Yesterday I wrote about how we flowed like a river on our way to D.C. Well today that river was filled with turbulence!
Hagop Koulayan, Vicken Sepilian and I joined forces to tackle Leg 6. This leg is Diyarbekir : Darfur. Diyarbekir is my ancestral home and my great Grandfather Hagop Parsaghian was murdered there in 1895 along with thousands of other Armenians, Greek and Assyrians so this leg had a very special meaning to me!
The ride was through the Navajo Indian Reservation. We had many people honk and wave as they drove by to show us support as well as a few people standing by the road hooting and waving at us.
Right from the start we had a very strong headwind and it continued all day! It made it very difficult to work as a team and draft each other as the wind was always shifting. I was runing on one hour sleep the night before and around four hours for each of the three prior nights. Of course my legs were feeling the 107 mile ride from the day before too. I was struggling to keep up with these strong riders with fresh legs and after about 15 miles I fell back.
Even the flat sections of this ride were a challenge with the wind. I felt as though I was barely moving. I cursed the wind. Then I remembered what Congressman Schiff said at the end of leg #1. ” Your pain is a tribute to their suffering”
Riding alone I had time to think about my family and their life in Diyarbekir. I thought about my Grandmother and the challenges she must have faced growing up after her father was killed when she was just four years old. My own father was murdered when I was 10 so I know how much of a struggle this must have been. I wondered how they survived in Diyarbekir until 1923 and how difficult life must have been.
After 60 miles we got the word that we were running out of time so I jumped in the van and then we picked up Vicken while Hagop was ahead somewhere still riding with the Baton towards the end of the leg. We drove 10 miles in the van and then decided to ride the last 10 to Window Rock. Vicken suggested we head over to have a look at Window Rock. It was a magnificent sight to see and I was glad we had the time to take it in!
We met a Navajo woman there and I asked her if she knew of the Armenian Genocide. She did not so I told her about it and our journey. She was very kind and wished us luck.
We also met three other tourist there and we told them about our journey. They did know of the Armenian Genocide and wished us well on our journey. They asked if they could pray for us. We agreed and were very moved by this. They gave us big hugs as we parted.
The riders on the second leg of the day would not only face headwinds but also rain and hail. It was a challenging day for all. For me it was not only physically challenging but also emotionally.
I rode a total of 70 miles for the day but it felt like 170!
Our day would end in Cuba, New Mexico. It was an interesting twist since my family left Diyarbekir in 1923 and went to Havana, Cuba where my mom was born and lived until 1944.