Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bicycling from Alamogordo, NM to Ruidoso Downs, NM March 31

45.95 miles in 3:50.....just in case you're interested...... I rode my 13,733.82 mile today since we left on this adventure in October of 2012. Today, amidst wind and fire warnings that are up for the whole week in New Mexico, I set off with mild breezes that picked up as the day went on. By the end of the day, Weatherbug said I had been smacked by 35 mph gusts, but it was at my back ALL day. My back actually got cold from the wind as I got to the higher elevations!
The trip started with a 8 mile ride headed north to the old and very west looking town of Tularosa, where US70 turned east, towards the Sacramento Mountains. The climb started very gradually, and then, even though it got steeper, it was a very gradual 3-5% grade...... for 23 miles! Mt. Lemmon was the longest non stop climb in Arizona, and I went uphill for 20 miles there, but I climbed over 5000 ft. Today's ride may well be the longest nonstop climb in New Mexico, (even though I doubt it), but I only climbed 3250 ft. And with a tailwind, it just wasn't that bad, and I didn't push as hard as I could have either. I just enjoyed the ride. As I climbed, I could look back into the valley, and see the very white area of sand that we visited yesterday. It was a unique view. Eventually I entered the Mescalero Apache Reservation. There was some interesting art work on the concrete walls along US70, and the Rez seemed to be pretty clean and modern compared to some that I have ridden through. I was only chased by two dogs, which is a concern on every Rez that I have been through. One dog made it across four lanes, but didn't have much interest in running uphill, and the second, younger dog was bringing it, when he slammed on the brakes because a red car going downhill was going to plant it. Smart dog, but he's going to have burn marks on his foot pads from stopping so quickly. Even if he would have gotten close, I keep my bear spray in a holster on my handlebars now, and I would have hosed him down. I have not had to defend myself against a dog on this entire trip. But there were some I wasn't sure about, until they pulled up at the last second. I've been very lucky, but I didn't start carrying bear spray full time, until after I left San Diego. 
I was on Apache property until I went over the summit, and as the descent began, I came to the first of three casinos that fuel the Indian economy. They also have a ski resort, called Ski Apache, which supposedly still has snow. I did see some snow on the 12000 ft Sierra Blanca as I went over the summit, and that was enough for me. The descent lasted for twelve miles of the same grade I went up, and it continued right through the towns of Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs. I was cruising through town at 35 mph at one point. Three or four miles east of Ruidoso Downs, I came to the Circle B campground where Pam had set up. This area is a huge tourist area, with the skiing in the winter, and the cooler mountain temperatures in the summer. It also seems to be a cultural center, with lots of art and museums, and it is not that far from Albuquerque, which is a big town. If you have heard of Ruidoso Downs, like I have, you know it is a quarter horse race track which hosts the 2.5 million dollar All American Futurity Horse Race on Labor Day, the richest quarter horse race in the USA. I went right past the track, but didn't even take a picture, because it didn't amount to very much. There weren't a whole lot of grandstands, and the little casino that was there was very small. It wasn't near as big as Wheeling Downs and Casino. Billy the Kid is also a big draw around here, as this was his main stomping grounds, and he is buried nearby. Billy killed 21 men, and died when he was 21 yrs old. They had a three year incident called the Lincoln War, which I hadn't heard of. It was between two factions battling for economic control. A whole bunch of people died, but Billy was the only one to be convicted of anything, but he escaped from jail, and they never did hang him. A sheriff named Pat Garrett shot him when he was allegedly unarmed at the home of his girlfriend, even though there are some different versions of the story. Pam and I went to the Billy the Kid Visitor Center in town, and read the whole story, which was hanging on the wall of the center.



Is this a storm chaser or ghost busters car???

Giant pistachio on one of the areas pistachio farms.

Climbing to Apache pass - the white stripe is the gypsum dunes

There is a huge cross up at the top, but it's not Mount Sinai!

US 70 - gradual climb for 20+ miles

Still climbing - note the elk sign


Artwork on the Apache Reservation






The black and orange symbol was on everything

The pines started at above 5000 feet - it's been a long time since we've seen them!


Would you trust her to do yours???  Ha Ha!

Nearing the summit....

Made it!!

Looking over at snow on Sierra Bianca - 12,000 ft

As close as we want to get to snow


We passed the Billy the Kid casino

At the visitors center they had all of the following, beautiful horse sculptures





The visitors center had all sorts of information about Billy the Kid


Smokey the Bear and Bambi!  Actually Smokey was a real bear cub found near Ruidoso Downs area.

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