We left Brawley this morning at 7:30 a.m. to get a good head start on a long day — we planned 87 miles. It didn’t look too bad on the map; just one big 1300-foot climb in the middle. It’s a good thing we got an early start. I started feeling a little fatigued way, way too early — achy, hips hurt, feet hurt. I thought I was just out of shape and my body wasn’t adjusting to riding every day and not resting. Later I figured out that I had some sort of virus or something (unless you can work yourself physically hard enough to get a fever). But at the time, I just thought, hey, suck it up, buddy.
At the top of our big climb, at which time I was already wasted and ready to quit, we realized there was no going down — it was rolling hills for miles, to a border patrol station in the middle of nowhere (where the Border Patrol guys chatted with us and voted on my choice of baggy shorts: 1 for, 1 against). We were on top of a ridge in the Chocolate Mountains, a high desert in between two fertile farming valleys. I told Tony at one time I almost puked because I was in so much pain. At mile 65, we stopped in an all-but-deserted bar in Palo Verde to eat some fried food and watch car chases on the TV. I improved a little bit on the last 20 miles, which took us in between farm fields growing spinach, broccoli, and a bunch of other green vegetables. At this point, the Colorado River, which carved the Grand Canyon, is nothing but a collection of irrigation canals — which Chris McCandless found out when he tried to kayak down the Colorado to the Pacific Ocean in Into The Wild.
When we got to Blythe, we checked into the Hampton Inn, where Shaunte gave us a discount because of our mission (inner-city kids!), and I collapsed into a down comforter for 11.5 hours, shivering, then sweating. Tomorrow, Arizona!