Wheel of fortune
Wheel of fortune
Looking ahead we could see sheets of sand whipping across where the road had once been. Wind-borne needles stabbed into our skin. This was ridiculous. For the last two days we had hoped our luck would hold out, but the zonda was swallowing us. It was time to bail. A passing truck full of miners offered us succor and for once we accepted.
We stopped in Santa Maria, the first outpost on the desert fringe. After profusive thank-yous we unloaded our assortment of bags into the street and began the task of reassembling our mobile homes. We had hardly begun when I looked up to see we were surrounded by an armada of silver bikes. A crowd was growing as cyclists materialized from out of nowhere. Equally bizarre,
Amid the flurry of usual questions someone was asking “Will you ride today?” Amazingly we had entered town just minutes before the annual “Ride for Life” was set to begin. The crowd ushered us to the main plaza and into the chaos of cyclists and music blaring beyond speaker capacity. We were set to enjoy our cold Cokes when the music suddenly stopped and our names were
Huh? This is my first time in any biking event and it was going well as everyone left me behind and Bill immediately got a flat. Half the crowd stopped to help, but he hurried them on “Esta bien, esta bien.” I decide to go on as well — after all, it’s hardly the first time. Soon the excitement of the start begins to fade and so do I. I
We hit the crossing of a huge river about 500 feet wide. Squiggly lines run into the water where other cyclists have gone straight through. It’s either that or carry your bike over a wobbly log bridge. I opt for the latter rather than wind up marooned mid-river with all my gear. Our ever-helpful co-riders help us across and we try to join them riding off through the wet
After a long hill of loose dirt, Stage 3 is set to begin. Signs of toil must be obvious as two officials take our bikes and begin to pedal off. In their place we are given feather-light mountain bikes. Amid laughter we pedal off as well, reeling as if riding home after a late-night kegfest. It takes a while to get used to the jerky movements and strange gear shifters, but
We end our ride on rubbery legs with many hugs and handshakes. It seems everyone wants to have their picture taken with the two gringos. Our names again ring out over the loudspeakers, this time to present us with a diploma for our participation. Everyone has to sign it and we are still collecting signatures when Renee — one of the ride officials — comes over to
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