Across Continents

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Tactics

December 22nd, 2011

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Refreshing the plan to reach El Paso, I’d begun to realise how tactical I’d become. Economy of effort. On the road, finding myself, save for the toughest of climbs, averaging a steady ten miles an hour. No matter how much I might want to improve on it. Any tapering as the afternoon draws to a close barely noticeable. As if I’d a governor, limiting exertion to a level sustainable indefinitely.

Regular rests, even if running late. Often better to finish a little later than planned than rush and make mistakes. Chances are they’ll only compound your problems. If you do need to night ride, best to accept it. Do it slowly and safely. Always try and tackle steep climbs fresh in the morning, or at least not at the end of the day.

Longer days in the saddle are always possible if you’re going to be staying with a host and have no need to pitch the tent. But never normally on the day you depart. Early starts a bit rude, especially if you arrived late the previous evening. Always making best use of local advice, especially from fellow riders with a similar perspective. Exploiting weather windows wherever possible, although wait for ideal conditions and you’d never leave.

Working in roughly thousand mile blocks. Each ending with three or four days off the road. Domestics, writing, cycle and kit maintenance and planning to be done. All with a steadiness, a stoicism, that extends beyond the saddle.

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Storm brewing

December 17th, 2011

Storm brewing, shortly to sweep across the continental United States. Expectations of snow on high ground, even in the southern States. I’d been watching the evening Weather Channel with Joyce and husband Gene-Robert. Not good news. But at least I knew what was heading my way, able to plan accordingly.

I needed to reach Silver City, roughly 120 miles further east, and the next and final rendezvous with my parents. Between us a mountain pass in excess of 6,000 feet. And short days. Dark soon after four. I explored the options with host Mons, deciding to push for arriving a day earlier than planned, just ahead of the front. Clear the pass the next day.

Bold, but feasible, plan. If progress was slower than I might hope for, I could camp at altitude, a little beyond the pass. Amongst woods just shy of the New Mexico border. Then descent onto open ground. Vulnerable to winds sweeping in uninhibited.

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