Day 24 – “Don’t let the sun go down on me” – Elton John

Sanderson to Del Rio, TX

110 miles

It’s simple.  A basic math problem really.  How many hours will it take to cover 110 miles?   If your average speed is 10mph then it will take 11 hours of cycling.  Add a stop or to and you are at 12-13 hours of riding.   If you are faster, then your hours in the saddle are reduced.   If you are slower, then , well, the numbers may prove that it is an impossible task to complete before the sun goes down.

We awoke well before dawn, and rolled out early as if we were thieves in the night.  A line of bikes with red blinkie lights trying to make our presence known, riding into the sunrise.   The initial pace was set, and it was fast – trying to make progress before the winds began to rise.

After the first SAG stop at mile 20 , the math re-calculation began.   I had started the day with the approach that I would like to completed the 110 miles, but that I was more focused on how many hours I wanted to ride – and that would determine how many miles I would ride.

The next 20 miles, changed all of that.  The math showed that the mph dropped significantly when dealing with a 25-30 mile head wind with gusts that nearly knocked you over.   The revised goal was make it to lunch at mile 59, and then determine next move based on time remaining.

We checked in with the SAG driver with 14 miles to get to lunch.  Took us 1 hour to go 4 miles. With 7 miles to go to lunch (at an estimated 90 minutes to get there), the SAG drove by to check on our progress.   We tapped our helmets and were picked up.  By that time we had been riding for 7.5 hours.  51 miles – 7.5 hours.  60 more miles to go – at least another 7.5 hours.    I have gutted it out several times over the last 3 weeks, but I saw no sense in riding for another 3-4 hours to try and pick up another 20 miles.  Tough decision, but for me, one that I feel good about.

When we arrived at lunch – there were 11 other riders awaiting our arrival. – We all packed it in and drove the next 60 miles in the van.  That left 14 riders on the road.  Long story short– only 5 riders made the entire 110 miles – and they are the strongest riders  – it took them 12 hours to get in -they arrived after 7:30 pm.  The remaining riders were picked up at various points – and a few had to be cajoled into the van, as it was dark, and it was not safe for them to continue.

The will and spirit of every woman on this trip is incredible.  Whether they did 30 miles today or the entire 110 – ever single one gave it their all.   A few of the riders had to abandon their goal to ride every final mile, and I know that it was a difficult decision.

There is another cross country group on the road with the us the last few days, Bubba’s Pampered Peddlars.   Bubba has operated the trip for several years, and told the group that this was the most difficult day that he has experienced.   The wind was relentless, and for 110 hilly miles – it made for an arduous journey.   Only the very strongest were able to complete it, and they had to dig deep

Tomorrow is another day.

 

 

Day 23 – “Train Kept A Rollin” Aerosmith

Marathon, Tx to Sanderson, TX

55 Miles

We left Marathon and headed to Sanderson, TX (Cactus Capital of Texas!) with the wind in our face, but a manageable 55 miles to get there.  We did not rush as we were told that Sanderson lacked, well,  lacked.    We snacked at mile 54 at a gas station /take out food – mmm yum.  I had an apple pie and a chocolate milk – the cooked food looked less appealing.

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Upon arrival at the Budget Inn, my room was not ready so I cleaned up my bike to prepare for tomorrow’s big ride.  When my room was finally ready, well…. I am not much on camping, but for a moment or two, I thought it may have been the better choice.

My room was the last to be assigned, and as I cleaned Sweet Ruby, I could see a lot of activity in the back of the motel – in a small section of 4 rooms.  3 of which are boarded up – and “my” room  was being worked on – someone was vacuuming, a tv was being hooked up to cable.  Sounds appealing….right?  Not.  The good news is that the room was clean, and portions of it were new – new mattress, clean, fresh smelling sheets.  That was the good news  – the rest, well – I will try and focus on the positive.  It is clear that we are in the middle of nowhere.  Miles, and miles and we see few houses, few imagecars, and very few businesses – or open businesses.

Nothing like experience – another flat for Tanya and we are becoming pretty good at the on the road tire change!

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Few terrain features that caught my attention today but one that did was this terrific Ranch gate.

A constant companion of ours since we left California, and very predominant since we have been traveling on Route 90 East are the freight trains.   Today I counted one that had over 100 cars of freight. We see several a day, and often hear the whistle in the middle of the night.

 

Tomorrow is a long one – 110 miles to Del Rio — A century plus a decade!

The forecast is calling for tough winds again.  We shall see what the day brings!