Trip Summary

Day 52: 2929 miles completed, 8 states, 7 flat tires, 4 flat mattresses, 40 new friends and Bruce #1, 8 rest days

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 25: Concan, Texas

Bubba had us scheduled for 74 miles from Brackettville to Concan, Texas.  The sky was overcast which kept the temperatures perfect for cycling.  Although it looked like it could rain at any moment, the forecast held true and we had a dry ride to our home for the evening, River Bend Resort.  Once again we will have a roof over our head and a bed to sleep in.  With an off day tomorrow, I am planning to sleep in and enjoy a morning shower.

Lisa's day started out with a slight crash; she was trying to clean a cleat on the bike and inadvertently tipped to the side where she was already clipped in and fell on that side.  A few scrapes and bruises (mostly to her pride!) and she was fine.  The bike, however, had landed hard on the brake hood and twisted it.  Ken was able to muscle it back (Jeff was still in camp at this point) and a quick check of the gears, and things were fine.   Also, on the way out of camp, a deer ran in front of a group of us, then a couple more, then a fawn,..then a couple more!  Another rider also mentioned that he woke up at 1:30 in the morning and got out of his tent to find an armadillo waddling around looking for goodies.  Wish we would have seen it, we have never seen a live armadillo in Texas before.

The first sixty-four miles of the day were on the infamous chip seal pavement, but the road smoothed for the final ten miles home.  The scenery has changed dramatically.  Gone is the dry desert and cacti.  In their place we are biking by pastures and tree covered mountains.  It is looking similar to Wisconsin with the dairy cows replaced with sheep, goats, and cattle.

You know you have been in the desert too long when every farm animal makes you stop for a photo opportunity.  Critters accompanied us throughout the ride, even in the town of Uvalde where roosters and chickens roamed the premises.

After a dinner of shrimp scampi and homemade pie (with a rest day pending), we sat around the campfire trying to solve riddles and playing a name game before retiring to our warm bed for a long sleep.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 24: Brackettville, Texas

 Verizon service has returned, but likely only briefly.  We likely will lose it for our layover day near Concan, Texas.   We will find out when we get there, but will probably have to rely on the very limited WiFi at the resort.  If memory serves correctly, the service is limited to the office which is closed, so we are relegated to huddling outside searching for signal.  Actually our room on the last tour was adjacent to the office and if we moved close to the adjoining wall, we could get access.

Our route was 73 miles from Comstock to Brackettville.  For most of the day, it was overcast and cool, even spitting a misty rain.  A slow day due to the headwind.  Even though today was shorter, we spent about the same amount of time riding. With 9 miles for us to go, the head winds and rough road remain, but the sun came out-- turning those last 9 miles into a sauna.  We also had the infamous chip and seal road surfaces that Texas loves so much-- more proof they really dislike cyclists.  Maybe only cobblestone would be rougher, and I have the feeling they would use it if they could.

Example:  Semi-truck passes us in the right most lane with two available, practically blowing us off the road.  We were on the shoulder close to the white line where the smoothest surface existed.  Another semi pulled onto the shoulder ahead of us and the passing truck moves all the way over to the left traffic lane.  Texas drivers not happy with bicyclist, I am not happy with Texas drivers.

That being said, we arrived at the 1st SAG (Jeff and Lisa first of all riders), to find two local police vehicles ready to escort riders over a bridge with no shoulder.  Very kind of them.  We waited a few minutes for about 15 more riders to arrive and proceeded over the narrow bridge, taking up the right hand lane followed by our personal police cruiser with their blue and red lights.  Very cool!

Jeff and Lisa had the privilege of being in the right place at the right time as we biked out of Del Rio past Laughlin Air Force Base, two Air Force jets buzzed right over the highway in front of us as they practiced "touch and go"s --amazing!

