(I didn’t even take any photographs today – too busy riding!)
Today started out cloudy and humid (well, for us) following a lovely night of intermittent rain showers and thunder and lightning. I slept well, listening to the rain drumming on the roof, and got up early, ready to be on the road.
We left late. Hal’s job gives him no respite at the moment, so he was late packing, late finding what he needed, and late to get going. We didn’t get on the road until nearly 10 a.m.
As usual, my favorite part of the trip was the stretch of the 260 between Star Valley and Heber. After that, the heat was with us from halfway to Holbrook to 30 miles out of Durango. I-40 wasn’t too bad today, comparatively, probably because they closed the Holbrook on-ramp that we usually use, so that meant that when we went farther east to a different on-ramp, there was no traffic behind us. Trucks were not barreling down on us mercilessly for a change. They still weren’t great traveling companions, but not as bad as they have been in the past. To me, one of the most obnoxious things that they do, aside from trying to run us off the road, is to pass each other. What??? Yes, I think they do it on purpose so they can block all the lanes of traffic just to get five feet ahead of the truck they are passing. Really stupid.
Then we got to Gallup, the armpit of the southwest. I truly see no redeeming qualities in that town, and see no reason to go there except to pass through – quickly. I was making my own commentary as I rode, which made me laugh to myself but shall remain private because it was even less complimentary than what I’ve already said. Anyway, what are those big pottery things doing there in the middle of their interchanges and at the side of the freeway??
Gallup to Shiprock felt like about 1000 miles, when it’s really only about 66. I thought the construction on that road was going to be done but it looked like not a whole lot of progress had been made since last summer at this time. I don’t get it.
I was so ready to get there by the time we were in Farmington, and when we sat at the stoplight to turn left onto 170 toward Hesperus, it felt like an eternity. All day long the temperature had hovered between 96-102° F., but at that light it seemed especially intense. But then, at last, things began to cool down. That road is like magic because almost immediately, the temperature dropped to 86°, then as we climbed in elevation, into the 70s. I think we even touched the high 60s once. It was very overcast at this point and looked like it might rain in the distance, but the clouds overhead didn’t have that “full of rain” look. I didn’t even care at that point, I was like, “just get me there.” Wouldn’t you know it? After a day full of delays and construction stoppages, we had one more, even on that little road. I figured that the next thing that was going to happen was we were going to have to ride through a couple of miles of either slimy mud, or deep gravel, but alas, the little detour was entirely paved. Thank goodness. I was tired.
We turned toward Durango at last, but even that descent into town, which is normally fast and curvaceous, was ruined by a slow driver in front. There was no safe place to pass, and striped with double yellow lines. So, we sat behind them and suffered. We finally made it to Durango around 6:15 local time. We’d lost an hour when we crossed into Colorado due to the time change.
I don’t know why an easy 460 miles turned into an ordeal today. Maybe it was because of the late start and all the slow riding along the way. We are also not doing the high mileage weekends and trips that we were doing last year. This year we’ve spent more time close to home and on dirt bikes, so not as many miles per trip. Long distance riding is like “training up” for any other sport – if you don’t practice and keep doing it, you rapidly get out of shape for it. I did, however, have the chance to rediscover my road bike today and appreciate how much I love it as it flies along effortlessly beneath me. It is such a pleasure, no matter how out of riding shape I am.
The bottom line is the usual question I ask myself: “would you rather be at work, or having a somewhat ‘bad’ day riding?” Of course, the answer is never “be at work.”