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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Day 19... This is your life...

...these are your days
So make them the best you can...

I woke up this morning not wanting to get on the bike. I was stiff and sore... the inevitable toll of the previous 18 days catching up with me.  Also... there comes a point in any journey like this where you find yourself racing to the end without thought of how you will feel when you do indeed reach the end. On previous challenges the 'end' has not been the moment that I put my feet down following the last pedal stroke but often hits days... maybe even weeks later when the journey has sunk in a little and become part of the fabric of my life.  Each challenge I have faced and overcome strengthening my inner self and contributing to the person I have become... for better or worse... part of me.

But maybe I reach too far into the future because although my thoughts this morning were of ending and home... I still have a couple hundred miles to pedal before I get to a point where I have satisfied my inner self.

All we have is time.. so rather than wishing it away .. one needs to make the most of it... make the best of it... and an example of that was shown to me today.

Todays jaunt was around 65 miles with 4000ft of climbing. The cycling gods had listened to my plea and the sun was out (Sorry Colorado!). There wasn't a cloud in the sky... Awyr Las ... to borrow a welsh phrase (and give a nod to the charity that LHS has partnered with over the last 3 years!) .. Blue Skies ahead.

I made a bit of an error this morning... the campsite I was staying at had no food for sale and no cafe in the vicinity... so I headed on down the road ... no breakfast and no supplies. Uh oh!

The first 20 miles ran alongside a lake or two and in the early morning sunshine which sparkled off the surface of the still blue water .. it seemed like an idyllic place. There were many campsites and recreation spots alongside the lake and you could see how it would be easy to stop and just sit here for a few days.

Because of the prolonged drought that has hit Colorado... there was little green to be seen. Small scrub bushes clung to the parched stone coloured landscape and outcrops of rock jutted into the sky becoming more and more impressive as I wound my way round the lake.  I crossed over several bridges as I progressed up the lake... each crossing giving a good view of the scenery around me. As I cycled along.. I passed an RV park and screeched to a halt
.. it had a shop... and I needed food. It was distinctly possible that this was the only one I would find... it was going to be a long day and I would need fuel. Fuel consisted therefore of processed cheese.. m&m's ... peanut butter and cheese crackers (??) and a muffin. Not the best but choice was limited.  I found a good spot for breakfast/lunch and sat there watching all the little fishing boats sitting in the water.

I continued my way around the lake came to a spot near the end of it where on the other side rose two forms of rock... impressive pinnacles... the strata in the rock revealling the millions of years in the making. I sat there... almost speechless. It took my breath away.
And yet... I hadn't wanted to get up and go out this morning... look what I would have missed if I had stopped today as I so desperately wanted to do earlier. Its a good life lesson .. you never know what is around the corner for you to experience.

I reluctantly left this spot... I could have stayed all day... but I still had 40 miles to go. The road started winding up out of the valley and it felt as though I was truly heading towards canyon lands .. the scenery reminiscent in places of the Grand Canyon area. In fact... this was Black Canyons National Park and as I passed the sign I looked back to the impressive view once again. Beyond the lake were more and more impressive rock walls stretching out to the occasional white capped peak.... STUNNING!

The climb out of the valley hurt like hell. It was now really hot and the sun was beating down. Near the beginnjng of the climb ... a gentleman on a nice light road bike caught up with me and slowed to my very slow pace to chat . He was part of a club and was planning to take part in some kind of race in Leadville where you ran 100 (?K) and cycled 100. Sounded like absolute madness!
He was interested in my ride and we spent some minutes chatting as we rode up... only I was struggling to talk snd cycle so I let him continue on and he had disappeared within minutes.

My left knee was complaining badly... as was my right achilles... and I went from happy and confident to a headspace mess within minutes. Suddenly reaching Silverton tomorrow was out of reach... I wasn't going to make it today let alone tomorrow... I would have to ask Louize and Mark to come a little further to get me... I couldb't go any further...

But of course I did and continued literally grinding up. The gradient seemed slightly more severe than the Monarch pass and every foot forward and up was a struggle.

I did of course get to the top eventually and then transferred to other worries. My brakes! Front brakes not working and without brake fluid..unmendable. The back brakes however sounded like a pig was being slaughtered whenever I tried to brake... not only that but the vibrations were hugely uncomfortable. So I stopped at the edge of the downhill and set about looking at the brakes. I cleaned the disc as best I could and then removed the pads. There was plenty of pad left so I cleaned off the surface of the pads and replaced them. It seemed to do the trick as they no longer screeched and I was able to take on the downhill with some measure of confidence that I would be able to stop if needed. The road down wound its way through an impressive gorge and then once again took an uphill turn. Unfortunately the road had been dug up for roadworks and there was no shoulder so I kept stopping to let the trucks and RV's past.

Eventually though the road turned downhill properly and I freewheeled my way down to 5500ft. I groaned as I did so because I knew that tomorrow I would have to climb up from 5500ft to back over 11000ft. It was going to hurt!

As I descended ... the heat rose... that fan oven effect again. But at least I didn't have far to go. Fortunately the motel I wandered into had just had a cancellation and I gratefully sank into an air conditioned room.

It had been a hard day... beauty and pain in juxtaposition.

All we have is Time... just trying to make the best of it that I can. Roll on tomorrow!