Death in the Desert

Or Big Bend Sucks

Don’t ride around the desert for hours at a time when you have pneumonia…unless of course you want to.

Words By Anna Breton, Photos By Luke Batten

Picture this, the sun is shining, the air is warm, you’re in the middle of nowhere living amongst the coyotes and javelinas of south west Texas. You have a sick bike, some sick gear, and some good company; everything is great except for the fact that you’ve been sick for the past month and a half. But, you’re just going to ignore that last part because things seem okay when you’re on an adventure with the right people.

You start your ride in the late afternoon, tummy full of an almond butter, banana, and Doritos sandwich. About 5 minutes into the ride, you’re already way behind the others because your little pneumonia filled lungs can’t hang, but that’s okay because sometimes you just have to do your own thing. Fast forward a few hours later. You’re sweaty, you smell bad, you’re still in the middle of nowhere, the sun is starting to set, you’re tired and you’re on a bike with miles to go. In most cases I’d say this is a pretty perfect situation, but when you’re struggling to catch a breath and your heart rate has been at its max for what feel like an eternity, you start to question some of your life decisions and your mind begins to wander.

For example: why do I even like bikes? They suck. Why do I suck? Everyone sucks. Everything sucks. You knew you’ve been pretty sick for a while. Maybe it would’ve been better if you stayed at your campsite and laid in the sun all day. You should be at a beach resort on some island and someone should be serving you some fancy tropical drink. The kind with an umbrella in it. Umbrellas. I suck.

Your body is telling you to take a break and the sun is telling you to hurry up. Your sister tells you to pick up the pace because “it’s gonna be dark”… thank you captain obvious, I have eyes. Then after some time, when the sun is gone, you hit a downhill. Imagine a downhill so beautiful you almost shed a tear. The road you’ve been riding goes from painfully rough to perfectly smooth and now gravity gets to do all the work. Ha! It’s the break you’ve been waiting for and you only had to wait literally the entire ride to get it! A well deserved reward for all the work you’ve done, I suppose. You reach the car, and that’s when your lungs and body really start to hurt. It does’t matter anymore, nothing really matters anymore because you pretty much died and were reborn about four times on that ride.

Riding while being sick sucks. You already knew that. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and I wanted to ride my awesome bike in an awesome park with some awesome people, so that’s what I did, and you’d better believe I had a blast doing it.