Reminiscent of our climb to Cuenca in Ecuador, we’ve gone from sea level to 14,000 feet in about 90 miles. The difference, however, being over half of this climb was over dirt roads and the bikes are really weighed down with water.
The day was full of beautiful scenery that transitioned from desert to high mountain grassland with views of snow capped peaks. In this remoteness we didn’t see any homesteads and were passed by only a few vehicles (one of which stopped to give us peaches).
In order to get over the pass today we were in the saddle for 6.5 hours. And it was 6.5 hours at max exertion. There was no coasting or downhill breaks, it was uphill the entire way. At the end of the day, we were utterly exhausted. We fell asleep within minutes of closing our eyes. Insomnia is rarely a problem when we’re out on the road.
Adding to the difficulty of today’s ride is I’m still sore from falling off my bike two days ago. Fitting that would happen on the day we hit 15,000 miles. After all this time, I still have not mastered riding a bicycle. I also have a knack for crashing my bike right before a big climb on bad roads.
It was stupid. My own fault. While going up a particularly steep climb, the trucks were only going a touch faster than us. If they’re going slow enough, it’s possible to grab ahold of the back and get a free ride to the top. I’m not saying it’s a good idea, just that it’s possible and people do it.
I had never tried it before because you need to be really close to the truck, literally an arms length away, and you need great balance and upper body strength. And let’s face it, I don’t have a great track record on my bike. I probably could use a set of training wheels.
But after a couple hours of climbing, the boredom set in, as did the realization that we had THREE DAYS of climbing in front of us. So after a few failed attempts to connect, I finally grabbed ahold of a slow moving box truck. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I blame it on dehydration and peer pressure. Scott was doing it too.
But before I could even give myself the mental congratulations of Yeah! I did it!, the power of the truck ripped me from my seat, pulling me over the front of my handlebars, faster than the synapses in my brain could tell my hand to LET GO! As the bike and I crashed to the pavement I heard my bike bell release a single DING!, as if it too was saying ouch. I literally got my bell rung.
My right elbow bore the brunt of the fall. The immediate pain radiating up my arm made me think it might be broken. Additionally, the impact must have hit some nerves because my hand and fingers were twitching slightly and were painfully tingly. After resting for a few minutes, both sensations subsided some. I concluded nothing was broken, and was left to clean a small but profusely bleeding cut on my elbow.
By the time I caught up with Scott (who had stopped to wait for me) the blood that had run down my arm from my elbow had dried to a crust and the bruises on my thigh and knee were becoming angry shades of red and purple. I’m going to be fine, but I’ll take this as a sign that the universe does not tolerate cheating.