Sunday, December 18, 2011

Groovin' on the Groover

Having returned from my first experience sea kayaking, one might ask what I found to be the most challenging event.  I could say it was rolling upside down in the water and escaping from the overturned kayak during a wet escape, or paddling through winds and rough waves without previous experience, or even being very ill for a couple of days.  None of those, however,  compares to what stretched me to the point of thinking...."I can't do this!"......

I took this sea kayaking trip to the Exuma Islands as an alumni of an educational organization called NOLS, (National Outdoor Leadership School.)  This school teaches all sorts of outdoor skills, using the wilderness as the classroom.  They teach and adhere to the leave no trace (LNT) principles; what you bring into an area, you take out, leaving minimal impact on the environment.....that means everything.  Yes....EVERYTHING!!   So, as we paddled from one deserted island to the next, we camped in accordance to the LNT directives, which included the bathroom....and what we 'packed' in, we packed out.

When backpacking in the Wyoming, we dug individual 'cat holes' in which to relieve our bodies of their 'waste', (but any non-natural, man-made substances...like TP... had to be packed out).  In the Exumas, we could not use cat holes; the mineral make up of the islands did not allow for the breakdown of the waste....if it got planted, there it would remain in its original state.  As a result, we had to use a container called a 'groover' as a toilet, but only for solid waste. It resembled a large tupperware container with a screw off lid and is so named because it leaves grooves on your rear-end when used.


The groover, measuring approximately 6x10 in.  Cubic volume unknown...but it wasn't much!
For the sake of modesty, the groover was housed under a tent fly.
Only used for solid waste, we carried ziplock bags in which to deposit our soiled paper products
The groovers, (we had four), were transported on the back of the double kayaks, as seen on the back of this one. The used groovers were well bundled in garbage bags.

When the groover tent was occupied, a kayak paddle was put upright in the sand to warn anyone else away. It's not a sight one would want to witness,and the embarrassment of such an accidental intrusion would have surely created some performance issues for the user and interloper, alike!

The first time I went to use it, I thought "How bad can this be?"  Let me put it this way.....it was all I could do to keep from vomiting. I am sure my gagging could be heard all the way down the beach.  I knew after that first experience that I just wouldn't be able to do this.... but what was the alternative?  There was none--at least, none that supported the 'Leave No Trace' principles.  How I wished for another way....

Well, be careful what you wish for; I spent the next two days sicker than a dog, with a raging headache and unable to keep down any food. Grateful that the high winds and rough ocean kept us grounded and unable to paddle to our next destination, I laid in my tent for those days, only drinking water, nibbling an occasional cracker and watching the others hone their kayaking skills and frolic in the water.  I was truly miserable, but without food entering my system, I did not have to use the groover!
Sick, I found a patch of shade in the tent. It was very hot; the islands offered very little shade.

I have little doubt that not everyone used the groover.  Like the character from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, as I laid immobilized in my tent,  I watched people come and 'go'.  Most trudged to the groover like good soldiers, emerging in the appropriate amount of time.  One gentleman, however, entered and vacated within seconds, only to make a second attempt after contemplating the matter for a few minutes.  Failing at this in an equally short amount of time, he walked hurriedly to the ocean, and began swimming long, easy strokes to a point far beyond my range of vision.  Returning 10 minutes later, I had no problem in assuming he had 'dropped the kids' off somewhere else.  I know with certainty of one person who preferred to build a 'shrine'.....  So much for leaving no trace.  In fairness to those who just could not bring themselves to use the tupperware toilet, I just have to ask this....'Did our food really have to have so much spice, onions and fiber?'

Despite my lack of sustenance, the groover beckoned.....    I observed the LNT mandate and made friends with the contraption, but this was, without a doubt, the most challenging part of the trip!

The Exuma Islands were absolutely beautiful and it was a wonderful trip.  If you ever get the chance to experience them like this, jump at the opportunity.  The beauty and serenity is phenomenal!

