Dawn. We’re trying to beat the heat but the early morning chill makes us reluctant to leave the warmth of our sleeping bags. But we remember yesterday’s heat being brutal by 9:30am so we get moving.
We heard from multiple sources that the pavement would end and the road would deteriorate, but that doesn’t keep me from cursing Rand McNally because their map indicates the road is paved. I doubt Rand or McNally ever went down this road.
When the road is not buried in deep, thick sand, it’s covered in washboards so jarring that I have to flex my abdominal muscles to keep my insides from jostling about. We double-check the locks and cinches on our bags. I regret my choice of brassiere this morning. Anything not tied down tight is bouncing over every bump.
Our destination is Coco’s Corner, the only outpost we’ll encounter on this road until we meet up again with Route 1. It is to be our oasis in the desert. Coco, now in his 70s and a double amputee from diabetes sells Coca-Cola and Pacifico beer and lets cyclists stay at his place for free. He even has a camper for people to sleep in.
I limp in with a flat front tire, energy drained from the beating from the sun above and the ground below. Judging by the array of dismembered vehicles at Coco’s Corner, I’m not the first one to breakdown here.
Coco says he has known we were coming for 3 days. There’s no telephone or internet out here but word still travels fast. He welcomes us into the shade like we are old friends and offers cold drinks. He fills up our water bottles and gives us a bucket of water to bathe and wash our clothes.
It’s days like this that make me love touring by bicycle. One moment I can be miserable, pushing my bike through a never-ending sea of sand, and the next find myself in the shade with good company and cold beer, wanting to be nowhere else but in this moment.