Michele McGuinness - Looking Forward

The prelude is over...

This is Jared, from Duncan, Arizona. He thinks I’m crazy, openly told me so right from the inside of his pick up truck as I was walking into lunch at Hilda’s. I laughed, he smiled and we agreed that maybe I am crazy. Then he came out shook my hand, the good one, not the hand he had glued together with crazy glue after cutting it on some tin yesterday. He works at the local dairy and pulled the last four singles out of his wallet for his girlfriend to go buy him a burger.

This is what I thought I would find on the road. Interesting conversations with people who I would never otherwise meet.

Actually the last three days this trip has turned into what I expected. The long quiet roads, the very, very small towns with for sale signs, old cars and dented pick up trucks dotting the yards. Interesting conversations with strangers who wonder why we are doing this. Long, hard days of pedaling.

We are finally out of Arizona. Away from territory I know. Away from roads I’ve driven on. We have settled onto country roads with beautiful ‘wide as the sky’ views. Mount Graham, the highest peak in Arizona, was beside us as we road to Lordsburg, NM the other day. There are pecan tree farms, cotton fields, desert and cows. At the end of each day we usually settle in small towns, bigger than Duncan but small towns.

I’ve lost track of days, I wake up and I’m not sure what city we’re in. I have to focus and think. We’ve been on this trip fifteen days now. Twelve riding days before our rest day in Silver City. 30,000 feet of elevation gain. Over 700 miles. There are have been awesome views, great laughter, new friends made. A rich experience.

Many, myself included, have pieces and parts that hurt that I didn’t know existed. Not intolerable just felt.

The last segment before our rest day was five riding days with the fifth crossing the Continental Divide, a beautiful ride. The rest day was at a motel in Silver City, New Mexico at a hotel a mile and a half from town. Many of us rode or walked back and forth to take advantage of a great local masseuse and Gila Hike and Bike, a local bike shop. So for me, I added five miles of walking on the rest day.

And I thought the last two weeks were hard, and perhaps they were but now it feels like everything up until now has been a warm up, a prelude. The real work is starting. This is a transition. We move onto the first chapter.

Yesterday we started one segment (of two) that when done, we’ll be halfway through our trip. We climb to the highest point on the Southern Tier, Emory Pass, and we ride six days before our next rest day. Then we ride for seven straight days until we get to Fredericksburg, Texas. Thirteen out of fourteen days in the saddle. 825 miles.

The next two segments are the hardest riding I have ever attempted. The most days and most miles in a row.

The newness of the trip has worn off. I’m tired. I think most everyone is. I have to dig deep and pull at that conviction and determination to ride across the country. Luckily I’m no stranger to hard work and I spent a lot of time preparing.

We ride, winds blowing (40 mph gusts today-really), rain falling and we remind ourselves that we asked (no PAID) to do this and we shake our heads and shrug our shoulders. We stop and eat and drink and rest. Then ride on. I enjoy the comfortable silence as much as the chatting while we spend hours on the bike together.

I’m grateful for the joy of cycling and spending time with the women on this trip. Each woman has a story. Every woman on this trip has grit and determination. I have found my tribe.

Looking forward to Texas.

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About MJM
The adventure begins. I'm preparing to bike across the United States. 3100 miles in 50 riding days. Come along with me...while I train, wander and search for chocolate.