Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ride Day 38

I stayed at the Colorado River Landing RV Park last night and it was very nice. They had a pool, good showers and a lounge room. The best part though is it was quiet for sleeping. I got a good night of rest and was ready to go this morning. I left as usual around 7AM. The ride was rolling hills with lots of twists and turns. Not much excitement along the road. The temp was in the 90s and the humidity was maxed out. I was sweating heavily as I rode. It was getting in my eyes and dripping off of me. I can take it but it doesn't make it comfortable. My bike gave me trouble again though. I had another flat and this time I had no spare tube. I tried to take off the tire but my hands were so slippery from all the sweating that it was almost impossible to get the tire off. I struggled but finally got it off. I found a leak and patched it. After another struggle I got the wheel back on the bike and pumped it up. More correct would be tried to pump it up. It was still leaking. I got a bit pissed off about how stupid I was to not test the tube before I put it back on. I needed to rest before I tackled the job for the second time. I struggled even more this time but got the job done after way too much time and effort. It held air but the whole affair stole my desire to ride for the day. I pushed on anyway and made it to my destination finally. My hands are cramping on me from struggling with the tires. I was not a happy biker today. The best part of the ride for me was when I ran into a biker coming from the East Coast. He told me he had ridden 1060 miles so far. I thought I had more like 1400 miles to go but he had his odometer going so he is most likely right about the mileage. That was like riding 250 miles today for me. I could make the coast in about two weeks if that is all the miles I need to ride, and it flattens out from here on. While riding along a quiet two lane country road today a cop came up behind me and told me over his very loud loudspeaker, "This is a warning. Bikes must ride right of the white line so move over." I moved over and he cruised by with his truck right at the far right edge of the lane just to show me that the lane was his. What an asshole. He also does not know his law. I included a pic above of the "shoulder" he told me I had to ride on. I was pissed off at him and had a hard time not turning around and just giving him the finger as I moved to the center of the lane. I decided to just let him go away instead but I was burning for a couple of hours after this. Bikes get no respect from some people. More later...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ride Day 37

I had fun in Austin TX last night. We went out for some Cajun food that was very tasty. I had lobster bisque followed by Blackened salmon with crawdads, shrimp and crab along with some dirty rice. I loved it. Then we went out to a bar that had karaoke where we listened to some singers and then one of the girls with us sang a song and we left for home. I had quite a few beers and I did not think I would be able to get up and hit the road the next morning. I did end up hitting the road though. I decided to just get myself back out of Austin so that I would be able to get a good ride the next day. However, once I started to ride I just kept going. I made it to La Grange which was a long haul of about 95 miles from my starting point. I set up my tent, did my laundry and now I am just waiting for it to be late enough for me to go to bed. I feel good right now. I only have a few more days left in TX. Tomorrow I should be able to make it to Navsota TX which is about 75 miles or so away. The RV park I am in is right on the Colorado River and is clean and quiet so I should be able to get some sleep as long as my pain doesn't get too high tonight. There is a swimming pool but I did not swim and the showers were perfect after my long ride. I did not take a single pic today. I am too burned out on seeing the same things every single day. I will try to find something tomorrow to take a pic of. I am always telling people my bike is my wheelchair but this bike in the pic above is the real thing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ride Days 35 & 36

