Get out of New Mexico day
6:06am Today marks the 1/3 completion point of the tour. At the end of the day we will be in El Paso, Texas. Getting through Texas is going to take some time, it’s a big state. The ride today will be a bit shorter distance, but negotiating the big city will slow things down just a bit. I’m on deck to cook tonight, so tonight’s post will likely be a bit shorter than normal.
So far I have enjoyed New Mexico the most. Perhaps because I’m now more accustomed to riding. There is a certain charm to New Mexico that I just didn’t feel in California or Arizona. I can’t be too critical of California or Arizona, they were beautiful, but I showed up not completely ready for mountain riding. That fact made the days longer and more heads-down than they should have been. There are some challenging climbs in both states. If you want to do the Southern Tier (and I recommend it) it pays to train for hills before arriving at the start of the ride. In all fairness to ACA, they made that perfectly clear. My life this past summer didn’t make it easy to focus on serious hill training. It should be noted however, that I am not a climber to begin with. Some people have a knack for climbing, I’m not one of them. All of that considered, I would not have traded my summer experience for extra training.
One of the cultural experiences that has come out of this journey so far is a fascination with the Apache Indians and their history. Of course there isn’t time to do a lot of reading, especially with the writing that I am trying to accomplish, but I think that once this journey comes to a conclusion I will take the opportunity to learn more about the Apaches. I do believe that I will come back to New Mexico at some point to experience that cultural history in more depth.
Just outside Las Cruces is the small town of Mesilla. It’s a bit of a tourist trap, but I still enjoined passing through. Church was just letting out. The church faces the town square, a real town square. The buildings are very old and the architecture Mexican. This town belonged to Mexico before it became part of America, and it shows. You could spend a fun day here just experience the food and shops selling local art and crafts. The old court house on the square is where Billy The Kid was convicted and sentenced to hang. Bicycle touring does not give you time to stop in a town and really soak up the atmosphere, but it does give you a very good preview of places worth returning to.
I’m staying in an old hotel in downtown El Paso that has been converted to a Hostel. Besides our group, there is a man that has just finished the Continental Divide Trail, an overland motorcyclist, a nice woman from Germany, and a young woman that has just accepted a position with the Park Service. Thirty feet down the street is a walk-down bar call “Dillinger’s.” I’m sitting there now having a Manhattan, possibly chased by a Bud, who knows. My taste in beer seems to be changing of late. Lighter brews seem to hit the spot a little better. They have photos of John Dillinger on the wall. I’m not sure what the connection between Dillinger and El Paso is, I thought he was an Indiana boy, be that as it may, the photos of John Dillinger look a lot like John Travolta.
God almighty these bar stools are hard. Could it be the 55 miles today? After many miles of travel by bicycle across three states, I finally have acquired a cyclist’s worst nightmare, a bit of chafing. This too shall pass, but you would think this would have occurred 100 miles out, not 800.
Tonight was my turn to cook. Cooks have to shop as well as cook. Tonight’s grocery stop was 4 miles before the Hostel. Everyone was waiting at the grocery store for me but I was no where in sight… I got a text from Trail Boss, “where are you?” I had over-shot the grocery store by more than 4 miles. Please don’t ask me how a semi-intelligent person can make such a bone-headed mistake, but I am here as living proof that it’s not that hard, if your bone-headed. I confessed my error and everyone at the grocery store came up with a “Plan B.” I’ll be the cook tomorrow night. When I realized my mistake I put in the address of the Hostel and to my surprise, I discovered that I was just two blocks away. This particular mistake had a happy ending. The dinner that I didn’t fix was very good too.
I have a new best friend at “Dillinger’s.” He wanted a dollar and i bought him a Budweiser instead. I guess I’m an “enabler.”
Vertical: We are out of the mountains.
A third of the tour is complete. Entered Texas.