Mar 292015
 

crossing-into-mendoza-province

The time since the last post, El Agua es Vida, has been yet another tale of woe.  I’m not going to regale it at length once more.  It’s too much for me and more than likely, for you.

In Summary; Items to fail over a 3 day period:-

Tyre – One with sidewall ripped, patched at roadside.  Second is damaged but serviceable.

Cooking stove – unable to fix whilst camping on sand.  Subsequently repaired.

Cycle computer – fixed at roadside after some fiddling

The weather – It rained a lot, the wind came back and it was freezing cold at times.

My head – Twice, on consecutive days.  Repair is an ongoing process.

The Picture Story

It started well, the weather fine and stunning views.

It started well, the weather fine and stunning views.

The road climbing higher and higher, the altitude starting to affect me.

The road climbing higher and higher, the altitude starting to affect me.

A long, long, slow descent on a bad road interrupted by gauchos herding their cows in the morning.

A long, long, slow descent on a bad road interrupted by gauchos herding their cows in the morning.

The beautiful cloud formations grasping my attention, blissfully unaware of the damage being done to my tyres.

The beautiful cloud formations grasping my attention, blissfully unaware of the damage being done to my tyres.

Camp spot at end of day 3.  A sandy lava field, the stove fails.  Then it starts to rain.

Camp spot at end of day 3. A sandy lava field, the stove fails. Then it starts to rain.

Morning of day 4, it's raining and utterly miserable.

Morning of day 4, it’s raining and utterly miserable.

At lunchtime, someone kindly lets me rest in their garage.  The rain doesn't let up.

At lunchtime, someone kindly lets me rest in their garage. The rain doesn’t let up.

It rained all day, evening and night, everything was wet.  Then on the morning of day 4 it was still raining.

It rained all day, evening and night, everything was wet. Then on the morning of day 4 it was still raining.

Reaching the tarmac section, I pumped up my tyres, only to notice the inner tube bulging through the sidewall of the tyre.  I had a tyre patch as a temporary repair, also swapping the damaged tyre to the front wheel.

Reaching the tarmac section, I pumped up my tyres, only to notice the inner tube bulging through the sidewall of the tyre. I had a tyre patch as a temporary repair, also swapping the damaged tyre to the front wheel.

The lowest point of the entire trip.  I broke down at this point, the cracks in my mind opening fully, a torrent of emotion poured uncontrollably out of me.  Not able to see more than 50m in front, I had no idea I was at the top of the pass.  A motorist stopped to check I was alright.  He gave me a half drunk bottle of coke and a full one of sprite, everything he had.  Told me I was at the top and it was downhill from here.  I could see the fatherly concern in his eyes but he didn't know what to say.

The lowest point of the entire trip. I broke down at this point, the cracks in my mind opening fully, a torrent of emotion poured uncontrollably out of me. Not able to see more than 50m in front, I had no idea I was at the top of the pass. A motorist stopped to check I was alright. He gave me a half drunk bottle of coke and a full one of sprite, everything he had. He told me I was at the top and it was downhill from here. I could see the fatherly concern in his eyes but he didn’t know what to say.

I arrived into Malargue later that evening exhausted physically and mentally.  It had been the second longest day of the entire trip.  The thought of getting somewhere dry and warm over riding all other considerations.

Am I pushing my limits?

Undoubtedly.  This isn’t a cake walk.  I never thought it would be but I had no idea how hard I would find it.  The limits are currently mental not physical.  My brain can’t keep up with what my body can now do.

How do I keep going?

Just spin the pedals and one day I will arrive at my destination of choice.  So very true and the maxim I use on a daily basis.  Everything else is just noise, a distraction from the simplicity of this endeavour.  So simple to write, so very difficult to put into practice.

Do I continue to step over my line, to break my ceiling and rebuild the pieces each time? 

So far the answer is yes, although it’s not a nice place to live in, the benefits too far in the future to appreciate in the now.

Why continue?

Common wisdom would say ‘If you have to ask then you wouldn’t understand the answer’.  There is, I feel some truth to that.

I thought I would enjoy this trip, parts of it I certainly have.  However I guess I was naïve to think that cycling the length of the Americas would, overall, be a fun thing to do.  Cycling across Europe in the summer was for the most part, fun.  That was a (very nice) holiday compared to this.

This is a challenge, a very big one.  One I set for myself without understanding what I was letting myself in for.  I did it partly for that reason.  I choose this path so I need to be happy with overcoming the challenges in my way and take satisfaction from that.  The fun days may come, but I can’t just give it all up when stuff gets really hard but I overcome it.

I said I cracked at the top of the pass (in the last photo), well I did but I still got myself to my destination as planned, with a temporary patch on the front tyre and a heavy heart.

I guess to give up today and come home is self pity I’m feeling, not defeat.  When I need to get rescued and hitch a lift to the next place of safety because I’ve misjudged something or damaged something critical then I need to reassess.

But I’m not there yet.

Tomorrow I go again.  A new (crap) tyre on the bike, stove functioning again, head improved (partly thanks to a haircut), clean clothes and a clean, rested body.

How many more times can I reset and go again?  I don’t have an answer.

My choices, not fate, will decide that.

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  7 Responses to “Reset, Recharge, Resume”

  1. Iain, don’t think you need any words of wisdom from someone who hasn’t the faintest idea of what you’re going through but you are getting there. Look how far you’ve got, the goal will be achieved. You’re an inspiration to an old fart like what I are!

  2. Iain,

    The way you are approaching these challenges is the only way a person reasonably can. When I rode the TransAmerica last year there were several occasions that put me, mentally speaking, where you’re at. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable task compounded by mechanical, logistical, and mental difficulties, the best you can do is to scale back the enormity until it seems achievable.

    If I don’t think I can make it to the top of that pass, I will resolve to make it half way. If I can’t do that, I will just make it to that next bush in the distance. If not that, I’ll just do ten more revolutions of the cranks. Then I find I can actually do ten more. Then ten more.

    There is no other advice I can give. No shortcut through the bramble of it. I can only testify that this is the smithy that forges the soul. With every pedal stroke you are building a new You.

    • Hi Justin,

      Thanks for the advice. I use the same strategy at times or if it’s a short distance to go, I visualise that distance where I grew up riding my bike. Something that I had done a thousand times before and is simple. For example, 3km is down to the shops at the roundabout and back again. You can extrapolate this as much as possible.

      cheers
      Iain

  3. Kia ora mate,

    Came across your epic odyssey via an article of yours I saw on Sidetracked ‘The Broken Man’, I completely recognised the thousand yard stare piercing back at me from the screen as I’ve experienced that same feeling recently hiking in NZ. I’ve been contemplating walking the length of NZ, only 3000kms a mere snippet of your journey, and am interested in how you pony up and knock this bugger off. I figure if you can cycle halfway round the globe, I can muster up a mere Hobbit’s trot in little ole Kiwiland!

    You’re an inspiration, not many chaps would attempt something of this magnitude, so keep the rpms ticking along and I’ll keep watching your progress with great interest!

    Kia kaha! (stay strong)

    Damo

  4. Hey! You are doing amazingly!! I don’t know how the hell you are doing it but you are! It’s clearly really tough physically and mentally but you are surviving! I’m sure there will be some days soon that are more like a ride through Europe…. Nice weather, good terrain…. Hope so!
    It really so fantastic! I have so much respect for you. I need to read this next time I go for a run round wimbeldon and get a bit “tired”!!!!
    Keep going, amazing work xxx

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