Tuesday, July 7, 2009

115 degrees and a new state

There's not a whole to really say for Arizona, to be completely honest it's so hot that even the locals admit that going outside after about 9am is unpleasant. Thats why we wake up at 5am to beat the heat. Although at 5 in the morning it is still a lovely 85 degrees. I've gotten relatively used to the heat though and the recent days have taken the team to higher elevations and somewhat cooler temperatures.

When I last wrote the team was enjoying a wonderful day off in Lake Havasu, however things were about to get down to business really quick as we had a lot of miles to cover in Arizona. Luckily we eased back in with a brisk 40 mile ride to Parker. We were warned that the ride would seem more like 60 given the geography around Havasu, but my paceline absolutely killed the ride and finished in a little over 2hrs, nearly 8 miles ahead of the next group.

4:30am came way too soon as we all groggily shuffled out of lodging for our second and longest century ride of the trip. Wickenburg was a little over 110 miles away and was going to be a scorcher. Luckily the first 50 miles were pleasantly cloud covered. I was riding sweep today and a few guys were back on the bike for the first time since vegas so our pace was relatively slow. The slowest guy racked at 40 miles; however, and from then on it was a race for my fellow sweep and I along with the remainder of the paceline we were with to get to rack point. After several hours of merciless flats and scorching temperatures my rear tire succumbed to the heat and exploded literaly right out from under me, and ended my ride at 91miles.

The weather in Wickenburg was a little cooler and for once the wind was with us. My paceline set a stout pace and we were in Phoenix in no time. After a very entertaining ride on the Tempe light rail where many locals expressed their displeasure at having to share a train with 30 cyclists, we arrived at ASU for another amazing day off with the ASU pikapps.

Unlike after most days off where we have an easy day to get our legs back under us, we were thrown right into the fire with a 75mipe day to globe if which the last 25 miles were spent crawling up a 6% grade to Globe. I was near the back pushing some guys who again had been off the bike almost a week but they refused to quit and were rewarded with a complete ride and a well earned hot shower at the local highschool. The nigt was capped off be an awesome fireworks show in the local walmart parking lot.

The grind continued with what could be the hardest day of JOH south route. The ride to lakeside is 95 miles through some very hot and very steep terrain including the beautiful Salt River Canyon, which is fun to ride into but tough to get out of. My group pushed hard but as the miles wore on my resolve began to fade as no one was mentally prepared for how tough this ride was. At 70 miles my body almost won the fight but I refused to quit and left the last crew stop only minutes before rack time.

I was nervous at the beginning of the next day of 105 miles as I felt I had barely recovered from our previous day. My fears were misplaced though as my paceline destroyed the ride in just over 5 hours averaging 19mph even with some relatively steel climbs. I felt great as we rolled into lodging on the heels of the first group. Today was also great as we crossed into New Mexico

The recent days have taken me through some of the most beautiful landscapes since Napa as well as some of the lowest temperatures. This morning was downright cold and I struggled to keep my legs loose for the first 20 miles. However, after a few hours though our team had climbed nearly 1500 ft to the western continental divide and from there it was downhill. We took full advantage of a nice tailwind and rode out the last 30 miles of the 75 mile day in a little over an hour. After a nice swim and a hot shower we settled into lodging for our relatively late 6am wakeup and brisk ride into Albuquerqe for another day off.

As I approach the halfway point to this amazing journey I can't believe it is almost over. I have learned so much about myself and about all the wonderful people with disabilities who constantly live within our midst unnaffected by the stigma society attaches to their condition. In fact, they flourish. Through wheelchair basketball I have now recieved the thrashing of my lifetime twice and was even thrown to the ground in the heat if battle as the competitors effortlessly wheeled by and scored a basket. Perhaps we will be ready for the dallas team. In short I can't believe how much I have learned and my life will be forever changed by my interractions so far.

That's about all for now, as alwas till next time.


No comments: