We rejoin the story as the three touring cyclists are devising a plan for what to do about the massive wind....
Stopped alongside the road, with the roaring wind in our ears, we tried to come up with ideas for what to do to carry on. Running nose to tail wasn't giving any relief. The wind was so strong, there was no draft. Besides, we were afraid we would take each other out working so hard so close together. The wind couldn't last like this, or could it? There was some debate upon this point, but Troy was of a mind that any dilly-dallying would cause unnecessary delay. Finally, we decided to roll out, facing the wind mano-a-mano with what energy we could muster.
It was simply brutal. We could only manage approximately two miles at a crack before we would pull over exhausted. After resting for five to ten minutes, we would get back to it. Heads down, roaring wind all around, weaving due to the low speeds and in our lowest gears. It was borderline impossible to move forward and mentally draining.
At one point the road turned 90 degrees to cross a small river. The landscape was such that it funneled the wind down the steeply cut banks and around the steep, grassy hills rising above on either side. The wind actually intensified here. We were getting the blast from our right sides in this half mile stretch. I wobbled, got the bike steadied, wobbled, steadied.......finally I found a balancing point. The ground looked strange. I looked up and ahead for the first time after entering the crosswind. I laughed out loud at what I was seeing.
Ryan was up ahead about 50 yards. He was riding along steadily, at a 45 degree angle to the road leaning into the wind! My bags were close to grazing the pavement on the right side, and it seemed as if we were "surfing" or "flying" our bicycles rather than riding them. I felt that if the wind were to gust slightly higher, it would topple us over to the left and right into oncoming traffic. I figured we wouldn't hit the road, but the opposite ditch, if we didn't get struck by an oncoming car or truck.
Finally we turned back into the wind, and getting out of the river valley lessened the winds intensity. This was far better than the crosswind! We stopped, amazed at what we had just experienced, sheltering in some boulders next to the roadway. Troy took the opportunity to relax and stretched out on his back on the ground. Not long afterward, a motorcyclist pulled up and stopped. He wanted to know if we were okay, and then before we could answer him he cut himself short and said, "Oh, you guys are on bicycles! I thought a motorcycle went down." He bade us farewell and motored off.
So, since we weren't "motorcyclists" we were okay to have trouble and injury? We were a bit miffed about that, but also amused. I mean, how else could you react on a day like this? After a laugh and a decision to try to lengthen out each riding section to four miles, we were off.
I am not sure exactly where it was, but somewhere in the next stretch I had that moment. A pivotal moment in ones life. It just happened to be while riding a bicycle. I think riding a bicycle helped me get to this point, no doubt, but the moment was far bigger and more meaningful than a bicycle ride. I found out a lot about Life, me, and my future in about ten minutes time.
Ryan and Troy had found a rhythm, the wind had lessened a bit, and hills had kicked in that left me dangling way off the back. I finally couldn't even see them up ahead. As I became desperate, I cursed, and I yelled, and yes, I cried. I was having a fit in the middle of no where. Then I finally had what a friend of mine used to call "a come to Jesus meeting". Well, I had that meeting right there on my bike.
I suppose the epic, insane, over the top experiences I was having during this day helped. I suppose the situation my life was in was a contributing factor. I don't know if it makes any sense to anyone else out there, but for me, I finally figured out that I wasn't in charge of my life, God was. Well, all I knew at the time was that a big part of my frustration with life in general was gone that very moment. I was at peace with things by the time I noticed that up ahead, Troy and Ryan had stopped to wait for me.
After a bit of a rest, we soldiered on, but the efforts of the afternoon had started to take a toll. First thing was that we were dangerously low on water, and we had a long way to go to get to a resupply. We decided to stop at the first farm house we could find.
Next Week: Begging for water again............