I cannot remember things changing so much in one day, from beginning to end, and it all had to do with the 'dry line,' which is a meteorological term that I had never of before a few days ago. Allow me to start at the beginning.
I realize now that the beautiful town of Hobbs, with its trees and lawns that don't naturally exist, is the end of the desert, and the beginning of a very fertile area. Five miles out of town on US 62/180, I crossed the New Mexico/Texas line for the third and final time. (Figure that out if ur a geography whiz) The farm land went as far as I could see. The sun was out, the tailwind was pushing me, and everything was great. I rode 23 miles in the first hour and a half, and was on course for a sub seven hour century. That's when I began to think.....about blowing through my planned stop after 70 miles in Lamesa, and heading to my next days stop in Snyder, therefore, getting a day ahead, and saving a night's motel fees, and so on.
I stopped and talked to a guy in Lamesa about what the next 60 miles to Snyder might be like, at a quick lunch at subway, and I was off for day two's ride.
I rode out of Lamesa under great conditions, and if I just kept my pace, I would be in Snyder before dark.
The first 18 miles out if town were through plowed, but unplanted cotton and peanut fields. There was a huge wind farm, with more windmills than I could count, all throughout the plowed fields, and interspersed between the windmills were oil pumps and wells. Talk about working the land.... I noticed dozens of snakes on the road, different sizes and types, dead and alive throughout the area.
At the 88 mile mark of my ride, things began to rapidly change.
I came to the end of the mesa I have been on for who knows how long, and there was about a 300 ft descent. ( right then and there I figured out why the town was called Lamesa). I also figured out that all those windmills lined the edge of the drop off, where the wind was strongest. As I descended the farmland disappeared, and I was suddenly in a land of seriously rolling scrubland. The wind changed from a tailwind to a headwind, and the sunny sky became laden with clouds. Hence, the dry line that I spoke of earlier. The hot, dry desert air blowing out of the deserts of the southwest, clashes with the moist, humid, cool, Gulf air, and crazy storms blow up suddenly. This is currently happening from Mexico to way up north, and record storms are resulting. Needless to say, with the wind change, and the rolling hills, my progress slowed down. Then, possibly worst of all, I went into Scurry County. Scurry County just recently put new chip seal on their roads. If you have read my blog from our first trip through Texas, you heard me rant about Texas chip seal. I'm not gonna do that again but it sucks. It slows a bike down 1-3 miles an hour, and rattles me and my bike so bad that I can't even see out of my rear view mirror because it bounces so badly. And remember, I've already ridden 88 miles, but the last 46 to Snyder were gonna get ugly. As I rode through this wasteland, I hit my century in 7:15, but I could have been a half hour faster.
I came to a town called Gail, and that was my point of no return. The clouds were turning darker, the wind picking up, but there was no place to stay but in my tent, in a park. I figured it may rain all night, so I decided to press on the final 30 miles.
As i rode, the rain clouds continued to grow, and get darker. Then the cloud to cloud lightning, then my phone alert went off with a tornado watch, then the cloud to ground lightning. Not only was I getting closer to it, it was getting closer to me. It was getting so dark, that as the lightning lit the sky, I was watching for funnel clouds. The wind was whaling, and I was on ¥€®℅ing chip seal! The rain began, and the wind suddenly got so strong I thought things were going to blow off my bike. It was a waste land, no buildings, no protection, so my only choice to get out of this was a culvert that ran under the road. I stopped, ran the bike down into a ditch, only to find the culvert had a metal grate, so I couldn't get into it. On the other side of the road, the grate was high enough that I could crawl under, which I did, only to find a rattlesnake. A dead one fortunately. I sat there for a while, water beginning to run into the culvert, wondering what was next, when the rain lightened up. Then it stopped.....like that! Very quickly. I crawled out into the open just as a sheriff was riding by. He saw me and stopped. We talked, checked radar, and the storm was moving very rapidly to the Northeast. I was good for now, but another storm was coming. He was going to evacuate people off a lake, so I was on my own.
I got back on the bike, and the lightning show was nonstop, rivaling even those on the outer banks, maybe better. Every time the sky lit up, I kept checking for that funnel cloud, but it never came. I kept pounding into the headwind, over the chip seal, painfully, slowly nearing Snyder. The rain became heavier as I got near town, and about five miles from town, the sheets of torrential rain hit, along with the wind, so I pulled into a farmer's garage for about an hour, and watched the flooding begin. The field filled up, and the dry garage took on about an inch if water. I had some leftover vanilla wafers for supper while I waited this one out. When it did slow down, I was back on the bike, at 930 at night, heading into town. The roads of the town were flooded, and the farmers fields were reflecting like lakes in the lightning. I finally got to a motel at about 10:30 and amazingly, everything of critical importance stayed dry. Great job panniers!!!
After all that, I realized that there is no way, at my age, I could feel more alive, than crawling into a ditch in Texas during a super cell storm. Bring it on!!!!
|Tex Mex DQ??????|
|Leaving New Mexico for the second time!|
|Plowed fields for as far as you can see near Lamesa, TX|
|Farming wind, cotton and oil on the same land!|
|Texas chip seal!|
|Rolling scrub land near Gail, TX|
|So that's what they call it! Texured!|
|My bike couldn't fit into the culvert during the storm|
|A view from the culvert I spent some time in during the storm|