Texas 4000: No Pain, No Gain
Checking in on the Texas 4000
"Pain is weakness leaving the body." That phrase, which my teammate Bucky shared with me, is something that I've often repeated to myself while climbing up long gradual hills, facing headwinds of up to 35 miles per hour, and pushing myself beyond muscle fatigue and sheer exhaustion. Today marks day 20 of my Texas 4000 journey, and I can honestly say that this past week had been one of the most difficult experiences of my life.
I'm a rider on the Sierra route, which goes west through New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and then up the Pacific coastline through California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and onto our final destination of Anchorage, Alaska. Traditionally, the Sierra route has gone through the desert of Nevada to cross into California via South Lake Tahoe. However, this year we decided to reach out to different communities by entering California a week early through Kernville. We traded a week of steamy hot days in the Nevada desert for 40,000 feet of climbing through several national forests and parks. Climbing hills is my weakness when it comes to cycling, so this week was tough. There were days when I didn't think I'd make it through the ride, but my teammates have been there to offer kind words of encouragement along the way. The good part about these past few days is that I can tell that I'm becoming a stronger rider with every foot that I climb. Although I know I probably will never be in the fast group of cyclists, there is something rewarding about grinding it out in the small ring and pushing yourself up the hill even when your legs are burning and your mind is telling you that you want to quit.
Luckily, our route has been blessed with amazing hosts who provide us with delicious food, comfortable beds to sleep in, and warm showers. Even camping has been enjoyable so far, although it's sometimes a struggle to get up and ready when it's so cold outside of your sleeping bag!
I'm still shocked by the generosity and kindness of strangers along the ride, and I'm looking forward to what the rest of the ride has in store for us. We already have a significant portion of our climbing behind us, so here's for hoping for a respite of flats and downhills! I continue to ride for the hope of a cancer-free future.