The road from Del Rio to Austin was not as bad as I expected. The map I use from ACA made it seem much steeper than it actually was. Don't get me wrong, it was a tough ride through "rolling hills" narrow roads many times with no shoulder. There was very little traffic on the road so that made it better. The winding, rolling hills had no shoulders and it was a very very dangerous place to ride a bike. The only way to safely get up and down these hills is to make sure that there is no traffic behind you before you go ahead. The scenery was repetitive Texas high desert and then a forested area up higher in the hills. I am getting a bit tired of seeing the same things over and over again. Texas is a big place but a lot of it is wasteland. I took a few pics but nothing special. I did come across an injured bike rider. He was going down one of the rolling hills and wiped out pretty badly. He had a bunch of other riders with him and a support van so there was no help I could offer to them so I continued on a bit shaken. If I wiped out alone I would not have a bunch of other riders and a support van to help me out. It could be ugly. I just have to trust that I will not fall or get hit or something like that. Life requires taking some risk but seeing him down brought those risks home to me very effectively. My bike broke down so I had to get a ride part of the way into Austin to get it repaired. I just picked it up from REI and it was $189 bucks to fix it. I can't afford repairs like that. My money is running short now. I have been trying to do this ride on thirty dollars a day but those hotel/motel bills add up when I have to break down and stay in them. I will be doing a lot more camping and less hotel/motels for the remainder of this ride. My biggest expense is food now. I need to eat a lot to keep from losing too much weight. I will be doing a lot more cooking from here on out. More later...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ride Day 34

I am beat up from all the roller coaster hills and the heat is only getting hotter by the day. I left my campsite a bit later than normal today but I only intended on going 40 miles. The wind was blowing before I even mounted my bike today. I shrugged it off and just started to spin my legs in the direction of Del Rio Texas. The ride was one hill after another all day. I did have my first bike trouble today. I was spinning along looking around instead of at the road in front of me and I ran over a rock that snake bit my front tire. I was very disappointed that my kevlar tires did not protect me this time. I started to change the tire but I was too exhausted to get the tire off so I just sat down and ate some food, drank some water and rested for a while. When I attacked the flat the second time it was much easier. It took me about ten minutes to put a new tube in it. At the end of the day I patched the other tube so that I still have a spare until I can buy a new tube. I was just happy I did not ruin my tire with my careless sight seeing instead of paying attention to the road. I checked into a hotel in Del Rio because I wanted to get a good night of sleep. I can't afford these hotels but I can't afford to not sleep in them once a week or so just to catch up on my sleep and to be able to shower and charge up all my electronics. Some of my campsites do have showers but not all of them. The next part of the ride goes back up into the mountains and then drops down into the Austin area but not directly into Austin. I am going to go into Austin and get my bike worked on at the REI there. It is only 6 weeks old but it has 2400 miles on it already. The road closer to Austin is the serious roller coaster ride. So far I have only been riding the kiddie roller coaster and that has been killing me. We shall see how it all turns out. There is still about 550 miles of Texas left to get through. I have not been into taking many pics lately. The scenery is pretty repetitive and I am getting over it by now. I have been stuck by enough thorns already. I miss a nice green soft lawn to sprawl out on. More later

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ride Day 33

I started my day out with a healthy breakfast of two corn dogs and a medium cup of coffee. It was still dark out so I waited until it was light enough to go. Of course while I waited I ate more junk. My plan today was to just see how far I could get in the desolate rollercoaster hill country I needed to go through. The temperature was predicted to be near 100. The ride started off well. The road was good the temperature cool and there was no wind. I cruised at close to 17 mph for three hours and made it 40 miles without much problem so I continued on. A light breeze started and of course it was in my face yet again. It did not take long before it was blowing hard again just like the last three days. I struggled to make the miles slip by. The roller coaster road was frustrating to ride on. It was one hill after another and some of them were high and long which with the wind in my face was very tiring and mentally draining. There were no breaks of easy riding for even a short distance. I was spinning my legs in low gears again and doing only 6-9 mph. I rested often. As my miles started to build up, 50, then 60 and so on the next miles just got tougher and tougher to keep going at it. But I was in a desolate place and I kept telling myself to just take my time and I will make it to at least the State Park which was 70 miles. After many hours of sitting in the saddle my bottom was starting to get sore. I stopped at a picnic table and considered stopping for the night but there were lots of hours of sunshine left so I pressed on. The wind was swirling and blowing over 25 mph by now. It was blowing my bike every which way but forward. I started to get angry but did not know what to focus my anger on. I made it to 80 miles, the park was just a few more miles but there were so many rolling hills in those few miles it was breaking my determination. I had to stop and walk my bike up the last few hills. At the turn off for the Park I hesitated. The campsite was 2 miles down the side road and the City of Comstock was “only” 10 more miles. I opted for Comstock. When I crested the first hill and saw the waves of hills ahead of me I almost turned around and went back to the Park. I pulled over and sat down for almost a half hour to see if resting would get me some leg strength back. When I took off again I felt better but the hill after hill after hill quickly drained me again. Finally it was down to only one more mile to get to the RV Park where I wanted to camp. It must have taken me thirty minutes to do that last mile. I made it finally. I was kind of happy that I was able to overcome the mental and physical problems getting here today. I checked into the camp site and immediately rested for a few hours. Then I got up and showered which felt great. I ended the shower with cold water and started to shiver. I was not shivering because I was cold but because I was totally exhausted I think. Then I ate a ton of food and drank more water and gatorade. Now I am writing this and next will be straight to sleep.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ride Day 32