Concierge service by Steve....his makeshift raft, serving almonds and sun warmed chocolate to the water worshipers.
2011 NOLS Alumni trip; Sea Kayaking in the Bahamas
The end of another day in paradise. All the islands on which we camped were deserted.
A double rainbow greets another perfect morning
Beaching the boats for lunch
The tranquility of sunset
Dinner on the beach--camp-made pizza
Perfection.....
Reminiscent of Gilligan's Island.  One did not venture into the jungle; it was full of poisonwood trees, which causes a rash worse than poison ivy.
Cutting vegetables for dinner
Our kitchen was under the green and white tarp.  We traveled self-contained, carrying all our food, water and gear in our kayaks.
Doug, one of the instructors, teaching me to roll.
Practicing the different maneuvering strokes.
Waiting for dinner.
Thank you, NOLS, for another wonderful adventure!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Thin Branches........

I am sitting in an almost mid-level motel in the Exuma Islands. A few months ago, I had never heard of them; they are part of the Bahama Islands. Who knew? I thought the Bahama Islands consisted only of the island that Nassau was on. I guess the first clue to my error should have been the "s" on the end of Bahama Islands. But here I am, sufficiently educated and waiting to meet a handful of strangers, with whom I will be spending the next week.

I am here to learn how to kayak, specifically sea kayak. I have never kayaked before, let alone in the ocean. The trip is self-contained, meaning we will be carrying all our gear and camping on the various islands, to which we will be paddling.

I should mention at this point that I don't swim well and have a fear of drowning. Last time I swam in the ocean was for a triatholn, and I was so frightened of the waves, (in my defense, they were BIG), that I begged the life guard to paddled on his surf board beside me. I am not afraid of being eaten by predators from below, but I have removed my toe nail polish so my tootsies don't get mistaken for yummy morsels...just in case, mind you. So to say I am 'crawling out onto the thin branches', stretching myself, is not too much of an exaggeration.

I have had a number of people ask me why I keep doing things that 'push' me so much...or as one friend puts it, "Why do you keep punishing yourself?'  I don't see it that way; The reason I push is simple; I firmly believe that once one stops challenging himself, he quits growing.

Yesterday in the airport, I caught an interview of Deepak Chopra. He was talking about aging and feels that once one stops growing, he begins to age--that mental age affects biological age. He urged the listeners, regardless of age or physical condition, to challenge themselves daily with something new, with something that would stretch them mentally and physically. In doing so, new cells and synapses develop as does a healthy self-esteem that comes with achievement, which in turn, stimulates one to continue to reach beyond his boundaries and grow.

Tomorrow I shove off in my kayak, but prior to actually being able to leave, I must learn and demonstrate that I am able to do a 'wet escape'....that means flipping the kayak upside-down in the water (with me in it), getting out successfully and reaching the surface.  I have no doubt that as I am hanging upside down under the water, I will feel panic, but I am prepared to walk past that fear, and in doing, empower myself,  learn a new skill, and grow.

So, I challenge you...as I am hangin upside-down, fully submerged....to do one thing tomorrow that will stretch you...that will grow you. It doesn't have to be big, but just one thing that makes your heart beat a little faster, that makes your palms moist and causes you to dig into your courage just a bit....just one thing. Climb out onto those thin branches...because 'life begins at the end of your comfort zone.'  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why?

Many of you have asked why I enjoy riding across the country so much: what is the allure: what motivates me, and why do I keep doing it.  The following article clearly puts into words that which I cannot.  It was written by a 57 year old journalist, who recently completed the trip.  Enjoy...I did, because I understand exactly what he says and how he feels.....(http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/travel/bicycling-across-the-country-bruce-weber-reflects.html?scp=2&sq=bruce%20weber&st=cse )

"IF you can be said to be hurrying on a cross-country bicycle trip, for about two weeks I hurried to Pittsburgh. I pushed through some dreary weather in Michigan and Ohio, climbed the roller-coaster foothills of the Appalachians and battled traffic and chewed up roads as I entered the city. From there, though, with the end of a ride that began almost three months ago looming, I slowed down and started on an oblique route home.
IN TRANSIT BLOG

Life Is a Wheel

Bruce Weber cycled across America — from Oregon to New York. Read about his journey on In Transit.
Multimedia

On Wheels: America at 10 M.P.H.

