Day Forty-Three: Portales Burn-Out

We woke at 0455 in Hereford, approximately two hours before sunrise, per standard. The leader team was delayed this morning, as we were determining how best to deal with the fact that five of our riders had broken two of Bike & Build's most serious policies. I was all for enforcing the letter of the rules, and giving them three days of van time. Hey, you know the rules, and you know the consequences, so there should be no surprises. The other three leaders on the trip disagreed for various reasons, putting me in the uncomfortable minority. We had the group of five riders ride sweep today, awaiting the office's verdict on the situation.

In hindsight, this morning's meeting was the turning point of the trip for me. Prior to today, I had been optimistic about the rest of the trip. I tolerated excessive van use, unsafe riding, poor routine, lack of organization, and general incompetence from the riders and leaders. I honestly believed that, in time, the errors at the start of the trip would come to fix themselves. This morning taught me an important lesson: it was me against the other three leaders, and I was fighting a losing battle.

After this morning, I felt uncomfortable working with the rest of the leaders on the trip. I don't think of them as friends, nor do I trust them to make sound, rational, competent policy decisions based on the written rules that we all agreed to uphold. I'm not going to go out of my way for these people any longer, if my reward is having riders lie to me about alcohol and leaders wanting to go along with this.

As a result of various meetings this morning, I left about 45 minutes to an hour late. A combination of wanting to win the state line sprint into New Mexico, wanting to ride with Jane, and being less than pleased with the conduct of the riders and leaders on this trip, motivated me to push into the headwind. I managed to average about 21 MPH for 90 minutes, with no aero equipment other than my wheels. I caught Jane, who was in pretty dire straights after another day of riding through feed lots and slaughterhouses. I decided that it was more important to stay with Jane than win the sprint, so we rode together into New Mexico.

Lenny, our donations guru, managed to get us all free Subway sandwiches at "lunch". The time zone changed to MDT (GMT -6) at the state line, leading to some confusion. After lunch, Jane and I rode with Emma, stopping at a Western store along the way. I was happy to ride at less than full power at that point, after my strong effort.

In Portales, we stopped at a Dairy Queen, and I visited a local bicycle shop (which sponsors a female triathlete!), before heading to the ENMU dorms, which hosted us for the evening.

After a chat with Kristian, we had a conference with the aforementioned five riders. We decided to give them one day of van time each, in a 2-2-1 pattern.

I just know I'm going to get flack for making this information public. People will call me this and that in their frustration. Let me just say this: the rules are no secret. They're written in plain and simple American English at http://www.bikeandbuild.org/Documents/2008Manual.pdf. Riders and leaders received them before the trip, and reviewed them at Orientation. The riders agreed to follow them, and the leaders agreed to enforce them. So, don't fault the leaders for doing their job, and don't blame the Bike & Build office for the way these things pan out.

The riders got one van day each, and the leaders got no reprimand. Are you kidding me? Alcohol has no place on a trip like this. These people got off easy. I'm ashamed of the other trip leaders, of the riders, and of the office.

Take the high road. If the rules seem broken, revisit the rules, not your enforcement of them.

In hindsight, this is where I stopped enjoying every new day, and started waiting for things to be over.