Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Camping in Camp Woods

Today was another pretty short day, and I was back in the saddle again. The sag driving days are a nice break, but it feels good to have a nice ride.
I was one of the first ones on the road and was happily pedaling along when I noticed a sheep -- not a cow -- for a change. As I got closer I noticed that the ewe was trapped between a fence and a gate inside the fence. and her lamb was frantically looking on So, I stopped the bike, being sure to click out of the right pedal as I usually do when I go to stop. I forgot, however, to click out of the left pedal, and therefore my rush to save the poor ewe was momentarily sidelines while I fall over, disconnected my left foot from the pedal, then picked my bike and myself up. The ewe became distressed at the thought that this nincompoop was going to help her and managed to get her front legs entangled in the gate, and a back leg in the fence. She literally was just hanging, wedged between the fence and gate. There was no answer to my yells at the ranchhouse. Fortunately the rest of the cavalry arrived at that time. We were lucky there was no electric fence! A couple of us managed to lift the ewe enough to disentangle her legs, after which another rider unlatched the gate and we swung it open enough for her to escape to her lamb's delight. That good deed done, we pedaled on.

The day started with some nice rolling hills, but more chip seal pavement and quartering headwinds. The chip seal seemed more problematic to many than the annoying wind. We spent the first half of the day on a narrow farm road which passed sheep farms, cattle ranches, and we even saw llamas. It was pretty, and there was very little traffic. The second half of the ride put us on a busier road, but with a good shoulder. Three miles from Camp Wood was a river crossing and a place to go play in the water. I chose not to play in the water and instead pedaled on into town for lunch and laundry.

All told, a nice day. The Woodbine hotel, where we're staying, is a nice, clean place with a religious theme (the picture frame by my door says Jehovah is watching over me). It is surprising to come to these small, old highway hotels and find wireless internet!

Bike stats: 49.48 miles; 4 hrs. 32 minutes riding time; 983 total trip miles.

Food stats: cereal with blueberries for breakfast, half a banana and some oreos on the road, a taco salad and pineapple milkshake for lunch.

On the march to Fort Clark Springs - Brackettville

Compared with yesterday's brutal slog to Del Rio, today's trip into the Fort Clark Springs hotel in Brackettville was a breeze. Light winds and relatively flat, and only 42 miles. Gave the tired riders a chance to recouperate. It was a very easy day to drive the sag wagon too. I just got to stand back and document the ladies at work on a flat. Think they could be hired for a construction crew (four watch, one works)?

The Fort Clark Springs hotel, our residence for the night, consists of former barracks at Fort Clark, which was established in 1852 and decommissioned in 1944. It was home to many cavalry units in the U.S. Army, and particularly to the "buffalo soldiers" cavalry units. All the old wooden buildings have been torn down, but the stone quarters and barracks are still being used, as private homes and th hotel. It also has a great spring-fed pool which stays a constant 68 degrees. The pool felt great on this 80+ degree sunny day.

Tomorrow we have another relatively short day (49 miles) and should be seeing more hills as we head into the Texas hill country. We've been told that the hills are a bit steeper but shorter than the mountains we've seen so far. This is around the time in the trip when I was told that people tend to get cranky. One lady said she was out of sorts at the Indian Lodge, and I had a case of it last night. Time to get back to spinning on the drop spindle and on the bike. Both activities help soften the edges!

Food stats: Last night had a couple pieces of pizza. This morning had a ham and cheese and egg croissant and a few oreos at lunch. Dinner was chicken or eggplant tortilla casserole, beans and rice, salad, watermelon, and I had a lemon bar for dessert.
P.S. There was no internet service at Fort Davis, so I'm posting yesterday's blog entry today!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Headwinds to Del Rio

I decided this morning to ride the van to Langtry (town of Judge Roy Bean) and then bike from there to our home at the Lakeview Inn on the Amistad Reservoir, created by the Amistad dam (serial setters look that up!). Today's ride was 111 miles, and that just didn't seem like fun to me. The van was going to set up lunch at the turnoff to Langry, which is about 50 miles from the hotel.

After visiting Langtry, and setting up lunch, I had second thoughts about biking 50 miles. The wind was a strong headwind. One rider rode in an announced she had ridden 6 mph,...pedaling... downhill. That cinched it for me! We ended up with 7 of us in the van after the lunch stop and picked up 3 more riders on the way to the hotel. The rest of the riders are out there right now and have until 7 before they will be picked up and brought in. Not sure whether to admire them or avoid them!!

The route was a bit hilly, but of the long, rolling variety until the last 20 miles which are flat. We've supposedly dropped another thousand feet or so from Marathon, but according to today's riders you wouldn't know it. We've left the Texas mountains and will be heading into hill country. Only 5 days until we are in Kerrville and I get to visit with Mom, my other mother and father, and my brother and other brother.
So, no bike stats today. Ate some eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, a turkey and cheese wrap for lunch, a few ginger snaps and a granola bar. We're having pizza delivered tonight since Linda cooked breakfast and lunch.

I will probably drive the sag wagon tomorrow. Ann has been driving it since my last duty day because she pulled a muscle. She thinks she might be able to ride again tomorrow. (Although without the boa!)

Tidbit for the non-Texans following this blog: speed limit on I-10 in west Texas is 80. Speed limit on the 2-lane U.S. 90 is 75. Fortunately there has been little traffic on U.S. 90 (our route since Alpine, TX), and the vehicles has pulled over to the opposite lane to pass us when possible.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Safe and sane in Sanderson

