"The Road Most Traveled"
Baja, Mexico Mid January
For the next 18 days, our route takes us down Baja on Mex 1. It's really the only road in town--the only paved route going north to south. Mex 1 is a narrow highway with little or no shoulder. On most days, you're competing with trucks and buses for a small strip of pavement. At one point, and 18-wheeler came so close, I felt I was in the cab with the driver. On these days, I find myself clenching my teeth and hoping my limited cycling skills will keep me out of a ditch--or worse.
It's no wonder, then, that on Mex 1 we would pass one shrine after another dedicated to loved ones who have died on this road. Many of these shrines are simple testaments--a metal cross, artificial flowers and perhaps a candle. It seems most of the people missed are locals--except one.
It's midday as we leave a little restaurant near Fosa el Tigre and Bob Hansen sees a monument made of granite---one with a picture and candles. Bob decides to stop and take a look. What he finds will change the reason he's riding. The elaborate, granite mounument is for a Japanese cyclist. He was 28 years old and was attempting to pedal his way around the world. There are two pages of his journal left at the monument--an indication he hadn't gotten very far when a car hit and killed him.
Bob decides to leave a message at the monument. He will dedicate his year long journey around the world to that Japanese cyclist. He is a sober reminder that it takes more than time and money and strength to make a trek like this one. He is a sober reminder that sometimes the best intentions end badly. But he's also a reminder that there is going to be a measure of risk with the life we want to lead.
It made me wonder how safe we would be..how many times I would find myself clenching my teeth and hoping for the best on days when the road seems made for only one form of transportation.
Postscript: Soon after we passed this monument, one of our riders was hit and injured by a car. He was taken to a hospital and had surgery on his leg. He's hoping to rejoin us in the coming months.
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