In 1993, Bruce Weber cycled across America. The series, “On Wheels: America at 10 M.P.H.,” appeared in The New York Times.
For three days, instead of plunging ahead eastward toward Manhattan, I veered to the south along the Great Allegheny Passage, a lovely rails-to-trails thoroughfare through the woods that accompanies a couple of splendid wild rivers I’d never heard of, the Youghiogheny and the Casselman, and crosses the Mason-Dixon Line, connecting Pittsburgh with Cumberland, Md., where, if you choose, you can pick up another off-road trail to Washington.
I’m in Cumberland as I write this. It’s 10 days or so before publication, so by the time you read this I might well be home with my feet up and my knees swaddled in ice. The temptation, of course, is to race to the finish, and to imagine it even before I get there. That’s certainly how my previous continental crossing ended 18 years ago; I was 39, a young man eager to feel a conqueror of the country and to accept the plaudits of friends and colleagues. This time, while I won’t say that I won’t be ready for the trip to end when it does, I’m feeling the different pleasures of delayed gratification.
I’m feeling the pleasures of contrariness, too. Why is everyone trying to rush me?
People have been telling me that the tough part of my cross-country bicycle journey was behind me, or that I was almost finished, or that the rest would be easy — or some related sentiment — ever since I crossed the Continental Divide, and several friends and readers wrote to express the absurdly wrong idea that it was going to be all downhill from there. When I reached the Mississippi River at its source in northern Minnesota, a grocery clerk made sure to inform me that I was closer to the finish than the start. In Minneapolis, in Madison, Wis., and again inChicago, the friends I met up with offered congratulations as if I were already taking a victory lap.
When I began my ride on July 20 in Astoria, Ore., the continent was sprawled enormously in front of me, but from the outset what people (noncyclists, generally) always seemed to be interested in was when it would be over. I understand the impulse; it’s a way of encapsulating an enterprise that doesn’t exactly fit in a capsule. After all, an endless journey is a little intimidating, a little scary —Columbus sailing off over the flat edge of the world — but a journey that ends you can put in your pocket.
Still, the actual day-by-day doing of the trip — the hours-at-a-time riding, the countless pedal strokes and huffing and puffing up hills, not to mention the daily deciding on a route, the finding of places to stay, the maintaining of the bike and the consuming of sufficient calories — has been so fraught with effort that I’ve never been able to project and see myself any farther east than, say, the Holiday Inn Express across the county.
This isn’t to say I don’t dream about crossing the George Washington Bridge with my arms raised in triumph (and then putting away my bicycle for a winter’s hibernation.) I do. But my visions aren’t terribly convincing; they generally engender despair, causing me to sigh out loud and give off a lament that begins with the words “I’ll never. ... ” It makes me more than a little nervous to write this article now, about 300 miles from Manhattan. It may be easy to expect that someone who has already pedaled 3,600 miles can do 300 with his eyes closed, but I don’t think so. In order to own those miles, I have to expend my energy on them; in order to live those days, I have to work through all their hours. I’m as daunted by the next 300 miles as I was in Astoria by the first 3,600.
I’VE often told people that traveling by bicycle isn’t the contemplative, mind-meandering activity that it is generally presumed to be. Rather, it’s concentration-enhancing. When I’m cycling I tend to be focused on cycling, keeping a close eye on the road, keeping tabs on the messages my bicycle and my body are sending me. But one thing that has diverted me all across the country is the relationship between time and distance. I’ve measured my progress with both of them: Closing in on 4,000 miles and 13 weeks.
It interests me that both time and distance are concepts in the abstract but that both are more often used in specific terms — a particular span of one or the other — and can be described similarly, as long or short. On a tiring afternoon I’ll habitually monitor my odometer and do the math — 23 miles to go, two hours if the wind doesn’t turn; I’ll be in my motel by 5:15. It suggests that time and distance are inextricably related, but that isn’t so. If I stood still on the shoulder of the road, 5:15 would come and go on the shoulder of the road. You’ve noticed, haven’t you, that 23 miles in two hours is 11.5 miles an hour? That’s pretty slow, unless you’re climbing or facing a tough wind. Thirteen weeks might describe a lot more than 4,000 miles for a stronger or more zealous cyclist. On the other hand, I’m dancing as fast as I can.