We left the dead animal hotel this morning and headed to Sanderson, the cactus capital of Texas. It was to be a short day, so we left after 9 a.m. -- some people even left around 10. We had a tailwind most of the day, so despite our best efforts to not get here too early, most of us were here by 2 p.m.
The part of west Texas we are traveling through is very beautiful, with high hills and lots of scrub brush, grassland, cactus, and other flora. Only saw cows today -- no other wildlife. There weren't even any towns between Marathon and Sanderson in which to dawdle. The ride was mostly flat, with one long, gradual, easy uphill near the beginning. The wind picked up toward the end and was a side wind from time to time, but it wasn't a problem like it was yesterday. It was a bit warmer than yesterday, so I shed the warm weather tights and mittens at the first sag stop. Wore the long-sleeved shirt under the rain jacket and was quite comfortable. The breeze is still very cool, but the sun is hot.
Tomorrow is our 111-mile day. If we continue to have a tailwind, I might go for it. If we don't have a good tailwind, I'll ride the van to our lunch stop and bicycle from there. I've done that distance before and don't have anything to prove.
Bike stats: 54.58 miles; 3 hrs. 31 minutes riding time; 933 total trip miles. Food: last night Linda made us happy by cooking up a big pot of split pea soup to warm us up, along with cornbread, and key lime pie. This morning I had cereal and yogurt, on the road had a banana and protein bar. Had another protein bar, some ginger snaps, and a strawberry/kiwi V8 Splash when I got in.
Claudia -- Peggy says "Hey."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Marathon Madness

This morning we had to regretfully leave Indian Lodge and Davis State Park and continue our journey. After a great buffet breakfast, we pedaled down through Fort Davis and on to Alpine. It seemed like we hit the rush hour for the traffic from Fort Davis to Alpine! In Alpine we invaded a lovely bakery. 21 women in a small cafe/bakery creates quite a scene. While we were there Dave and Dan joined us. They and Dan's wife Beth are also bicycling the Southern Tier -- one of them drives a small RV while the other two ride. Dave and Dan sat down with Ted Gray, a local rancher of repute. Mr. Gray walked into the bakery and absolutely commanded attention. He is 85, but ramrod straight and over six feet tall. He came to Alpine, Texas at age 15 and became a successful rancher. If you're interested in more about him, click on http://texanareview.typepad.com/posts/culture/ and scroll down to his interview.

After Alpine, we headed more easterly than southerly. There was a high wind warning in effect through this afternoon, and we noticed it right away! It was sometimes a quartering wind from the north, sometimes a side wind, and was a fantastic tailwind for a while. According to Patty, the wind was 20 mph, gusting to 35 or more. At times I felt like my bike was leaned over 45 degrees to stay upright! And we lost our warm weather today. When we left Fort Davis it was 39, and was still 39 in Alpine. After we got here and were eating lunch we were told it was 44 degrees (at 2:30 p.m.). My southern climate sisters were very unhappy with the cold. I thought it felt great!! Rode most of the day with just tights, a long-sleeve top, rain jacket, and mittens. Those training rides in my unheated garage were colder than this!!

We're at the Gage Hotel in Marathon. It is an historic hotel, furnished with neat, western decor, like cowhides for carpets. Also has neat Mexican-style tiles on the walls. Its lobby is fantastic too with lots of dead animal heads and a stuffed cougar. Real Texan. Most of us are in a section of the hotel where the rooms open onto a lovely flowered courtyard. It the weather were warmer it would be wonderful to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful blossoms.

Animal sightings: Mule deer, antelope, buzzards snacking on a coyote carcass.

Bike stats: 62.4 miles; 4 hrs. 45 minutes riding time; 879 total trip miles. Food stats: egg biscuit, hashbrowns, and half a grapefruit for breakfast, some assorted nuts along the route, a small donut and chai tea latte in Alpine, a grilled cheese sandwich and bag of chips upon arrival in Marathon.

It's amazing that we were all commenting this morning that today would be a short ride! People are definitely in good shape by now!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Relaxing in Fort Davis

Yesterday was a brutal bicycling day. Thankfully I drove the sag yesterday. The day started with a nice flat tailwind ride on the shoulder of I-10 from Van Horn for about 40 miles. Then the riders exited I-10 for the almost 60-mile leg into Fort Davis, and the wind picked up and was a howling quartering wind in their faces. There were lots of folks who, at the 45 mile lunch spot, hitched a ride to the HILLS after mile 62, or all the way to the hotel in the Davis State Park. There were a lot of hardy souls, however, who slogged through the wind and into the hills for a total of 90 miles. They are truly inspirational!!!!! (or should be considered certifiable, take your pick) One determined soul rode the entire way until about 8 miles from the hotel, when he rear tire blew out. Her tube shredded and the sidewall of the tire was a disaster. Thankfully she didn't get hurt. She'll have to ride the van tomorrow to Marathon, where she'll have new rims and tires and tubes awaiting her.

Last night and tonight we are staying at the Indian Lodge in Davis State Park. The oldest part of the lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937. It is absolutely beautiful. The best part of it is that we are away from cities and traffic, no need to keep the A/C unit going to cover the noise. I kept the windows open and listened to birds singing this morning. First really sound sleep of the trip. I hope that Peter and I can someday come here and spend a week hiking and enjoying the place. The Davis Mountains are beautiful.

So, on to Marathon tomorrow. I'll add pictures to this post tomorrow when I can update from my computer (I'm using the Fort Davis library computer right now).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Over the hill to Van Horn

Yesterday's horrendous windstorm which blew us into Fort Hancock continued into the evening. We had to find a section of the hotel grounds which was somewhat sheltered in order for Linda to cook dinner and to set it up and eat. It was a mess. Grit got into everything. By dark, however, the winds had abated. But, just in case, Linda arranged for us to eat breakfast at Angie's restaurant across the street (because she just couldn't cook a grit-free meal in the wind).
So, at 6 a.m., a dozen bicyclists waited by Angie's front door. The cook arrived, got coffee started, and got the grill going. The waitress showed up 5 minutes later. I don't know how they did it, but they had all of us served with our breakfast of choice by 7:15 or so, and we were on our way. Kudos to Angie's!!
Patty and I traveled together today and chatted up a storm. While I enjoy bicycling alone, it was nice to have company and she enjoyed pedaling at my relatively slow but steady pace. She had earlier been tagging along with the faster riders or riding alone. The day started pretty flat through more horse and alfalfa and cotton country. We then climbed back up into 4,000 ft. elevation terrain on I-10 and its frontage road. Stayed at that level much of the ride, with a pretty flat roll. The last 5 miles were a nice, easy downhill right to the hotel front door. Once again we had favorable winds. We're getting spoiled!!!
We also changed time zones just before Van Horn. That meant we got in at 2:45 instead of 1:45. Lost a whole hour, but got in early enough to be second in line for the washing machine. The laundry procedure is to tape a piece of paper to the washer and sign up. When the person ahead of you on the list is done, they let you know so you can start your wash. The dryer here is creating a problem because it runs longer than the washer. Our literature doesn't indicate that we have laundry facilities in Ft. Davis, our next destination and layover day, so we need to do it now or in 3 days.
Bike stats: 75.42 miles; riding time 5 hrs. 45 minutes; total mileage 816. Food: Last night spaghetti, bread, salad, and a brownie; breakfast was an egg & cheese burrito and hash browns; had two protein bars on the ride and a banana on the ride, and a DQ hawaiian blizzard upon arrival.
Tomorrow I drive the sag wagon (known as Lil Bo Peep). It will be a long day - 90 miles, so will mean lots of back and forth to keep track of my sheep.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flying to Fort Hancock

