Friday, 28 June 2013

The Desert: Up Close and Personal

Crossing into Arizona
I left with a group of seven cyclists at 5:05 this morning and arrived 127.34 km down the road in Quartzsite, Arizona. People, this IS the time to cover this tour in prayer! Dozens of cyclists were driven into camp today. The heat hits so many. If you do not get out of camp early and are not able to keep up quite a fast pace, the heat quickly catches up to you. For obvious reasons this causes you to slow down, over heat and loose your mental and physical stamina. The roads were rough and many blew tires. For about 15 km every three feet a raised crack gave us a very much unwanted butt massage. A gentleman in my pace line touched tires with the rider in front of him and went down on the side of the I-10, taking out the woman behind him. Both are fine but are sporting some nice road rash. Two days ago a woman fell and sprained her thumb. She left today with the intention of visiting the hospital on her way through town... turns out she fractured it. She's going to take some time off to rest up and get the swelling down. 

I cannot stress how serious this situation is. Our nurses are stressing hydration like it could prevent death and, not to be morbid, I am learning that proper hydration can prevent death. Before setting out from LA on Monday, our nurse- Bev said, “You could die in the desert. You could die in the desert. You could die in the desert.” Cycling by such desolate territory where the landscape consists of cacti and sand, I am starting to believe Bev. If I'm not careful, I really could die in the desert. I have done my best to be diligent in keeping my core temperature down. I wear a long-sleeved shirt under a sleeveless biking jersey. I soak both as often as possible- either in cold water or ice water. I have tied a bandana around my neck and I put ice cubes in it as often as I can. I have started carrying a third water bottle in my back pocket to make sure that I drink enough. The support volunteers have been fantastic. There are not words to express how grateful I am for their help. They have vehicles riding up and down the route handing out water and cold cloths. At each SAG stop there is fruit, electrolytes, water and ice. The nurses here are diligent in checking to see if we are appropriately responsive and will immediately pull us off route if we seem confused or dizzy.

Today, when cyclists arrived in Quartzsite, we had a table set up. We plopped these new arrivals in a chair, covered their head and feet in cold cloths, and fed them chips, oranges and water. I enjoyed helping out with this. It was so great to feel useful! 

We have two more days of serious cycling until we reach Phoenix. You know how a desert is not defined by the temperature but by the lack of water? Well, this desert is HOT! Today it was over 40 degrees by 11 AM. Last night lights out was 8 PM and the camp was packed up and moving by 6:15AM this morning. A wonderful man from Desert Centre- we call him Phil's angel- volunteered to drive his truck behind the cyclists and act as a sweep team. This allowed the sweep team to pack up the truck and then ride like mad to beat the heat. Normally, they would have to stay behind the last cyclists and wait for them to reach camp. In this heat, that is simply unwise. I cannot express how grateful we all are for Phil's angel. We started pulling cyclists off the road at noon and all cyclists are now it at 2PM.

Last night at pelaton, Al mentioned that the tour is working to prepare emergency measures if the temperatures get too high to cycle safely. I don't know what this means exactly, but I think it is very wise. Next week, I am told, we are cycling through Wolf Creek Pass. I learned yesterday that this pass has been closed because it is now on fire. I am unsure at this point if we will be rerouted or what the plan is.

Well, I think you get the idea. Hopefully, you have a clearer idea of how to pray for us. But please keep our tour director- Al DeKock in your prayers as he is in charge of making a lot of decisions. Also, pray for our nurses as they are being worked very hard. And finally pray for safety, wisdom, and endurance. It is so difficult for a cyclist, after training and fundraising for a year, to make the decision to ride into camp. It does such a number on one's pride. I can tell you that your prayers are making a difference. Community has grown here like you wouldn't believe. Strangers have become friends and are going to extremes to ensure everyone arrives safely.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Christeena for giving us specific needs to pray for! May God keep you all safe as you ride through these difficult conditions!