Henry has been very influential in keeping me safe during this ride. There was a two day stretch that first week when I had to get across the desert from Joshua National Park in CA to Parker AZ. Knowing that services would be extremely rare, I had an extra 3L collapsible bottle to go with my usual 3 bike bottles. Time, distance, and speed calculations are critical, so one spends a lot of brain energy rationing water supply. It's not a problem unless one of those three variables gets miscalculated.
Two-thirds of the way through the day I'm almost done with my 3rd bottle and about to tap into the 3 liter. It's sort of like tapping into the emergency fund when something is broken around the house. You know that's what it's there for, but it's still something you don't want to do.
I turn onto a roadside overlook where several RVs have done the same; fascinated by a developing sandstorm to the west. For some reason, my instinct tells me to just ride up to this mammoth house on wheels, say hi, and see where it goes. It's very rare that a motorist will turn down a request for water in the desert. Sure enough, when he, wearing a cycling t shirt, answers my greeting, I knew I was in. It's amazing how my emotional outlook turned the rest of the day. Since I was so close to my destination, water rationing was really of no concern.
Three days ago I left Phoenix for what I anticipated being the most challenging segment of the ride. Going from 600ft sea level into mountains is not something I'm accustomed to. There's not a lot of mountain training options in SE Michigan. Turns out, it wasn't the climbing that almost did me in. Rather, it was the altitude and dryness of the 70 miles between Phoenix and Payson, AZ.
Two thirds of the way through day 2 and I'm very concerned about my water. This route is on a divided highway with no towns and very few exits. Making matters worse, I know there are several major climbs to over 5000ft coming eventually. Under a worst-case scenario, one always imagines they could succeed. But there's that little voice saying otherwise.
I pitch camp on a small road leading from the highway to a trailhead. I'm close enough to hear the truckers during the night stopping at the pulloff to check their brakes before the long descent.
Next morning, I get up with two totally dry bottles and the last one with a couple of ounces of water left. There's definitely not enough water to burn on a hot breakfast. So, I load up my bike bags and pull out from camp.
Simultaneously, a Walmart truck driver pulls over to the shoulder to check his brakes. I ask him how far to the next option for water. When he tells me 15-18 miles, my heart sank. There is no way I could make that distance safely. At that point I just had to ask "Im Dave, do you have any extra water?" ?"
His reply "I'm Henry, would you like two?"