Monday, December 24
Unraveling By Moonlight
After spending 5 hours on the road Saturday battling the wind, traffic, and debris in the road in the Inland Empire, we deciede that Sunday we should set out east to embark on another adventure.
Joshua Tree boasted open roads, new pavement, maybe 100 cars in 7 hours, and a prestine blue sky. The only issue with the park is water. Although the temperatures were in the high 50's, one still needs to refill the bottles after a few hours. The decison was made to ride 30 miles to a ranger station to refuel, then head that same 30 back which resulted in a long, steady climb out.
I had a lot of food. I had a lot of water. I had moderate clothing, but i was so hot, both jersey and vest were unzipped all the way, flapping at my sides. my leg warmers and arm warmers were rolled up nicely in my back pocket by my almonds. When i ventured to look up, all the guys had complete jackets on, full legs and long fingered gloves.
I did not feel well. I was beginning to unravel. Pedaling was not an issue at all, the problem rested under my helmet, in my head.
My back hurt, my belly hurt, i was coughing a lot which could have turned into a steady pukefest at any moment. Matt asked if i was doing ok. I calmly repeated the above statement and settled into a silent steady cadence. No use stressing over the facts at hand. Nobody's cell phone worked in the park. Nobody was closer to home than i was.
As we crested the climb, Tom told us that we would be riding out of the park in the dark. But to not worry, because it was the park, not a surface road. As soon as the sun dipped behind the craggly rocks, so did the temperature. My heat laden body quickly began to shiver and i struggled to redress on the shoulder.
We soon realized it was a full moon. THe landscape flipped to an entirely new dimension. Everything was silent except for the occasional vehicle, which slowly passed us. We were on the newly paved section of road, so we knew our lack of lights would only put us in trouble with the night creatures. We settled into a pace line as i stared at the only form of light in the group, a blinkie on Matt's seat post.
A big white truck passed, then slowed, then turned around. Tom's wife Trish has felt the urge to come looking for us and there she was. We threw the bikes in the back, i jumped in the front, pulled my shoes off and jammed my frozen toes as close to the heater vents as possible.
By now it was pitch dark. This segment of the ride was by far my favorite. Its one of those experiences that at the time, i felt so horrible, so incapable of completing the task, yet in the warm car on the way back, while eating a hot burrito, we plotted our next near 7 hour cycle into the wilderness. This was truly a fantastic ride.