Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Monday, May 21, 2018

May 21, 2018 Lake Caballo, NM to Socorro, NM

87.33 miles..... TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES..... More about that later....I rolled out of our little $20 campground at 8 a.m. sharp, headed north towards Truth or Consequences, NM, on NM 187. It hasn't changed since last time I rolled through here, plenty of rolling hills. It took me about 16 miles to get through town, with beautiful weather, and a gentle tailwind. I grabbed a quick breakfast at McDonald's on the north end of town, and jumped on NM 181, which would take me about another eleven miles, past the airport, on a nice, traffic free road with more of the same rolling hills. Nice riding, actually.
TRUTH: I was concerned about this ride, because I rode as far as I have on any given day in two years, yesterday, and I was going to have to go farther today. The tailwind, and the 'cool' weather, in the 80"s, was really sweet, and my legs felt pretty good. I'm starting to get my confidence back, but today will tell me alot. Just north of the airport, I got on to interstate 25, because a bridge has been out on NM 181, since the last time I was here. It's never gonna be fixed, so I 25 it is. I got on at mile marker 89, where it is legal for bikes to enter . Besides the normal interstate fare, there are some major hills on this stretch, dipping down into the huge washes headed for the Rio Grande, and climbing back out the other side. Traffic is pretty sparse, compared to I 10. Constants for the trip, are the Rio Grande meandering down in the valley to my east, and huge mountains to the west, which for the second time in two trips, harbored some great thunderstorms that I could watch, way off in the distance. There is little to no civilization on this stretch, so Pam waited for me in a rest area at the 114 mile marker, 50 miles into the ride, so I could get some lunch. That rest area, and a small truck stop off the exit, are the only signs of human habitation, all the way to Socorro, which is why I knew that this was going to be a long one.
CONSEQUENCES:  Everything was going fine, up until this point, and even for another 15 miles or so. There were endless stretches of road, where I could see to the horizon, and there were long, gradual climbs and decents, and I was doing fine, with expected fatigue starting to set in. With 18 miles left to Socorro, I climbed to over 5000 ft, and suddenly the tailwind was gone. The sun, which had been peeking in and out of the cloudy skies, was gone. I had caught up to the storm which I had been watching all day. The wind switched to a headwind, the temps started to drop from 88 degrees. They would eventually reach 60.  I was in and out of rain for the last two hours of riding. It actually wasn't bad, being cool, and wet for the first time in years, it seemed. The final stretch into town was becoming drudgery, because I was over 80 miles riding, and I had climbed nearly 3000 ft. Easy back in the day, but I'm just trying to round into shape for this adventure. Pam got into town ahead of me, of course, and she got to see rivers of water running down the streets, as she just missed a deluge. I never got too wet, just wet enough to remember to pack a jacket next time rain is in the forecast. This is something I have forgotten about, practically.
To end the day, we Jeeped into town and had a couple of nice steak salads and microbrews. Two beers just about did me in after today's mileage. As we rode into town, I remembered being here before, and where I stayed, as well as other landmarks. US 60 comes out of the mountains here, which was another option (although much more mountainous), because it runs through Mesa, to this point, and Eastward.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018 Deming, NM to Lake Caballo, NM

74.75 miles.  The wind has been my friend since I got on I  10, but today it was a fickle mistress, just like my last trip through here. I started the day by hitting the McDonald's in Deming for breakfast, and in the two miles it took me to get there, I knew things were gonna just suck today. The wind did a 180, and was blowing out of the east, just the way I was headed. I felt like I was on a stationary bike, pedaling my ass off, but going nowhere. And it wasn't a gentle, morning, breeze....it was BLOWING. I  jumped off I 10, today, onto New Mexico 26, and headed in a general northeasterly fashion, beginning the northern track towards Albuquerque. The first hour on 26 was due east, and I think I made it about six miles! 26 is a beautiful road, nice shoulder, but it is more desolate than anywhere on I 10. I had a 50 mile ride ahead of me to Hatch, which is the chili pepper capital of the world. Fortunately, after those initial six miles, the road started bending ever so slightly to the north, and the wind got just a little South to it, and things weren't as terrible as I thought they might be. It was still pretty flat and desolate, until I went over a small pass, and into some beautiful agriculture, and cattle country.  Before that I passed a wind farm, with 28 turbines ( imagine that), and noticed how dusty the air was. No haboob, mind you, but there were plenty of coarse particulates in the air. Pam passed me about half way to Hatch, but didn't stop until we had discussed....in Hatch. By the time I rolled into town, after five hours, averaging 10 mph, she had been there fore a while. The place I wanted to eat, Sparky's, had a line way out the door, so we decided not to wait it out. It was Sunday afternoon, and all the joy riders were out from Albuquerque, I guess. I had a sandwich in the Rv, emptied the ice trays into my warm drinks, and was on my way in a half hour or so. And no, we didn't by any chili peppers.
Pam went one direction, and caught I 25 north to our campground, and I went another, on NM187,  for my last 25 miles, with a well deserved tailwind. The air was hot, and the WeatherBug said the humidity may have been as low as 3%. I don't think I've ever been in that ' feel', before. My ride took me through the fertile Rio Grande Valley, where I saw the chilies growing, ( they look like onions), as well as cotton, corn, alfalfa, possibly wheat, and lots of fallow fields. I crossed the Rio Grande twice, and actually saw water in a river for the first time since Tucson. I also saw two dust devil's that had tumbleweed and debris up 30-40 ft in the air. Neither one of them got me this time. I say that because this is where I got rocked by one last time I  came through. I got to our site at about 4:30. It overlooks Lake Caballo, which is a man made lake on the Rio Grande. Tomorrow's adventure has some unknowns that we have yet to figure out, so I'm not even gonna talk about it.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May19, 2018 Lordsburg NM to Deming NM