We are in Brackettville at Fort Clark Springs for the evening.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 23: Seminole Canyon State Park, near Comstock, Texas

The most difficult three day stretch on the tour began with an 81.5 mile day from Sanderson to Seminole  Canyon State Park.  The closest town is Comstock, Texas, which is about 10 miles away.  The day involved a series of long climbs, punctuated with a steep climb as we crossed the Pecos River.

We experienced tailwinds for the first two and a half hours of riding.  The forecast called for winds to change at 10:30am, so we started as soon as the sunlight peaked over the hills.  The remainder of the ride consisted of some head/side wind and temperatures around 90 with plenty of long climbs, all combining to make for a long, tiring day.

Two more days of 70+ mile days and then a rest day.

The nearest town to our campground, Comstock, Texas, has a population of 400, so services are obviously scarce.  For the first time on our trip we are "incommunicado" (post delayed a day).  There was no cell service available and we had to rely on the state park WiFi which worked fine for normal use, but was brought to its knees by all the C2C users - commenting on Facebook and uploading photos.

After lunch, we took a brief respite from our cycling activity at the Judge Roy Bean Museum, , in Langtry, Texas. Judge Bean was known as "The Law West of the Pecos"and known for his brand of wild west justice.  There is not much there, but the garden and memorabilia are lovingly kept by the Texas DOT and most importantly it is air conditioned.

Near the end of today's journey, we crossed the Pecos River and transitioned from West Texas to Hill Country.  A few years ago the two lane bridge was renovated and they LOWERED the guardrail to approximately 3 foot high.  Not feeling safe, I checked behind me for traffic, which was traveling in excess of the posted 75 mph.  With no traffic in sight, I sped across the span riding in the middle of the traffic lane.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 22: Sanderson, Texas

We waited until after the sun came up for our ride today, that meant breakfast at 8 AM for a short 55-mile day.  We were helped a lot by an easy terrain and a strong tail wind.

Jeff started at 9:15, and was done by noon, 22 mph average speed. Lisa and Bruce decided to take a side trip to the historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, which is a spectacular oasis in the middle of the desert. Lisa rode at a more leisurely pace and chatted a while with Udi until we decided we just had to go faster for a while; Ken was long ahead of us and Jeff was even farther ahead.  We caught up to Ken finally.  Once we got up our last incline, it was smooth and fast sailing downhill, with a tail wind to Sanderson High School.  It took Udi, Ken and I until about 1:00 to get in, but still really good time.

We saw very little life besides a bit of sparse traffic and a few cattle, and oh yes, lots of turkey vultures.  These birds are not the most beautiful of the species, but they are abundant and they are the garbage men of this area.

The senior class (all 9 students) of Sanderson High School had lunch prepared for us, this was also their concession stand for a tennis tournament being held at the school today.  Lisa had a famous Frito Pie--saying all the calories she had just burned off were probably put right back on with the dish of Fritos, covered with spicy chili and then a nice dollop of melted cheese sauce.  For dinner, we had a real treat--some of the best beef brisket (tender, slow cooked since 8 PM the night before), sausage, delicious sweet homemade creamed corn, and salads.  As if that were not enough, for dessert, they wheeled out carts of homemade pecan pie, peach cobbler and cheesecake AND homemade vanilla and strawberry ice cream--OMG, we gave them all a standing ovation!  We were giddy from the sugar high!

We were honored to have one of the Border Patrol from the Sanderson Unit as our guest speaker, and we gave him a ton of questions to answer.  They have a heavy marijuana smuggling problem from Mexico at this time, accounting for many 70% of their total detentions, along with some of the usual problem with illegal immigration over the border.  It was an extremely interesting discussion.  Some of the riders went on a field trip to the Border Patrol station, but since we had heard the officer talk and answer lots of questions, and since we had gone on this trip 2 years ago, Jeff and I and lots of others decided to stay here and get to bed.  We have an 81.5 mile day tomorrow, followed by three days of 70+ mileage in a row.  Trying to hydrate tonight to prepare--it will also be hot, in the upper 80s and the wind does not to be favorable as it was today. Goodnight all!  Thank you for reading our blog and hope you continue to do so--comments and questions are always welcomed!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 21: Rest Day #3 - Big Bend National Park

 My nightly walk to the restroom revealed a very cold but brilliant sky - almost no light pollution.  Other than waking up to frost on the tent, it was a great night/day. The day involved a long car ride to/from Big Bend National Park.  Sandwiched in the middle were some breathtaking scenery and geological structures.  The highlight was visiting the big bend of the Rio Grande as it separates the US and Mexico.

