Today is the big day! The day the whole week is named for - the Chiricahua Challenge and yes, the day lived up to it's name because of the wind! We woke up to a cold but sunny and windy morning. I decided to wear my new PAC Tour wool jersey since it was cold and I had also heard there was snow on the mountain. Like our first day going to tombstone, we started with a slight uphill climb and my legs felt really heavy. I tried in vain to hold onto Sid and Karen's wheel. They are a Canadian tandem couple who befriended me the first night. The wind was awful and I was doing everything I could to slog along at 7-8 mph. You have to climb through a pass 18 miles into the ride before you even get to the Chirc Mts. This 18 miles ended up being the hardest of the entire trip. The climb itself probably wasn't that bad but with the wind blowing at 30mph mostly headwind but with some ugly crosswind gusts, it was hard to stay upright. Numerous times I found myself struggling to hold onto the handlebars to keep my front wheel from being jerked away from me. It was like two kids fighting over a toy and both wanting it so much it is just a huge power struggle. More often than not the wind would win and I would end up on the other side of the road! Fortunately the scenery is breathtaking! Mountains are on either side of me and I eventually cycle into this great town. I finally made it to the summit and the rest stop. With the wind being so bad many cyclist decided to turn around and not attempt the big mt climb. With 20 miles still to go to get to the base Lon sagged 7 of us up to the next rest stop so we would have time to make the climb. From that rest stop we still had 6 miles to climb to the base. Slowly we made it to the foot of the mountain. At first when the climb started it seemed as if the wind had died down. But as I reached each switch back the wind would gust and I would have to wrestle again for control of the bike. Even with the struggle with the wind I felt like I had power in my legs. I was also awestruck by the beauty of the unique rock formations. After 3 miles and 3 extreme gusts of wind blowing me off of the road, I gave up and cycled down the mt. This is where I learned I need to practice decending more! I can get really fast really quick and did not know if I could handle the bike over 40 mph so I eased down the mt toward the lunch truck. All in all I was pleased with my perfomance in light of the 30 mph wind.
Lunch was the famous grilled cheese sandwhiches and fried potatoes! Yum! My favorite!
I rode all the way back from the lunch stop with a massive tailwind. Still kept the bike under 40 mph on the downhills.