Today's weather forecast was for high winds, but we had a short ride scheduled, so start time was after 8 a.m. I decided not to be the first one on the road and to actually ride with someone. My Vermont neighbor Peggy, Elizabeth from Massachusetts, and Marni from Houston let me tag along. Elizabeth dubbed today a rolling rest day.

We stopped at a couple of missions which were very beautiful. Then around 11 we stopped at a small Mexican restaurant, La Calesa, in Tornillo for lunch. The general consensus was the enchiladas were great. I'd had not-so-great enchiladas yesterday for lunch, so opted to wait for pie at Angie's in Fort Hancock. Even with all the dilly-dallying, and two great sag stops, we were done at 1 p.m. The high wind ended up a quartering and tailwind almost the entire way! We really didn't need to pedal hard at all.

So, all told another beautiful weather day. Tomorrow is 74 miles to Van Horn. The winds are supposed to be quieter tomorrow.

Bike stats: 48.89 miles today; 3 hrs. 17 minutes ride time; total trip mileage 741 miles. Food: bran flakes (raisin bran with raisins removed), banana, hard boiled egg, donut, OJ, protein bar, two oreo cookies, some tortilla chips, and a fantastic piece of apple pie! Last night Linda cooked fish, macaroni & cheese, fruit with a cream sauce, broccoli with garlic. Another fantastic meal!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Elated to be in El Paso

Margarita night!! Somewhere in today's ride we crossed over from New Mexico to Texas. We started the day with a weather forecast of highs in low 80's and winds even stronger than yesterday. It was like we were all shot out of a cannon this morning. Even slightly before the butt-crack of dawn, but with ample daylight, people bolted out of the hotel parking lot and back on the road.

The early scenery was much the same as yesterday afternoon -- pecan groves, cotton fields, chili fields. Lots more horses, some thoroughbreds, a polo field, and an alpaca ranch. Then we got into El Paso and the urban traffic and strip malls. After going through downtown we rode 8.8 miles on the border highway. The wind had definitely picked up by then, but it was a tailwind!! It looked like our defense against terrorist labor illegal immigrants consisted of a tall fence, another fence with barbed wire, a concrete moat, another fence with barbed wire, road debris (guaranteed to trip up anyone who made it that far), and if all that doesn't stop those illegals, the Texas drivers will get them! What happened to Lady Bird Johnson's beautifying America? What happened to "Drive friendly?"

Didn't take too many pictures because of all the traffic. All told the ride was pretty flat, except for Mesa Hills Rd. where there were some hills. The feared wind ended up being an asset today. Checked in around noon and went next door to the mexican restaurant for lunch. Either the food had a particular local flavor which doesn't appeal to me, or it was pretty bad. I wouldn't recommend that restaurant.

Bike stats: 66.66 miles; 4 hrs. 48 minutes riding time; 692 total trip miles. Food: egg biscuit sandwich, two bananas, melon, OJ, coffee, a Milky Way bar (purchased to thank the lady at the grocery store for letting me use the restroom), chicken enchiladas, refried beans, rice. Last night for dinner Linda made shepherd's pie, salad, cottage cheese and fruit, and brownies and leftover birthday cake (from a rider's birthday party).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Legging it to Las Cruces

After a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the Black Range Lodge, and one of the best breakfasts on the ride, and half an hour of rubbing Charlie and Pepper's bellies (the Lodge dogs) we were off and pedaling again -- to Las Cruces. If you ever venture to this part of the country, make it a point to stay at this lodge. The proprietors are wonderful and the lodge is a true gem. We all wanted to spend another day and night there, but the open road awaits.

The ride started out with a long downhill and then a bit of an uphill, then down or flat the rest of the way to Las Cruces. The wind was initially favorable, but picked up and was either at our sides or at times in our faces during the afternoon. I outran the sag wagon today, and had to go off-route to find some food and liquid. Dutifully called Ann the sag driver to let her know what I was doing so she wouldn't go looking for me and get worried when she didn't find me.

And now, the picture that

Peter has waited for, and

Tom has waited for, and

Michael knows is coming.

Let the drumroll begin..........

Yes, folks. We were in cow country much of the day.

At about mile 26 we entered the Rio Grande valley and saw lots of pecan groves, harvested cotton fields, and lots and lots of chilis and chili processors. There were lots of farms and more horses than I had seen on the trip so far. It was a very warm day, and a very long day along the Rio Grande. When I checked into the hotel, they told me they had cake and ice cream for the riders and would be serving it in 15 minutes. I suggested they wait for the rest of the riders to get in, as I was one of the early ones. It was really nice of the hotel to do that for us!
Bike stats: 91.61 miles (get cracking Kak); riding time 6 hours 36 minutes; total mileage so far 625. Food stats: oatmeal, sourdough waffle, fruit, home fries, two protein bars, grilled ham & cheese sandwich, piece of cake and ice cream.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Killer hills to Kingston

This was a long, busy sag day. The trip went 48 miles, and I didn't finish the sag and post-sag chores until 5 p.m. This had the most beautiful scenery of the trip. The route was a bit uphill, then downhill, then a very long, pretty steep uphill. The hill topped out at 8800 feet! The entire route was winding with speed limits of 25-35 both uphill and downhill. I am amazed at these riders -- women in their 50's and 60's, and one 70 and one in her 40's pedaled without complaint. One rider had to be picked up a mile from the top with a badly gashed shin. Her bike attacked her. Had one other rider then, so the three of us did some sightseeing on the way down to the lodge.