Rest from the blog, too.  Here are a few photos:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 20: Marathon, Texas

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  It was a difficult 45 mile ride today, with twelve additional easy, very pleasurable miles.  Such a hard day due to the head winds that we did not take any photographs,but added a few from the prior days.

In addition to the strong winds, the temperature was cold.  Jeff headed out this morning with foot covers, balaclava, hoodie, rain jacket, rain pants, leg warmers, arm warmers, scuba gloves in addition to the usual attire.

Lisa was being pushed sideways by passing trucks and/or gusting crosswinds.  Literally was riding with the carbon fiber bike leaning sideways into the wind, then the wind would let up or a truck would pass and had to recover without hitting the ditch or being blown into a fellow rider.  So cold even with 2 pair of wool socks on that the toes were numb after 22 miles to the first SAG, and hands were stiff just from hanging on tightly trying to keep our bikes upright.  Otherwise, we seemed to be dressed appropriately and thank goodness there was no rain.  The treat in Alpine, TX, was a great coffee shop with baked goods and just getting warm and watching other riders come in just shaking their heads, and we all understood.

After 40 miles the sun appeared for the first time and we traded in the head wind for a tailwind for the next 12 miles.  We were flying with very little pedaling even.  We were traveling faster uphill in the afternoon than we did on the downhills in the morning.  That is no exaggeration.  The last five miles we changed direction and slowed as we dealt with another strong cross wind; however, it did not dampen our mood.

Camp tonight is back in our tents that we have not seen for about 8 nights.  The staff gets the pleasure of having indoor bungalow-type rooms, and they are nice enough to share their showers and bathrooms with us until 9 PM tonight.  I met the owners' handsome black Labrador named Gunner and a rescue Chihuahua mix named Markita.  Love getting my canine fix for the day--however, our camp dog Cocoa Bean ("Beaner") is always happy to see us and makes me smile every time I see her little tail start to wiggle!  Tomorrow is a layover day and the annual trip to Big Bend National Park.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 19: Marfa, Texas

Seventy-five scheduled miles from Van Horn to Marfa, on highway 90.  Great weather conditions: no rain, comfortable temperature, and favorable winds.  The only complaint was the road conditions from Valentine (mile 40) to Marfa - very rough.

There is the famous Prada shop, just about 1 mile from Valentine, which contains only left shoes and some hand bags from the 2005 Prada collection and nothing but miles of nothing all around it. You have to see it (or Google it) to find out the whole story.

Lunch was one of our favorite spots of the C2C.  We stop in tiny Valentine, TX, at their library, where the high school travel club prepares and sells a variety of burritos, homemade brownies (with white chocolate and caramel) and cold sodas.  The funds go toward sending their seniors on a trip of their choice.  The entire school body from K-12 totals 37 students.  Kids travel from many miles around to go to school in Valentine, and they have even had to have their entire student body (including girls) participate on the basketball team in order to field a full squad.  They are all amazingly poised and polite, and we always love talking to them.  The girls at lunch have aspirations to travel to Greece, Australia, and France.  As long as they have more than 1 student who wants to travel to a region, and they have the money in the travel club, they can make this trip.  We found a nice piece of lawn to relax and eat our lunch, albeit artificial.

As we approached Marfa, there were a few groups riding in within a half mile of each other.  One mile out of town a police officer turned on the lights of the squad car and pulled the whole lot of us over to explain the rules for riding a bicycle in Texas.  According to him, we needed to ride on the right side of the white line, essentially on the shoulder. Although he is mistaken, that is not the law, we were all polite and complied.  This is generally not a problem, when the road/shoulder are ride-able we will use it.  However, in this situation the road itself was barely ride-able and the shoulder was in even worse condition.  This officer continued to harass the rest of our group throughout the day.  Bubba will be speaking with his supervisor tomorrow because the same behavior occurred last year.

