Thursday, September 24, 2015

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Waking up on our rest day in San Luis, we spent the morning apart from one another. The few hours of separation caused some serious anxiety since we hadn't been more than about 10 feet from each other for an entire week, but it was probably helpful to smell something besides the stench of Kai and Jon's Luther riding jersey. I spent my morning blogging, finding the best flavor of ice cream (vanilla with chocolate and caramel swirls mixed with oreo if you're wondering), and trying a guava fruit from a very friendly gentleman. Not wanting to  be too ambitious, we made sure to meet back up that afternoon.

I had been trying to contact the friend I made back at the dance since she went to school in San Luis. It would have been awesome to have a local guide and practice Spanish again, but it turns out she had clinicals at the hospital that night. Lucky for us, we're not the type of people to get discouraged by a small setback.

After asking some kind looking people in the plaza for a place to eat, we found a great little restaurant with rooftop seating. We all ordered a 4 beer flight to try their craft beers, and Kai and I ordered something without confidence of what it was and Jon asked for a pizza. Since we brought the dictionary to dinner, we thought Kai was ordering some sort of bread bowl since the name combined bread and a flower pot. However, what he ended up getting was a little breaded sandwichy thing inside a small flower pot. It sure tasted great but for a fully grown man with a hunger from continuous miles of riding, the tiny size of the dish made all of us crack up.

The next morning I woke up to my first flat tire of the trip. Changing the tube was the last thing I wanted to do at the time, but it ended up being the best thing to happen because it gave Jon a chance to find a breakfast place. And he delivered. The restaurant was a small place, run by two older people who had mastered the art of old person kindness. It's like when your grandparents spoil you simply because they can, except with customers. We had buttered bread, juice, coffee, along with a giant plate of the main course. When we finally left from our feast, they asked to get a picture of us for their Facebook page and offered a piece of candy for the road. Any weird mood I was put in by the flat was instantly cured by more than enough food and such friendly service.

As we started to roll out, we had a quick miscommunication on directions where I took one street and Kai and Jon took another. Honestly, within seconds, we were separated. Knowing where they were headed, I doubled back to their street and started pedaling as quickly as possible to try and catch the other two. It turns out they had stopped entirely to meet back up, so I was racing for no great reason. After asking people on the side of the road if they had seen "two people very similar to me" (since we all have bikes and Luther jerseys) and figuring out I was the first one, I sat at the turnoff, pulled out my book, and waited. Eventually they pulled up, and all stresses of being lost were extinguished. We did decide to make a designated person of the day  to avoid multiple people making decisions at the same time. hopefully that will prevent us from getting lost again :) The rest of the ride spoiled us, having a slight tailwind and almost exclusively a slight downhill. We nearly flew to San Felipe, making up for any lost time during our separation. We felt so energized during the ride that we were able to debate each other's spirit animals. These are subject to change, but currently I'm a wolf, Kai is a bear cub, and Jon is a lioness. I assure you each of them is swarming with symbolism and a few stretched characteristics, but at least it was entertaining.

The next morning I woke up early to make breakfast. Inspired by the feast from the day before, the three of us took down bacon and a dozen scrambled eggs mixed with a whole onion and two tomatoes. The ride to San Miguel was hot but gorgeous. The fields were filled with greenery and flowers with hazy mountains looming in the background. When Jon had to stop for yet another flat, I wasn't the least bit upset (probably helps that it was his tire). Finally in San Miguel, we decided it was long overdue since the three of us had a couple beers. We found a restaurant with a winged buffalo on it, and it was simply too wonderful to pass up. One of the combos on the menu offered nachos, chicken wings, and the coldest Caronas in all of Mexico. It's amazing how content a cold beer and junk food can make you after a day of riding, but we weren't going anywhere fast that day so we ordered a bucket of mini Caronas that were equally entertaining and disappointing when you could finish them in three large gulps.

That night in the hotel room, we discussed our first plans of separation. Even though the few hours in San Luis was tough, we all had a little different type of day in mind for the morning so we picked a meeting location and decided to try a day on our own. Kai was happy staying in San Miguel for a relaxed day, Jon worked his way to Queretero, and I put in our longest day's ride yet to get to a town known for being pretty, as well as for wine and cheese called Tequisquiapan. I don't really know how Jon or Kai's day went, so lucky for you, you have to hear about mine :)

I woke up early and immediately thought I'd made a mistake. The roads out of San Miguel were steep and once I got towards the top I was moving into a headwind. Luckily the mountains a bit later blocked some of the wind. However, before long, my road had construction work on it that made for the most dicey traveling thus far and difficult navigation. I like to think I stay pretty calm, but going almost 30mph down a shoulder with debris next to double semis and buses definitely got nerve-wracking at times. Whenever possible, I would utilize the traffic cones and ride on the inside where other cars couldn't go. Glad to leave the chaos behind me, I was rewarded with some of the largest and longest hills I've ever seen. There's a big hill by our family cabin that I've ridden before I thought was tough, but a couple of these put it to shame.

Long story short, I worked hard all day covering just under 80 miles, but reached my goal with a few hours to explore that night. Since it was wine country, the rooms were a bit more on the pricey side but I was willing to welcome any bed. The fact that it was a beautiful little hotel with a pool and deck area was just a bonus. I spent the night tracking down a wine and cheese museum where I got to sample a bit of each and got a private tour of how wine is made. He definitely dumbed down the Spanish for me, but I was able to understand a surprising majority of it.

After walking the streets and getting a feel for the town (someday with a bit more money and maybe a significant other, this would be an ideal spot) I grabbed a bottle of wine, some locally baked bread, and sat with my book until I was too tired to stay awake. I love Kai and Jon, but having a night to myself and sleeping in the next morning while watching the town come to life with a coffee in my hand was a relaxation I didn't realize just how much I wanted. Plus, for the first time on the trip, I've been able to miss them!

Reunited in San Juan del Rio, we had another stroke of wonderful luck. A man I had met in the town center while waiting for Jon and Kai came back up to us. I had told him earlier we were looking for a place to stay, and he apparently went out and found us a free room with two beds and a bathroom. I'm not entirely sure how or why it worked out, but the room was very secure and the price was right up our alley. After introducing us to the owner, they were so trusting we were given a set of keys, explaining how they had to lock the front door since we were sleeping above the jewelry store. Just your average give a room to a group of weary strangers with loaded bikes situation I guess. The next morning he insisted on bringing us to his house for breakfast with his mom and we learned he loved mountain biking.

I don't know if we'll separate again to this extent, but I think what I've learned about myself is an occasional moment of isolation is a great reset. It doesn't make sense to always ride in different directions, but this was a great logistical test while we were still in a safe part of Mexico and it can help me prioritize if when I need a bit of time to myself. I truly cannot think of a better team to be traveling with, but that only remains true as long as we can tolerate one another :) Here's to feeling fresh, and looking forward to getting sick of my fellow adventurers!

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