I could never have predicted what happened to me during the Race Across the West. After many hours spent training on the road and the indoor trainer, working on my eating plan, and planning the sleep options, organizing an amazing team to support my efforts I arrived in Oceanside, CA ready to ride the 1044 miles to Taos, NM. But as the saying goes, “Man plans and God laughs”.
Upon reflection one of my crew members’ friend from Encinitas came by the condo to wish us a safe and successful trip. She dropped off a bag of fresh lemons that she had just picked that morning. I thought nothing of it at that time.
We finished start preparations and headed off to begin the journey/adventure of what the road would have to offer. I felt good, strong, and focused all things were developing as I thought they would for the first 20 miles then things changed. I began cramping not sure why. It was certainly hotter than any weather I had experienced thus far this year. I continued to ride through the cramping trying to find the happy medium between loading the muscles enough to have an affective pedal stroke but not over loading them to cause cramping. That thought process kept me in the present in a big way. I found myself over the climbs and descending “The Glass Elevator”, a steep and a winding road taking the racers back down to the desert. I reached a top speed of 50 mph enjoying every minute of the 14 mile descent.
The desert section was extremely hot with temperatures in the triple digits. I was struggling with my fueling not being able to consume enough liquids and food, the heat was beating me down. Hours later after seeing a spectacular sunset, riding the desert tailwinds, experiencing the awakening of a new day my body was suffering from heat exhaustion. My cooling system had stopped functioning, I was no longer sweating. Continuing to ride in this depleted state was not safe or wise. It was time for me to have the courage to make the difficult decision to abandon the event I had poured my heart and soul into for months. Since this event is a timed event I knew that I would need more time to recover than I had the luxury of having in order to keep an average speed that would get me to the finish line in time to finish officially. My goal was not to just cover the distance of 1044 miles but it was to cover it in an official time. Having previously experienced the toll that of all the miles and sleep deprivation this race can have on the human body I was not willing to go through that and not realize my goal. I had already realized many smaller and important goals getting to the start and covering the distance that I did. Clearly God’s plan for the race was different than mine and it was time for me to pay attention to that concept.
I was surrounded by a crew of incredibly strong and supportive individuals. They believed in my abilities, efforts and ultimately my decision to pull out. Relinquishing control is not easy for me and thankfully they were there for me while I was making the difficult choice. Although my Race Across the West was over as I had planned it the reality was the journey was continuing. Collectively we made the choice to turn the race into an awesome Road Trip Across the West. We pulled in to the Motor Lodge in Prescott, AZ where I rested, ate and work on rehydrating. The next morning we enjoyed a relaxed breakfast outdoors and headed off following the race route toward Monument Valley, which was a definite stop. Michele, Heidi and I rode in Monument Valley under blue skies and little wind, what an amazing location. On to our next stop which was Cortex, CO. We enjoyed an evening of laughter and Mexican food. As we were heading back to our hotel we recognized one of the riders we had cheered on earlier from the course he was just pulling into the time station in Cortez, CO. Michael Cook was in good spirits just needing a bit of TLC. Heidi who is a massage therapist gave his legs and shoulders a rub down. It felt good to be able to help a fellow rider. Off to bed to rise the next day and head off toward Mesa Verde. We checked out a few of the Indian ruins and Heidi and I rode in the park on the way out. Michele had already been out riding toward Durango where we picked her up and had lunch at a great little café.
Still about 5 hours from home we motored down the road sharing stories and laughing until our faces hurt. We finally reached our destination, the Vail Valley. As we unpacked personal belongings from the vehicles we didn’t want this day to end. Metaphorically, we most certainly enjoyed making lemonade out of lemons during this journey. One that will always be remembered as the 09 Race/Road Trip Across the West. Thanks to my most excellent crew: Heidi Deprey, Sandra Deprey, Norman Bowles, Wink Davis, Michele Keane, and Debbie Hughes for keeping me safe, real, and fulfilled. Love you guys!