Day 15 – “Stronger (What doesn’t kill you)” Kelly Clarkson

Silver City, NM to Kingston, NM

47 miles

Emory Pass climb, highest point on our Southern Tier journey.  8228 ft

Did it! Wow what a day. Beyond exhausted.

So thankful for our rest day yesterday as refreshed my legs, and gave me the strength that I needed to make it through today.

The ride today was beautiful, so although it was a hard climb – the road to and up Emory Pass was terrific.

Along the way we passed a rock structure called the Kneeling Nun, and another copper mine.

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The first 22 miles had a few small climbs and rollers, then we had a 18 mile climb up through the Gila Forest and Emory Pass .  All that hard work was rewarded with an 8 miles descent.

During the early part of the day, I hit a downhill at 40 mph.  This was a long but straight  downhill.  It is exhilarating, until you come to a stop and and have to start climbing up again. 5 miles from the top, my legs were jello and I was working hard to move the pedals.  I was stopping frequently only for a minute or so to try and find life in my legs.  I walked for about a half mile in total- this helped to use different muscles for a bit and to make sure my brain and legs were still communicating.  Breathing was getting a bit harder as we were nearly at 8000 feet.  I have not had any problems before, but I was exerting myself a bit – and my lungs were in need of more air.  A mile and a half before the top the SAG swung down to see how we were doing.  I have gave them the thumbs up that I was going to get to the top.  Somehow.  Nancy the SAG driver turned around, and shouted that i only had a mile to go and she would be there when I got to the top.

By this point I was calling on my angels and all heavenly bodies as well as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to help me get to the top.   For hours I was churning at 3-4 mph – but this last mile, somehow a slight tailwind rose up and I was moving at 5.  The final climb was torturous for me, and I was alternating between breathing and weeping.  By the time I made the final few feet to where Nancy was parked (and she and two other riders where cheering me on and waving me up) I was at full blown sobbing.  Relief, exhaustion, and a flood of other emotions washed over me.

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We took a few pics, walked up to the scenic vista and I took a deep breathe as I looked across the vast and  beautiful New Mexico landscape.    I took a few minutes, and then started my descent down.  The road was twisty and had lots of turns, no guardrail and a deep canyon to the side.  The good news was there was little or no traffic- Once the SAG vehicle passed me – I was the only person on the road.

Challenging, but fulfilling day.

Time to log off and get to bed. 88 miles tomorrow