Monday, December 28, 2009

Back to the Road


Break time is over and it's back south. The two and a half weeks back in the northwest were a little hectic, as all holiday seasons are, but a great change of pace. It was nice to be in the cold and enjoy it a bit more, and also avoid it when I wanted to. I'd anticipated on riding lots in Seattle but only took my bike out twice, I just didn't have the desire to be riding in the rain and cold as many Seattle days were. I was sure shocked by how light, fast, and agile my bike was; what a fantastic feeling!

I did get a number of great nordic days in though and even one backcountry. Summer waxing skis in December is just wrong, but I was happy to ski at all.

It was great to see lots of family, but didn't get in as much of friends as I'd hoped. Had lots of great food, slept in, replaced some gear, and got a bit of relaxing in. Thank you everyone for a wonderful holiday in the northwest!

The black line is what I've ridden thus far


Now I've been hanging out in Austin for a few days, planning my next move. I'm looking forward to getting out on the road again and returning to my nomadic lifestyle. I owe a huge thank you to Kacie and Daniel for putting me up here in Austin, and especially for storing all my gear while I was gone!


New addition to the bike. Tear it up Holly!

(Here is an awesome article that just came out in the Anchorage Daily News: http://www.adn.com/2010-ussa-championships/story/1075463.html)

This New Years morning, I started off the day with the Polar Bear Plunge at Barton Springs. With the water a constant 68 degrees, I have no complaints, it felt great to swim around in.

The crowds getting ready to dive in at Barton Springs


Adam (and two of his boys), myself, and Bill. We met up at the Springs.

I'm off to San Antonio.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Break Time

After three months of being on my bike most everyday, it's time to go skiing! The ride into Austin was foggy and damp, no what I'd hoped for to be able to enjoy the Hill Country-all that I wanted to do was ride so that I could setup camp to get warm and dry. Fortunately, the weather improved a little as I neared Austin and I even got a few rays of sunshine.

Oh no, flooding!

Upon entering Austin, I explored the Botanical Gardens and Barton Springs in Zilker Park. Barton Springs is a natural outdoor swimming pool that people use to train in year-round. Making m way through town, enjoying the numerous bike paths and views of the capital building, I found Kacie, happy to see a friendly face and make myself at home.


Botanical Gardens


Capital

Once I'd sorted, cleaned, and dried most of my gear, I freed myself to wander the city. I first set out to meet up with some connections I had in town. I first met Adam and Marty Butler, Bill's brothers (Bill loaned me his sunglasses when I lost mine in Big Bend). he Butlers are an absolutely incredible family! After Bill told his family about my ride, Adam offered me a pair of sunglasses that had been sitting around his house unused. I was amazed to find that they were the same style I'd lost, just a different color! Adam and Marty are highly creative and fun guys, super helpful and generous. In need of a rain jacket so that I could stop improvising, Adam suggested a Jack and Adam's bike shop and called them to try and get me a good deal.

Before going to the bike shop, I sopped at the Lance Armstrong Foundation and got a tour of their beautiful Gold LEEDS certified headquarters. What a great place to work! It seems like such an open and friendly environment.

At Jack and Adam's, they'd run out of rain jackets (just given them all to Texas 4000), but one of the owners offered to order me whatever I wanted and to sell it to me at cost! I couldn't believe my luck with all of these fantastic people being so generous and really helping me out, it's very touching.


Jack and Adam's, KFC turned into bike shop

Austin is a very neat city, bot what I'd ever imagined city in Texas o be like. I enjoyed my wandering thus far and look forward to further exploration once I return.

For now, I'm excited to have a little break, see family and friends in the northwest and hopefully get lots of skiing in. It was sure a crazy feeling to fly in 4 hours what it took me 3 months to ride. The flight was miserable, I hate flying more then ever, but I made it back to the very cold NW. Now it's back to old times, the whole family up at Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia to ski and watch our sister race. I feel so out of shape skiing, but conditions are incredible, temps in the low teens and great snow, pretty awesome!



