Stopping in the late afternoon for a quick 10-minute lunch I stood, straddling the bike trying to keep it upright without hands, which proved to be beyond my skill level. The bike fell with a heavy thud. Thankfully it fell so I could retrieve my food. Letting the bike lie still in the sand, I unzipping my frame bag I took out a pouch of cooked rice with quinoa and tuna with smokey harissa, taking a scoop from each with my titanium spork. Within a minute I had stuffed my face and was ready to continue on. Just then, riding swiftly past me was the last remaining rider, making me the final and slowest rider of the tour. With a quick wave he disappeared into the distant horizon. I peddled on.
The day continued with in a cycle of falls, wind, break taking views, food, sunscreen reapplication, water breaks and gear adjustments. My mood slowly shifted from good to bad to evil. Self-doubt set in and I was asking myself on the constant
“What are you doing?” Followed by “This is TOTALLY beyond your abilities, you should just give up.”
But how? How am I gonna give up? I’m on a beach with no end in sight, no town in sight and not one person around. I couldn’t give up even if I wanted to!!! I had to continue. Checking the Garmin I had never used before and my (now) husband lent to me I had no idea how much further I had to go before reaching camp. My goal of 100km vanished as I sipped my last bit of water.
Before this moment all the events of the day were pretty superficial caused by my lack of experience, nerves, intimidation, and for being unprepared. But the moment I ran out of water, things got real. I had no cell service. I hadn’t seen a car or a person for over 3 hours. I had iodine pills and a Grayl water filter but didn’t know if this worked for salt water. My survival mode kicked in, I became calm and got down to business. Looking at my Garmin I saw a flag marker, hoping that meant water, I made the best assessment I could. Still struggling with kilometer conversion, I decided this flag was about 15-20 km away and would take me about 1 ½-2 hours if I kept up the pace. It would be getting dark in about 2 ½ hours , If I didn’t reach the flag by then I would be forced to do the one thing I did NOT want to do. The one thing that would prove to myself, and the world watching, that I was a fake, a looser and a coward. I would have to push my SOS button on my spot tracker to call, via satellite, for help. I plead with the bike gods to not let this happen, I wasn’t sure if they were paying any attention.
Damn near 2 hours later it appeared, my saving grace in the shape of the most beautiful green flag flapping in the wind. My spirits instantly lifted and I let out a great sign of relief that I didn’t have to call for help. I made my way to the flag, over the sand dunes, past a gravel road and followed the signs for Utea Campgrounds. Pulling in I stopped at a hose, filled up my water bottles and sat in astonishment of my first day. I had survived, barely. I was burnt to a crisp, covered in bruises and sand, hungry, dehydrated and in WAY over my head. I set up my tent then showered away the day. After cooking a quick meal in the communal kitchen, I stopped to play with the box of kittens that Tania, the camp host, had shown me. I couldn’t help but laugh as they played, purred and gave me the love I very much needed.