Distance – 97 miles (81).
Today was the day I had been dreading, desert terrain with high temperatures. Keeping hydrated was extremely important and we had all been provided with a good briefing the previous evening about the dangers of riding in desert conditions.
We started the day with a 7.5 mile climb, a real tester but nowhere near as steep as the hills experienced in the UK. Once again, target times had been introduced and we moved in and out of each SAG stop swiftly, staying only long enough to refuel our bodies.
The terrain during the day was relatively flat although there were a number of false flats, roads that appear level but to are in fact uphill and are very deceiving. There is no doubt about it, cycling in very high temperatures is very tiring and energy sagging and it is critically important to keep drinking and remain hydrated throughout. I felt remarkably good throughout the day and we made good progress, again cycling with Kevin T for much of the day. As we closed in on the final SAG stop we hit some rough shoulders, with bumps every few yards. This was really uncomfortable as my butt was now feeling really sore and it was energy sagging. I arrived at the final SAG well within the target time but felt really drained, as did Kevin T. Tracy was concerned for both of us and although I felt ok, with no obvious signs of dehydration, she felt it prudent for us both to consider bumping the last 16 miles. This is something I had dreaded but desert riding is all about staying safe and whilst I felt ok to continue I knew that dehydration could easily occur anytime over the next 16 miles so reluctantly took a bump. Mentally this hit me very hard as I had come to ride across America, but I knew that deep down that this was probably the right decision. I vowed however that one day, in the not too distance future, I would return and ride those last 16 miles. Upon arrival at the hotel, Tracy recommended that I go to the local hospital to get checked which I did and was given 2 litres of fluid via an IV drip for symptoms of dehydration.
Tonight I experienced all kinds of emotions, from feeling a total failure to just wanting to leave tour and come home because the dream to cycle every mile across America was not to be. However, the CrossRoads staff picked me up and I knew that I must dig deep and carry on, knowing that I could return one day and finish the journey. Kevin T also took the same bump as me and although he did not go to hospital we both agreed that over the next few week we would go out together and ride those extra 16 miles that we had missed. I knew that Tracy had also found bumping us a difficult decision but also knew that it was the right one. It could have all too easily gone wrong in those last 16 miles and I wanted to be able to come home and share my experiences with my two best friends and supporters, Sarah and Ben.