Bike Tour Day 3: Sierra Blanca

A brutal ride!

Great tailwind about 20 mph. 31 miles. Took 8 hrs! My first day riding with Keith Tang, an experienced tourer. Tings were going fine for the 15 miles, then we hit the long uphill climb to Sierra Blanca. That’s when I started unraveling.

I started getting tired but pushing harder. Big mistake! We pulled over for me to take a break. Over the next several hours and some seven uphill miles or so, it got worse. I was having to stop every 1500 yards or so and rest. When I moved my head or even closed my eyes, thing black. When I opened my eyes, things were gray around the edges.

Keith asked about my energy level? I told him it was fine. I’d eaten a granola bar a little earlier. He handed one of his high energy candy bars telling me to eat it. I did and drank some more water. I had only brought three water bottles of water, about 1500 ml, figuring it would be enough. After all, I had used less than one bottle each day the previous two days’ 25 mile rides. Three I reasoned out to be plenty for 31 miles, right? Wrong!

I would stop and rest, but there was no shade. The sun was relentless, unforgiving! The wind helped but not enough. I worried about heat stroke.

On top of that, I was running out of water. We stopped at the only house we’d seen along the way. The lady there invited us to sit at her outside table, which, unfortunately was in the sun too. After a few minutes, I went and sat on a cement curb, which was in the shade. Realizing my critical water shortage, I went back up to her door and asked if I could fill up my water bottle? She went back into her house and came forward with two ice cold bottles full of water. I nearly cried, and told her she was a saint.

Another mile or so up the road, we came upon what Texas calls a “picnic area.” It offers shaded picnic tables. No rest rooms or water though. Here I had another high energy candy bar, drank more water, and laid down on the picnic table in the shade. It was heaven! I rested there for some 30 minutes. I think I may have actually fallen asleep. When I awoke, I was feeling much better. Not great, but better.

That whole last several miles I had really questioned if I was going to make it. I was ready to throw in the towel. But, hell, there was no towel or anywhere to throw it! Anyway you go there is only hot, unrelenting endless desert. All you can do is keep peddling. So I did.

We were nine miles out of Sierra Blanca. How was I going to make those last nine miles? One peddle at a time. As it turned out, those last miles were all downhill! Add in the 20 mph tailwind, and I was cruising! It was great!

As we came into Sierra Blanca and checked into our hotel, I was amazed at Keith’s patience, encouragement, and mentoring through our first day together. Beer was great that night.

Reflecting back on that nearly disastrous day, early the next morning, I realized there were three things I needed to adjust: First, I had to pace myself bette, stopping and resting before I got so tired. Second, I had to hydrate better. I thought I was hydrating fine, but wasn’t. Third, take more water, more than what I think I’m going to need. I mean, I had grown up out here in the desert, how could I be so stupid? Fourth, I had to make myself eat bigger meals. My lite headedness, were due to dehydration, low energy and fatigue. Keith had tried to get me to eat bigger meals, or more of the meals I had ordered that day, but I just wasn’t hungry.

On to tomorrow and Val Horn.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Sandy

    The lessons we learned as kids sometimes melt away as we grow up, move and don’t use/need to do them……funny how that haunts us later! So proud that you pushed on and conquered!! Another day down..more adventures to come my friend!!! ?

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