Dated: 27 SEPT 18
Why do I keep finding myself in the middle of bloody deserts? They are hot, often barren, full of plants that want to prick you or puncture a tyre and the wildlife tends to be on the many eyed and hairy legged side or of the thin, long and slithery variety. Perhaps in the planning phase of my next adventure of which there better be one rather than drawing a random squiggly line around the world I might take just a moment or two to look at the finer details. Or maybe not, surprises keep it fresh.
What a day. I’m not sure if I have had one just so gruelling to date or I have conveniently forgotten just how shitty this can be.
This eyeball drying heat. What percentage of the land based global is even desert anyways? Roughly 33% so really why am I in yet another? Namibia, northern Kenya, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajik, the Gobi and Baja makes at least seven full bloody skin searing, lip cracking, sand down your crack deserts.
I’m usually content with a few sips of water through the morning and another in the afternoon, just getting through a small bottle of water per day, not including tea, I’m not a savage. I acknowledge that this is a minimalistic volume of water but crossing the Baja has been thirsty work. Four gallons of water plus a bit more in a day is a course record. I don’t know where it is all going, I’m certainly not passing it. It simply vanishes into thin air, thin dry air.
So today I find myself half way down the Baja peninsular and things aren’t looking good. Someone please remind me why I’m doing this again? What’s is driving these unnecessarily days? I could have added a few days rest, no a week on a beach with endless pina colada or something more manly. But nay, not if I want to reach the south to La Paz by the end of the week or the circumference of the earth in the end. But why then? What’s the rush? Why even do it? No one is making me. Is the sore arse worth it? I’m sure most people get a sore arse from time to time sat at their desk all day and perhaps sore lips from kissing their boss’s derriere to get noticed (some literally perhaps). So yes its worth every wince.
But maybe not this afternoon. I’m toying with the idea of hitch hiking into the next village, just twenty kilometres, it’s not even elevenses but this heat is just energy sapping, for the first time I’m well and truly spent. In a terrible combination the tarmac sends waves of heat from beneath, the sun keels me over from above. My hand resists the urge to pose the universal signal of please give me a ride, the thumbs up. So I say no to the temptation and have a moments reprieve by lying down on my back in the dirt and shimmying myself full bodily sideways beneath a low lying prickly shrub into its meagre shade.
Thirty minutes off the bike and I’m right as rain again, thirty minutes on the bike and I wish it was raining. I can feel my head bowing to the sun, shoulders slacking, I sit lower and lower on my bike, slouching forward. I swear at one point my chin is below my handle bar as I nearly roll forward over the bike.
Exercise in the heat for hours at a time can’t be contusive to good health. I’m drinking my way through the aforementioned vast volumes of water, I can feel the liquid sloshing around in my stomach so hydration isnt the issue. Stops seem to be about lowering my core temperature, I can cycle in this for one hour stints before I suddenly find every pedal a monumental slog. Like an engine do muscles stop working properly when they are over heated? Something to do with enzymes perhaps? What are the signs of heat stroke? I’m close to vomiting at one point, this has never happened before so why now? Well once but I was really hungover and felt great for it.
Once I have established that I have enough surplus water to reach the next stop it is one sip for me and one dousing for my head, chest and legs. This repeated every fifteen minutes or five kilometres, which ever comes first, keeps me going for the next two hours. I know I said I should only aim for an hours riding in these iffy conditions but its a desert and shade is not in abundance.
I reach the town of Loreto on the edge of the Sea of Cortez. Off the bike and the super market seems to be swaying so I lean against the wall and do my best to stop it from falling. After these apparent tremors have passed I grab an ice cream from a little stall, the little bugger charged me the tourist price and then I got brain freeze to boot but god it was worth every extra peso. I think it is safe to say that I have tested myself to my limits but I think I have more in the reserves. I heard it said, know doubt in some random adventure magazine that I read at some point or another, that when we think we have reached exhaustion we actually have a good third left in the tank. Well I want to truly empty my tank at some point and find my limit, over the next few months so I better pick a battle ground.
That took me just up until lunch time the afternoon and the worst heat of the day a head of me.