Texas Law states that cyclist must ride to the ride of the roadway, which ends at the white line or curb.  Texas law also states that bicyclists can ride two abreast as long as they do not impede traffic.

We are not staying at El Cosmico campground this year with it's interesting accommodations and outdoor showers, but also perhaps the most beautiful nighttime sky you could ever hope to see.  Even though our accommodations are much more hospitable at the Marfa Activity Center, everyone should have the opportunity to experience an open air shower once. 

One of my nieces, Jen, happened to visit there last year, and interestingly, she said the same thing.  It is just a beautiful, vast sky filled with stars ... and perhaps if you are lucky, you will see the famous Marfa Lights--still a mystery to scientists to figure out what they are exactly. The latest research is something meteorological or geological or a combination of both.  We missed out on the field trip last year to try to view these mysterious orbs, so we are going tonight to view these hopefully.

Anyway, enough about Marfa, but it is one of the most interesting places on our trip--though to any observers, it appears as a place with not much to offer if you are looking for commercial enterprises.

UK Update: Enjoying a leisurely lunch in Valentine, Texas.  Later, Graham was mistakenly (rudely) instructed that he needed to ride on the shoulder of the road by the local officer of the law.  He was one of many to experience the wrath of misinformed deputy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day 18: Van Horn, Texas

We needed to exit the school buildings by 7am, so our day on tyhe bike started before the sun broke over the hills.  It was a brisk and dewy first five miles, but we quickly warmed up as the sun rose and we climbed to the first SAG stop.

It had been predicted that we would  have a tailwind, and we were pleasantly surprised to find the prediction and our wish came true.  A route that has usually been a difficult day was magically transformed into a fast, enjoyable seventy-three mile ride to Van Horn, Texas.

Today's Milestone:  we reached 1000 miles pedaled

Best part of today, after lunch we came upon a couple loaded down and cycling..and in a milk crate on the back of the man's bike was a delicious little puppy!  We invited them to stop at our next SAG stop, and they did.  I learned they found the pup in Sierra Blanca, just in some bushes.  When they went inside their tent, the pup cuddled up against the outside of the tent. 

The next day (today), they found 3 kids harassing the pup, and witnessed one kick her!  They decided on the spot to scoop up the pup, now named Blanca, found a milk crate behind a restaurant, and plopped her inside.  My heroes!!  When we came upon them, Blanca was very comfortably riding in her crate.  Turns out the woman is a veterinarian and they are biking the southern tier, just like us.

They hoped to find a vet in Van Horn to vaccinate and worm Blanca.  It was hard for me to leave this little pup, but the guys  I was riding with indulged me the time I wanted before heading out again.

We experienced a gentle assist up the initial climbs, which covered about 11 miles and even greater assistance down the other side.  The steady Westerly wind pushed us as we traveled East.  Our group was averaging over 20 mph up a slight incline with minimal pedaling to Sierra Blanca.  Creating our own breeze as the temperature climbed into the eighties.

After our last rest stop for the day, we still had ten miles to home. Two miles of climbing followed by an eight mile descent all on Interstate Highway 10.  With the wind at my back, I was able to climb at 18 mph.  The descent speeds topped out at 38 mph.  See Udi, Lisa, and Ken zoom by in the video below:

We saw the younger cyclists ride by our hotel later today and waved.  Blanca was still riding comfortably in her crate.  Wonder how this story will end.  Although I think she is one lucky puppy and there will be a happy ending. 

UK Update:  Graham experienced another puncture while navigating the highway.  Again, a problem with the front tire, but other than the tire, the only thing damaged was his arrival time to the motel.  The puncture was probably caused from the debris left behind from an exploded tire from a lorry.