In sum, for time to be meaningful, it needs to be filled by distance; for distance to be meaningful, it needs to fill an appropriate measure of time. A long trip like mine — timewise, I mean — requires a lot of distance to make the whole experience rise above standing on the roadside. You have to pedal and keep pedaling.
IN TRANSIT BLOG

Life Is a Wheel

Bruce Weber cycled across America — from Oregon to New York. Read about his journey on In Transit.
Multimedia

On Wheels: America at 10 M.P.H.

In 1993, Bruce Weber cycled across America. The series, “On Wheels: America at 10 M.P.H.,” appeared in The New York Times.
Perhaps you sense a larger metaphor looming ahead. Good for you, because here it comes. I decided to make this trip in the first place because I felt my résumé for adventure wasn’t keeping pace with my advancing age. Unlike my last trip, which I viewed, somewhat contradictorily, as both a young man’s errand and a farewell to youth, this one, at age 57, has been about my encroaching mortality, no doubt about it, and when I compare the two journeys I recognize in the current one the frailty of age. I’m slower. I’m less eager to ride long days and long hours and ride with the sun going down. I’m much more concerned about finding a place to stay and knowing early in the day where I’ll be spending the night. Never an especially intrepid downhiller, I now ride the brakes on a steep incline like a grandfather. And though I’ve been thinking all across the country that there is simply more auto traffic than there used to be, and that roads that felt safe 18 years ago are now riddled with hazard, it occurred to me recently that I’m simply more attuned to cars on the road and no longer blithely unconcerned about them. To put it bluntly: I’m more of a chicken.
All that acknowledged, my decision to ride cross-country again was a great one. Not because I’ve staved off anything grim, but because I’ve found a new way to think about my life — as a self-powered trip across the country. What is distance, after all, but experience?
Maybe you will scoff. O.K., it’s a little facile. But what I’m trying to do here is spin the cliché, not fall back on it. I don’t declare that life is a journey. I do think what I’ve discovered is that a journey can add depth and dimension to a life and even, in retrospect, represent it.
Among other things, my path through the nation has made me far more conscious and appreciative of the nation. I’m not just speaking of the scenic highlights, though the Columbia River Gorge in OregonGlacier National Park in Montana, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park in Minnesota, and the Great Allegheny Passage, where the fall colors were on vivid, spectacular display, are enough to make a patriot out of a cynic.
This was an American journey by a New Yorker who became more American as he went along. By virtue of absorbing almost 4,000 miles of thrilling landscape, inch by inch, I learned more about topography and how it figures in the identities of thousands of localities and millions of Americans than I had ever understood.
Is there any way for a cyclist, especially one from a vertical metropolis, not to be awestruck by northern Montana? It took me two weeks to cross its vast expanse, from the dauntingly magisterial Rockies in the west to the endless, wind-whipped flatland of the east, where the towns are dots on the highway dozens of miles apart, pulsing on the prairie like blips on a colossal oscilloscope.
Easterners, city dwellers and certainly Manhattanites tend to view the West with a kind of dismissive interest in its vastness and little interest at all in its variations. But it was striking to me how equally remote regions are hewn by different forces. In the Palouse of eastern Washington, where the golden wheat fields were so blanched by the summer sun that they seemed to reflect the light, life revolves around the heat and the harvest. A month after I left there, I passed through the flood-riddled plains of eastern North Dakota, where crops have been compromised, grazing land for sheep and cattle has been submerged (so have a number of roads, which seriously complicates getting from one small town to another), and everyone I spoke to, ranchers, hotel clerks, waitresses and pharmacists, joked unhappily about scanning the sky for the next cloudburst on the horizon.