I stayed at the hostel last night in Marathon TX. I enjoyed my stay in Marathon both the city and the hostel were interesting and different. I met another biker going West that found a live deer stuck in a barbed wire fence while he was riding yesterday. He cut it free but it could not walk away so he just left it where it was resting with the hope that it would recover and live another day. I am glad that did not happen to me. It would be tough dealing with it. He was upset by it. Today I left a bit later than I normally do. I ate another great meal at the same café as yesterday before I left town. I stocked up on water in the café because she offered me iced water. I know it warms up fast in this heat but while riding I got a couple of cooler hits before it got too warm. The ride today was 54 miles of mostly downhill or flat. I started out from Marathon at 17 mph. By the time I was two miles out of town the wind was again blowing hard in my face. I took a different approach to it today. Yesterday I was trying to muscle past the wind and it killed me. So today I geared down to mountain climbing levels and just started spinning my legs. It worked better than yesterday’s method. I got less tired and I still went about the same 7-9 mph as I did yesterday with a lot less effort. The fifty miles went from high arid desert to a greener desert as I went down the hills. I enjoyed the return of wild flowers and green trees. The Texas drought has seriously impacted the desert plants. The fires that burned because of the hot dry conditions can still be seen but the recent rains are returning some life to the landscape. I saw lots of wild turkeys today as I rode along. They were in the scrub near the road and sometimes even running around on the road. There must be a lot of them around for me to have seen so many. I also saw some deer in the washes that had a bit of water in them and some fresh new green growth for them to eat. If I stopped my bike they would race off so I was not able to get pics of the deer. I arrived in Sanderson feeling pretty good despite the fact that my 54 mile ride took me about seven hours because of the strong headwinds. A county worker stopped his truck and we talked for a few minutes while I guzzled some of his ice water he offered to me. He was a nice friendly considerate guy and I enjoyed talking with him. I really like these people that stop to offer water like this.  It helps restore my faith in humanity.   Once in Sanderson, I ate a lunch and checked into a cheap hotel to get caught up on my rest for tomorrow’s tough ride with lots more hills of at least 70 miles or 95 if the wind lets up on me a bit. More later…

