The Endorphin Rush: A Story by Dex Tooke

Dex Tooke is an incredible endurance cyclist and he’s here today with a great little story based around the concept of “the endorphin rush”.

Jonathan Livingston Buzzard

By Dex Tooke

I awoke at 1:00 p.m. Not much rest considering I had gotten to bed at 8:00 that morning. My thoughts quickly reminded me of the day of the week and that I wouldn’t have to return to work that night.  At least that was good.

I stumbled into the kitchen.  Set the microwave on two minutes and started that most important first cup of coffee.  Grabbed the half and half out of the refrigerator and went ahead and covered the bottom of my cup with the cream so not only would I be prepared the instant the two minutes had expired but I wouldn’t even have to waste  energy stirring.

I peered out the kitchen window to check the limbs on my favorite tree to see how bad the wind was blowing.  Bent nearly double.  Coming from the southeast again.  Must be at least 20 m.p.h. and gusty.  Doesn’t the wind ever stop blowing in Del Rio?  The countryside was parched brown in color and the temperature was already over 100 degrees.  Another beautiful day in the neighborhood.  The coffee was ready.  105 p.s.i. in my 23c tires.  Water bottles filled.  I put on my faded shorts and grabbed my unwashed, salt-caked, body-odored jersey.  “Ah, smell that! Isn’t cycling a glamorous sport?” Shoes, helmet, sunglasses, chaps tick.  I’m out of here.

The first few miles went slow as I gradually worked the cobwebs out of this ill-treated old body.  Living in the “land of manana” for seventeen years on the Texas/Mexico border had taught me it didn’t pay to rush into anything.  Easy spinning.  15-17 m.p.h.   The wind hot and gusty.   The desert hot and dry.  The bunch grass brown and thirsty.  A lone jack rabbit competing for a small area of shade beneath a mesquite tree.

That first bead of sweat began forming on my temporal region and slowly trickling down the side of my face.  The heat rising off the pebbled asphalt as the tar began to melt.  Pushing a little.  Heart rate near the 150 range.

Then after about 30 minutes a strange transformation started to occur.  The wind went dead calm.  The temperature dropped.  I was headed south toward Tlaloc, the Mexican rain god, and as I topped the railroad bridge near the International Boundary and Water Commission I could see a solid blanket of purple covering the countryside.  A sea of purple waves.  The Ceniza was in full bloom.  And shooting out of the purple sage was the long slender arms of the brilliant red Ocotillo.  The large yellow flowers of the prickly pear sprinkled the desert floor.  The thick single shaft of a germinating Agave rose 18 feet into the blue sky.  And the air was so clear I could see some of the white rock facing on the cliffs of the Sleeping Lady over 70 miles in the distance.  The Chihuahuan Desert was at her best.

As I approached the riff-raff of the dam I noticed a small buzzard sitting atop the guardrail.  Expecting him to fly off as I got close, he surprised me with his boldness and remained on the guardrail even as I passed.  Then I saw several more buzzards ahead.  Now believe me, seeing buzzards on Amistad Dam is not unusual, but I had never noticed this many.  They were everywhere.  And all seemed bold.  They all stood their ground.  I couldn’t tell if it was in defiance or fear.

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