In the heartland — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio — day after day I traversed enormous farms, and the sheer acreage of corn and soybeans, not to mention the huge grain silos and mammoth tractors and hay trucks, testified to the unending labor of farmers. They were always out working in the rain, and as I rode by, sodden myself, they always waved.
IN TRANSIT BLOG

Life Is a Wheel

Bruce Weber cycled across America — from Oregon to New York. Read about his journey on In Transit.

On Wheels: America at 10 M.P.H.

In 1993, Bruce Weber cycled across America. The series, “On Wheels: America at 10 M.P.H.,” appeared in The New York Times.
In addition to America, there were, of course, Americans. We New Yorkers can be hideously provincial, so enamored of our high-cultural advantages that we lord our sophistication over the rest of the population. An island off the coast of America — so goes the smug definition of Manhattan. Here is what I have to say about that after not being home for three months. New York Cityremains the national center of conversation; one thing I’ve missed on the road is the kind of verbal dexterity that you can find in any Manhattan bar. But one thing we could use more of in the city is the inclination toward benevolence.
By the lights of my experience over the past three months, in most of America, the default temperament is decency. O.K., there were a few beer cans tossed at me out the windows of pickup trucks. But strangers have gone out of their way for me regularly, to give me a lift over construction sites or unridable gravel, to help me find a place to stay when none were evident, to do me simple favors when there was no actual reason to do so except the inclination to be kind. To give one example, I was on the road late one afternoon in the middle of Montana, and with 25 miles to Chester, the next town, and my strength flagging, I called the sheriff’s department to ask where I might stay that night. The woman who answered — I wish I could remember her name — not only called the two motels in town to find me a room (and called me back to say I had a reservation) but also asked if I needed her to send someone out on the highway to pick me up.
“We do that all the time,” she said. “A lot of cyclists through here, and it’s a long way between towns.”
It’s hard not to be grateful for that attitude.
MANY moments on the trip have revealed me to myself. I knew, before I started, how rigorous the trip was going to be — I’d done it before, after all — but I was unprepared physically. I can confess it now: the first two weeks I nearly gave up and flew home half a dozen times, thinking I could feign an injury. But I didn’t. The stick-to-it-iveness I needed to build up the stamina in my legs and my lungs was something I didn’t know I still had. As I approached the Rocky Mountains, I was sad, disappointed, weary, self-doubting. I was living with the kind of perpetual lump in my throat that I have associated for 40 years with the aftermath of a broken teenaged heart.
The turning point was Aug. 13, the day I crossed the Continental Divide on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The ride to the top of the divide features an 11-mile climb that rises about 3,500 feet to Logan Pass, 6,646 feet above sea level. Intimidated, I’d intended to go around it, get through the mountains over a lower, less challenging and interesting pass, until a stranger at a lunch counter in Whitefish, Mont., shrugged and said it seemed awfully silly to be so close to one of the justly celebrated rides in America and not take advantage of it.
He was, of course, correct, and two days later I set off fromLake McDonald Lodge in the waning dark of early morning, pedaled for nearly an hour as the sunrise glowed pink and orange behind the mountains and began the ascent with trepidation. My thighs and glutes strained and started to burn, but for three miles, my enthusiasm grew. Eight miles from the top the road makes a hairpin turn, ceases being a forest road and begins a series of switchbacks along a mountain precipice. The views are progressively gasp-inducing, but so was my muscle-weariness. I crept uphill, but, importantly, I kept creeping. At the top, the relief, the wonder, the thrill were previously unimaginable. The 17-year-old girl I longed for as a 17-year-old boy had just kissed me. It was exactly like that.
One of the things that makes me feel as though this bike ride is like my life is that it has been long enough in both time and distance that I can’t remember everything about it. Details, for example, from my several days’ ride through the Montana Hi-Line, the plains near the Canadian border, are hazy, the towns I stopped in mixed up in my head. Was that meal in Chester or Malta? The picture I took of the silos and the passing freight train — was that before or after I took a rest day in Havre? It’s hard for me to believe that the bike ride I’m on now is the same bike ride I was on then.
But of course it is. The other day in eastern Ohio I turned a corner from a lonely country lane onto a better-used thoroughfare, a two-lane highway with a yellow center stripe and a very slender shoulder with a raggedy edge that dropped off dangerously into a cornfield. There wasn’t much traffic, and it was the sort of road I’ve been on a lot, though it always makes me a little nervous to share a lane with drivers who don’t expect a lot of company and hurtle by at high speed.
The moment I made the turn I had a vision, the kind of flash before your eyes that people call déjà vu. Maybe it was the time of day, late afternoon with its pretty, angled sunlight. Maybe it was the fact that there was sunlight at all; I’d been riding in wet weather for several days. Maybe it was the precise height of the corn or the precise width of the shoulder. Maybe it was the sense of anxiety at having to trust the drivers coming up behind me after happy hour had begun. Maybe it was my level of exhaustion. Whatever the stimulus, I saw in my mind’s eye a road outside McMinnville, Ore., that I’d ridden at the end of the second day of my journey. I suddenly recalled that whole day’s ride with utter clarity, from the Oregon coast on a rainy morning, along the twisty, forested bank of the Nestucca River, and out into a sunny valley with the foothills of the Cascades in the distance. It was as though I’d encountered a college friend I hadn’t seen in years and together we reconstructed the memory of a wild party in 1972. I love the idea that the bike trip, in and of itself, has its own vanished but recoverable memories. Perhaps there will be more of them before I’m done.
I hope it’s true that when you read this I’ll be home. I’m ready for the ride to come to its natural end, but I don’t want to anticipate it or celebrate it before it happens or even to talk about it. Eighteen years ago, from the time I crossed into Manhattan on my bike, I became the guy who had ridden across the country. But I’m no longer as eager to put the past behind me as I was in the past. If there’s one thing the ride this time has impressed on me, it’s that the present is where I want to live. Never wish away distance. Never wish away time.

