Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 24th-Columbus, NM to El Paso, TX

So today was a victory lap of sorts. The road was paved, the weather was cool, and the wind was at our backs.

We rolled out of Columbus about 10 am and made the 70 mile ride to El Paso by 4pm.

Then we stopped at DQ for a celebratory burger.

Hitting El Paso right at rush hour was getting pretty crazy, so we stopped at a gas station to see if we could find a map and list of campgrounds, hopefully close to the airport.

After striking out on the phone book and map, I called my dad who googled up a list of campgrounds and state parks in the area. We called about 10 of them to no avail. Most were just RV parks only and didn't allow tent camping.

So we were running out of ideas when guy at the ATM machine beside us (Tony) overheard our conversation and offered to let us stay in his back pasture which was just down the road.

Turns out his back pasture was actually a lovely Casita on the back of his property. He and his wife Julie made us chicken curry and even happened to be going to the airport the next morning, so I was able to hitch a ride with them.

Oh and check out the photo of their family Christmas Card from last year.

So that's the final chapter of this adventure. The amazing scenery, I expected, but the amazing hospitality I experienced along the way made the trip.

Until the next adventure.

Thanks to everyone for their support.

Also, I plan to use this blog for my trip to Peru and Argentina in January, so you may want to keep the bookmark.

October 23rd-Deming, NM to Palomas, Mexico

Well this is the big day. Our official route finish.

We broke camp and headed to the library to finalize arrangements for my rental car and Daniels flight from El Paso.

Then we grabbed lunch at KFC and started the leisurely 35 mile paved ride south to Columbus, NM which sits 3 miles north of the Mexico Border and Palomas Mexico. It also has a state park with campgrounds, so once we got into town, we setup camp, took a picture in front of the tank at Poncho Villa state park, and rolled south toward the border.

I was hoping to make it across with my driver's license and a photocopy of my birth certificate since my passport is being renewed right now.

Once we hit the border we rode across and the border agents didn't even ask to see ID. Guess I should be more concerned with how I'm getting back in.

We snapped a quick picture and then at the urging of the border patrol, rode back into the US and locked our bikes up on the US side of the border. Then we walked back into Mexico to hit the Pink House, a local Mexican food joint.

The owners of the Pink House were very gracious and excited to hear that we had finished the route. We had 3 negro modelo's each which were all paid for by either the owner of the restaurant or other customers excited to toast our finish.

Shortly before dark, we said goodbye to Mexico and rode back to our campsite where we at icecream and recounted our adventure.

October 22nd-Silver City to Deming

Woke up this morning at Jamie's. Had a great cup of coffee from his french press. Local beans as well I think.

Then we met up with Pokey and Erica to hit the Badass Bakery in town for some grub and coffee.

Pokey is a French guy who has been hiking around the region for a bit and has settled into Silver City for a bit.

Erica is an Art student at the local University who likes to hang out with smelly hikers and bikers.

After breakfast we hit the bike shop one more time. Which was good because I had another flat and then Daniel broke a spoke with lead us to find out that he had 9 damaged spokes on the rear wheel.

So a quickie wheel rebuild compliments of Gila and we were out the door about 1pm.

A little later than planned for our 50 mile ride to Deming, but fortunately, it was paved and the wind was at our backs.

So by 6 pm we had scored a campsite at a trailer park and were eating Taco Bell while watching Dog the Bounty Hunter in the Rec Room.

October 21st Part 2

So we stopped by Gila bikes in Silver City today to pick up some tubes and other nick nacks. I grabbed a 4L dromedary bag since water has been pretty scarce in NM and all my other water carriers have ruptured from all the bouncing around in the panniers.

We grabbed some coffee and were just about to hit the grocery store and setup at the campsite when Daniel struck up a conversation with a fellow cyclist at the post office.

He gave us a phone number of a local biker (Jamie) who he said would probably put us up for the night. So we gave him a call and sure enough, 30 minutes later we were drinking beer and grabbing supplies for the enchilada dinner that was soon to come.

We stayed up late (11 pm) drinking and generally talking about bikes and travel.

I crashed on the futon and Daniel threw his air mattress and sleeping bag on the floor in the living room.

It also turns out that Jamie is a teacher at the local university and teaches a life skills type program that has a financial component as well as some general counseling. So hopefully I can plagiarize some of it for a similar presentation I'm working on for graduating high school seniors.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 21st-Mimbres to Silver City

Got up. Grabbed the package at the post office. Ate breakfast at the store (3 cups of coffee, 3 packs of mini donuts, 2 chocolate chip cookies, 2 oatmeat raisin cookies). Mmmmm.

