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Day 92 – 98: El Paso, TX to Silver City, NM

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.

(Click here if you can’t view the video in your email browser)

– – – – – – – 

* 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]



Vague Direction: A 12,000 mile bicycle ride, and the meaning of life.
Available now: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com



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7 comments on this post

  1. George says:

    Great to meet you today! I look forward to reading all the blogs on your trip. A great story and a great journey. Good luck in your travels. Adios

  2. Glenn Eck says:

    Hi Dave. Glenn Eck here, from Philadelphia, the guy on the road bike with daypack you ran into in New Roads, LA. I held my mileage average steady, finishing the Southern Tier on the Atlantic coast on day 30. Couple thoughts on flat tires, and apologies if any of this has been mentioned already, but I feel like you’re getting more of them than you should be, despite running good tires. I had 9 flats on the southern tier, all of them between Arizona and central Texas, 7 of them from steel wire from belted radials littering the shoulders. I was running 700×23 Continental Gatorskins. The amount of tire contact patch touching the road as you roll along determines your exposure to debris. A skinnier tire is good in this regard, but of course you do need a tire with air volume appropriate to the larger amount of equipment you are carrying. The real key is tire pressure. Obviously, with only 17 lbs of equipment, I wasn’t carrying anything I didn’t think was super important, but I was carrying a very accurate tire pressure guage (as well as a pump with a so-so one built in), because correct pressure is super important. I checked pressures every morning, which is very helpful in determining if you have a slow puncture before you’re out on the road for the day. Quite often I had to top off just due to normal air loss–and doing so is important. If you’re running even a little under-inflated, you’re putting down the kind of wide, soft, flat contact patch that just drives every piece of road debris right up into your tread. If you’re relying on the old “give it a squeeze” test, you’re probably under-inflated, and if you’re pumping til it “feels hard and then some”, you could go up in into the unsafe PSI range. With a guage, you can keep the optimum pressure (highest labeled on the sidewall) for the smallest contact patch, or just a little under if you want to balance that with comfort. My second tip comes from riding in the urban metropolis of Philadelphia daily. Around here, it’s second nature for us to inspect our tires for external debris whenever there’s an opportunity. You’ll see the couriers in the park in between messenging runs doing this. First, we urbanites spin the tires gently and put our fingers across the tread, feeling for embedded debris. You’ll catch things like wire this way. Then we spin them slowly and look for chips of glass and gravel that are embedded into the surface too deeply to feel. Lastly, when we do get a flat, we never presume that the first thing we find embedded is the only thing in there. We take the opportunity to feel all around the inside and outside of the tire to prevent getting another flat in short order. You can do these simple checks a couple of times a day when stopped for breaks, and still cost yourself less time than it takes to fix a puncture. If you let these debris stay in the tire, they will eventually work their way through even puncture-resistant tires. The 9 punctures I had probably would have been 20 if I hadn’t removed a lot of stuff from my exterior tread during the trip. Hope all of this wasn’t redundant. Keep on truckin’!

  3. bill maylone says:

    Dave
    Great blog! Especially liked the part about “ART”, well said. My Buddhist teacher (Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche) used to say the same about art, he
    used the example of washing the dishes as an expression of “art in everyday life”.

    One pedal stroke at a time
    Bill

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  5. […] visited Joseph Wade at the J.W. Art Gallery in Hurley.  Check out the blog post and video here: http://www.vaguedirection.com/day92/  You can also view the video on YouTube.  Good job, […]

  6. […] visited Joseph Wade at the J.W. Art Gallery in Hurley.  Check out the blog post and video here: http://www.vaguedirection.com/day92/  You can also view the video on YouTube.  Good job, […]

  7. […] Vague Direction – A bicycle-powered documentary publishing … […]

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