If you have any questions about the trip or our daily routines, leave a comment and we will include a response in the next post.  And if you have any questions for other riders (Graham, Cecil, ...) we will get their thoughts and add it to the blog.

Otherwise the blog will continue to focus on the weather :-)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Day 17: Fort Hancock, Texas

Arriving at the hotel yesterday, I was greeted by a familiar face.  A photo of myself which was taken two years ago was hanging  in the lobby.  The temperatures were much lower on our last visit, thus the cold weather gear.  This year it was only my sun sleeves and sun legs which I wear because I am lazy and do not like putting sunscreen on multiple time every day.

A "short" ride was scheduled for our seventeenth day, only 57 miles.  You have been riding too much when fifty-seven seems like a short day. We planned a leisurely pace that would get us into Fort Hancock near 3 o'clock when the school is accessible.

Due to the commuter traffic, we were forbidden from starting before 8am.  The late start time created a mass start and sixteen of the coasters rode through downtown El Paso in a pack.  We had a chance to share the road with a few riders that we don't often see on our way to the first check-in, a bakery.  I bought 4 bolillo rolls with jalapeƱos for one dollar and three small turnovers for one dollar.

On my way to checkout, someone said "Jeff, where are you riding to."  I explained, "to Florida", as I pondered how he knew my name.  Duh, I was still wearing my vest, with name on front and back.  At the next stop light, a driver pulled up along side and said "Buen Viaje", or "Good Trip".  Texas drivers are notoriously unfriendly to cyclists, but they must not have been on the road today.

At lunch in Fabers, TX (birthplace of jockey Willie Shoemaker), we got an email from our neighbor with pictures from back home--covered in 4 inches of snow.  The conditions back home, only serve to make us appreciate our decision to vacation in the South this Spring.  It is Spring in Wisconsin?

We are very happy to be in hot, dry west Texas sitting in shorts and t-shirts outside.  It was a great riding day for 57 miles, but we missed Roger who went back to MN this morning.

As you can tell from each posting, weather has become our primary concern every day.  Good cycling weather today, no precipitation, favorable wind, with temperatures reaching 85 degrees - a tad warm as we neared the finish.  Fingers crossed that our weather luck continues.

We encountered our first drive thru beer depot and our first exposure to dogs treating bicycles as prey.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day 16: El Paso, Texas

Great day for riding a bicycle.  Not a great day to be on the side of the road changing a flat tire, but then again it's never a good day to be on the side of the road changing a flat tire.  So much for the heavy duty tires, only got about 50 miles before I noticed a soft rear tire (after I stopped to get  a photo of a Christmas tree, complete with branches of tinsel, in the desert).  Actually, I think the damage might have been done during the installation process two days ago, it was a slow leak with no noticeable tire damage - my fault.

We spent 77 miles today with nearly a constant tailwind--yippeee!  The highest speed recorded on the Garmin was 29.4--not sure where that was since there were no hills to be found other than climbing into El Paso to our hotel.  What a fun day, and the SAG stops proved it with all riders being nearly giddy.

We made sure to ride today with Roger.  It is his last day with us.  Gayle will be meeting him here to take him back to the Twin Cities so they can prepare for their major bike trip in Holland.  We will miss him, but we hope to get together this summer with he and Gayle for some biking with other 2013 Coasters and/or maybe coming up to watch our friend Barb bike racing in MN.  These are special friendships that we really cherish.  It was a real treat to get to ride with him again for part of this journey.

We crossed the border of New Mexico into our fourth state, Texas.  We will be spending quite some time before the next border crossing, 19 days total before we leave Texas--from the dry desert of west Texas to the lush hill country (and one of our favorite layover days at Mexican Hill Ranch) on into east Texas.  Good thing it is such a big state with such diverse scenery.  If it was desert, I think some of us might just lose our minds before the 19 days are up!