Excited to be waxing skis instead of fixing flats.



Sister, Holly, winning the race!


Family, sporting Holly's "sponsor" OIA


Three Month Inventory:

Miles: 4951.4
Flats: 22
Tubes: 10
Tires: 3
Jars of PB: 15
Nights under a roof: 21
States: 8
National Parks, Monuments, Rec Areas: 20
Warmshowers/Couchsurfing Hosts: 5
Bike-free days: 9
100+ miles days: 3
Days of Rain: 8
Days riding in Rain: 4
Days riding with a companion: 5

That's it, I'll be back in Austin at the end of the month to continue my journey.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Almost to Austin

Whew, I'm just over a day away from Austin! That's very exciting for me, especially with some of the challenges of the last few days being sick and very cold-fortunately both have improved a bit now.

During my time at Cynta's hiding out from the bad weather I started to get anxious to exercise and explore the Park. Cynta was fabulous in offering me her car so that I could hike in Big Bend and come back to a hot shower. I managed two hikes, the first up to and along the rim of the basin, the second in the basin to "the Window." The first brought me through great vegetation and into the trees, but I was up in the mist and clouds the whole time so missed out on all the views. The lower hike had better visibility the first half, then also went into the clouds. The hike ended going through a little canyon with a gorgeous stream carving pools in the rock and ending at a steep drop with a view out of the basin, "the window." It felt wonderful to get out and explore the Park some more, but after being out in the cold and damp all day the hot shower back at Cynta's was most welcome!


Clouds in the Basin

The Window

More Basin
Driving to and from the Park was harder then I'd expected. Though I've gone much longer without driving before, I've never been so unused to speed. Riding everyday I rarely get above 20mph for any period of time, so this is a very comfortable speed for me. When I started driving I found I couldn't get over 30mph (in a 55 zone), it just felt too fast! Of course, I quickly piles up a few cars behind me, I'm sure wondering what my problem was. As the miles passed, I managed to get up to 40 mph, but that was it, I just felt out of control going any faster-now that is a strange feeling in such a car-driven society.
That night back at Cynta's, she made good on a promise to teach me how to make real Mexican enchiladas. It was awesome to cook, making the sauce and corn tortillas, everything with straight from Mexico ingredients. They were fantastic and much different from out Americanized version!

Cynta demonstrating pressing the tortillas
After obsessing over weather forecasts and the miles ahead of me, I decided to leave the next day. Leaving Terlingua, John and I parted ways. It was a valuable experience riding with him. He helped me regain perspective and opened my eyes to a whole world of cycling opportunities with the stories of his journey. Best of luck through the rest of the US!