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ride Day 31

Last night at the campground I got a bad night of sleep. The campers next to me were noisy well into the night and kept me awake. I did watch the shooting stars show while I was trying to get back to sleep. Getting the tent with the open top was a good idea.  I rode into Fort Davis and ate a big breakfast then hit the road for Alpine 26 miles away. The ride was an easy ride, downhill and flat for the most part. I arrived in Alpine in just over an hour. I stopped at a grocery store and drank some juices and ate some nuts then hit the road again. It was 31 miles to my next stop called Marathon. I expected to be there quickly because it too was a downhill and flat ride. The wind gods had something to say about my high hopes. Almost as soon as I left Alpine the wind started up right in my face. At first it was a gentle breeze but within a few minutes it was blowing 20-25 mph. My speed slowed down to a crawl. My planned easy day of riding was turning into a seriously hard day of riding. I got very tired. I just have not been getting enough rest I guess. I am not recovering quickly enough after my hard days of pedaling to string them together back to back like I have been doing. I had to stop and rest often. I was riding in very low gears and was only going about 6 mph for most of the day. I even had to pedal to go down the hills! My easy ride turned into a five hour endurance test. Five hours to go only 31 miles of flat and downhill riding! My will and my body were pushed to the limits yet again today. I took a few pics but not many because I was so tired. I ended up at a hostel in Marathon after a great cheese burger and shake lunch at Johny B's Cafe. The hostel seems to be a good spot to stay and it is free. Tomorrow if I can get out of bed I am heading to Sanderson. These areas are seriously desolate. For the last few days I have seen very little traffic and between the "cities" there has been very little sign of humans being around. More later...

Ride Day 30

I was on the road well before it was light out this morning because my plan was to ride 90 miles with over 3000 feet of climbing. The weather was predicted to be hot around 84 or more with relative humidity of under 20%. I ate in my room before I left and loaded myself down with 7 bottles of water. The day started well. I made my first twenty miles in just over an hour and stopped there to eat another breakfast. It was a giant wet breakfast burrito that was perfect for me. When I entered the freeway for the next leg of 20 miles the wind was just starting as a light breeze in my face. The light breeze quickly became a strong gusting problem for me. I lost about 8 to 10 mph on my speed. That made it feel like I was going uphill all morning and was sapping my strength. I figured when I turned off the wind would be easier. I was wrong, the wind changed direction just as I did and continued to slow me down and tire me out. The road was very desolate once I got off the freeway. I saw maybe a dozen vehicles all day until I got to Mcdonald Observatory where the traffic picked up. The ride was my most difficult day to date. The combination of headwinds and thousands of feet of climbing just about killed me. I had to use every motivational trick I know to keep going. The ride topped out at about 6300 feet or so and the high altitude was just making it worse. I had to stop and rest a lot because my heart rate was getting too high and my legs were turning into worthless weak rubbery nothings. I had no power or stamina all afternoon. I should have stopped and camped on the side of the road but I pushed on just very slowly. The scenery was all high arid desert scrub with lots of rocky mountains and outcroppings. There was very little sign of humans other than some cattle ranching. Most of the ranches however, killed off their herds over the last few years because the cattle were starving due to drought. I took a few pics but not many because I was so exhausted all day. I finally arrived at the summit and went to the observatory for a while. It is a good place to visit but I was too tired to appreciate it so I rode down the other side of the mountain to my campground and crashed. About an hour later my neighbor and I started talking and he invited me over for dinner. I had already eaten my food but I quickly said yes to more food. I need all the calories I can pack in. We talked over a casual dinner that hit the spot with some grilled veggies and chicken. I enjoyed the company and the food before I went to bed. About an hour after falling asleep the neighbors on the other side came back to their campsite and made a huge racket. It woke me up and ruined my good night of sleep. I watched the shooting stars from my open tent roof and finally went back to sleep. Tomorrow will be a short day of mostly flat and downhill. I need the rest