BRUCE WEBER is a reporter for The New York Times.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

I got a new wheel set yesterday and was extremely excited to go out and ride today.  As I rolled out of my driveway, it was like riding on air; the resistance was so minimal.  It may have been the placebo effect or perhaps due to the upgrade in gear, but I flew today with what seemed little effort; so little, in fact, that I looked for a flag to see if I had a tailwind pushing me!  (It was, in fact, a slight headwind).   So I rode with glee, smiling like a fool, until....BOOM!   The rear wheel blew out....  (and, of course, it had to be the rear since that is the more difficult one to change)

I pulled off the road, and began making the preparations to change the tire.  I was anticipating a struggle since, not only was the wheel set new, but also the tire.  This meant it would be tight on the wheel, and hard to remove.  As I pulled my tire changing gear out of my seatbag, the CO2 cartridge went rolling out.  It was empty.  I had lent it to someone in need, and forgot to replace it.  Great.

Just about then, a Toyota Avalon pulled up, and a man got out, asking me if I needed help or a ride.  Not shy to turn down the offer, I immediately accepted the ride.  His name was Tim, and he and his wife drove me all the way back to my house.  I am so grateful for that random act of kindness, and now, I get to pay it forward.

Tim, if you read this.....a big thank you to you and your wife!  I hope to see you out on the road someday!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Scorching Sun, Blazing Saddles....Utah

Utah........land of the Mormans, Moab and Misery.  Even though I had headed out to ride there at 8:30 am, I miscalculated how long it would actually take to get to the jump off site, and didn't begin pedaling until almost 10:30.  The temperature was still in the 80's, so with a full camelbak and two water bottles, I parked my car at a convenience store and began pedaling towards Hovensweep National Monument.

