PAC Tour, Southern Trancontinental 2006

Day 9, Monday, September 18
To: Roswell, NM; 100 miles

Good-bye Rockies, easy pace, gentle tailwind for 100 miles
Riding Time: 6:05:48; Avg Speed: 16.45 mph; Max Speed: 43.7 mph

Brrrrrr! We had a very cold 41°F dawn start with very steep climbing and decending for the first 10 miles, then as we said good-bye to the Rocky Mountains, it was gently rolling hills to the finish; with more decending than climbing (we started at 7500 and ended at 3600 ft). The skies were perfectly sunny that slowly warmed to the mid 70's.

Today's route was rolling with a downhill trend.

 

We could see El Capitan Peak from the 25-mile point all the way to the finish in Roswell NM.

 

Dan and I about 5 miles after the start wearing practically everything we had. Those first descents where bone chilling.

 

Heard just after starting today's ride:
My Auzzie roommate Peter after a steep descent: "My eyeballs are frozen."
Susan, a recumbent rider near the top of a steep climb: "I can't breath." (due to the 7000+ ft. elevation).

My plan was to ride slow today to recover and I did. Dan and I started later than almost all of the other riders. Then due to an error in the route sheet we thought we had missed the first turn. The instructions said turn right at 11.8 miles. At 13 miles we were in the middle of a long downhill and we still had not seen the turn. When we saw others riders coming back up the hill, we decided to turnaround also. After going back a mile or so I flagged down a man from the Forestry Service and he said the turn was, in fact, at the bottom of the hill.

With that confusion and our late start we were now nearly in last place with only one rider behind us. We stayed in that position for the 1st and 2nd SAG stops, but caught up to several riders at lunch.

I rode alone after lunch ahead of Dan and about 11 other riders until I got a flat tire. Dan passed me with Simone and another female rider, but after fixing my flat I caught up to them before the finish. I then rode 2 miles past the hotel and back to get over the 100 miles for the day. Normally I wouldn't care about thresolds like that, but I had ridden 8 consectutive centuries (a personal high) and I wanted to keep the streak going.

Sunset Peak from the north looking south (at 42 miles). This is the last of the Rocky Mountains that we will see on this tour.

 

I have mixed feelings about leaving the Rockies. On one-hand there's the satisfication of a major milestone reached and I am that much closer to seeing my beautiful wife and young daughter again; and on the other, a bit of sadness in leaving this beautiful and diverse region that seemed to have surprises and delights around every corner.

2nd SAG stop at 46.5 miles, Sunset and El Capitan peaks in background.

 

At breakfast today I found out two riders had abandoned the tour so far and that 5 riders had the water intoxication problem due to altitude. The lower altitudes in the upcoming days should solve this problem.

Me at 56 miles maintaining an easy, but steady pace

 

El Capitan Mountain at sunset. Looking west from our hotel it's peak is 45 miles away.

 

Tomorrow should be another relatively easy day if the winds cooperate.

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