa rosa. I also had a slight panic moment when I thought my tab had died and my connection to everyone gone... it was only momentary but did stress me out somewhat!

one thing which managed to raise a smile were the advertising hoardings. Since leaving tucumcari, i had been searching for a place to stop and fill up on food and up till that point had drawn a blank... the advertising hoardings were promising me 24 hour breakfast and all the food i could ever want... only in 100 miles :) ahh no problem then!  Even the ones advertised as 20 minutes away would be a good couple of hours for me and although it made me smile, it showed how small the world has become and how little room for adventure when 100 miles away is worth advertising!  The hoardings are also the bane of my existance, given that Its sometimes hard enough to keep going without the promise of bed, wifi and shower at every junction! I eventually found a small gas station and stocked up, inc hersheys cookies and cream which i am just about to break open. (well everyone keeps telling me i need calories). Food found and eaten, but i didnt find it any easier, contrary to the popular belief that me with food =happy me... it was all headwind dependent today, i can guarrantee you. 
Given the large amount of effort being expended to stay on the straight and narrow and not be blown into the path of an oncoming truck, i didnt take many pics, but the scenery remained spectacular, perhaps even more so than yesterday, with the hills appearing in the middle of the grassland and stretching out to the horizon - and i was appreciating it  - somewhere in the recesses of my brain, i have stored the views from the tops of the climbs, the  colour of the red earth and the way it contrasted with the golden scrub grass and the bright blue sky. Still haven't seen any rattlers but i have seen where they would have been, had i time to go and look, and i was tempted :)
I also got offered a lift by an actual cowboy, hat and all! 
All this is just delaying explaining my decision to stop early to you and justifying it to myself. I have tried to explain how viscious the wind was today, but a risk im taking is that it would be no better tomorrow and which case so be it.. but mainly my exertions from climbing hills and battling the wind has left me mentally and physically exhausted today and i have one eye on the overall goal of this game, to get to the end, yes in time for the gig, but also to get there in one piece. This led me to thinking about the different phases this journey has and what that means to me...
Phase 1 - The beginning.. full of excitement, hope and In good physical condition. Everything is new and holds interest.
Phase 2 - The middle, the hard slog, the bit where the initial excitement has worn off and you just gotta keep going. Physically everything starting to hurt. Routine set and mastered (hopefully)
Phase 3 - The end of the challenge is within touching distance and fears about not completing wane. Excitement of thoughts of seeing friends and family again. Aches and pains forgotten.

So thats what i reckon the stages of most journeys like this are, and i am firmly in the hard slog of stage 2... but not for long. In a few days i will be entering my 7th state (sorry to Kansas for missing you out on yesterdays blog!) With just the I more after that and then phase 3 will begin... and hopefully i will be smiling all the way to the pier.

So i argued with myself for 10 miles.. and I won! Part of me is pissed off with myself for taking the rest day today (i did do 56 miles today, but still...), the other part of me knows that i was close to 80% done in and it was better to stop before that became 100%,  to rest and recharge in order to begin hurtling towards phase 3 ( or if it is like today, turning the pedals round one at a time)!
So I threw out my plans (again), rewrote them, and stayed flexible, which I think, when all is said and done, will be the key to getting to the finish.

This Hardland has ripped and torn me apart today, hard dreams have left me scarred 
But this is only today....