I realized that I’ve written little about my actual riding. That is because it has been less than impressive. I mean, it has sucked.
You see, it takes a few weeks to get touring fitness. Don’t mistake me. If you want a sagged ride, or if you plan to stay in motels and eat at restaurants, you are ready for that now.
But if you are camping and making your own meals it is a whole different deal. First there is tent fitness. This involves putting up your tent at day’s end when you are completely done. And it involves the countless times you have to get up from the ground as you pitch the tent, break it down, go in and out, and cook if there is no table. Tent fitness involves getting used to sleeping on the ground. Have neck-back-joint issues? Yes? They will be magnified a thousandfold until you adapt, if ever. No issues? You will!
There is mental exhaustion from continually scouting and securing a site for the night, too. It takes time to adapt.
And the riding has been hard. I underestimated the difficulty of the stretch from San Diego to Phoenix. There’s a reason so many tourists start their west-to-east trip in eastern Arizona.
The backpack hasn’t translated into greater speed. If anything, I’m slower. It may be ongoing exhaustion or I may have simply been flat fucking wrong. I’ll give it a few thousand more miles before deciding, but for now it seems to be greatly adding to my exhaustion. The positive? The bike handles beautifully.
Today was a day that should have been easy. It was not. 57 miles total, total elapsed time right at five hours. The first 30 miles took three hours with no wind and a gradual uphill to Aguila. I lunched on chocolate milk, pb, and Oreos, and when I restarted I decided to beat the pedals. To my suprise I went faster and it lessened the relentless pressure on my taint. I’m continually regrettng no bibs, but then at the start of each day it feels great. Adapting? I am not sure yet. Ask me in Houston.
It still took two hours to go 27 miles, but most of those were uphill. It’s easy to fall into fuckoff mode when you tour, and if you don’t force yourself to push it, as in life … YOU WON’T.
When I got to Wickenburg the net effect of this effort was to leave me drained. All of the camper-friendly RV parks listed on my map were not, so I had to choose between a wash/gully/ditch along US 60 or a luscious hotel with shower, bed, and crisp sheets. I flinched at the $99 pricetag but took it, reasoning that I am old, slow, weak, and addicted to luxury.
Plus, tomorrow I have a hundred miles to get from here to the other side of Phoenix where my camp hosts live.
This is a great time of year to cross Arizona. It’s cool and there is little traffic. But the ramrod-straight roads that go for miles wear you down mentally. No change of scenery, only cactus, desert scrub, and asphalt.
All along the way were funeral flowers for people killed in cars. They were all freshly mantained, even though the deaths had occurred as long as 12-13 years ago. The price we gladly pay for the “convenience” of cars, until it’s our loved one. Then the sadness lasts a lifetime.
In my hotel room I had instant noodles, coffee, and cookies. So much for cooking. The ring I left around the bathtub?