We are in El Paso under a sunny sky and probably a high in the 70s, perfectly pleasant! Tonight we have the added benefit of a hotel room and our chef preparing meals.  Although the meals at the Columbus school were very good.  Bubba has made some great improvements to the 2015 C2C, but I still wish everyone could experience Marfa, Texas in a few days.  El Cosmico overnight--it has to be seen to be fully appreciated. 

Tomorrow we head to Fort Hancock, the sun shining bright and the wind at our backs.

UK Update:  In early, thanks to the tailwind, enjoying another hotel.  Life is Good!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day 15: Rest Day #2 - Crossing the Border

Not a good start to the day - flat mattress #3.  Unfortunately, the Ridgerest mattress pads are proving to be a wise choice as a luxury item.  Hoping we are not "that" couple!

The early forecast for tomorrow is warmer temperatures, no chance of rain, and tailwind of 9 mph.

Pancho Villa State Park
I believe this is the only state park which is named for an invader of the United States.  Pancho Villa, once a friend of the US, and his Villistas invaded the town of Columbus in 1916, which is the most recent foreign invasion by another nation.

Why he invaded is open to theorists, as he was assassinated before he revealed the reason(s).  The theories range from rectifying a bad debt, retaliating for aiding his enemies, or stealing needed supplies.

Crossing the border into Mexico
The 2015 Coast to Coast riders invaded the Mexican town of Palomas this morning.  The purpose of the journey was FUN and lunch.  A band played canciones while we ate.  During lunch we laughed, sang, and danced. The photo of 2013 Coasters was photo-bombed, but I still love the picture!

A margarita and a shot of tequila were complimentary.  Since Lisa abstained, I think I had more alcohol today than the past five years combined. Should sleep well tonight?

After leaving the store/restaurant we were accosted by the cutest Mexican children begging for the small mugs we wore on strings around our neck. These were provided with our tequilla at the Pink Store.  Guessing these were desired for their resale value.

UK Update:  The winner of the best dressed award today was Graham.  The only thing missing are purple Crocs.

He has not been enjoying his sleeping placement: between the charging station and door to the common area, within earshot of a couple snorers.  We are stationed right across the aisle and feel his pain.

Pedal 4 Paws Sponsors #6

Friday, March 20, 2015

Day 14: Columbus, New Mexico

Commercial:  Just a quick reminder that the secondary purpose of our journey is to raise funds to raise, train and place service dogs (free of charge) to persons with disabilities ranging from autism to post traumatic stress.

 Donate to Custom Canines Service Dog Academy

After a great night's sleep in our lovely accommodations, and after a night of rain, we hit the road early as we could.  Bubba kindly offered to shuttle all riders down the 3-mile dirt/gravel road, since after all the rain the road was rather soft.  However, since it was a 95-mile day and time was of the essence, the 4 of us who rode in together decided to brave it and ride out;  3 of us made it.  Unfortunately, Jim got slogged down in the mud to the point where wheels would not turn and he ended up carrying his bike.  The first vehicle transporting bikes and riders arrived at the main highway shortly after we did; no time gained.  We did bike three more miles.

During the first portion of the ride, the sun was rising above the mountain peaks that surrounded us.  The colors were spectacular: pinks, orange, and red.  As the sun continued to rise the mountains we approached as we headed East transitioned from dark shade to full sun - magically.

The significant tailwind, which was guaranteed and usually accompanies today's route, never materialized.  This made for a long day.  However, we still made it to the school prior to their dismissal time.  As we waited, the children eventually exited for the day.  As they walked to the buses, we garnered second glances and stares due to our strange attire.  Many children greeted us with smiles, waves, or "Hola".  I almost caused a riot when I offered some cookies that were in my jersey pocket.

Knowing that the staff was behind schedule due to the later than planned dismissal, Jeff helped the crew, Wolfpack, haul in the two hundred or so duffels and suitcases into the gymnasium where we will be sleeping.  The crew is always working so hard taking care of us riders and were very appreciative of the help.

After dinner three determined fellow riders finished their 92 mile ride just after the sunset.  The entire group of cyclists and staff greeted them with applause as they entered the school grounds.  They were on the road from 8am to after 7pm.

