Friday, October 24, 2008

Part 19 Lon's First Cross Country 1981

Part 19

By the time I reached Parks, Arizona on the west side of Flagstaff I had ridden 223 miles for the day mostly uphill and gained 7,000 feet of elevation. It was the 4th of July weekend and my dad was afraid we would not find a campground with any space available. These were before the days when riding all night in RAAM was considered normal. The motor home found a camp group off the interstate and I was able to get to bed before dark. I had another good night’s sleep and woke up at sunrise for another day. During the first 500 miles I had already slept two full nights. For comparison a few years later RAAM racers would typically reach Flagstaff in 30 hours and not stop for their first sleep break until the 600 mile mark.

When I departed Flagstaff the next morning the air was crisp at cold at 7,000 feet. There is a gradual downhill the next 50 miles toward Winslow dropping about 2,000 feet. The downhill and slight tail wind made me feel strong this morning. My only concern was that I had an annoying saddle sore developing in my left side. I remember coasting down the grade and standing up on my pedals. I put my hand down my shorts and pinched the marble size boil. It broke with a squirt of puss on my fingers. That technique would be repeated several times per day for the rest of the record attempt. Things like saddle sores, numb feet and hands were all part of the ride. I was become more efficient at staying on the bike for hours at a time without stopping for any minor breaks. Even bathroom breaks were eliminated and I urinated off the bike every two or three hours.

Except for the bumps on the interstate shoulder the ride was going pretty well today. We had been warned by locals not to stop and camp along the road for the next 200 miles. We were in Indian Territory. I thought the warnings were a little over dramatic and the locals acted like our wagon train was going to be attacked if we didn’t circle the wagons at night. We never did have any problems when we were stopped except for curious passers by who wondered why a van had so many spare wheels.

It was 775 miles from Santa Monica, California to McCartys New Mexico where I stopped for the third night. It was 9:15 PM when we pulled off the interstate ramp toward three dark houses which made up the whole town. I had ridden 280 miles in daylight which was my longest mileage day of the trip. I was averaging 258 miles per day so far which was a little more than I needed to break the record of 12 days, 3 hours. I had to ration my riding speed while feeling the fatigue of the previous fifteen days. I was getting enough sleep to feel alert on the bike but I was definitely tired enough to sleep well at night.



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