John, feeling strange without his bike clothes and an unloaded bike
The day I left had rain forecast, and although I could see it all around me, I was fortunate to avoid it. After three days off the bike it felt great to ride again and I was able to put in a long day. The next few days started cold and got colder. I rode into the town of Marathon and found a coffee shop to warm up in. As I sipped my hot chocolate and talked with the owner, he offered the place for me to run-he was pretty serious too! (He wants to move to Austin and needs someone to take over i order to do so). Maybe next fall, for now I've got more riding to do.
Back out on the road, I met my first riders headed west. Pete and Ben, two young guys started in Florida and are ending in California. After meeting a rider who was riding to benefit the rhinos, they decided they were riding for "spandex awareness." they'd just made it a month and although very bundled, looked to be having a great time. They did warn me the the SE is mostly development or swamp, what I'd feared.
The next day started in the 40s and got colder all day. Once again I took refuge in a gas station and sipped coffee while I thawed out. The owner calling me "frosty" and "Rudolph" the whole time. I'd also come down with a bad cold which didn't help things out any. I met a guy from Ellensburg while I was there-crazy coincidences.
View from the road
The next morning after a near sleepless night barely able to breathe, i arose to snow flurries and two flat tires-wonderful! An extremely cold ride brought me through Amistead National Recreation Area and into the first gas station I saw for more hanging around and drinking hot chocolate as I slowly regained feeling in my fingers. I then made it into Del Rio and was grateful to get in touch with Rachel, my couch surfing host for the night. She got out of work to let me into her and her housemate, Jen's, place then went back to work while I enjoyed a hot shower, tea, and plenty of tissues (what a great guest I was). Rachel and Jen are finishing up their flight training in the Air Force. They're great gals and awesome to meet young female pilots and learn about the Air Force.
Having a warm, relaxing evening, I slept much better but still wasn't anxious to get riding the next morning. Luckily the sun had come out, though it still wasn't warm. My head was still a blur, my nose gushing, and legs powerless. That day I made progress only by the grace of gentle terrain and a little tailwind.
Now for the exciting news: I saw armadillos!!!! The first was just after I passed through a Boarder Patrol Check Point (it took 5 guys and a k-9 unit to say "US citizen" "yup" I replied and they waved me on), I jumped off my bike as I saw the armadillo on the shoulder so excited. It was a tiny little thing, about the size of a guinea pig which really surprised me, I'd always thought they were at least raccoon-size. The little guy was skittish, but I got a decent look as he rummaged through the leaves. The next I saw a few miles down the road, he was about twice as big and less afraid. These guys just make me crack up, they don't seem real and are hilarious to watch run! I'm hoping to see a lot mote of these little guys, and not road kill (though I'm fascinated by what they would feel like and road kill is probably the only way I'll find that out).
Armadillo!
I'm riding through Hill Country now, rolling hills with lots of trees. Tons of ranches earlier and the place has been crawling with deer hunters making for much busier roads then I'd expected. I've also come across numerous exotic game ranches. I'd heard about these being in Texas, but had forgotten all about them until I started seeing all these antelope herds and types of deer behind tall fences that just didn't belong. I then saw the advertising for "Bow Hunting $695," "Bison $1,895" and so on. They advertised native and exotic deer including many African species, no wonder I was so confused at first. I have to say, I have a terrible impression of Texan hunters. Prior to these "come and shot a fenced in animal" ranches, most of what I saw was "Deer Corn" advertised everywhere and jeeps with car seats bolted to the tops with blinds and sights built in, so that the hunters wouldn't have to walk anywhere or do any work to kill their corn-fed deer. It may not be right (in my opinion), but it sure is successful judging by the high percentage of trucks passing me with antlers and hooves sticking out.

The real meaning of the phrase
I'm starting to feel a bit healthier now and the weather got into the 50s yesterday! Today is overcast and damp though. Besides the stream of hunters, my only other trouble recently has been more tire drama. One finally blew out, so I had to rotate and now I have one that will make it and one that I'll be extremely luck if it makes it-no more backups. With 150 miles to Austin I'm counting down the miles, keeping my spokes crossed that I can make it, I'm on borrowed miles that's for sure. After being in such sparsely populated areas for so long, it's strange to get into these highly populated areas now, lots of traffic and strip malls. It may be like this for quite awhile now. I'm in Kerrville at the moment and headed to Fredericksburg, then hopefully just one more day into Austin!

Guadalupe River, in the Hill Country









Sunday, November 29, 2009

Western Texas

Today, Cynta (the woman that John and I are currently couchsurfing with) asked me what I found most surprising thus far on my trip. My answer would have to be western Texas. Granted, I had a terrible image of what it would be like, and what I was told by many others didn't help my expectations one bit; however, this area has not only far surpassed any expectations, but has turned out to be spectacular in so many ways.

