I could not bear the thought of another day of headwinds so I got in the van. Of course, everyone had tailwinds all day. The day was pretty weird, though, because despite a nearly all day downhill, we still gained total elevation. What this meant was a final 15 miles of pure climb. I don’t like making decisions and I especially don’t like making them based on specious headwinds and hills, so it was frustrating to see the route turn out to be the opposite of what I had hidden myself from (especially when the next day turned out to be exactly what I had feared, and I rode that one…). I sat in the van with Kelly (saddle sores), Jenna (saddle sores), Roy (broken gears), Rob (driver), and Sarah W (safety navigator), again the only person with an undefinable ailment– fear mixed with precautionary principle mixed with “to get through yesterday I promised myself I wouldn’t have to do it again today.” I read almost to the end of Me Before You. I did not feel like writing, but I wrote two days’ posts, I believe (I’m currently on my phone while those are in my computer). We stayed at lunch for 3 hours, baking and swarmed by flies. “This is my nightmare,” said Kelly. “Flies, heat, saddle sores, Jack lost one of the lenses in his glasses…” I said. “Yes,” she agreed. “Everything else I can deal with, but Jack losing his lens is my absolute nightmare.”
We stayed at Mosquero (population: 93) high school, which had graduating classes of anywhere from one to ten students and had painted their walls with pop culture references. Why a desert-locked town named its school team the Pirates (and Lady Pirates; ladies be pirates too go and brush your shoulders off) I will not know. Perhaps it is in reference to the ancient sea that used to cover New Mexico along with dinosaurs.
I need to know how I can finish this trip in a way that’s functional for both me and everyone else, who I either slow down or make worry that I’m about to keel over at any minute, apparently. Just trying to keep up in heat and exhaustion, ladies! Since I had a problem I could not see a solution to with my in house team, I brought in a consultant, Robert Dunn of the Boston branch of Deloitte, also known as one of the leaders on SUS16. He suggested leaving alone before everyone else, then joining biking groups for five miles each as they passed me; communicating when I felt the first inkling of a problem coming on rather than trying to stick it out until I am about to fall apart and freaking people out; and taking days off in a methodical way i.e. no calling the van from miles behind it to come get me, but stopping when the van is already stopped too and hopping in.
The mayor had us over for a bonfire and I went for what was apparently the defining five minutes, as he lit a candle against a white paper backdrop, then shone a flashlight on it to demonstrate that if you’re the brightest light, you don’t cast a shadow. Somehow we are supposed to be this light. We could also all become vampires to the same effect.