Day 5 - Cottonwood to Winslow

So I was standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona…just kidding, I hope you all don't mind the opening line folks. But how many chances does a guy get to actually say that and have it be true? Don't worry there will be an official picture of Ralph and I on that very special spot in the Copper State tomorrow morning. But for tonight we are resting after a great day on the road.  

He's back

He's back

I am pleased to report that Ralph is back in the saddle at full strength. He even beat me to one of our stopping points, much to my pleasant surprise. It's a thrill to be having him back on the road with the group as we continue to make our way through Arizona. I could tell by the look in his eyes yesterday as we climbed those mountains that he would have given anything to have been sharing in our struggle. 

Today we had an even more challenging climb that he got to partake in. As we pushed up the incline, I could literally see the change in his posture as he fought the hill with the rest of us. Nothing makes this guy happier than taking on a challenge to be overcome.

I'm beginning to see where I get that mentality from as I watched him in action today. 

Our morning was the polar opposite of how we finished our day. Usually I wake up before my dad to get some light stretching done, maybe grab a quick shower to loosen up my muscles. Today Ralph's phone alarm crashed into my dreams and tore me back into a painful reality.

I have never felt so completely drained and depleted of energy in all my life. I blame it on the early dinner I finished while taking in the sights in Jerome yesterday. I finished my meal around 5 pm, and basically went about 13 hours without any more food added into my system. This oversight almost took me out of the ride completley today as my body fought against the calorie deficit. I had a headache that wouldn't quit, and my legs had all the consistency of two pieces of plywood. 

Some say that getting enough to eat during these long rides is almost an art. You have to know what to eat, when to eat it, and how much to consume in order to maintain your energy levels and performance on the road. I was so tired yesterday after climbing those mountains that I literally wrote my entry, shed my bike clothes, and collapsed in an undignified heap onto my bed.

Today I was feeling that lack of energy significantly. I struggled about 47 miles to overcome my lack of energy and distinctly remember two occasions when I was convinced that it was time to hitch a ride. But with my dad sharing the road with me once again, I found mustered the energy to keep going and make it to the lunch break. 

Even in my weakened condition I couldn't help but admire the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding us as we left Cottonwood on our way to Winslow. Red sandstone greeted us on both sides as we rode through narrow canyons and thickly forested hillsides. In some areas the walls of rock were so close to the road that I could have reached out and touched the rough surface with an outstretched hand. I felt like I was living in every western movie I had ever seen. 

There were towering spires of natural rock formations that filled me with a sense of awe. Sweeping plains of wispy pale white grassstretched as far as the eye could see as the vastness of the Arizona country side spread out like a shimmering carpet. Hardy pine treescovered bottom of snowcapped mountain peaks while the temperature remained cool and comfortable as a light breeze rippled across the fields.

Grabbing some much needed food

Grabbing some much needed food

In fact I even busted out my riding tights and some sleeves to go over my arms to protect against the chilly cross winds. 

By the time lunch was finished I was finally feeling like my old self. I scarfed down as much food as I was comfortable with, stealing several bananas from the lunch table and stuffing them in my shirt when I thought no one was looking. One of the guys I've been riding with told me that you need to be nibbling on food every 15 minutes or so, and that's exactly what I did today. 

Boy did it make a difference! 

By the time we blew into Winslow and finished our 106 mile ride, I had stopped thinking about how tired and grumpy I had been. I really started to appreciate the fact that today I got to share the road with my dad as we cruised down I-40. Seeing him enjoying the simple pleasure of being outdoors, with the sun on his face and a good breeze behind him, reminded me of the things that I had grown to love about this trip. 

There is a camaraderie that grows with each passing day among the group as we all support each other in our effort to get through the day and reach our destination. In this journey, it's those moments of overcoming your limits, while having like-minded people standing beside you doing the same, that makes it that much more memorable.

I can't wait to see what new challenges await us in the morning. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Arizona and hit our third state of the trip. Hello New Mexico! 

Danielle Rivenbark