The Black Ridge Lodge is absolutely fantastic. I informed the proprieters that I'm not leaving and would be happy to help with chores. They have two dogs -- one of them an Aussie. The place is very rustic and just feels like home. No cell coverage, so I miss my evening call to Peter. But, they have wireless internet!!

Finished knitting my sister-in-law's shawl last night, so can play with the drop spindle tonight if I have the energy. May just enjoy the peace of this place. We go to Las Cruces tomorrow - 88 miles but is supposed to be mostly downhill and flat.

No bike stats. Food: cereal, a couple of brownie bites, a protein bar. Don't know what the lodge is serving tonight, but it sure smells good!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slumbering in Silver City

No pictures today. It's a layover day. Actually slept through the night for the first time this trip! So, comments on the comments you guys have made:

Martys (Terri) (my baby sister): We use sunscreen. Gobs of it. Linda (our chef and purchaser of all necessities) even mentioned last night that we're using an awfully amount of it. We really haven't had anyone with a serious sunburn despite the cloudless skies we've had every single riding day. I douse myself in it before breakfast, sometime shortly after the first sag stop, and on a longer day once more a few hours later. SPF 48. Just replenished my personal stash with SPF 70 stuff. Didn't even know it was made that strong. Would you like to visit Saturday night (April 4) in Blanco? I will sag that day, and it isn't too long a day, and my post-sag chores that night will be brief (refilling Lil Bo Peep the sag wagon). If yes, would you like to eat with the riders, or somewhere else. I need to know so I can tell Linda and she can make sure she cooks enough. Email me the response -- I don't have your email address in my webmail, so would like you to email so I can enter your address.

Kak (my older sister): No really great signs of spring. A few flowers here and there but the desert is not really in bloom. Haven't seen any armadillos, but we still have the rest of New Mexico and all of Texas for that. I'm not going to identify the other ladies in pictures or talk about them individually. You'll have to wait until the ride is over for me to do that. The trailer hauls all our luggage (clothing, computer, mp3 player, miscellaneous non-riding stuff. I carry in my bike bag a tool kit, a first aid kit, sunscreen, rain jacket, snacks, state map, cell phone, ibuprofen and excedrin migraine, wallet, and chapstick. My camera goes in a little bag in front of me. The cue sheet is held by a clip in front of the handlebars.

Horseshoe#1 (not a relation but warped enough to qualify): We have plenty of ladies with wicked senses of humor. There are lots of laughs and giggles around the dinner table. "Butt-crack of dawn" is about the mildest giggle I can reprint. I don't hear much silliness from the others during the day because I'm either bicycling alone or driving the sag, usually alone.

I really enjoy hearing comments from all of you who are following the blog. Now I have to go back to town with Bessie the bike to see if they can put a second water bottle cage on her, and to get another tire. Will be sagging tomorrow and will update tomorrow night if I can (not sure if the next hovel has internet, but it is supposed to be really great otherwise).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Uphill to Silver City

Had corned beef and cabbage and carrots and potatoes and strawberries and grapes last night -- and a margarita. Found out that two riders hit railroad tracks wrong and took a tumble. A lovely lady helped one rider and took her to a clinic where she was looked over and patched up. The other rider cracked her helmet! Other things I forgot to mention from yesterday. When I had my blowout at mile 3.3, I dropped and broke my water bottle. Fortunately I have spares. Also, wish I had a penny for every beer bottle I saw along the road. Would have paid for this trip!

On to today. Linda told us breakfast was at 8 this morning. I woke up at 5 and fidgeted until she put out some cereal and fruit. That was all I needed - didn't wait for the hot stuff. It was after the butt-crack of dawn by then, so I headed out. Met up with Janet at mile 14 or so and asked her to see where the lead weights had been added to my bike. It was a steady, but manageable, uphill all the way to mile 19.

Crossed the continental divide around mile 19, then hit stair steps for a while -- ride a short distance relatively flat, then climb, then ride a relatively flat stretch, then climb. Had a mile-long Chubb Hill gear climb around mile 39, then a gorgeous 3-mile, 24 mph downhill, then another mile climb, then rolled into Silver City.

We'll be here tonight and tomorrow. Finally a layover day. I got in and told the front desk that I was looking forward to doing laundry. They said their guest washer was down, but they would do my laundry for me. Angels!!!!

Plan to wander Silver City tomorrow for a while, then catch up with questions you guys have asked and I haven't answered.

Bike stats: 47.54 miles; riding time4 hrs. 47 minutes; total trip miles 534. Food today so far: cereal and milk, banana, granola bar, ginger snaps, apple slices, Go Lean bar, and two bean burritos. Wildlife sightings: deer, jackrabbit, hawk, crows.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lordy, Lordy, I'm in Lordsburg

We're in Lordsburg, New Mexico tonight. That means margarita night! The day started quite interestingly. As I was walking past my bike in my hotel room this morning, I heard a loud sound like a rifle shot - loud enough to cause deafness for about 10 seconds. Fortunately I had just made my last bathroom visit before getting on the bike! After ascertaining that I had no new holes in my body I looked at my bike. The front tire was flat. Took out the tube and it had blown a 6" gash in the side. So, checked out the tire and didn't find any sharp points or anything which appeared to have caused a flat in a bike which had not moved for 12 hrs. Put in a new tube, put the tire back on, and took off down the road.

As I pedaled, I saw so much cotton in the weeds along the road. Safford and Pima are known for cotton. Yesterday I had picked up a handful and started drawing out the fibers and making a thread with my fingers. Thought about picking up a bunch of the cotton, but decided I have enough fiber for 5 years of spinning and cotton could wait. 3.3 miles down the road the tire blew again like a rifle shot. That brought little Blackie (a small dog) racing from her porch, with kids close behind trying to corral her. Then the rest of the riders motored by, with Blackie trying to scare off those offending creatures. When everyone had passed, Blackie came over and was very friendly. I just scared the s--- out of her!