We rode the 20 miles to Silver City. Looking forward to an easy day of resupply, internet check, and bike tuneup getting ready for the final push.

The new schedule is as follows.

Wednesday-Ride 40 miles south and camp in Gila National Forest just north of Separ.
Thursday-80 miles to Columbus, NM. Border town. Official finish.
Friday-70 miles to El Paso.

See ya'll soon

October 20th-Dead Elk to Mimbres

OK. I lost a day somewhere. Sorry about that.

But I know what we did yesterday. We rode up, down, and up again. Went through numerous valleys and climbed back to the top of the plateau. It was a very scenic ride. I thought we were done with trees, but we got a couple more days.

We also stopped at this windmill and swiped some water out of the tank. Daniel has a sweet water filtration system which is coming in very handy as water is getting scarce.

We rolled into Mimbres about 6pm to find that the store and the post office closed at 5pm. So rather than ride back into the forest, we hid behind some brush at the Mason's hall right across the street from the post office and store. Looking forward to their 8am open.

October 18th-Pie Town to dead Elk 30 miles away

After eating awesome breakfast burritos and waiting for the Pie-O-Neer cafe to open up at 11am (I had blueberry a la mode and a slice of chocolate), Daniel and I rode south out of Pie Town toward a campsite that reportedly has springwater.

About 5pm we found the spring and made camp with some Elk Hunters who were in the process of gutting an Elk. They gave us beer and some backstrap which we cooked and at that evening.

October 17th-Limping into Pie Town

So I woke up at 5 am and put my hand outside the tent to see if the tires still had air in them....Flat as a pancake.

So I found one more leak. Added one more patch. Aired them both up, and started riding to see how far I could go before they went flat again.

I made it about 30 minutes. So I started a routine that every half hour I would stop, pump the tires, and eat, drink, put on sunscreen, etc.

By just after noon I hit Pie Town looking for Pie and a patch kit.

I also passed some CDT hikers (continental divide trail) about 5 miles outside Pie Town. I suggested that we hang out once the got there.

I hit Pie Town and other than two cafe's (both claiming to have the best pie in town) there was no store or patch kits. So it was looking pretty gloomy until I met Nita and Andrew. Who turned out to be my personal Saviours.

Nita had a house in town for CDT hikers and GDR bikers. She told me to grab a bed, shower, laundry, etc. And that there was ice cream and frozen shwanns meals in the freezer. Sweeeet.

Andrew had been in town for 3 days waiting on a new bike wheel and a mail package. It just turned out that she and Nita were headed to the nearest big town (80 miles) and the town had a bike shop.

So I gave Andrew $25 for 4 new tubes and a new patch kit. I went over to Nita's a.k.a. "The Toaster House" to clean up, grub down, and jam out to beatles tunes.

Numerous pics. But this place rocks.

October 16th-Grants, NM to almost Pie Town

Well I rolled out of town today feeling pretty cocky. My legs felt good. I'd updated my blog and by the afternoon, it was looking as though I might make Pie Town by dark. A solid 100 mile performance.

But my plans were thwarted around 2pm. I was flying across the Mesa with the wind at my back zipping right to left across the road to pick the smoothest line and avoid any sharp rocks as this entire area is built up on lava rock.

About then I noticed that my rear tire was low so I pulled over. What I discoverd was that the rear tire had no less than 20 thorns in it. When I pulled out the first one I heard a disconcerting hiss. So I spent the next 30 minutes pulling thorns out with my pliers and replacing the tube with the spare.

Then just as I was about to ride off, I thought.."Hmmmm, what are the odds of getting 20 thorns in your rear tire and none in your front tire?" Answer....zero.

So now I notice that my other spare has a tear in it. So I patch up the large holes in the front tire and spend the next 10 miles limping to the campsite. Ride 15 minutes, pump 2. And repeat.

By dark I found a campsite and spent the night putting patches on the various holes. Trying to piece together 2 tubes that might get me the last 30 miles to Pie Town where I hoped to find a patch kit to get more tubes.

I pumped up my tires and set them outside my tent. Telling myself that I should't get my hopes up.

See picture attached of road with thorns in the center. Looked like dead grass to me too.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16th-Grants, NM to ?

I'm heading out this morning and hope to make it at least halfway to pie town by the end of the day. Pie Town, NM supposedly has two pie baking stores which compete for the title of best pie in town. So I guess I'll have to try both.