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ride Day 29

I stayed in a hotel last night and got a good night of sleep so I left while it was still dark out. I wanted to get some miles in before the heat and wind came up. I was 14 miles down the road before the sun came over the mountains. It was all flat riding but I had a slight head wind to fight. I easily climbed over the only hill on my ride today of about 500 feet. Then I stopped after 35 miles to rest and use wifi at Mcdonalds. The drama started about one minute after I sat down. I turned around to untangle my computer cord and when I started to log in I discovered my camera was no longer on my table. I posted it on Facebook then I decided to try to find it. I went table to table asking each person if they had seen anyone go near my table. Two people told me a sweet looking little old lady got up and walked over to my table then went back and sat down again. I approached her and she pretended she did not speak English. I switched to Spanish and she had to talk to me. She feigned any knowledge of a camera but I persisted. I pulled out a twenty dollar bill and loudly offered a reward for my camera if anybody found it. No response from anyone. A few minutes later I saw a sheriff pulling into the parking lot. I told the sweet little old lady that I had called them and she suddenly produced my camera and took my $20 bill. I never said another word. She pointed to the floor and tried to say she found it on the floor. Yea least I got it back. My ride plans are all shot today now. The wind is starting to blow hard in the wrong direction and I am burned out from the drama of getting my camera back. I might just stay here for the night and start again tomorrow. I will decide later after I rest for a while and think about it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ride Day 28

I took my time this morning leaving the motel. I enjoyed a Starbucks coffee and bagel before I hit the road. The weather forecast was for sunny 84 degrees and a light breeze SSW. The forecast was close but I think it was hotter than that or at least it felt hotter to me. I lathered myself in sun screen before I left but at the end of the day I found I had missed a spot with the sun screen or I rubbed it off because I got sun burned just in that one spot. I will be much more careful in the future with the Texas sun, it is very strong. Once I got out of the big city of El Paso the riding improved. Traffic disappeared and the road was fairly good even though it did not have enough shoulder if there had been more traffic. It was smooth and flat so I hauled ass at 17 to 24 mph depending on my mood. There was not a lot of change in scenery other than city to country. I saw a lot of abandoned buildings that were falling apart. It looked like most of them were booming before the freeway was built 50 years ago. Lots of small farm houses were falling apart also. Now it is mostly larger farms spaced further apart and they look corporate to me. A changing world takes its toll. I did meet up with some other riders that I last saw back in California. It turns out we stayed in hotels that were right next to each other last night. It is a small world sometimes. We talked for a bit and stopped off to get some drinks together before I took off for the road again. Once I left my friends I flew down the deserted highways in top gear. I really had some speed going and was eating up the miles. After two weeks of mountains as high as 8000 feet this ride seemed like a cake walk. I enjoyed pushing myself hard today. I had one hill to climb of almost 1500 feet but it was a slow climb and was not that bad. A trucker stopped and gave me two small bottles of iced water which was very nice of him and which I seriously appreciated in the heat after almost a hundred miles of riding. After going through the border stop at the top of the mountain (which is famous for Willie Nelson and many others getting cited for possession of drugs) I entered Sierra Blanca and started my nightly pig out on food and drinks. I try to keep it as healthy as I am able to but today I went for pizza. Now I am going to kick back and rest until day break tomorrow. More later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ride Day 27

I woke up a bit sore this morning and got a late start for me. At a bit after 7AM, I headed down the road from Caballo to El Paso TX. I had a plan for the day. I would ride without pushing it and when I got to the outskirts of El Paso I would jump on a public bus and ride to the far eastern side of town. I hate riding my heavy touring bike in busy city traffic. It is dangerous and for me pointless. Sure there can be some site seeing but at the risk of getting killed. Not worth it.

So I rode down the freeway for the section they allowed bikes on which was a nice smooth safe ride. Then they kicked me off to a narrow two lane road with almost no shoulder to ride on and a dangerous drop off on the edge of the pavement. There were lots of big trucks going in both directions and I had a cross wind blowing me into traffic. How is that safer than riding on a freeway???? The states need to allow adult bikers on more of the freeway system. Maybe with a driver's license requirement or something because the freeway is way safer to ride on. Or they need to widen all roads so there is a safe place to ride a bike.

I stopped for lunch around 10:30 and ordered a cheeseburger, fries and V8. When I was finished I ordered another burger. The waitress did not believe me and I had to convince her I was serious. They were both delicious and I then ordered a third one. She almost died when I asked for that one. Then I told her no two was enough and she started having a laughing fit. I guess not many people in these small towns mess with their waitresses.

