Day 8 - Albuquerque to Las Vegas (Not the One in Nevada)

Hey there folks! I once again apologize for keeping you all in the dark about yesterday's ride. But as I mentioned in my previous post, we barely finished before the sun set. While I struggled to finish the last few miles, watching my shadow grow longer along the side of the road, I couldn't believe that we had made it as far as we had. 

After a grueling eleven hour ride, filled with endless climbs that took us 8,500 feet further above sea level, I barely had enough strength to haul my bike up the stairs (there were no elevators/hot water at our motel in Las Vegas) and flop onto my bed in a boneless heap. Throw in two wrong turns on our route, that added an additional 5 miles to an already insanely long ride of 137 miles, and it was the most difficult ride of the trip by far. It was also the furthest I will most likely ever ride in my life, or ever care to. 

I know I've been saying how difficult some of these days has been, how each ride brings different challenges to overcome. Usually I would add that although it the challenges have been difficult, I would get through them with the help of my dad, or just by digging deep and gritting my teeth.

But yesterday was honestly the first day that not only did I feel like I couldn't continue with the ride, I was starting to feel like I wouldn't be able to finish this trip! Despite the day of rest, we had still gone back to back with 130+ miles, and I felt like I was beginning to go beyond my limits. I've never gone so far for so long, and it was beginning to take its toll on me mentally.

A brief respite from climbing afforded us a spectacular view

A brief respite from climbing afforded us a spectacular view

Never before have I gone through so many different emotions doing any other activity in my life. There was frustration that I hadn't prepared enough, despair that I was going to have to give up a goal I had spent over 5 months preparing for, and anger that I was letting these feelings get the best of me. After all, this ride was supposed to be challenging but fun, wasn't it? I had been pushed so far out of my comfort zone, that I couldn't even tell you where that zone existed anymore. All I knew was exhaustion, pain, and numbly pushing one peddle in front of the other. 

But somewhere in my mind, I knew that if I just somehow got through this day, that I would be able to handle any other day thrown at me on this trip. After the long hours of grueling climbs, I fought and clawed alongside the rest of the guys to the finish line.

It wasn't a pretty sight by any means, but I kept telling myself that its all about finishing the day that counts. 

But it wasn't all terrible. There were a few brief moments when the climbing would mercifully end and I would be able to coast down a few downhill slopes. In those brief moments of relief for my burning legs, I actually looked up to take in my surroundings and realized that New Mexico is quite a beautiful place. Coming up out of the endless plains, we saw some amazing vistas of tree covered mountains and snow capped peaks in the distance. How amazing that even in the middle of the desert there could be snow visible! 

The important thing to take away from Day 8 is that even when things are looking grim, if you just forge ahead and stick with it, amazing things can happen. It may not be pleasant, but then again sometimes life throws us things that aren't too pretty.

Danielle Rivenbark