My plan for the final leg of the ride is as follows:

Pie Town: Arrive Friday
Mimbres: Arrive Monday
Las Cruces: Arrive Wednesday
El Paso: Arrive Thursday

Home stretch.

October 15th-National Forest to Grants, NM

Headed out early today to make the 72 miles to Grants, NM. Today is my last big climb of the trip (2500') and my last day at over 9000'.

Gorgeous views of the deserts all morning. Almost grabbed some water out of a cattle trough because it looked pretty clean, but decided to make what I have last. I've started carrying alot more water now that I'm in the desert and what water there is is a bit suspect.

About 2pm I began the climb over the large Mesa between me and Grants. On the way up I left the scrub brush of the desert and re-entered the pine and aspen trees for what is probably the last time on this trip.

As soon as I hit the pine trees I started seeing cars parked in strange places on the side of the road at campsites, etc.

Then I realized that they were locals picking pinon. Which I learned is Cuba is the pine nut which is pretty scarce this year and is sold and bought by just about every grocery store and curbside merchant in this area. Signs everywhere read "we buy pinon".

I crested the summit a little after 3pm and enjoyed the 20 mile decent (mostly) into Grants. Dropping from 9000' to 6500' in Grants, NM.

I managed to find an RV park that allowed campers. I slept within 100' of I-40 and was lulled to sleep by the sounds of passing semis.

October 14th Cuba, NM to the top of a mesa somewhere

While the weather looked pretty awful, weather.com insisted that no measurable precipitation was being registered anywhere west of I-25. And also that the chances of rain were dropping from 30% to 10% over the next 6 hours (2pm to 8pm).

So I rolled out into 35 degree weather with light winds and an occasional spritz of ice/sleet stuff.

Sure enough. After about 2 hours of riding, the clouds started to clear to the south and I started descending into some of the most barren and open scenery since Wyoming.

I thought Wyoming and New Mexico would be my least favorite part of the ride due to the empty landscape, but it has actually been some of my favorite give the long views.

About 6pm I found a great camping spot on top of a mesa with a great view of the surrounding desert and a good spot for early morning sunshine.

Unfortunately, no pics today. The library in Grants has disabled all external drives and ports due to numerous virus infections.

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13th-Cuba, NM

Holy crap it's cold. I know I start many of my posts this way, and I've made a decision. I will stop doing this.....As soon as it stops being so freaking cold in the morning.

I slept all night in my 15 degree bag with the mummy hood zipped over my head. I slept warm enough. But breaking camp is the tough part.

I've started bringing my water bladder into the tent with me at night so I don't have to boil water starting from a block of ice. Guess what. Last night the water inside my tent froze solid. That's cold. O.k. Sorry, beating a dead horse.

So I decended from 9000' down into Cuba at about 7000'. Brrr. Sorry.

I found what is a suprisingly well equipped town considering the population is only 850. And also......laundromat...cha-ching.

So the plan was to do my laundry, grab my mail drop, quick blog update and get moving toward Grants, NM. But guess what? Anyone? Correct, Columbus Day. No post office.

So I'm faced with 3 options.

1. Forget the package and grocery shop. Nah.
2. Ride 10 miles back up the hill to the National Forest and Camp for another night. Nope.
3. Get a hotel room and catch up on the status of my 401k. Aaaaaaaaaaaaa. My eyes!!!

I picked 3. So I'm getting comfy for the afternoon. Think I'll have an iced coffee and whisky tonight and watch the Tele.

Oh. McCain's bus is here as well. Pic included.


October 12th, Carson, NF to Almost Cuba, NM

Awoke this morning early with the signs of some clearing in the weather. Plus some Elk hunter fired off his rifle at 6 am. Don't they have quiet hours in the National Forest?

That reminds me, saw my second Elk today. The same way I saw the first. Jumped out of the woods and ran across the road in front of me. This one even closer. Maybe 30 yards in front of me.

Had my last 10,000' summit today. Actually had about 4 of them because I rode on top of a plateau that ran between 9800-10,200'.

In the afternoon, the clouds cleared and the cold front blew in. But my legs felt good, so it was a very nice day.

After decending to about 9000' and getting within 10 miles of Cuba, I decide to make camp and hit Cuba to pickup my mail packages in the morning. No camping in Cuba, so I figured, no need to get to town till morning.

