We continued on, speeding by the high desert lands. Each pair pulled about five miles before dropping to the back of the pack to enjoy ease of riding in the streamline. While the front riders are simply in charge of breaking the wind and calling out holes or objects in the road to avoid, the back riders have the responsibility of checking for traffic coming from behind. "Car back!" they yell when they spot a car. The paceline dissolves into a single line, with the outside riders falling into gaps in the line orchestrated by the inside riders. After the car passes, riders check back to make sure there is no more traffic before swinging out to form the second line again. It is a somewhat technical process that requires the ability to look around and over your shoulder while holding your bike in a straight line. When done correctly, the paceline is a beautiful demonstration of teamwork and trust.
During the ride, Rae and I were pulling averaging about 21 mph. Girl power! It was awesome to be able to pull the guys while keeping such a fast pace. Rae is a great rider, even though she hasn't been road biking for very long, and it was so fun to lead the lines with her. As we lead, the road changed from being rough and bumpy to being so smooth that you couldn't even feel it running under your tires. We sighed happily. "It's the little things!" said Austin. The smoothness of the road allowed us to gain more speed and we flew as the black road winded down the side of a mountain. The right side of the road sloped down into giant lake reflecting the periwinkle sky. The left side of the road was framed by huge cliffs that rise up out of nowhere, masked by lingering smoke. We were in awe of the beauty of the scene and it was made perfect by the sound of our bikes and the ease of riding.
Soon, we exited the high desert and entered some rocky mountains blanketed with pine. It is amazing how quickly the scenery can change. The trees and terrain helped block the headwind we had and we cruised through the forest, meeting up with a few other riders on the road. As we came around the corner, we startled a cow that was loose in the middle of the road. We watched as it leaped a fence to get back into its enclosure and join the rest of its family.
We all kept looking anxiously at our computers. Second lunch was late in the day, supposedly at mile 70. But as mile 70 came and left, people in our group started to get a little "hangry" (angry because you're hungry.) Luckily, lunch was right around the corner and any hangriness was diminished by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
After some cold showers and dinner, we sat down as a group to finish designating funds to selected grant recipients. It was a long process, but we discussed each grant in detail and allotted the funds in the most appropriate way we saw fit. The projects that we are funding are programs that will greatly benefit the communities and people they serve. I am really excited to have the opportunity to give those projects a jump start by helping fund them!
Tonight, we are sleeping in a gym. It is great to be inside again. Sleeping outside in tents is fun but it had been chilly in the morning and its nice to be able to warm up inside before starting a bike ride. It should be a warm and restful night.
Tomorrow we are crossing our last state line into California!!! I can't believe we biked here!