Leaving Van Horn where I last posted, John and I had a fine days ride. However, come dusk and finding ourselves surrounded by barbed wire fencing and locked gates all day, the only spot to camp where we could get out of view of the road was near the train tracks . We picked a spot under a little bridge, set up and enjoyed dinner and conservation under the night's sky. All day riding next to the tracks no trains ran, John joked that they were probably all night running trains. Unfortunately, he turned out to be right. During the night 10 trains passed, each with their bright lights and whistling away, shaking the ground beneath us. If this wasn't enough to keep us from a good night's sleep, what I'd anticipated would happen one of these days finally did: Boarder Patrol found us and gave us a nice 4:30am wake up. I'd expected to be woken up with a gun in my face, but luckily they just had their flashlights in hand. We showed our ID, they asked some silly questions, then left us alone. Not the best night, but could have been much worse.


John's tent by the tracks

Luckily, the next night (Thanksgiving) was a much better camp spot. We stopped early in the afternoon outside of the boarder town of Presidio where I spotted partly built, abandon home just outside of town, the perfect place to spend the holiday! It was a nice change to sleep in a clean, flat area. I made a great Thanksgiving dinner of rice, beans, and veggies and happily got to talk to some friends and family.


Our luxurious accommodations (John joked that even inside a house, I managed to tuck myself behind a bush!)

The next day brought morning rain, the first I'd seen in weeks. We stocked up on food in Presidio fearing it'd be a week before another decent market, then pedaled off on a 60 mile road that followed the Rio Grande along the Mexican boarder. I'd been told this road was hilly, but usually that means no problem; however, this road was HILLY! Nothing long, but constant short steep up and downs making for very hard work.


At the Rio Grande, that's Mexico behind me!

Me riding along the river road

The views were spectacular, riding in the mountains. This was one of the most scenic roads of my trip, totally unexpected! It was also maybe the most difficult riding on the trip. We rode up "Big Hill," only half a mile, but 15 percent grade which may not sound too bad but man it was steep. Many of the hills were similar grade up luckily shorter.




After a hard riding day, we pulled into Terlingua Ghostown where I'd set up a Couchsurfing stay with Cynta. She warmly welcomed us into her beautiful home and after showers we heated up Thanksgiving leftovers so I got my traditional thanksgiving dinner, and man was it good! Cynta says that her couchsurfers always stay longer then they plan on. Well, I'm no exception; I'd planned on one night and now I think I'll be spending four. Cynta is much too amazing of an individual, and this town is too intriguing to rush through. A winter storm also came in this afternoon which hasn't made it too enticing to leave.

Cynta has the warmest, most beautiful spirit. She's an old river guide, having guiding around much of the world. She's come back from being completely crippled and having been given two years to live (this was many years back) to walking everyday and being able to swim again. Although she's still having to live on disability, she uses it as an excuse to put her time and energy towards helping the community around her. When Homeland Security closed off the boarder crossing with Boquillas, Mexico within Big Bend NP, the town was then separated from their source of income, food, medical, etc. Cynta started up a quilting cooperative, teaching the women to quilt, then taking and selling their quilts to Americans to raise money for the village. Due to her extensive knowledge and activism, she is a liaison between the the people and the Boarder Patrol. She's the town historian and reads books over the local radio station every week. I could go on and on about the things Cynta has done and I'm sure I don't even know the half of it. Needless to say, Cynta is a true inspiration and I feel blessed to have this chance to meet her.

Terlingua is an old mining town, I think the second largest mercury mine in the country. When the mine closed down it was abandon. In just the past forty years or so it has been re inhabited, started up by river guides who after guiding down here, moved in. So, this is an old hippie town. For a population of 4-29 in the Ghostown and up to 300 in the surrounding 20 miles, this place keeps blowing me away with all that it has. There are guide services and a bike shop (great news since my bike shorts got eaten by one of the pups and it was going to be a week until I could get a new pair), an art gallery for local art, restaurants, a vibrant music scene, a theater and more. This is also a community unlike any I've ever heard of in the US. They have no government (they had a beer-drinking goat for their mayor), no permitting, can bury their own dead, and take care of every person in the community. They're building an area for housing the elderly in the center of town so that they can easily help them. Just today one of the guy's houses burnt down and the whole community is getting together to do everything they can for him. It's just nonstop how tight-knit and caring this town is. It's the kind of place you dream about (if it didn't get into the 120's in the summer). Even with the tiny section of Texas I've seen thus far, I'd say this town is it's biggest secret, but I've been told to keep hush, so don't spread word too far.


