For some reason, as we set off this morning from Sierra Blanca, although we knew we had a 65-mile cycle, and The Weather Channel told us we would be facing a full-on head wind the whole way, we were not intimidated. We would plod along and just roll with it, we thought. We had completed much more difficult rides before. However, we have to say that we had slightly underestimated the challenge.
The first part of our day took us back onto our friend the I-10, with its wide shoulders, smooth road service ... and its 18-wheelers. So it was with mixed feelings that we followed the route off the I-10 after about 20 miles, for our first break of the morning…or so we thought. Unfortunately, the gas station on our route was closed for improvements, making it 40 miles until our first service stop of any kind.
With stiff upper lips (and not because of the cold today, it was toasty warm), we continued on the route, which took us down a deserted road right alongside the Mexican border (i.e. within ½ a mile of it), with nothing but farms and horses wandering across the road for company…oh, and a few Border Control vehicles from time to time. The scenery was really very lovely, and we enjoyed the chance to ride alongside each other for a change, but it was not long before we started to tire of the relentless and ridiculously strong headwind.
To make matters worse, looking into the distance, we saw it: a touring cyclist coming towards us looking fresh and relaxed, yes, with an almighty tailwind pushing him along! We found that Brian, a friendly and eco-friendly American from Portland, was cycling the Southern Tier route that we are following, but in the opposite direction to us (and with a detour on the end, as he will head up to one of our favourite places, Savannah, GA to finish his trip). We gritted our teeth and joked half-heartedly about the wind as we wished him well on his trip…
We ran out of gas about 50 miles into the trip. Quite literally. We had not eaten enough, and had been fighting against Evil Edwin for too long. With tears in our eyes (well, in Kat’s eyes anyway, even though Anthony had been shouldering the vast majority of the headwind), we stopped and crammed energy bars into our mouths as quickly as they would go. They gave us just enough of a boost to get us through the last few meandering miles and into Fabens, our destination for the night. We rode through the small town centre and, as directed, took the road towards the I-10. A couple of miles later, you guessed it, we found our motel, not so much “on the road between Fabens and the I-10” as billed but more “right next to the I-10”. We don’t like to think about how many miles we would have cut off by staying on the I-10, but it’s all in the name of cycling…
Dinner was burger and fries in our motel room courtesy of the gas station across the road, and we couldn’t even muster up any beers…unheard of…and on a Friday night too. Here’s to a large glass of vino when we arrive in El Paso tomorrow.
P.S. We were thrilled on arrival tonight to find that Laura, from MS Trust in the UK, has featured us on the home page their official website. A huge thanks from us to Laura. Check out the MS Trust website.