Upon waking, I hack up gobs of green phlegm. I’m not even fazed. These symptoms have become so normal. It almost feels like I’m watching myself from the outside, that I’m not actually dealing with this situation. I take Ibuprofen, puff my inhaler and stuff my bivvy into my seatpack. I’m wearing all of my clothes and shivering so hard that my whole body is shaking. The first few pedal strokes are stiff. My knees don’t want to bend, but a few minutes coaxes them into form. I pull over half an hour in to take a caffeine pill which immediately elevates my mood. I’m ready to have some fun. I put in headphones and start into a playlist full of pop. It’s the first time I’ve ever listened to music during an endurance ride and it feels amazing. I’m riding in the dark in the middle of nowhere listening to Nelly. Everything hurts less and matters less and I actually feel pretty good. The stretch from Nueva Odisea to El Sacrificio is a total ass kicker and one of the most remote feeling sections on the entire Baja Divide. The climbs and descents are steep and loose and endless. But there’s water! I pass three streams and no people. The day heats up and at the final stream I stop, submerge my whole body into the water, fill up my bottles and drink. Water in the desert feels like a miracle. Down the road there’s an abandoned ranch. Ten miles later there’s a man making food over a fire next to an out of commission semi truck. I can’t imagine how it got there.
I make it to El Sacrificio in the afternoon. A cycle tourist greets me and it’s not until I start talking that I realize I’ve lost my voice. We are the only two people at the roadside stop.
“How far are you going today?”
“As far as I can get.”
“You been cold at night?”
“Yeah! I didn’t bring a sleeping bag.”
“Me neither. I thought it was going to be warm here. I bought a couple of blankets in the last town.”
I tell him about my ride. The truck stop isn’t making food, so I throw out my trash, slam a coke and a Monster, lube my chain and I’m back out.
I stop at El Descanso three miles down the road. I order 5 bean burritos and 5 quesadillas to go from the young girl I saw in January. She’s kind of an eye-roller, but she conveys the message just fine. By the time I fill up my water, the food is ready. I’m packed and out and it’s music time again. I’m fueled by pop and caffeine and I’m soaring. The road is rough and rocky, but I stay seated and keep the pedals turning and take the beating.
The afternoon passes fast and it’s dark again. I confuse the turn to San Agustin with an abandoned store two miles down the road. An alarmed man comes out as I accidentally trespass through his property.
“I’m trying to find San Augustin.”
“It’s back that way.”
“About 2 kilometers.”
I backtrack on the pavement and detour half a mile to San Agustin because it’s my last chance for food for the next 165 miles. Military men are sitting on the porch playing with their phones. Two little kids are playing soccer out front in the dirt. It’s 9PM and I order ten quesadillas to go.
The woman confirms with me multiple times that I actually want ten quesadillas. She splits the stack into two and wraps them up in aluminum foil. I buy a gallon of water and prepare to leave.
“How far are you going tonight?”
“A little bit farther.”
“Where will you stay?”
“You can camp here.”
“I’ll go a little bit farther.”
She’s kind and I want to sleep, but I don’t like being off of the Baja Divide route. I pedal back down the pavement and begin the rough moto track towards Catavina. The night is cooling off. I stop, intending to sleep, but my mind is too wired for it. I’ll push on just a little bit farther. The road is gravelly and rough and I call it. I tuck behind a bush, set my alarm, slow my breathing and fall asleep.