I had a head wind for a couple of hours which slowed me down from 17mph to under 10mph. It really killed my legs and my spirit. I only had one mile more to go to get to my bus stop that I had already looked up on the internet. Then the worst thing happened to me. A big sign that said DETOUR. I tried to go around and get through the closed part of the road but it was impossible to get through so I had to back track and take the detour. In the country a detour can mean a half mile or it can mean 50 miles. This one ended up being about 10 miles out of my way. My tired legs were complaining and my mental state was a mixture of anger and depression or something. When I finally got across the border into TX I could not make myself backtrack to get to my planned bus stop so I went ahead into El Paso thinking there would be a bus stop. I stopped and asked lots of people but nobody knew anything about the bus. I rode on another 10 miles which made my day's ride way too long. Finally I just gave up and checked into a hotel for the night.

I soaked in the tub and showered off all the crusty salt and sun screen. I am windburned which is the same as being sunburned. Not too bad but I was putting sun screen on frequently so it annoys me that I still got burned. If it is going to be this windy here in TX I am going to have to start using zinc on my lips and up my sun screen to spf50.

I feel good now. Did some stretching and realized I need to do a lot more of that. Going to have to work it into a daily routine. Tomorrow I will deal with getting out of the big city. Tonight just sleep sleep sleep...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ride Day 26

I am finally past the big mountains in New Mexico. Emory Pass was 8228 feet. The views from the top were awesome as usual from mountain tops. I just can not capture the grandeur of the vistas with my little pocket camera but I included a few pics here anyway.

I left Silver City right as dawn was breaking. There were two choices for roads. One went to the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the other went by a giant open pit copper mine. I chose the giant open pit mine because it was flatter and much shorter than the other route and I have been to the cliff dwellings before back in the 1970's.

The road was rolling hills with various changes in scenery as I went up the grade. I was getting tired much faster than I am used to but I was climbing and working hard at between 6200 and 8200 feet in elevation where the air is pretty weak to say the least. The weather was perfect. Sunny but cool with a light breeze. I took some pics of the copper mine and then I just got into my work routine of pumping and letting my mind go blank. Letting my mind go blank seems to be getting easier as I go along in this ride. I had to rest a lot and a few times I walked a short distance to get my lower legs some blood. I do not use my lower legs when I ride. I can only push with my heels. I lose a lot of power because of that but it really only hurts me when I am doing a steep long uphill.

I was resting and walking at one point today and a truck stopped and asked me if I wanted a lift. My mind said no, that is cheating, if you take the ride you did not ride across the entire country. My legs however spoke up much quicker than my mind did and said yes right away. So I put my bike in the pickup and took a short ride with them. We stopped for pics here and there but I did not realize that my camera battery was dead so I missed a lot of great pics. It is very difficult to see the screen with my sunglasses on in the bright sunlight and I just did not know the camera was dead. Each time I turned it on it showed the pic I wanted to take and I pushed the button but the pics did not show up on my chip. Such is life. I think I still got enough pics for the day.

I met a Canadian family, Mom Dad and two boys riding on tandem bikes at the top of Emory pass at 8228 feet. They had just come up from the eastern direction which is a single very long uphill climb. We talked for a while as we rested and ate some food. After they left I used the restroom and when I came back out my bag of food was gone. I thought Yogi the bear only existed in the cartoons. I have no idea what or who took the food. It was just some bananas, sardines, candy bars, cookies and a gatorade.

My original plan was to sleep at the top of the mountain but with so many hours of good light left I decided to take the downhill run of 4000' drop in elevation. Now that was fun. The worst uphills are past me now for this ride. Tomorrow I go to El Paso. Maybe I will stop at the Alamo in Texas but more likely I will just pass through the big cities except for Austin which I really like. I am starting to like the lonely time on my bike in desolate areas like I just passed through. Just me and nature...more later