Carol, who had sag duty today, pulled in and we put the bike on the car and headed back to the van and trailer for a consultation with Michelle, our guide and tire expert. Her diagnosis was a sidewall defect (the tire was brand new for the trip). So, we dug out my spare tire, another tube, and some rim tape for good measure and got the tire ready to go. By this time the riders were about 15 miles down the road, so I stayed in the van until the town of Duncan, approximately 35-40 miles from Safford. Linda dropped me off and I rode into Lordsburg without further excitement! On our layover day in Silver City day after tomorrow I'll put new rim tape on the back tire for good measure.

The stretch of road I rode was relatively flat and there were absolutely no towns or settlements of any kind between Duncan and Lordsburg. Long stretches of road going forever. Saw some cows and a roadrunner (but no Wiley Coyote). So few cars that you could pee beside the road and not worry about anyone seeing you. Guys have it so much easier.
Arizona didn't observe daylight savings time, so we lost an hour today by riding to New Mexico, which does. Tomorrow we head to Silver City and a well deserved layover. We have lots of people adjusting bike seats, so a day off the saddle is really due right now! It is getting hotter too.
Bike stats: 40.63 miles (would have been 73 miles if I had ridden all day)(lucky Kak - she doesn't have to pedal 3 extra miles); saddle time 3 hours 10 minutes. Food- cereal and milk and small donut for breakfast, couple of handfuls of peanut M&M's and some almonds, chicken taco salad from Taco Bell. Linda said we'll have corned beef and cabbage tonight.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sagging to Safford

The morning feeding frenzy at the snack table. Each mornng Linda and Lois put out peanut butter, jelly, bread, and an assortment of nuts and snacks for the day's ride. The sag wagon carries chips, various snack bars (granola bars, Go Lean bars, PayDay bars, Powerbars), cookies, jerky, nuts, M&M's (regular and peanut), juice, water, Gatorade, and fruit. Anyone trying to lose weight should not sign up for this ride!
Today's ride was either 77 miles or 83 miles, depending on whether you go by the cue sheet or a rider's Garmin. The first sag stop was at mile 20 on the San Carlos Reservation. There was a really cute reservation dog that tried hard to mooch food from us. Lucky for Peter that I couldn't bring the pooch with me!
The reservation was a cell phone dead zone and I had to backtrack to Globe to get a signal and find out why the van and trailer hadn't come along yet. The trailer had a flat. Then it was on to mile 40 or so - wherever the lead rider was. Found her a little past mile 40 and later Peggy, my Perkinsville neighbor, joined me in the wagon. She was duly deputized to honk the squeeze horn as we caught up with riders so they knew we were coming by and could let us know if they wanted anything.
We drove back and forth for a bit to check on riders, then stopped around 2:30 for lunch. We had bean burritos and I had one of Taylor Freeze's (in Pima, AZ) legendary root beer floats. I then dropped Peggy off at the hotel and made one last run. Finished sagging around 5 -- a long day! Not much time to take pictures, and the scenery wasn't too spectacular. The ride was downhill initially, then long rolling hills, then flat. It was a very hot-feeling day without a cooling breeze.
Tomorrow we pedal to Lordsburg and have margaritas! New Mexico here we come. Two days until layover day. The non-sag riders have pedaled for six days without a break and are pretty tired and sore. On the other hand, they are amazing people. Women in their 50's, 60's, and 70, and one 41-year-old whipper snapper who can ride for miles and miles and miles. And not one gripe or whine - just lots of laughs, songs, and smiles. They are truly a pleasure to be around.
No bike stats. Food: bowl of cheerios with milk, banana, OJ, some fruit chews, bean burrito, root beer float, melon, mashed sweet potatos, Cuban chicken, and a slice of cheesecake. Should be enough to fuel me for tomorrow and Wednesday.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Galloping to Globe

Last night Linda made poached salmon, noodles, and quinoa salad, tossed salad, and cheesecake for desert. She's ruining our figures! Nevertheless, the riders were wide awake at 6 a.m. for hotel breakfast and ready to ride before the butt-crack of dawn (our favorite term for the early morning). While the cue sheet indicated only 55.7 miles to travel, we had two significant climbs, so everyone was ready for a long, but successful ride.

Our first big climb started around mile 18, but we had been steadily and gradually climbing since we left the hotel. The first climb took us to 2,651 feet at Gonzales Pass. It was no worse than riding Rt. 103 from Chester to Proctorsville - just a long, low-gear pedal. We had a teaser downhill into Superior, where we started the 10.4 mile climb to 4600 ft. Went through one tunnel, which was fun at first because I was the only person in it and made noises to hear their echo. When the traffic started to race in, the noise became deafening and it was a bit terrifying because there wasn't much room in the lane for a car and me. Last year's riders were turned around at this tunnel because of snow. Not the case this year!

This sign was heartwrenchingly deceiving. It came at mile 37 according to my odometer, but according to my cue sheet the top of the climb wasn't until mile 40.2. My cue sheet was right. Had another teaser downhill, then right back uphill. After that it was mostly downhill to Claypool, then some uphills to Globe (elevation around 3800 ft.).

In Globe I detoured through Historic Globe and then down to the Besh-ba-gowah indian historic site and ruins. The site is on the national historic register and was well worth the $3 admission. The Hohokan indians populated the area eons ago. They mixed with other tribes and eventually became the Salado (this is all according to the video at the site), who occupied the area from 1100-1400 A.D. They disappeared from the scene around the same time as the Anasazi - probably due to drought.

Saw more of those cute long-eared bunnies, and three "dead skunk in the middle of the road stinkin' to high heaven." Saw some of the prettiest scenery on the trip, but didn't want to stop too often and try to pedal again uphill. Was a bit unpleasant with lots of traffic on the route (mostly on US 60), but most people tried to move over as they passed. I wish they knew how much we would have liked to have a good shoulder on the uphills to get out of their way!!

Bike stats: 62 miles (yes, Kak, detours count); 6 hrs. 24 minutes riding time; 445 miles total for the trip. Food: three small pacakes, one blueberry minimuffin, orange drink and coffee for breakfast, banana and two Go Lean bars on the road, bean burrito in Globe, and tonight we go to the Country Kitchen restaurant next door.

Tomorrow is a sag driving day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Apparently in Apache Junction

Yard sale, garage sale, moving sale, huge sale, home decor sale, block sale -- Saturday in the Greater Phoenix area. We rode from our hotel through Scottsdale and Mesa into Apache Junction. The route was predominantly on busy suburban streets, with the cue sheet reading left and right turns all day long. Between the turns, stop signs, traffic, and stoplights, it was difficult to get into a comfortable cycling rhythm. It was a short day, however, and many riders made side trips to see people or things along the way.