Ruins in the town. This is about what Cynta's house looked like when she bought her property for $2,500.


Over many years and a lot of work, she built her house into this. She has a composting toilet and outhouse, solar power, rainwater catchment. It's gorgeous, extremely well thought out and built and can comfortably hold 14 people!


View in the town, ruins amongst the current houses, some permanent,
others more temporary

My first day off here Cynta was heading to the hot springs in Big Bend NP, so John and I were happy to join in. Cynta took us on a little tour of the park on our way, driving into the basin ( the remains of an ancient volcano's innards).


Inside the basin, looking out of "The Window"

The hot springs were excellent, right on the Rio Grande with Mexico feet away. Even though it was hot outside they felt amazing, especially with the river to jump right into and float down a ways. We arrived early and had the place to ourselves for a little while before the afternoon tourist crowd got there.

Hot Springs


And the crowds rushed in as we left

The unfortunate part about this day was the overzealous, and over sized Russian woman from Dallas (in a too small bikini of course), who accidentally splashed my sunglasses into the Rio Grande. A couple people helped me search, but to no avail. The woman offered me her glasses, but they were cheap tiger print and I knew they wouldn't even stay on my face. Right before the glasses disappeared, Bill and Katie whom I met on the road the day before arrived at the hot springs. Bill was incredibly kind and offered me his aviators. They live in Austin so I promised to give them back when I got into town, thankful for such a kind gesture. People really do just come up and help when you need it!

Bill and Katie


View of the Chisos as we drove out of the park.

For some reason I've never been able to put my finger on, I've wanted to come to Big Bend for years although I knew nothing about the park. Making the trek down here, meeting the people I have and learning what I have, I'm so glad that I followed that feeling. I'll definitely never think about western Texas the same again!

Today was spent relaxing, chatting, and walking around the ghostown. A storm came in this afternoon bring intermittent rain and a cold front. We may get snow tonight and the next two days. I hope to get in the park and hike tomorrow, then take off the next day for the push to Austin. I can't believe it's almost December; soon I'll be getting on a plane to watch my big sister win some more SuperTour races!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Mexico

I'm in the purely magical town of Terlingua, TX staying with one of the most inspiring woman I've ever met. I'll write about this soon, but for now, here are a few pictures for this last blog. I'm off to the hot springs in Big Bend!



Big news! I've made it to Texas (a big state), have entered the central time zone (meaning I really am moving east), and have my first riding partner. but wait, how did all of this come about? Well, i guess terrain might be a short answer, but I'll explain a little more about the last few days.

Leaving Las Cruces, my legs had to remember how to climb as I had my first pass in a few days. Once i remembered that going slow while climbing is normal I was fine (all of this flat has thrown off my perspective). Down the pass, I entered the White Sands Missile Range and more flat as far as i could see.

I made it to White Sands national Monument in time to be told I was too late to camp there. All they allow is backcountry camping 0.7 miles in and 14 mi up the road, but with 1.5 hrs of light left the rangers thought there was no way I'd get there before dark so wouldn't let me stay. I'd counted on this spot so was frustrated; however, they told me i could ride 20 miles to the nearest campsite then come back the next day! Yeah right. I raced into the NM to try and see a little bit of it before taking back tot he road. It really is exactly what you'd imagine: white sand dunes. i felt like I was riding through snow banks. leaving the park a bit unsatisfied (though getting my first fist-pump did put me in a better mood), I was forced to ride well into dark to find an acceptable camp just outside Alamogordo.


