Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16...Deming, NM, to Truth or Consequences (Hot Springs), NM

89.22 miles in miles for the trip in five days....369.81.....2293 ft of climbing, 2283 ft of descent...average speed...11.8 mph...max speed...42.8 mph.
I woke to 44 degrees and a forecast of more high winds. When I walked outside, it felt warmer than 44, but the wind was cold. I got on the road at 8:40, because if the winds weren't in my favor, it was going to be a long, long, day. I have not really detailed a lot in my last couple of blog entries, because this is my third time in Deming, NM. It seems to be the crossroads of all routes south of the major mountains. Everything else is either way north, or impractical on a bicycle. That being said, I am heading on a much more northerly path than the previous two cross country ventures. This morning I headed northeast, on NM 26, which I was told was a nice road. Turns out it was a GREAT road. It had two lanes, not much traffic, and those wide, smooth shoulders that New Mexico seems to be so good at. Just out of Deming, there was lots of loose gravel on those smooth shoulders, and I actually spent a lot of time riding on the wrong side of the road, because the lane was nicer, and the shoulder was cleaner. I always got back to the right when there was traffic coming, which I could see with the LONG, straight sight distances. The road was basically a straight line for 48 miles, with a few hills to roll over, and fortunately, the big wind was at my back, and I made great time. It was a pretty boring ride, again, with lots of brown prairie grass, some sporadic bushes, and a few cows here and there. A blog I read stated that NM 26 was the kind of a road that had a hawk in every tree, trouble was, there was only one tree. How true. There was one good descent into a valley where there was lots of farmland, alfalfa mostly, and a dairy or two. Then after a long, gradual climb, I really dropped fast, into the Hatch Valley. I hit 42.8 mph without even pedaling. A weighted down bike can really get rolling with a tailwind and a smooth road.
Once in the town of Hatch, I found that it was the chili pepper capital of the world, and everything was very Mexican, and all the restaurants would have lit me up. There was one unique place I found that was American, so I had a cheeseburger and strawberry milkshake. Then the fun started, as I left Hatch, NM 187 took a northwest direction, and the tailwind that had been my friend, suddenly was a gusty side to head wind, and it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon, a time when the winds really start to rock for a few hours out here. I broke out the dust mask, and hunkered down for 39 miles at 6-8 mph, and and even harder time just trying to keep the bike on the road. I was in real farm country now, and the fields that were plowed for cotton, onions, and  chili peppers, we're not yet planted, so the dust was kicking. There were times when the dirt was stinging my skin like pellets, and tumbleweed was blowing like it only can when the winds break all the trapped tumbleweed that normally doesn't move. The bike got smacked several times by big chunks, because it is very difficult to predict speed of that stuff, because it changes very rapidly, and it was hard enough just keeping the bike on the road. There was only local traffic because NM 187 pretty much paralleled I -25, but there were no shoulders on the road at all. I would have stopped to take a picture of the Rio Grande River when I crossed it, but I was getting blown around, and I didn't want the dust to destroy the camera, like happened when we came across  Texas  on the way west the first time.
After about 15 miles of this, a miracle happened. The road took a few turns to the right, and the side buffeting suddenly got a tailwind element going. The road was pretty flat, and the farmland became a huge mountain range to my right, the Caballo Mountains. I had been following the Rio Grande since I crossed it, and the Caballo State Park appeared, which is a huge lake caused by the Caballo Dam on the Rio Grande. Up until this point the Rio Grande hadn't been very impressive, pretty much about the size of Big Wheeling Creek. I did notice that there were tons of washes heading towards the river from my left, which would have been the Mogollon Rim, a giant mountain range that I climbed on the first trip. It reaches from here up to Flagstaff, and on to the Grande Canyon. My guess is that things really get rolling around here when it rains in the mountains. As I got closer to Truth or Consequences, NM187 began to roll, and many RV parks and summer places for the lake popped up. The tailwind kept blowing as I got into T or C ( which is what the locals call it). I stopped in town and checked my list of cheap motels, and I had to roll another two miles to my $38 room. There was a pretty nice restaurant next to the place, so I blew the money I saved on the room on some really good, but overpriced chicken Alfredo, then locked myself in the room to avoid the potential 34 degree low forecast for tonight. Overall, this will be one of the days I really remember. What a windy experience. 
Once I got into town, I searched for what had to be a great story about how the town got its name. I figured that it was going to be a great western story. Nope. It turns out that the town changed its name from Hot Springs, as basically a publicity stunt, after the famous 50's TV show called Truth or Consequences. There was some politics, and some philanthropy involved, but the people here voted on the name change three times over the years, and the name stuck. T or C festivals now are among the most popular tourist attractions, as well as the many hot springs that the town was originally named after.

Ready for dust storms

NM 26 was a great road, with little scenery!

Hatch, NM is famous for chili peppers

Taking a rest in Hatch
My lunch spot in Hatch.  The Colonel and Ronald were sitting out front!

My treat in Hatch!


Robin Hood was across the street with T Rex.

Look for the red chili's hanging everywhere!

The Caballo Mountains were huge.  The green trees are near the Rio Grande

Or T or C to the locals!

T or C in the Rio Grande Valley

The Ace Lodge - $38!!!

View from motel in Truth or Consequences

At a decent meal for once in T or C

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