The only sag stop I saw was at a large park complex, and right next to a big dog park. People were coming and going, being dragged along by their pooches. Once safely inside the gated areas (one for active dogs, one for passive dogs), the dogs were unleashed and ran all over the place. It was fun to watch them play, and made me miss Brody all the more! I wasn't so magnanimous about the two dogs which chased me later in the day. Blowing my whistle just seemed to excite them all the more.

Sights along the way included a large equestrian center, with jumps set up inside rings, and an obstacle course in a large field. The center was right in the middle of a suburban housing community! Also saw two jackrabbits. The highlight of the trip, however, was visiting with my Aunt Kathy. Kathy is one of those souls who if it weren't for bad luck she'd have none at all. She went through a hard time last year and her brother, Rory, was able to get her into a very nice assisted living facility. The facility was only a couple of miles off the route, so I detoured and visited her. She wasn't happy with this picture, but neither was I. She looks a whole lot better than the picture shows. Check out my chubby cheeks and double chin. I told the staff person taking the picture to just take it from the waist up. After the picture taking, the sunglasses, helmet, and gloves went back on and I was back on the road.

Tomorrow we ride up and down into the mountains to Globe. Last year the riders were stopped at one of the passes because of snow. Those mountains had lots of thunderheads over them today, but it is too warm for snow.

Bike stats: 58.68 miles; 4 hrs. 56 minutes riding time; 383 total miles.

Food stats: cereal with milk, orange juice, coffee, banana, Go Lean bar, Powerbar Protein bar. Last night Linda made a great chicken in peanut sauce, with a tofu in peanut sauce option, rice, asian cole slaw, fruit cocktail, and cake for dessert. In case you're wondering why I'm tracking food, it is to keep me from eating junk food. I'd be too embarrassed to record what I'd really eat if I didn't have to tell anyone!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Phlying to Phoenix

After a fantastic lasagna dinner last night in Wickenburg and my first good night's sleep on the trip, it was time to pack up and head to Phoenix today. Passed Lake Pleasant, created by one of those infernal dams designed to retain water for the Central Arizona Project (for my Serial Set friends). It seemed very bizarre to see signs for marinas in the middle of a field of cactus.

Speaking of cactus, one of my fellow bicyclists arrived unusually early and without her usual riding partners. She was asked if she thought she was getting into really good condition, hence her early arrival, to which she replied, "there are only so many pictures you can take of f------ cactus!!!" So, no pictures of cactus today. And, since about half of the ride was in relatively heavy traffic and strip malls, I didn't take many pictures myself.

How does a typical day go? I am one of the early birds (surprise, surprise). By 6 a.m. I'm packed and ready to go. If our hotel has a breakfast offering, we usually partake of it (most hotels don't start that until 6:30). If the hotel offering is limited or nonexistent, Linda makes a breakfast of eggs and oatmeal, along with bread, cereal, fruit. They tell us we can't start riding until the sun rises, so the early birds scan the surrounding hills for the first sunlight of the day. When it appears, we tell the day's sag driver we're off, and start riding.

The first sag stop is usually about 20 miles into the ride. The sag driver waits until the last rider leaves the hotel parking lot, then travels out past the lead rider to that point. There are occasional places where we can stop for early lunch/late breakfast before the second sag stop. So far we haven't had more than two sag stops. One day the sag stops were broken up by Linda and the van having a lunch stop in the middle of the ride (there weren't any other options).

Riders arrive at the hotel-du-jour and check in at the front desk, take bike and bags to the room, and then do whatever they want until around 6 p.m. dinner. We have a trailer which hauls luggage and has a kitchen in the back. Linda and Lois will make dinner, and we sit in those ubiquitous white resin chairs (which are stored in the luggage area) while we eat. After we eat, Michelle hands out the next day's cue sheet (lists of places where we turn and distances between turns) and talks about the route. After dinner people chat or go to their rooms for the night. And then it starts all over again.

I know many people have asked questions in their comments. I'll try to answer them in my March 19 entry. That is our next layover day and I'll have more time to read the comments and answer questions.

Tomorrow we head to Apache Junction.

Hey, Kak, are you keeping up? (My sister said she will ride her stationary bike 10% of the miles I do each day.)

Today's stats: 66.94 miles; riding time 5 hrs. 8 minutes; total miles: 324.
Food so far today: Two slices of french toast, small bowl of Special K cereal with milk, two small cups of OJ, coffee, chicken sandwich, lemonade, banana, grilled ham and cheese sandwich, fries. Will go light at dinner tonight!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Welcome to Wickenburg

We are in Wickenburg tonight. I had sag duty today, with two stops in the middle of nowhere. There were some neat places to get things to eat and drink along the way, and the day was relatively short (60 miles or so), so the sag stops had no drama.

The first neat place was called Ingredients - a short 4 miles from our hotel. It is a coffee shop/cafe run by a mother and daughter. It is really fascinating inside with a little bit of everything. Lots of riders stopped for a cup of coffee here.

The second neat spot was the Coyote Cafe in Aguila, about 29 miles into the ride. Most of the riders stopped here for an early lunch.
Not much else to report today because I didn't ride and didn't have the chance to take many pictures. I also ate very little today -- Special K cereal, banana, milk, coffee, two ginger snaps, one oreo cookie, and a McDonald's milkshake (at 3 p.m. - I was famished). Linda is doing lasagna tonight!
Dad passed away a month ago today. I've thought about him lots today and know we all miss him a lot. Connie gave me a big hug every time she saw me - her father died a year ago and she still misses him too. Those hugs helped!
P.s. Sorry that the Salome post was late - the hotel didn't have internet access. It did, however, have red neon lights outside the rooms, which were quite a giggle with this group!