In this remote area, these are ancient Pueblo Indian ruins, dating back to 900 AD.  The village is estimated to have been home to 2500 people.  Now, however,  as I rode through desolate landscape, I could see that it is home to only a handful of hardy souls.  It's a hard life here, as evidenced in the many beer and alcohol bottles that litter the roadside.  The route into the park goes through a Navajo reservation, and, as I have witnessed in other reservations, proof of rampant alcohol use is  obvious.
Piles of beer and booze bottles....they are everywhere along the road
Under the morning sun, the bottles glisten like lights on a Christmas tree.
The land here is desolute...it is a desert.  Nothing breaks the montonous brown except for the gun metal grey of the asphalt road.  Even that has faded, though the Federal government has spent a considerable amount of money paving that which was once dirt and repaving the deteriorated areas. So a new black line now snakes through the territory instead of a faded gray one.
Thank  you, Mr Obama for the new roads and the work
Old road....cattle guard....new road
New road...thank you very much Mr Obama, but did it have to be chipseal?
Chipseal.....brand new chipseal....
For those of you that don't know, chipseal is an extremely durable surface, but it is also very, very rough.  It is almost like cobblestone, but the stones aren't as large and they are impregnated into asphalt. So what this meant to me as a bicyclist was, that not only was the surface very bumpy, but also sticky with new ashalt....that equals a lot of resistance.  It means that one has to pedal even when going down hill. The asphalt was so new that there wasn't a mark in it.  It was beautiful to look at, but there weren't even the smoother wear marks in which to ride.

Additionally, the temperture was rising quickly, creating big head and crosswinds.  Once the temperature climbed above 102 degrees, the wind picked up considerably and ceased to be cooling; it created more resistance against which to ride.  It was like opening a hot oven while sticking to melted chewing gum!

This was my ride--43 miles in the desert. I think I must have been half baked to have attempted this in the summer.....(half baked.....nah, try fully fried!)  I was fortunate, though, that traffic was extremely light, and I only had to share the road a few times.

Open Range.....
With the paint
With the sorrel
and his brother horse
With the sheep
And those pesky cows
And the buffalo....but they were pretty far away.

Interesting enough, there was also a baseball diamond....America's favorite pass time.  I cannot imagine playing in this heat, but obviously, someone has watch "Field of Dreams".....
"Build it, and they will come"
The dugouts.

I reached Hovenweep with an empty camelbak and two empty water bottles; that is 80 ounces of water in 20 miles.  It was hot!  My face was so crusted with salt that it looked like it was part of the Great Salt Flats; all I had to do was rub it and I could give myself a microdermabrasion!  No wondered  people were staring!  At least, for once, I knew it wasn't because of my spandex shorts!  

I rested and cooled down before heading back; I just did not have the energy or enthusiasm to tour the park and see the wonderful ruins.  I will save this for another time when I am in an air-conditioned car. Right now, though, I still had to cycle back in this heat.

As I departed the ranger station with full water bottles, a full camelbak, and freshly applied sunscreen, I happened to notice that my bike thermometer registered 107*. Despite the reading,  I felt good and was grateful that it was a dry 107 instead of the humid triple digits in Dallas.  
Relentless, blazing sun
I truly do not know how our ancestors lived here and traversed the area in their heavy, long dresses and stiff shoes.  I guess I am a weinie....I was struggling in my light clothing.  It was scorching hot....

There are two kinds of quitting; mental and physical.  I've had plenty of experience of the mental quitting--allowing myself to make excuses and succumb to the mental conversation of "I can't".  Physical quitting is when the body just can't go on any further.  On this ride, I experienced the latter.

As I reached my start point, I was short on my mileage to make 50 miles, so I turned right and continued to pedal.  To that point,, I had been ignoring the growing and pounding headache; I also decided to disregard the cold chills.  I've experienced both these symptoms before, and knew my body was beginning to go into heat exhaustion.  However, on this ride, I only had 7 more miles and I could just push through it....it's only seven miles.  I wasn't far into picking up this mileage when I began to get nauseous.  This is when I knew I was being foolish; my body was quitting, and I had better heed the warning.  I turned around and returned to the car.

I must say, the drive home was challenging; I was very light headed and sick to my stomach.  I don't regret not finishing the qualifying mileage; I did the right thing.  It did take me several days before I felt normal again.....

Desert everywhere...........