We started the real climbing, today. Nearly 4000 ft in 70 miles through the NM desert. We’re at altitude, 6400 ft ,in the town of Las Vegas–wait for it–New Mexico. Las Vegas, NM, was once one of the largest towns in NM in the late 1800s. It was notorious as reported: “Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas.” Today, it is another sad town in significant decline along Route 66 and it also has the worst Mexican restaurant I have ever eaten at! All in all, it was a challenging day–very few towns or services–just the wide open desert, rock formations, the Pecos River and climbing, climbing, climbing.
Tomorrow, we climb some more and wind up in Santa Fe.
I thought a lot, today, about why I am out here, riding my bike so far, for so long and so hard. It is hard, at times it is really hard. Each day seems to have a 5 – 10 mile stretch that is the hardest. Then, inch by inch, the miles click by and we are done for the day–only to pick it up, again, tomorrow. During the day, we just focus on doing the next piece, the next little climb, the next mile, the next pedal stroke, the next ‘next’. There are moments that are absolutely bliss, we turn a corner, we pass a rock out cropping and the desert scenery stretches expansively to the horizon. Sometimes the road is smooth and there is sweet downhill. Sometimes we get to the top of a climb and fit feels like I’ve conquered the world. And sometimes it is just hard.