What made the difference? I was not intimidated by the distance in the least. I had good lights. I had even climbed and descended the 2,000 foot Mule Pass from Douglas to Bisbee (reaching an altitude of just over 6,000'), albeit in the light of day, when I rode Cochise's 157 in 2004 and at PAC Desert Camp in 2007.
But descending in the dark reaching speeds of 45-50 with a shimmy in the steering column at those speeds, still nursing my wounded left leg, kidneys, adrenal, and gut from The Big BAM on September 30th left me with a shimmy in my Motel 6 cocoon.
Shortly after reaching the bottom of Mule Pass I'd pick up I-10 at Benson for 100 miles. We were told at the ride meeting that the shoulder was full of large chunks of truck retreads, crunchy pavement all overgrown with grass and weeds. That's what you can see. What you can't see are the little surgical steel fine pieces of wire that spit off the truck retreads and reek havoc with bike tires yielding predictable flats.
Crew are allowed to leap-frog the rider until I-10 (crew catches up with rider, pulls off the road, waits till rider disappears + five minutes and then rides up to rider again, repeating the process again and again). Once on I-10, crew is not allowed to follow or leap-frog the rider until after getting off I-10. Crew can wait for the rider at the bottom of the exit; the rider can exit, check in with crew and then return to I-10. Crew advances to the next exit. Cell phone reception is sketchy from I-10 to Douglas--lack of towers. If the rider were not to arrive when expected, crew would back-track on I-10 and go find the rider. That was our plan.
The plan, too, was that crew could not begin to follow riders until 30 minutes after the riders were released from the start. Bryan and Daniel would "sleep in" till 2:00 preparing to leave from the hotel at 2:30 and to catch me somewhere about 45 minutes into my ride. This can work.