Michele McGuinness - Looking Forward

West to East

Most cross country tours, Southern or Northern Routes go West to East. The logic and reasoning says that it is to take advantage of the prevailing headwinds. I believed it. I bought that story.

Down here, on the ground, on my little bike, I can tell you, it’s a lie.

Of the 23 riding days so far, only three or four days have had a tailwind or no wind. All the rest of those riding days we have had headwinds. We have traveled from California to Arizona through New Mexico and into Texas. Tomorrow at some mile marker between Vanderpool, Texas and Fredericksburg, Texas we cross the half way point of the trip.

The last few days we were on on a rough section of Highway 90. A chunky Texas chip seal section that no one on a bicycle would ever choose to ride. We ride it because we are riding from one coast to the other. It is a slog. If you haven’t met Bb, meet Bb.

On a 119 mile day on Highway 90, with rough roads and headwinds of 20 mph, Bb chanted, “You’re not having any fun”, “This is really hard.” Add to that, my left hand went numb at 50 miles. My back never hurts, my lower back tingled for hours. My saddle sores resurfaced.

I stopped at one point and screamed at the sky, “Why am I even doing this?”

I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

That day, Bb and I fought and at 78 miles, she won.

Don’t get me wrong some things are going great. We have had great weather for biking. Cool, or this morning, downright cold. Cloudy some days. A couple of misty or light rain days.

I’ve decided I’m not going to pay attention to the road quality. I’m not going to pay attention to the hills and how steep they are because there is nothing that they can throw at me that I can’t handle. I'm stronger. I'm tougher. I don’t care if I have a 20 mph headwind or 30 or 40 mph wind gusts. Cloud and threats of rain, who cares. I don’t leave without a rain jacket anyway. Cold, I’ll add a layer.

Up the hills today I sang, “I Love climbing. We are almost there. This is fun.”

Either I’m toughening up, I've succumbed to Stockholm syndrome, or I've beat Bb back with a stick.

The picture is after starting the ride at 47 degrees. I rode the first 25 miles shivering because I wore too light a jacket. I rode into a brutal 20 mph headwind. On chip seal. Up 3000 feet (three hills). I had a flat tire. And I had a problem with my chain that required the guide’s help to solve. Please note, I'm smiling.

After the flat tire and the chain fix, I got back on my bike, ok, I stopped for a pancake and hot chocolate at the next town to warm up. Then I pedaled on alone through the Texas hill country for the rest of the day. It was gorgeous.

At the top of the last hill, a couple looked at me and said, “I sure hope you have good brakes to go down there.”

I laughed, “I’m not going to use my brakes, that’s the whole point of climbing!”

I caught up to some other riders in time to enjoy a wine tasting at the local winery, then we pedaled onto our cabins in the woods. Tonight's dinner was baked potatoes with stuff, salad, veggies and S’mores by a fire.

We are headed East tomorrow and there will be a headwind.

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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.