Sailing into Salome

Today took us from California to Arizona. That means -- margaritas tonight! The day started out pretty quietly. We pedaled east, crossed the Colorado River (the state line), then got onto I-0 for the next 18 miles. That's right, pedaling on the breakdown lane on the interstate. The plus side was being able to stop at a rest stop (instead of the most convenient plant). The down side was seeing the aftermath of a high speed chase which probably ended in one death. Connie and Laurey saw the car fly past with police cars in hot pursuit. Shortly thereafter they saw where it had hit a berm on an entrance ramp, spun, flipped, and god knows what else. As I pedaled by someone was doing cpr on someone beside the back end of the car. Shortly thereafter a life-rescue helicopter flew by. According to Michelle, when she went by the scene the helicopter had shut down -- not a good sign for whoever was on the receiving end of the cpr.
Most of the day I pedaled within sight of Connie and Laurey, and Elizabeth and Peggy. We pedaled from there to Quartzite, a funky town with lots of neat sights. Bill, who is notorious for wearing nearly nothing outside his shop, was wearing overalls. We stopped at Sweet Darlene's and I had a great cinnamon roll, then headed back onto I-10 for another 11 miles. The interstate pedaling was mostly a gradual uphill, not a big strain.

We exited I-10 onto US 60 and stopped next at Brenda, where we encountered Bandit (the donkey) and Rowdy (the bull) in a van. They do donkey and bull shows in a local town every Thursday. From there we pedaled to Hope and had a huge lunch which was fantastic. From Hope it was a short hop to our overnight stay in Salome.
Today's bike stats: 61.8 miles, 5 hrs. 37 min. riding time. Total miles- 257.
Food before supper (and margaritas): cereal, yogurt, banana, mini-muffin, two glasses of orange juice, cup of coffee, cinnamon roll, ham and cheese omelet, home fries, 2 slices whole wheat toast, and a handful of peanut M&Ms and nuts. Had only one margarita and a salad for supper. I sure hope I burned that many calories riding today!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Layover in Blythe

Today is our first layover day! Got up, did laundry, had breakfast, bought and sent some postcards, and then had our first tutorials -- on basic bike cleaning and maintenance, and on changing flats. We've had 12 flats so far on the ride, a few people with more than one flat in the first four days. Would have been a great cycling day again today with virtually no wind and sunny skies. We've been fortunate to have good riding weather. Decided not to go to the movies -- instead had lunch with Carol, Connie, Janet, and Sherry at a hole-in-the wall Mexican restaurant that was great. Will just have a light dinner of apple, orange, and banana tonight. Tomorrow we cross state lines into Arizona (overnight at Salome), which means it will be margarita night. Will have to update the blog tomorrow night before my drink!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blowing into Blythe

The weather channel last night indicated we might have favorable "w" (can't say the word), but I was sure we were jinxed when Connie this morning excitedly announced the forecast at breakfast. Notwithstanding a headache and slightly bummed stomach this morning, I headed out on the bike, but told Janet, today's sag driver, that I might want a sag later in the day.

As you can tell from the flags, we had a pretty stiff wind (over 20 mph according to Marni who gave us a briefing on how to tell the strength of the wind according to the Beaufort scale). Fortunately, Connie didn't jinx us and it was a blessed tail"w" all day. Even the rollers (small dips and rises) didn't require much gear shifting. The only scary moments were when trucks passed us -- would cause the bike to swerve a bit. It was a glorious ride -- all the way to Blythe.

Along the way we went through Glamis, which is nothing but a stop in the desert surrounded by space for RV's and ATVs and lots of desert for the ATVs to bomb around. It was interesting that on the left side of the road was a restricted area where no offroad vehicles were allowed because of an endangered turtle. That side of the road had vegetation of the desert variety. The right side of the road, where the offroad vehicles cavorted, there was no vegetation, just tire tracks.

Our first sag stop was in an interesting place - in a bombing range.
We passed a huge feedlot, with probable 500 cattle and 200 sheep. Could smell that for quite a while! We also passed large sand dunes, the Chocolate Mountains, and more Midwest farm wannabee land. We went through the towns of Palo Verde and Ripley. The scenery was stunning - mountains, desert, crops. Wish I could post all the pictures I took, but I'd run out of blog room too quickly.
I rode out of Brawley with Liz, Susan, and Robin, but ended up on my own after a while. Played leapfrog with Ann as each of us would pass the other who had stopped to take a picture or just gaze at the scenery. Had Marni for company for a while near Palo Verde. Stopped in Palo Verde at the liquor store and got a cold green tea (not doctored) and chatted with three guys who were also riding the Southern Tier, but were hauling their stuff and camping.
I haven't commented on the dinners Linda and Lois have cooked for us. We've had baked talapia, a mexican feast, and last night she cooked a fantastic beef stroganoff. Tonight and tomorrow night she has off, as tomorrow is a layover day. So, we're all going to Sizzler for dinner tonight. There's a movie theater here and Slum Dog Millionnaire is playing, so maybe I'll take in a movie tomorrow.
Bike stats: miles ridden - 91.74; ride time 6 hrs. 26 minutes; total trip mileage 195.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bike to Brawley

I think we were all happy to leave the hotel at Jacumba this morning. We awoke to ice on the insides of the windows, and most of our rooms had no heat overnight. Even I was cold most of the night! So, I wolfed down a bowl of eggs and potatoes and oatmeal mixed together and bundled up in my fleece, rainjacket, bicycling pants, and mittens and took off for warmer weather.

We had a 5.5 mile gradual uphill, then a fantastic 10 mile downhill on the shoulder of Interstate 8, from 3000 ft. above sea level to sea level. Along the way we were passed by 3 pickup trucks, which drove out onto the high desert, and a guy jumped out, pointed a handgun down into a gully, and yelled that he saw whoever was there and for the person to come out. These did not appear to be Border Patrol officials! Some riders ahead of me flagged down Border Patrol (they're everywhere out here along the border), and they came flying by to check out what was happening. On the downhill I took some great pictures of the mountains and the desert. Unfortunately I messed up downloading them from the camera. Drat!!
Our sag wagon was waiting for us at the bottom of the downhill, and off came the fleece, rain jacket, bicycling pants, and mittens! The sag wagon rapidly filled with clothing! Slathered on sunscreen, and headed out into the desert.

