I decided that I would ride from Borrego-Springs to Brawley. I came here to train in the desert, so I left at 10am, intentionally getting a bit of a late start. The ride out of Borrego was fast. There was a huge tailwind. How fast was the wind blowing? I don’t know, but I do know that I was going over 30mph with almost no effort on a 1% downward slope. Of course, I knew that I would need to battle this headwind on my return trip.
I was checking carefully for any place to buy fluids on my way out to Brawley. And, I did not see a single place … not good. I reached Westmorland in about 2.5 hours quite parched. Temperatures were around 110F. I entered a store there and bought a liter of water, two liters gatorade, a Squirt, and a coke. I drank everything and refilled my bottles. I could already see some salt build up on my shorts and legs. At that point I thought it was probably wise to turn around rather than going all the way to Brawely, RAAM’s second timing station and about another 10 miles up the road.
On the way back the wind had picked up considerably, and to be honest with you, I had never thought that the wind could pick up. It had already been blowing exceptionally hard. How hard? (sse above) Once I passed the immigration checkpoint and made a left turn to head back, the wind had really picked up tremendously. I had ridden about 15 miles in one hour to this pointvon my return, but now my progress slowed. I was in my 34-32 granny gear and going nowhere. My speed was sometimes just above walking speed. “This can’t be harder than the Mae Hong Son loop,” I mumbled through a gritty mouth, as sand blew in.
Temperatures were around 110F and up ahead the air was full of sand. It was almost 4pm now, so I had been out in the desert about six hours already. My gatorade was boiling, and I was thirsty. Did I have any food? No, nothing. Was I wearing white shorts? No, I was in my blue shorts. Why? I came to train in the desert, and I wanted to feel the full effects of the heat … believe me, I was. Things were not looking good, and I knew that I needed fluids. I found an RV place that was closed for the season. Why? Because humans cannot survive or have fun in this type of heat. I needed fluids. I wandered around, and I found the owners. They graciously opened the store for me. I bought one gallon of water (about four liters), two cokes, and four gatorades. I drank everything but the last bit of water. I used most of what was left to wet my bandanna and my arm covers. They dried instantly. My water bottles were now full of gatorade, which would soon be near boiling. I hate boiling gatorade. Ice-cold gatorade is tolerable.
I was still 25 miles from Borrego-Springs. My forward progress was limited. “This can’t be as hard as the Mae Hong son loop.” I pushed on. The ride back is gradually uphill, about 1,000 feet. The wind was beating me up, but I could not fight Mother Nature. I needed to get into a flow. What flow? My legs were stinging from wind-blown sand, my eyes had sand in them, as did most other nooks and crannies. I was fried. I had lost a lot of salt. My gatorade was hot … and tasted horrendous. My lips were parched. “This can’t be as hard as the Mae Hong Son loop.” I stopped and leaned over my handlebars. Few cars passed me that day, but now one stopped. A group of 20 somethings offered me water. I took their two-gallon jug and guzzled from it, as I watched my stomach bulge. “You okay?” I lied. “Be safe, and be careful.” “Thanks a bunch,” I said and they were gone. They would probably be the last car that I would see. The roads were deserted in the desert during sunset hours and beyond.
The sun was beginning to go down now. I was toasted. Had I ever ridden a bike before? “This can’t be as hard as the Mae Hong son loop.” I pushed on at about 7mph. Eventually, I reached my resort. I had cramps in my hands, feet, legs, abs, and most places … I was so spent that I went out near the pool, made two ice packs, and iced my knees before turning in … without dinner or anything. I was just too spent to feed myself. Yes, I tossed and turned with legs cramps rolling around in my bed like a poor squirrel that had been nicked by a speeding driver. The ride back had taken nearly seven hours. My midnight ride to Bpai had taken under 7 hours and was about 80 miles. This was only 50 miles and with little climbing, no dogs, and daylight … I pray we have a tailwind during the race. I pray my crew can keep my gatorade cool. I pray no section of RAAM is as hard as the Mae Hong Son loop. It can’t be.