60.73 miles.  I've done this trip four times now. Once east to west (that was crazy), and this is the third time west to east. I always thought that it was a desolate piece of travel, but it really isn't. Their is a rest area 20 miles into the ride (all done on I 10, just like every mile since Tucson), I had lunch 37 miles into the ride at a Dairy Queen (with my bride) at Butterfield Station ( a tourist trap, rest area type of place), five miles down the road their was another truck stop (Petro), and a few miles after that I was in Deming. Even though I climbed over the Continental divide today ( and there was a mild  20 mile ascent,) it was barely noticeable. The wind was my friend, and I was going 20 mph at times. The shoulder was excellent except for a few spots near the towns on each end of the ride. There was a constant accompanyment of trains....I think I counted over ten, including one Amtrak. I counted 143 cars on one train, which breaks my record of 124  cars set a few days ago. I don't count cars in every passing train, but the temptation is always there. I 10 and the tracks have pretty much been parallel since Tucson.  There was always something to look at, unlike the way I felt in my previous posts about this ride, when I was just a plebe. Now I have the perspective of a grizzled veteran, but enough about that.
I am looking forward to getting off the interstate, and doing some other roads, but I may be sorry I said that, when I lose my tailwind, my slipstreams, my wide shoulders, and pick up hills, dogs, narrow curves, local drivers who don't know what I am, rough roads,  and all he other stuff that makes this an adventure. I'll get back to ya on that.

Friday, May 18, 2018

May 18, 2018 Bowie, AZ to Lordsburg, New Mexico

53.34 miles.... Riding the interstate is supposed to be boring, today's ride was very sterile....no excitement, no surprises, nice tailwind, no major climbs, even though I did go over a decent pass. More than half my ride was on the Arizona side of the pass, and I had not known of the tremendous agriculture along the San Pedro basin, which was to my right. Previous trips were earlier in April, when nothing was growing. There were mountains on both sides of me, even though I was riding a valley, except for the passes. The area seems to be known for pecans and pistachios, but I also saw some grape vines. There were dust storm warning signs on the Arizona side, but there would be no dust in the air today. It was beautiful, starting out in the 60's and topping out in the 80's, with a tame 10 mph tailwind. There was no place to stop for food or water, even though there was a nice rest area before leaving Arizona. The town of San Simon, which I remember as nothing more than a ghost town, had a Loves truck stop with a Subway, which may not have been there before, according to my previous blogs of the area.
Once over the pass, descending into New Mexico, is where the serious dust storm capabilities really amped up. The ground was as flat as flat could be, and nothing existed besides dried up prairie grass and dirt. There were actually a few cows out there, somehow surviving. I think they  really need to know that there are better places in the world to be a cow, and they were really being "bull"ied. Nevermind, it wasn't funny.
Once again, Pam stopped  along the side of the road to feed me lunch when I was getting pretty hungry, about 13 miles from our destination. She pulled over onto a wide, specially paved area where  vehicles could pull  way off the road during dust storms. Many pictures exist in previous posts of mine through the area, so I didn't do many pictures. We rolled into Lordsburg, after losing an hour from Pacific to Mountain time. We had to run an errand to the Family Dollar, because I was craving Chef Boy R Dee ravioli, our control box to our satellite dish died, and we needed to get cable so we could plug into the campground cable until we can replace it. After dealing with those priorities, we lounged at the pool, which had just opened, and the water was really really cold. I love being out of the Phoenix desert heat!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May17, 2018 Benson, AZ to Bowie, AZ

