What a way to end an epic journey.
As I’ve been getting closer to home I’ve had several people, especially riding buddies, asking what day I would be back. To save myself from answering the question over and over I sent out that I would be leaving Primm at 6:00 and making a coffee stop at the Starbucks in Jean approximately an hour later. I also included an invitation to come out to ride in with me. I heard from a couple of friends I ride with on a regular basis and was excited at the idea of having someone to visit with during the ride.
I woke up this morning at 4:30 and started getting ready. I got most of my stuff packed up before sitting down to eat breakfast. I had gone over to a convenience store after dinner last night for a post dinner sweet treat and something for breakfast. Dinner was at the in casino Denny’s. I had thought of returning for breakfast this morning, but a poor customer service experience the night before steered me in a different direction.
With everything packed up and ready to roll and all dressed and slathered in sunscreen it was 5:30. I was surprised to be ready so early and I decided to bite the bullet and start early. I rolled downstairs, checked out, and was on the road ten minutes later.
Right from the start I was back on the interstate for the last time of the trip. I only needed to cover 15 miles before I would be back on surface streets. It was during this stretch I snapped a final picture showing the mileage to Las Vegas. I also snapped an awesome picture of my shadow being thrown onto the interstate. I was happy to find that the shoulder was really wide, very smooth, and didn’t have much debris. Wish some of the surface streets were so smooth.
About an hour later I was taking the exit for Jean, thankful the interstate riding was done and without any more flats. As I stopped at the stop sign I pulled out my phone and put in my Starbucks order. It would be nice to pull in and have my coffee waiting for me.
I rolled up to Starbucks and into their patio area. As I did I spotted the familiar beautiful red Madone that belongs to Mark Hyken. I looked inside through the windows expecting to see him, but was surprised to find him sitting on the opposite side of the patio. He came over and we shook hands and I pulled him in for a hug. It was great to see a familiar friendly face.
The two of us went inside, pulled up a chair, and started chatting. A few minutes later Brian Ridgway and Rob Kelly rolled up. Next to make an appearance was Joy. Last, but certainly not least, was good ole David Burns. Poor Dave’s phone/alarm failed him this morning which forced him to rush over to M Casino and about kill himself to make it to Starbucks early enough. It was such a treat to have so many people show up to ride in with little ole me.
We hung out and visited until around 7:30-7:45 when we finally decided to get back on the road. As we were getting ready Joy wanted to try to pick up Shadow. Poor girl didn’t realize exactly how heavy the ole boy is when all loaded down. I’d guess he’s 20 pounds himself and then another 50 pounds of gear. Certainly not light.
As we rolled out everyone let me lead things off. It didn’t take long before I got comments on both my lights and the unicorn loofah. I’ve received comments plenty of time about the lights, but it was only the second time someone mentioned the loofah. Just made me chuckle.
Once onto Las Vegas Boulevard I told the team not to expect too much out of me. I could go a little stronger than previous days since I don’t have a ride tomorrow, but I still want to enjoy the ride. We all took the opportunity to take some pictures and videos which, from what I’ve seen, all turned out great.
Riding with so much weight is a unique experience. When you’re descending you can just fly. Gravity is your best friend. However, the second you hit any kind of incline gravity is your nemesis. Any little climb, no matter how small, you know when it starts because you can feel it in your legs. You’re instantly pushing harder to maintain your speed.
I mention this because it is really apparent with a group. On the flats or descents I had no real issue keeping with everyone. Shoot, sometimes I would have to swing out or grab some brake to stop from running over someone on the downhill because of the extra weight. Then we would hit a slight climb and gaps would open. It was interesting to experience.
It was weird to be riding in a group again, and following a friendly familiar wheel. Dave came around the front and I had no objection to following him. He even mentioned, “Elvis, you saved my bacon out here before least I could do is come out here and return the favor.” Well Dave consider that debt paid in full! Dave, with his mirror, did an amazing job at gauging the pace I was aiming for. For the entire tour the goal was stay in Zone 1, use Zone 2 when needed for longer climbs, and Zone 3 only when absolutely necessary. I was maintaining that discipline with the group and Dave was able to match me perfectly.
Now when we stared the downhill into town things got super fun. I was doing no work and actually had to either pull out of the draft or grab some brake to stop from running David over. Eventually I yelled up to Dave, “Go, go, go!” He kicked it up, we all lined up, and started crusing at a steady 26 MPH with almost no effort on my part! That’s the power of the of Dave Burns Freight Train.
As we came to Via Inspirada I let Dave know I was making a right. We all signaled and made the right except for Brian Ridgway and Rob Kelly who continued on along Las Vegas Blvd.
The four of us had a nice casual cruise along Via Inspirada. We would line up when a car came along, but otherwise we were all over the place. At Pirolli, I hollered that I was making a right to head over to Democracy. I was bummed to lose Joy and Dave, but was blessed to have Mark hang with me.
From there it was a nice cruise around the south end of Inspirada. As we passed the fire station, I mentioned to Mark, “Well here it goes slow roll up the hills.” The first little hill wasn’t too bad. Climbing after Athem Highlands was a chore.
We did catch up to two other cyclists who were also making the climb. One was on a road bike and the other on a mountain bike. As we passed one of them asked, “Hey where are you going with all that gear?” I vaguely remember telling him what I was doing, but I think what I missed Mark chimed in with. I was kinda winded trying to finish up the climb. The roadie told his partner he would see him at the top and then came around the front of me and said, “Hey for all the work you’ve done the least I can do is give you a lead.” It was a kind gesture.
I did have enough breath to profess to Mark, “Hey man I’m sorry but I’m not going to the top today. I know the rule is it only counts if you go to the top, but today is the day I don’t really care.” That got a chuckle out of Mark and he agreed that considering it was the last day I can have the exception.
Soon enough we were on the last few riads to the house. We came onto Manosque and I could see the garage was open. I gave Mark some quick directions to get to the neighborhood over and continue home. Mark and I parted in the middle of the road. I climbed the driveway and rolled up to the wife standing there waiting. Mark rolled on but not before giving a hello and goodbye to the little darling and I.
I rolled up to the wife, said “Hi!”, and leaned out over the handle bars to give her a long overdue kiss.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a wrap. What a long strange trip it has been. It has certainly been a rollercoaster. Not only emotionally but physically as well. Now my attention has to turn to getting all the gear unloaded, cleaned, and put away. I’m thankful that I have the next week off to take care of all the post tour chores the need tended to. I also hope to get in some riding as well. 😉
12.66 new miles — From Wandrer.earth
Sunny-Sunny, 77°F-99°F, Feels like 77°F-102°F, Humidity 16%-9%, Wind SE 3mph-NE 2mph – by Klimat.app
— myWindsock Report —
Weather Impact: -6.7%
Headwind: 39% @ 3-10.3mph
Longest Headwind: 01h 6m 53s
Air Speed: 13.6mph
Precip: 0% @ 0 Inch/hr
— END —
Max elevation: 3068 ft
Min elevation: 2572 ft
Total climbing: 1200 ft
Total descent: -946 ft
Average speed: 15.26 mi/h
Total time: 03:34:18