What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Not the most miles this time around, but New Mexico has been super interesting, especially the latter half of the week. Scroll down to watch this weeks video, it was a lot of fun to make.
Day 92: El Paso.
Following on from the previous post, spent the day exploring El Paso, which is an awesomely colourful town. Weirdly I haven’t had any issues with knee trouble at all whilst on the bike, but today was the first day where, off the bike, there was a bit of a niggle. Stretch stretch stretch.
Day 93: El Paso to Keystone Heritage Park (17 miles)
The bike was not in a good way this morning. Slow puncture on the back, proper puncture on the front. Urgh. It took so many hours of faff and walking around the El Paso industrial suburbs, that by the time it was fixed, it was already 4pm, so it didn’t end up being a particularly productive day. More like one of those days where you scream profanities and curse the bike (in your mind and under your breath). Stealth camp on the outskirts of El Paso in a Botanical Garden Car Park.
Day 94: Keystone Heritage Park to Vado, New Mexico (20 miles)
A lot of reading and not a lot of cycling today. Short bursts if anything. But not to worry, because – New Mexico! Let’s have some of that state line corny goodness.
Crossed the line at Anthony, NM in the evening, which felt quite exotic compared to most other places so far, as Spanish was the most prominent language used by the locals. After a quick stop in town, I ended up riding out on the 470 towards Las Cruces and camped on a road side dirt mound. Gone are the days of being ‘stealthy’. In New Mexico (and even towards the end of Texas) you aren’t really given much choice. Flat ground that’ll take pegs isn’t in abundance, so you get what you’re given.
Day 95: Vado to Hatch, via Las Cruces (56 miles)*
First time waking up to frozen water bottles. New Mexico is quite bizarre in that it’s freezing at night, and blisteringly hot during the day. Two very different extremes. State laws are also markers of change. In New Mexico’s case? Bin bags by the side of the road. Loads of them.
Through Las Cruces, where I bumped into a 78 year old retiree named Ron, who’s done a lot of climbing in his time, all over the world, but in Alaska especially. (All whilst being married to a 48 year old semi-pro skier. He was very proud of this!) An ex-maths professor who worked for NASA, he now takes clients mountaineering and climbing to encourage and promote lifestyle change.
The riding in NM has been through dry farmland. There’s been a four year drought so it’s totally dry, crops are suffering and farmers are having a very hard time, and all are wishing for just a little bit of rain. Arrived in Hatch late, to a bivvy on a bench near to the Municipal Hall. Brr, another cold one.
Day 96: Hatch to 3 miles NW of Hatch (3 miles)
Hatch is the chile capitol of the world. You can’t go through a place with a tagline like that without sampling some chile. That’s where Sparky’s Barbeque comes in. Green Chile Burger? Ok, then. Get the pineapple slaw too. Absolutely knackered from the previous day / night so read the signs and ended up kipping here:
Day 97: Nr Hatch to 16 miles NW of Deming (61 miles)
It’s more desert than farmland now. Very similar to rural West Texas. Simple riding, generally flat. Long straight roads in the blazing sun. Quiet roads too, with lots of the day spent without a car or person in sight. Just a lot of desert, and solar panels. Lots of solar panels. Not the kind to take with you on a bike ride though.
Day 98: Nr Deming to Silver City (37 miles)
Set off this morning, from a roadside camp in the desert. Most of the ride was more-of-the-same. Think tumbleweeds and long shimmering roads that run to the horizon. Ran out of water and had to drink hot (spicy) chili water left over from a noodle breakfast. Hot chili water in the middle of a hot desert is pretty gross. Pulled in to Hurley, a tiny little town in between Deming and Silver City. Like other towns in the area, it’s a historic mining town – gold and copper from back in the day.
Joseph and Karin Wade run the Hurley Art Gallery. Spent a good few hours with these two, chatting about how they ended up here, moving from Phoenix 7 years ago on a whim. Karin (below) is the web-savvy guru of the pair, and Joseph is a painter.
Here’s a film shot in collaboration with Joseph (Karin’s a little camera shy!). Had a lot of fun filming this one and hope it comes across. I’m not big into “art” in it’s traditional sense (i.e. fine art painting) but art doesn’t have to mean picking up a paintbrush like Joe, or taking photographs, or making Tracy Island out of Papier-mâché. It’s what you do that creates a connection with another person or group of people. Your art can be entrepreneurship, swimming, juggling, being the best damn waitress imaginable, whatever. So take a look at the film in a general sense, as Joe talks about finding his path, grit & tenacity and goal setting.
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* An epic tale ensued on this night. I’ll share in the distant future (using fake names & places to protect those involved) but can’t at the moment due to confidentiality. Let’s just say that the entire project was up-in-the-air for a moment. [for reference]