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!


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


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!

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