This just may have been one of the most eventful days of the Tour to date. Nothing momentous, but just lots of little things that when woven into the fabric of the day makes for a very colorful tapestry.
For starters it is Day 15, the half-way point of the Tour, in terms of days. In terms of miles, we've completed 52% and in terms of climbing we've completed 57%. Raw numbers you ask? As we shut our eyes tonight for the 15th time, we have biked 1,819 miles and climbed 53,400'
For seconds, as I mentioned yesterday, two more riders, Brian and Anne, will be leaving the Tour at the end of today. Barb, Phil, and Zoe Bohaty (crew) will also be leaving and John Lake and Jon Jahant will be joining as crew.
And then there was the doe we passed only about 10 miles out of Clayton, NM that had been mortally wounded by a motor vehicle, but was still alive. She would raise her head with those deer-in-the-headlights big eyes and look at each of us as we passed. Where in the hell was one of thousands of Texans with a gun when you need them? I kept hoping I would hear a report (gun) signifying that someone had put her out of her pain; but alas there was only silence. As I write this I realize now why much of this day has been colored with such waves of emotional vulnerability. That visual is hard to set aside.
And then there was the unstoppable wind that laid the prairie grass low as either a head or cross wind, depending upon whether we were heading east or south. And it just never let up. At the same time, the temperature kept heating up to a final resting place of 100. Seven of us worked together in pace line or echelon formation to create some protection from the wind. That worked well till lunch.
Lunch was at mile 85 in Channing, a near ghost town of 500 people. Although we were under a large shade tree, the grass was as sharp as hay and felt like it could spontaneously combust with the least provocation. Although I couldn't smell it, the word was that there were feedlots near by. Hence the flies were swarming like the birds in Hitchcock's movie by the same title. They were so many, and so "tame" they would not even leave their resting place on our food when shooed. I'm sure some of us ate some thinking they were walnuts in our orange salad.
A ghosted building in Channing that once sold candles.
In our 20 minute lunch break I couldn't cool down fast enough to ride out with the 7-person train so opted to SAG down the road in the air conditioning until I thermoregulated. Out of the van at mile 104. Next rest stop was mile 128. The temperature must have gone up another 5-7 degrees since before lunch and the wind was just as evil.
I knew I was hot when I pulled into the rest stop, but just how hot I didn't know till I got off the bike. Riders who had never SAGGED on the Tour were in the van. They said I was delirious, staggering, and really not able to think well at all. What I remember is pouring ice water down my throat as fast as I could swallow it, in my shoes to cool my feet that felt like they were on fire, down my jersey in both the front and the back, and stuffing ice under my skull cap. When I finally stopped pouring water all over me crew had loaded my bike in the van and told me which seat in the van was mine. I had my heart set on riding those last 18 miles, but it was probably a wise and safe thing to have SAGGED.
Tonight we are at the legendary Big Texan. Best you read about it for yourself. http://www.bigtexan.com/ I mention this because there is a happy ending to an animal story that happened in the parking lot of the Big Texan. AT mile 66 the lunch truck passed through Hartley, TX, population 427. They found a 10 week old Jack Russell terrier. Hartely, the name given the little guy by Zoe, age 8, was given water from the truck and a ride on into Amarillo and the Big Texan. Queries were made in the parking lot if anyone wanted a puppy. And the good new is a waitress at The Big Texan wanted to give Hartley a home on her ranch with other dogs and horses.
Melissa, Russell, Ellie, Tom, and Franz waiting for dinner at The Big Texan
This family of cowboys, two young adults and two father figure types sat at the end of our table. When their food came they all removed their hats, held hands, prayed, and then put their hats back on.
And finally, we entered a new time zone today. We are now on in the Central time zone, my home zone.