White Sands

A cold, early morning brought me into town where i treated myself to the breakfast of pancakes and hash browns I'd been craving. then up the next pass i went, 4300 ft of climbing, but a nice grade and very enjoyable. It topped out at Cloudcroft in the Sacramento Mountains, a touristy, but cute little town. A couple told me it was 90 miles downhill to the next town. I was sceptical, but it was nearly true! I even had a great tailwind pushing me along for awhile so that i barley wanted to stop at dusk. That night i spent in a cow pasture--the only cow i saw was a young calf who spend the night pacing the fence in front of me mooing.

More flat riding a cold mornings took me towards Carlsbad Caverns National Park. A few miles short of the park entrance, i saw a cyclist riding towards me, as we got closer, he crossed the road and we stopped to chat. John is nearing the end of an around the world tour, he's from England and has been riding 2.5 years and over 35,000 miles! After talking for a hour on the roadside John asked if I wanted to camp together for the night, excited for some company and to hear more about his trip i readily agreed. John's much more particular about finding a good camp spot then i am, so I'm learning to take a little more time and have much more enjoyable sites.

The next morning john asked if I'd like to ride together for a few days, so now i have my first riding partner! it's nice to have some consistent company, especially someone who has so many stories from such an incredible journey (complete with English accent and vernacular). this also ending up being good timing as I'd been thinking it'd be nice to ride with someone for a little while and what better place then the desolation of western Texas (also good to have someone else along the Mexican boarder).

Carlsbad Caverns National Park was next to explore. Having turned down a job there a few years back, I was interested to see what I'd missed out on. The caverns are enormous! They seem to go on forever with rooms, passages, and seemingly bottomless holes all over. the stalactites and stalagmites, soda straws and popcorn were spectacular. I tired to imagine what it was like for the first explorers in this cave as they wandered through the pitch black monstrosity-I'd of been terrified! The lighting, paved walkways, and handrails make today's exploration much less mysterious, but at least you can see a lot and enjoy being 775 ft below ground.


Natural Entrance into the Caverns


Inside the Caverns

From the caverns, John and I battled a headwind into Texas. Its great to have someone to trade off breaking wind! it felt good to get into Texas, but strange knowing that I'll pretty much be here for the next two months. the next day brought us into Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We went on a little hike up valley to get some great views of the mountains, walking through nice vegetation, and up to a little slot canyon. it was nice to get on my feet for a little bit and enjoy Texas' highest mountains. On our way out, we met three women just starting long rides of there own; all the cyclists are converging in the south now! then it was out of the hills and back to flat straightaways, though we are surrounded by more hills then I expected.


Yup, definitely in Texas


Hiking in Guadalupe NP

So that's it, we're in Van Horn, TX at the moment and should be down at the Mexican boarder in two days, the into Big Bend. I'm feeling much better about making it to Austin in time (though with three flats yesterday and more thorns last night it could continue to cause me problems). Now I'm just enjoying good company and seeing what Texas is really about.

If you're interested in reading about John's trip, his blog is http://cyclingtoaustralia.blogspot.com/2009/11/day-915-van-horn-texas.html

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Starting East

After a nice break in Tucson relaxing, cooking, and running errands, I said goodbye to Billie and Ian and continued on my journey. Unfortunately, after riding away I realized that my quads and knees hadn't recovered at all. Two days wasn't enough, but oh well, on I went.


Billie and Ian outside their house in Tucson.

I had a really nice ride out through Saguaro National Park, nice rolling and windy roads. Lots of other very serious looking cyclists out there.


From Saguaro I made my way to Tombstone, a little historic wild west town. In the three blocks preserved and blocked to traffic I truly felt as though I was on a movie set (I did overhear a guy say they were getting ready for a movie shot in Yuma). It was a hopping town with tourists and locals everywhere. Daily gunfights were advertised and all the locals were dressed in authentic wild west garb; leather, guns, fur, and cowboys hats were everywhere. I thought it was hilarious!