60 miles today.....got up at 5:30 a.m. to beat the heat, but I wasn't expecting 53 degree temps to greet me. I'm loving this 'high' desert stuff! It really didn't take long for the temps to heat up. I'm glad I got my 16 mile climb from the San Pedro River to the Texas Canyon rest area, on top of the Dragoon Mountains, at the beginning of the day. The entire trip today was on I -10, and the previously mentioned benefits of interstate biking held true today. I took my time on the climb.  Sometimes it was worse than others, but the climb never totally relented. Fortunately, it was followed by a 10 miles descent, which was also wind aided. A few more flat miles got me into Wilcox,  Arizona, where I stopped for lunch at a Burger King, before they were even done with the breakfast menu. I've gotta get used to this getting up early thing. After lunch, a nice half hour, break, I only had 22 miles to go to our next stop, which was the middle of nowhere town of Bowie. It was a flat, wind aided cruise into town, but my legs still are getting in shape, so they were a little beat up.
Pam and I spent our afternoon hiking and touring the Fort Bowie national monument. It is the remnants of an 1860's fort that was built in the mountains for the purpose of securing Apache Pass, and the Apache spring that provided much needed water for travelers. It's most famous for the Union soldiers battles and eventual victories over Cochise, and Geronimo, famous Apache warriors. There is a very interesting story behind it all, so our 'university of retirement' that we began in 2012, is still broadening our horizons. After a 1.5+ mile hike up the mountain to the fort, about a mile touring the perimeter, and a 1.5+ mile hike that entailed another mountain climb, I was pretty bushed. ( You've heard of walking uphill both ways to school? We actually did it today). The return trail took us up to a knoll above the Fort, then we switchbacked our way down to the wash we started out in, before the original climb to the Fort. Make sense? Oh well.
After a sandwich and a beer in a nice, local establishment in Bowie, I was once again under covers by 7:30, hoping for a nice, tailwind for tommorow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 16, 2018 Tucson to Benson, Arizona

43.73 miles....Now that was more like it!!!! I'm not losing it!!!! I got up at pre six a.m., and headed out the door while it was still relatively cool. It was in the sixties for a little bit, and it rose into the 90's by 9:30 am. I was 2/3 rds the the way to Benson, by then, instead of just starting out. My climb out of the Valley of the Sun continued into a third day, but I'm finally out of there. Ended the day in the 'high' desert. The Julian Wash trail led me out of Tucson, with it's gradual climb, about 60 ft a mile. After about ten miles, the trail ended, but I picked up Interstate 10 for the rest of the day. It was the perfect medicine. Even though I continued to climb to over 4200 ft, (from1300 ft in Mesa), I finally got into some rolling mountains after peaking the pass, and rolled about five miles down hill into the San Pedro River valley, and Benson. Riding on the interstate is so easy on the legs, because of the slipstream created by the 18 wheelers. I also had a tailwind, which I haven't experienced yet, on this trip.  The 8-10 ft shoulders were smooth and relatively clean of road Gators.( That's bike talk for steel belts from all the retread and tire blowouts) I love riding  on the interstate!, And there is more tommorow, because there are no other roads in this desolate area.
I beat Pam to the new campground, which was basically a field with water and electric. I sat there for about 15 minutes and Pam came rolling in about noon. If I was in shape, I would have gone on to the next town, but with this heat and the cramping issues, I am happy to get this far in good shape. We took the Jeep off the towbar and went to Karchner Cavern State Park. We toured the Cavern, which was 72 degrees and very humid, not exactly what you expect in a cave. It was an interesting tour, we learned a lot and saw beautiful formations, but weren't aloud to take pictures. We killed the afternoon doing that, hit a Denny's for supper, and I was under the covers before seven o'clock.

May 15, 2018 Hanging out in Tucson

11.0 miles.... Yes, you read it right! The last two days have ended so badly that I decided to take the day off, get this supplement out of my system, and start over the next day.  Pam took me back to the place eleven miles from the campground, and I finished my ride from yesterday, from the point of contact with the pavement to the KOA. I followed the Loop trail for the entire distance, including the beginning of the Julian Wash trail, sometimes riding in the concrete wash basin itself. I had an interesting conversation with a biker who was stopped with a flat tire. His name was Gerard, and he was a recumbent hand biker who had lost a leg. He was trying to put on a tire with a really tight bead, and had broken his tire lever. After breaking  two of mine, we realized it wasn't going to work, so he decided to call his wife. He was sitting in the middle of the trail, with the wheel off his bike, but there were no bike shops in the area, and I felt bad about leaving him stuck there. He did tell me that he was getting ready to ride from Anacortes, Washington, to Bar Harbor, Maine, which is the longest route that the adventure cyclist organization outs out maps for.( The Northern Tier route) He was going with three friends, and his wife was the SAG (support and gear) vehicle, like Pam is for me. ( But Pam is WAY more than that!!! Isn't she?) I gave him some advise, and some websites to look at, like Crazyguyonabike. We had a nice conversation, before I headed on my way.
I was relieved that I could ride eleven miles and not cramp up, but I did it. The rest of the day was spent lounging at the very nice pool, drinking a ton of fluid, and having dinner at the little BBQ restaurant at the KOA, and going to bed before 8 o'clock.