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Trip 1 - Tucson AZ - El Paso TX - 421 mi / 670 km

By way of preamble, this is my first serious bike trip – I have been playing with the idea of having a big, encompassing project that would keep me focused on exercise as a part of my life.

To simply exercise for fitness’ sake was not a big enough motivator – there had to be a “gaining idea” and something that I could go public with amongst friends and family as a further motivator to carry through.

Preparation largely consisted of pounding away on a stationary bike at the local gym – one of those Lifecycle machines with different program profiles and varying pedal resistances, all displayed on a small LED display and powered by a computer chip of limited capacity:

Every day I would head off to grind away on one of these machines, surrounded by a small field of these devices, all whirring, humming and beeping as good people earnestly ran virtual miles, climbed enormous numbers of virtual flights of stairs or mountains, or pedaled furiously off to some imaginary destination – all in a din that shared much with the noise of an industrial plant or a sewing sweatshop.

Finally the big day arrived, and off I flew to Tucson, Arizona, my bike shipped in a card board box and my luggage consisting of the two panniers that would hang on either side of the back wheel.

The flight is a sunny one, high above the clouds.  As we descend towards Tuscon we first pass through one set of clouds and spend several moments in kind of a cloud sandwich - a solid blanket of clouds above the plane and another vaporous landscape below us. Breaking through the second layer, the plane is pelted with rain.

The first day of cycling is going to be very wet.

Thankfully, I had planned the first day to be a short ride, largely to get out of city limits, away from the restricted-access Interstate highways and more south towards the secondary roads close to the Mexican border.

The first twenty miles are tough – my rain gear is a sports parka and track pants, and the headwind is gusting at me relentlessly as I labour down the Nogales highway towards Green Valley, my clothes ballooning out and adding drag to my forward progress.

Lots of spray is coming off the tractor trailers as they hiss by. I'm happy to see the green and yellow sign of the Holiday Inn Express through the late afternoon murk.

I pull in looking like a drowned rat. 

After checking in, it's off to the in-house laundromat to dry out all of my worldly belongings

Dinner is confined to the local well-lit Dennys Restaurant.

I sleep well.......



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