Tombstone

Next was off to the Chiricahua Mountains. I'd been told from numerous people that I had to get out there so was excited for what I'd find. The national monument there was awesome. On a road that went up to a lookout from the visitor's center I rode unloaded for once and felt great! The views were spectacular of rock spires and pinnacles everywhere. I walked around a bit and enjoyed scrambling amongst the rocks. What a place, I've never seen anything like it!


View from the road up to lookout.


Overlooking the monument



Having told a warmshowers host that I'd make it to her house on a certain date (which I later realized was a bit ambitious), I had a quicker visit then I'd hoped. However, not ready to leave the Chiricahua's yet (and wanting to cut mileage) I decided to take a dirt road through the mountain range. This is the first time that I've truly gone against advisement. I was told by a ranger that this road was bad, washboarded, rocky and climbed up to nearly 10,000 ft. Now, I try to take all advise with a grain of salt and even though my head was telling me not to go, my gut said do it. So, I set out on a 20 mile dirt road over a mountain pass knowing it could be a miserable mistake. Luckily, my gut was right and though a bit more rocky and washboarded then I would have liked in spots, it was a decent road. The climbing up was very slow, averaging 4 miles an hour and I did have to walk a few small sections, but it was worth it.

Unfortunately I started to have a few troubles starting that night. It was very cold and my stove decided to stop working. I was super hungry so after messing with it for a little while, gave up and ate granola for dinner. I then worked for another two hours trying to get it to work (Mark thanks so much for the repair kit!), and had varied luck. I did manage to cook a bit of quinoa almost all the way before it totally died again. This made me nervous as I was almost out of food that didn't need to be cooked and hoping to stay in small towns another day and a half.

The next morning I made it to the top of the pass and started down the other side. Never having had the heart of a mountain biker, I rode the brakes the whole way (though I gained a little more confidence and speed near the bottom). 3.5 miles into 10 downhill I heard the pop and discovered the gash in my rear tire. Of course, I'd expected a flat on this road, but hoped it would but that bad.


Down the pass


Fun, fun

I fixed the tire best I could and continued down the road. All that day I'd be plagued with flats, three times having to redo everything and having to pump up low tires many more. Once I got back down to the pavement, I entered an incredible valley surrounded in rock cliffs. So beautiful! I even saw what I think was a coatimundi.


Down the valley

Looking back up

I then entered into New Mexico and had lots of flat ground. Wanting to stay on small roads I wished for a little market in the miles ahead and was very pleased to find one as I was down to my last tortilla.

In all of the flat nothingness yesterday, in trying to keep myself entertained I tired singing songs only to realize that I don't know any! I'm completely incapable to remembering lyrics. I can sing one line from a number of songs and that's it, not near enough to keep me occupied for a hundred mile ride. Sadly, the song I did the best with was "Look at this stuff" or whatever it's called form the Little Mermaid, how awful is that?! I may have to break my rule of not listening to music while riding if days like this continue (western Texas maybe?)


Lots of this


Chilies!

Making it into Las Cruces in great time for a century ride I went to bike shops to get new tubes (I was out) and try and find tires. Of course, no one here has 26" tires so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll survive a little longer. Two gashes in my rear and a front that's been on since day 1 does not give tons of confidence. I really need to learn and order online.

Great to have a place to stay. Mary Beth, my host is a warmshowers and couch surfing goddess! Just in the past week she's hosted three others! I'm not sure if she ever has her house to herself. Last night we went out to dinner with her brothers who were in town and another couch surfer staying with another host. Had pizza which was fabulous!

This morning I'm taking way too much time to get out of town as usual. Headed to White Sands NM, then into the "climbs from hell" in the mountains. Hopefully I'll be able to spend some more time and fix my stove so that I can eat something besides pb&j tortillas for the next month!