We had beautifully flat riding, and no wind after the downhill. Kept seeing these exit signs off the two-lane state road we were traveling. These exits appear to go nowhere!!
At about 38 miles we turned off our nicely paved state road onto the road from hell. Repaving it should be high on the stimulus public works list! We had 7.5 miles of badly broken pavement until we got to Seeley. From Seeley we traveled on a better road to El Centro. Had lots of traffic in El Centro, and stopped at Wendy's for a chicken sandwich.

The scenery from El Centro to Brawley wasn't that interesting. The highlight was this plant. The mark about halfway up the front tower is a "sea level" mark.
The Seeley/El Centro/Brawley area is in the Imperial Valley. For my Serial Set friends, this area was one of the multitudinous water districts created to turn the Western desert into the fertile Midwest. For miles we passed acres and acres of land planted in what appears to be grass (my guess given the phenomenal stores of straw or hay bales stacked all over creation).
Got to the Brawley Inn, and spent half an hour in the pool cooling off and stretching out. Felt good to just get off the bike and relax, and I can't remember the last time I was in an outdoor pool! Bike stats: 68.16 miles, 5 hours and 9 minutes riding time. Tomorrow is an 89-mile ride to Blythe. I'm not sure I'm ready for 89 miles - will see how the weather is in the morning and decide then whether to split sag duties with Janet (tomorrow's sag driver).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Journey to Jacumba

Today we went from Alpine to Jacumba, both in California. The ride was in the beautiful, but dry and stark Southern California mountains. Lots of long uphills, with a headwind most of the day. Made my glad I drove the sag wagon today!! When driving the sag wagon, you have to keep track of all 21 bicyclists so that you can be sure to set up your stops ahead of the lead riders, when possible. Some riders started out at 7:30, the last not until 8 a.m.

The first rest stop was around 9 miles into the ride. I stopped at a park-n-ride, next to which was a staging point for an antique car club's Saturday ride. There were lots and lots of fun old cars. I thought it was a great spot to have our first sag for the day because people could take a break and check out the cars. As luck would have it, the cars left for their ride just as the riders started arriving. Oh well. The first rider got there around 9 a.m. The last one around 10:30. Then I drove back and found the last, last rider and gave her a ride for a few miles to the diner which had great pie. Bought a piece of apple pie to go for my lunch. It lived up to its billing!

My second sag stop was around 30 miles into the trip at the top of a very long grind. Connie (on the left) and Laurey (on the right) were comparing culinary skills with peanut butter and bread. No contest - Laurey won best presentation. Of course, given my distaste for peanut butter I thought they both needed more work.

Finally ended the sag day around 4 p.m. Thought I was done earlier after taxiing two tired souls to the hotel, but had to then find a gas station to fill up Little Bo Peep (the name of the car), and on the way back to the hotel had a call that one of the last riders had a flat about four miles from the hotel. By the time I got there, Ann (yesterday's sag driver) had come across Robin and was helping her learn to change her tube. My major contribution was to hand Robin the floor pump to use to pump up the tire (anyone who has used a frame pump knows how exhausting it can be).

Jacumba is right on the border with Mexico. In this picture you can see the wall protecting us from ......... what. I won't extemporize any further. Those of you who know me know what I think about this national shame.

The hotel is funky. There isn't much to Jacumba except the hotel, grocery store, school and library. The hotel has a huge hot tub (which I just don't have time to enjoy) and funky stucco walls and ledges instead of end tables and dressers. We had a mexican-style dinner cooked up by Linda, cook extraordinaire and Lois, sous chef supreme, both of whom rode during the day (Lois was in the lead pack). Dinner is served buffet style on two long folding tables, and we grab white plastic resin chairs and sit in a semi-circle. After we eat, we wash our dishes. (The other sag drivers share pot and pan scrubbing duties.) Michelle, our trip leader, then hands out the next day's maps and gives us a brief rundown on what to expect. I then tried to auction the various articles of clothing left in the sag wagon, but was set upon by the owners of the items. It is quite chilly at night and I guess they wanted them back. Oh well, maybe next time.

Will end now and get ready for the bike to Brawley tomorrow. It's supposed to by 66 miles, mostly downhill or flat, with a headwind.

I miss Peter and Brody. Both are home and enjoying (?????) mud season.
I miss my dad too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We're on our way

Dog Beach (starting point for ride)

After a quiet, enjoyable stay in San Diego, we're on our way. Peter and I visited the San Diego zoo -- pricey but a wonderful facility -- and Old Town San Diego, which was disappointing, but a good place for lunch. We spent lots of time on the computer because it was high-speed, which we don't get at home. Peter left at 5 a.m. this morning to head back home. He claims I won't miss him as much as Brody, but he's wrong. He's my best friend and keeps me centered. He didn't see my tears as we parted, but there were more than when I left Brody!

Carol (Meriden, NH), Peggy (Perkinsville, VT), and me.

We were scheduled to ride from the hotel to the beach at 8 a.m., but everyone was ready to go before then. We paraded to Dog Beach and lined up for photos and dipped out back tires in the Pacific (a silly tradition -- we had to carry them 80 yds. across the sand to do it, then carry them back to pavement -- can't let the sand get in the working parts). Then the ride officially began. We rode mostly on bike lanes, which were quite welcome given that we were on major roads through San Diego. Had a great downhill - hit 33 mph, which on a bike seems like a lot. And went through a beautiful park. Had a long, steady uphill for about 2 miles into our hotel at Alpine, California. 35.27 miles today. All but one rider were here by 1:30 or so. Hopefully the missing rider will show up before suppertime.

I get to drive the sag wagon tomorrow. The sag wagon carries snacks -- dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, granola bars, m&m's, other bars, water, and powdered Gatorade. It's a Subaru Outback Legacy and can carry 3 riders and their bikes, four in a pinch. The sag wagon leaves the hotel after the last rider takes off and drives 20 miles or so and waits for the riders. We keep track of the riders, checking off their names as they pull up or pass by. Once the last rider has left, we pull up stakes and drive up the road again and set up another 20 miles or so ahead (ahead of the lead riders when possible) and do it all again. The sag drivers also wash pots and pans and help with chores. Ann Smith, Janet Bee, Carol, Moehrke, and I are the sag drivers, and we rotate the duties.

That's about it for now. Will pop a couple of ibuprofen for the knees and relax for a bit.

I miss you, Peter. (okay, and Brody too).