Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Up to No Good
Where I had stayed in El Paso was on the western end of town, so it was a matter of minutes before I got out of town and crossed into New Mexico.
Not much later, I was on a sparsely traveled highway that paralleled the USA-Mexico border, never more than five miles away. There was only one car every 20 minutes or so, and half of them were border patrol. I started seeing a lot of desert hares and nearly ran over a snake. I saw no vegetation taller than my waist. For several hours.
By the time I got to Columbus, my intended destination, I was met with a paradox. I was already tired and weak, possibly slightly dehydrated and low on calories. But it was only 2:00, and tomorrow's destination was only 45 miles away. And flat. But into an increasing wind.
I found a city park, sat down in the shade, drank a ton of water and ate. When I got on the bike half an hour later, I felt like a new man. Encouraging that I can rally like this!
Five miles later, I regretted my decision. The wind went from strong to devastating. I was getting nowhere.
Halfway to Hachita, 22 miles to go, I felt dehydrated again. I still had some water, but at the rate I was going, not enough. It wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't taking so long. What should I do?
12 miles out, I flagged down a border patrol car.
"Do you have water?"
"All I've got is this jug I've been sippin' on." He held up an entire gallon. It was almost full.
I heartily drank about a quart. With what I had on me, that should do it. I thanked him profusely. If he hadn't given me water, I don't know what would've happened.
I finally made it to Hachita about 8:15 PM, nearly six hours after leaving Columbus. I had averaged about 8 mph on flat pavement, without taking any lengthy break. I hate headwind.
Hachita is a town with no services, but hikers and bikers are allowed to camp at the community center, where there's a water pump and a bench. Good enough! I pitched my tent behind them and rode out the desert storms that rolled through in the night.
In the morning, I drank about as much water as I could stand to. I'm starting ahead this time.
The first 40 km of the day led me to a tourist trading post, the kind of place that sells postcards and $10 moccasins. They cheerfully directed me to a sink so I could fill up on water. I headed out tentatively - the first few miles off-pavement!
Right away, I had a bad feeling. The road was sand. In places deep sand, like trying to ride a bike on the beach. I swerved repeatedly, but never went over. After only a few minutes, the sand thinned out and the surface was about as good as it gets for an unpaved road. I even locked out my fork.
For the next 60 km, I was gaining elevation. So slowly you wouldn't notice, but enough to wear you down. Most of that distance was towards the NW, and just like always in New Mexico, there was a strong wind from the west. I got my butt kicked.
Flat #1. Front tire, thorn.
By the time I arrived in Silver City, I had to take a break for about 45 minutes and rally much like the day before, even though I only had 12 km to go. All of them were uphill.
Once again, that break made me feel like a new man. It's possible I'm not eating enough.
I stayed with WarmShowers hosts in Pinos Altos, a couple of retired teachers. Beer, chicken pasta, single malt scotch. Shower! Laundry! A bed even!
Big thanks to Carl and Damie. Day 2 and you've set the bar pretty high!
Already a day ahead of schedule, but already having a few problems:
- Rear wheel is out of true, and a few of its nipples are stripped.
- Rear tire's knobs occasionally brush against the rack.
- Chain looks too dry, and I forgot to bring lube.
- Not eating enough.
- Not drinking enough.
- Can't fill my water bladder all the way and get it to fit in my frame bag.
- When I fit my water bladder in my frame bag, it bulges out and hit my knee (especially the left).
- My left knee hurts.
Let's see if a much bigger rally can solve all these things!
from Great Divide