I made a quick dehydrated dinner and prayed that there's a laundromat in Cuba. It's been a week since I've seen a laundromat. I'm starting to offend.

October 11th-El Rito, NM to just inside the Carson National Forest

So after El Rito, I rode up to the Abiqui resevoir and grabbed a campsite. Nice place run by the Corps of Engineers. Only $5 with shower. Felt like I should give them more given their required investment in New Orleans.

Anyway, the camp hosts were super cool. They gave me a mountain dew and let me borrow their needle nosed pliers which I used to fix the zipper on my tent. If anyone cares, you can fix a broken zipper by pinching down on the back side of the zipper closure. Or throw it away and buy a new one. Earth Killer. But I digress.

I also stopped by the convenience store to juice up my gorp, which is already heavily centered around sugared and dried fruit, with a bit of candy (cherry sours and gumdrops).

In the morning, the clouds were looking ominous. So I phoned dad for a quick check of satellite weather which confirmed that the chances of thunderstorms were "only" 40%. Which my dad pointed out means that there's a 60% chance you won't see anything.

Hmmm. Makes sense I guess. Plus I'm ready to ride. So I rolled out.

Before I get into the details of how soaked I got about 8 miles down the road, I have a question. Since you can look at the hour by hour weather and determine that from say 10-11 am there is a 20% chance of rain, shouldn't 5 hours of 20% rain chance constitute a 100% chance of rain at some point during that window? Would someone that I copied off of in Stats class at SMU chime in?

Anyway, I got soaked. To the bone. And I also discovered that the soil in NM becomes immediately unrideable in a deluge. So I was pretty much caught out in the middle of a plain, only 1 mile from the national forest, with a bike I couldn't ride (or push for that matter). So I waited for a break in the rain. Drug my bike under a tree just into the National forest. And quickly set up camp while the rain had stopped.

Fortunate, because it pretty much rained and thundered for the rest of the night.

Oh wait. I also bought a strawberry cupcake from this little girl before riding out of town.

Friday, October 10, 2008

October 10th-Hopewell Lake to El Rito, NM

Started out the day at 9900'. The only pass of the day was at 10,200' and only a mile and a half from the campsite. So after a quick warm up climb, most of the rest of the day was spent on flats or descents through the aspens. Also saw my first elk today. Jumped across the road about 50 yards ahead of me.

Also, the squirrels here are grey and have tails that are bigger than the rest of their bodies. Sorry about the lack of wildlife pics, but they move pretty quick.

I hit El Rito and had a great mexican food lunch and am now sitting at the library. Updating the blog. Charging up the phone and mp3 player, and ripping audiobooks down to listen to later. Right now I'm ripping "The Omnivore's Delemma" and "God is not great"

Plan to roll out of here in the next hour so I can make the campground at Abiqui resevoir by nightfall.

Should be able to post up again on Monday in Cuba.

Till Then.....

October 9th-NM Border to Hopewell Lake, NM

Shortly after summitting my first pass about 11 a.m., I was treated with a fantastic view of the valley below. Just as I hit the ridge I heard my phone beeping as 2 days of text messages came through. Middle of nowhere, but there's a cell phone tower around here somewhere.

So a couple miles down the ridge I ran into a group of hunters on one of those juiced up golf carts trying to get cell reception. They were staying at a hunting camp down in the valley and were told that they could get a cell signal if they rode up to the ridge.

So I talked to them for awhile and found out they were from San Antonio. They also offered my food and water, which I gladly took. Including some m&m's, granola bars, and some great pork sausage. Mmmmmmmm.

Then I descended down to the highway and then a short climb up to Hopewell Lake campground. I decided to stay a couple of miles down from the campsite, mainly because it was free down the road and the Hopewell campsite had turned off the water, so I had to grab water from a nearby creek and purify it.

October 8th-Platoro to CO/NM border

Stopped in Platoro to grab a gallon of water at the lodge/store. The maps have reported that all water (ground and tap) in Platoro is unsafe to drink. So fortunately they had gallons of filtered water for sale. I also grabbed some donuts.

Headed down the road to Horca. Which was also a town with nothing more than a Mexican food restaurant/store. So I grabbed some chicken enchiladas and cookies and headed up the pass.

After descending down toward the the NM border, I crossed a set of narrow guage railroad tracks. Turns out the narrow width was used in the mountainous regions during the gold rush since the narrow tracks allow for a tighter railbed and tighter turns through canyons. They were also more prone to derailment. There's your history lesson for the day.

