Day 41: Service Day
One of the things I love about 4k is being able to give back to the community throughout the trip. Today was one of those days, and our host had set up the morning for us to go to the local YWCA where summer camp was being held for kids from ages 5-12. We arrived and set up shop in a local schoolroom where a news crew was waiting for us. We had different groups of kids come in where we were and held a short Q&A and afterwards made cards with the kids for other kids who were going through cancer treatment in the hospital! I definitely think it made an impression on the kids there for what we were doing and how they were helping others. Unfortunately, my artistic skills weren’t as good as others, so Bri, Dan, Matt, Brad, and I were sent to go to play with the kids on a different part of the grounds. I had a lot of fun playing knockout, tag, and dodge ball with these rambunctious kids. After getting beat multiple times (literally and figuratively), it was time to walk away from the field and say goodbye to the wonderful kids we met for the day. We headed back to the host where we had a quick lunch and began to paint some tables the church had out back. Afterwards we hit the town for dinner and came back to learn how to Western dance! It was pretty fun, but it was time to turn in for the night as everyone was exhausted from a really great day in Lubbock.
Day 42: H20 goes a long way
After a great rest/service day in Lubbock, it was time to move forward and finally out of Texas into New Mexico! It was my turn to drive the water van and Danny was my partner-in-crime for the day as we were going to support our riders along their 107 mile day to Clovis, NM. It was going to be an easy day for us as well because it was incredibly flat and there were only 4 turns the entire day. In fact, we were on this one stretch of road for 90 miles at one point. As we started out for the day, Danny and I realized it was going to be tough to support the troops with some much needed caffeine, so we took a quick pit stop at the local Mickey D’s to grab some Joe before the riders started out on their day.
As soon as we set up the first water stop, we decided that we shouldn’t be the only ones not exercising so we set a goal to try and do the impossible: Attempt 1000 push-ups before the end of the day. We had plenty of the time before the first group arrived, so we were able to knock out a lot of push-ups and get some good photo shoots in (see below). By the time we reached the host, our riders were well hydrated and in good spirits as Danny and I had done our job. We, on the otherhand, were exhausted and disappointed in ourselves as we were only able to do 650 push-ups for the day. It wasn’t a total loss of a day because we had an absolutely delicious home-cooked meal provided for by our host and a relaxing night talking to them.
Day 43: New Mexico is a beautiful place
The morning started out as it usually does, however we had to start a little later than usual because our gracious host had done our laundry the night before and we had to wait for it to come back to us. As soon as everyone’s laundry was returned, we split off into groups based on our favorite state. Micaela, Lauren, Brad, and I all chose Virginia and we set off on our first full day in New Mexico as we headed 85 miles to Tucumcari. The first half of our trip was actually pretty uneventful as we were riding in the middle of no where with some rolling hills. It was nothing we weren’t used to, but it was a little bit greener out here compared to Texas (maybe the grass is greener on the other side). When we reached the second water stop, and we decided to take a different route than planned because it would take us on historic route 66 to Tucumcari. What we didn’t realize it that it would take us on the most scenic (read: craziest) ride we have ever experienced. About 6 miles after the water break, we stopped because we were facing something we haven’t come across before. A canyon. After a quick discussion about the quality of the roads, we decided to descend on switchback and gravel roads. What we didn’t realize is that the gravel roads (which were barely ride-able) turned into completely dirt roads (nearly impassable) however we pushed forward to a hopeful end of these awful roads. Since the roads were tough to traverse, we decided that everyone should go at their own pace so I took off with Brad and Dan as we were able to quickly get over the sand and dirt and bike in awe of the extraordinary scenery around us. It took us about 12 miles of dirt/sand roads to get to paved roads again and where we stopped for everyone else to catch up to regroup for the rest of our trip. It took a little while for everyone else to reach us, but when they did, we had a quick water stop and headed out once again because we could see a storm brewing in the far distance. As soon as I jumped on my bike, misfortune took me as I realized I had a flat. I told my group to go ahead of me because I thought I could quickly change my tube and make up the ground quickly. I made a crucial mistake as I forgot to check the tire for any punctures that could have caused the flat. Because I didn’t check the tire, the minute I put on a new tube, I immediately got another flat and had to change it again.
This became a little problem because my group and the other groups had already left and I was behind with just the water van. Since I was so far behind, I realized I needed to book it in order to catch up to my group so I floored it and was biking at about 30 mph for about 5-6 miles to catch up my group. Aaron who was in the water van took some awesome pictures of me riding and it gave me a nice little workout. We only had about 6 miles to go when we finally reached the historic route 66 sign and had our last water stop there for some quick pictures. After the photo shoot, we headed to the host to beat the storm and made it to the host in good time where we were able to relax and I was able to cut off my mohawk because it was time for it to go.
Day 44: What happens on the road to Las Vegas…
Gets publicized on my blog, because why not. The morning was pretty uneventful, but it was time to get to business because it was going to be a tough 108 mile day to Las Vegas, NM (Although it probably would have been fun if it was the one in Nevada). I was riding with Michelle, Jackie, Eric, and Kirk as we set off into an awesome canyon to begin our journey. It is amazing to see these rock structures hundreds of feet high right next to where you bike then looking down to see a beautiful valley hundreds of feet below you. Although a picture can say a thousand words, seeing it with your words makes it indescribable which is why I feel as if I can’t take pictures of the scenery because it simply does not do it justice. We continued on throughout our scenic route up on top of the canyon ridges all the way through the valleys and the small towns (as in 15 people) that littered our route.
Today marked a milestone in our route because we were going to climb above 5,000 ft above sea level, which is when the atmosphere begins to affect your cardiovascular ability due to a reduction in the partial pressure of oxygen from the high altitude (thank you Dr. Rogers and your course for teaching me that). I didn’t really feel it too much until we climbed above 6,000 ft sea level in the middle of our ride and I begin to realize I had some shortness of breath and I couldn’t ramble to my teammates like I was used to. Some of my other teammates though were feeling the altitude more as they begin to have headaches and a tightness in the chest. Fortunately we were all OK enough to ride, but we were about to take on our toughest challenges on the trip: A 3 mile climb with a 7% grade. Think about a road leading straight up a mountain, with guardrails in place because if you look down, you would see a drop of hundreds of feet and it is what the road was like that we climbed.
The view as we slowly climbed this beast was incredible (and terrifying because I’m scared of heights), but fortunately we had a water stop about 2 ½ miles up to give us a quick break from the climb. When we finally ascended the mountain, the scenery completely changed from canyons and desert-like conditions to rolling hills with lush grass as far as the eye could see with no trees anyway in sight and the majestic Rockies before us. It was most exhilarating view we had came across and was worth every mile that we rode to get there. It reminded me of an advertisement you would see for Ireland or Scotland, minus the Rockies of course. Anyways, it was pretty fun rest of the ride and we were able to make it to the host with plenty of time to unpack and get ready for the ride the next day.