Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Biking from Las Cruces, NM to Alamogordo, NM March 29

68.18 miles in 5:04....I left the Walmart parking lot, and the first 12 miles included an elevation gain of about 1500 ft, through Augustin Pass, over the Organ Mountains. Today's entire route was on US70, which is a great road with huge, clean shoulders, even though the first 5-6 miles were on the Bataan Memorial Highway, a road that parallels US 70, and is a business access road. The climb over the pass was made easier by the brand new asphalt they had just put down, but it was made more difficult by the wind out of the southeast, which just didn't help the speed of the climb, as I was headed pretty much east northeast. I saw two or three other bikers, so the summit is a popular training ride in LasCruces ( which I was surprised to learn has over 100, 000 people). As I summited the pass, the Tularosa Basin opened up before my eyes, home of the White Sands Missile Range, and I believe, the Trinity Site, where the first A bomb was set off before we used the weapon on Japan. The Trinity Site is only open to the public two days of the year, but the missile range is pretty active, because they close US 70 down a couple times a month for testing.
The trip across the floor of the basin was very flat and windless, AFTER I dropped 1700 ft in nine miles at a pretty high rate of speed. Two things happened while I was putting in the 40 miles across the basin. One, at some point I came to a dune of pure, white sand, out in the middle of the salt cedar trees and other scrub ground cover. This was just a preview to the White Sands National Monument, which we are going to see tomorrow. There was one dune that ran along the road for about a half mile, that could have been on the Outer Banks, in the middle of a total different looking desert landscape. The other interesting thing that happened, was Carl Dobinski, from Coatesville, Pennsylvania. As I was riding along, thirty miles from the nearest town, I came upon a guy who was walking across the country, pushing a stroller type cart. We talked for about a half an hour. It turns out that he started walking in Philadelphia and made it to Abilene, Texas, before snow and below freezing headwinds caused him to get a ride to San Diego to get to warmer weather. Right now, he is walking from San Diego to Abilene to complete his cross country journey, before going home. 
Right after talking to Carl, I stopped at the White Sands National Monument Visitors Center to get a feel for what we might see, then it was off to Alamogordo, which I could see from about 13 miles away, because it was uphill from where I was to the town, at the base of the Sacramento Mountains. The town has about 30,000 people, and it was long and narrow, but not because it's in a river valley like a lot of towns I've been seeing, but because it's up against a mountain range. There are no rivers in the Tularosa Basin. It's called a basin because its like a 'cereal bowl, surrounded by mountains, and the water has no place to go. It sinks in the ground, and bubbles up every once in a while, and that has something to do with the gypsum sand dunes in the National Monument.


Cowboy history

Tumbleweed stuck in power lines

The climb out of Las Cruces ended here!

Entering the Tularosa Basin

Also entering the White Sands Missile Range

Beautiful mountain scenery

Debris has fallen on US 70 during missile tests, so they shut down the highway during tests

Carl in the middle of nowhere!

Carl and his cart

First sighting of gypsum sand (AKA white sands).  They use gypsum to make plaster board and drywall.


Dried up lake beds in the basin


Would you buy a car off of this guy???!

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