So just after crossing into NM. I found a nice place to camp under a large tree, and hopefully in a spot that would catch some early morning sunshine. My new #1 criteria for campsite selection as it is freaking cold at 10,000' until you can get some sunshine.

I've attached some photos of the ice on my bike and campsite in the early morning.

October 7th-Del Norte Colorado to Stunner Camground-Platoro, CO

Headed out early with visions of making the biggest climb of the trip (4000' of vertical with a 11,900' summit) my bitch.

So about 1000' from the summit I see a very disconcerting sign indicating that the road I'm on is closed for the next month. Hmmmmm. Checked my map and no clear detour option was available.

So I kept climbing, hoping that I could guilt someone into letting me through given the impressiveness of my effort. But about 500' from the summit a couple of dirt bikers were coming back down the mountain (they'd passed me going up earlier in the morning). So I flagged them down to get the scoop.

So what I found out was this: They were a couple from Toronto riding dirt bikes on the same route I was on. They also informed me that a reroute was posted to the internet a couple of weeks ago. Does me alot of good when I've been riding for 6 weeks now.

So fortunately, the gave me the details of the reroute which only added like 15 miles and 1000' of climbing. Right before the summit of blowout pass (11,800'), the road split without any markers. As I stopped for a moment to determine the best route, I looked down and saw the note which I've attached to this post.

Shortly after the summit, another note awaited me. Those Canadians are pretty good folks.

So after an ugly descent I rolled into Stunner campground exhausted about 5pm. I fell asleep at 8 pm and slept soundly until 6:30.

October 6th-Sargents, CO to Del Norte, CO

Well, the snow never materialized, but yesterday's rest day was welcome nonetheless. Left early this morning very eager to put in some miles. After turning off the highway around mile 15, I was greeted with a nice tail wind which helped push me over the first pass by 1:00. So I pressed on and cleared the second pass by 4:00.

This put me at about 80 miles for the day, but the weather was terrific and with 35 miles to Del Norte, I figured with a 2000' drop and a tail wind, I could make it by 6:30.

So I rode into Del Norte as the sun set. Asked the local police if I could pitch my tent in the city park. They said "no problem". But then added "just for one night, o.k.?"

Translation: We'd rather know where you're going to be and could you please leave tomorrow.

So I hit the local gas station to put hot water in my instant dehydrated meal, which saves camp fuel and avoids violating any rules about fires in the park. And to be a good citizen I purchased a Starbucks iced coffee to mix with my whiskey later that night.

Spent the night listening to all the dogs in town bark at each other.

Oh, and the picture of the dehyrated food is one of my new concoctions. Add 1 bag of rice and chicken to one bag of eggs and bacon, dash with some "slap-ya-mamma" cajun spice (shipped from home) and you get something that tastes like pad-thai.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October 5th-Sargents Colorado to Nowhere?

That's right. My first full day of rest.

I rode into Sargents yesterday afternoon and the weather was looking pretty ominous. The forecast was for 6-12" of snow over the next 36 hours.

So I decided to see about camping here in Sargents through the weekend and wait out the weather.

So the campsite operator informed me that campsites were $20, but for $25 I could have a Teepee with a gas fire pit. Hmmmmmmmm. Sold.

So I've been reading and catching up on some audiobooks. No snow yet, but I have another pass to climb tomorrow, so I figure I should wait for some sunshine to clear the route before pressing on. Plus they have 75 cent tacos during the broncos game today. What would you do?

October 4th-Salida to Sargents

After my blog update last night I rode down to the only campsite in town to find it was closed. Or at least there was a closed sign on the gate, which was unlocked. A couple of RVs were still inside, so I setup camp and figured I'd ask for forgiveness if I broke some rule.

Anyway, no one came to rush me off so I stayed the night.

Also, there was a Walmart and Sonic close, so after eating a sonic burger with jalapenos and tots with chili and cheese, I walked across to Walmart and bought a box of 10 chocolate chip pecan cookies and managed to eat all of them before I fell asleep. I should write a diet book.

1. Ride 80 miles
2. Eat

Got up in the morning and rode to Sargents. Had about a 3000' climb and about 1000' in another mountain biker pulled up beside me. He was driving from Portland, Oregon to Maine and riding/hiking along the way.

He asked about my sabbatical, so I told him about the ride, New York, Peru, yada yada.

He listened quietly and then told me about his plans to fly to the far corner of Australia and then walk to the other side of the continent. Not my idea of fun. But not bad, sir.