Then, I finally found the time to change my tires.  My 23 mm racing style tires were worn and do not offer much protection from punctures.  With some assistance from Hans and Chandler, our mechanic, they were successfully replaced with some heavy duty 28 mm Schwalbe Marathon tires.  Hoping to complete the journey without a puncture.

Almost forgot today's milestone, we crossed the Continental Divide.  Cecil and Marianne are shown approaching the divide.

Side Note:  (from Lisa) I had a lousy day. Had a hard time getting my legs under me this morning.   As we approached lunch stop, my fingers and toes were numb, I was throwing my head back to try to get more air because it felt like I couldn't get enough, even on a rather flat road, we pounded on slowly, but nothing was helping and suddenly as I drafted off Jeff, I could have sworn we were on the tandem--very weird sensation to have to force yourself back to reality. Dizziness set in soon after that, and as we sat down by the side of the road to force down some fluids and an energy bar, the Sag vehicles magically appeared and I decided to tap out.

It was a decision I hated to make, hated to leave Jeff wondering how I was doing and just plain not wanting to get off the bike, but at that point I was a danger to myself and a liability for everyone else.  After getting to the lunch stop, I was put in Mickey's car and went to a restaurant with her, Bubba and the Wolf Pack.  I gauged down water and food, listening to other conversation and laughter from the guys and talking to Mickey about anything but biking had a very calming effect.

In retrospect, I had not adequately hydrated or fueled with food, and it is a lesson learned to make these priority 1. I have a bottle of water next to me as we speak and will eat adequately from now on.  Sometimes you think you have things figured out, but these are rather extreme conditions and require more diligence--lesson learned; we ain't in Kansas anymore Toto!

Jeff was the first rider in, early, around 2:45, so he obviously pushed very hard, and we were both happy the day was over.  Rest day tomorrow and time to prepare for our 77-mile day the next day to El Paso.   As a wise person once said, There is no shame in failure, only in not attempting. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Day 13: Rodeo, New Mexico

Last night at the rider meeting, we conducted our first “lodging lottery”. The accommodations in Rodeo consists of one main house with five bedrooms and two guest houses. The winners of the lottery will get to sleep in a comfortable bed in one of the seven bedrooms. The rest of the group will be staying in the airplane hanger, sleeping on our standard air mattresses.  My number was selected; Lisa and I will be sleeping in the main house with a bathroom three yards away. 

Rain was in the forecast for the ride from Douglas to Rodeo.  Our mission for the day was to beat the rain and get to our fabulous lodging, the Painted Pony Resort.  It  was constructed by John McAfee, computer software fame, for $11 million.

Our luck continued in the morning as we were one of the first tables to receive our breakfast and thus were able to exit the hotel before some of the riders had received their waffles, eggs, and potatoes.

Two tenths of a mile into the route we second guessed the route sheet and were off cours,  for half a block. The forecast about rain in this area is usually pretty accurate, and we rode in light rain for about half the day along with cold temperatures. We were all happy to have packed warm gear.

I guess we should feel fortunate to have seen sights that few visitors or locals see: rain, stream beds with water flowing, and rain clouds obscuring the mountains.

Before we got to the lunch stop, we hit a break, it stopped raining and brightened up, though the horizon showed a foreboding dark clouds.  We rode with Bruce1 and Jim and were treated to a tailwind on the final 18 miles of downhill riding.  It was fantastic to be able to soft pedal at 25 mph with little effort.  

We crossed a milestone after 49 miles when we crossed into New Mexico, our third state.  Only five to go.

Shortly thereafter, we hit Rodeo, our home for the night.  We rode past our accommodations from 2 years ago. This year, we are staying in a beautiful resort with a large main house and several other smaller guest houses. Only so many bedrooms which we drew numbers for the night before. Jeff was lucky and his number was drawn, so we have a lovely bedroom. The trade off is we who have
bedrooms share our bathrooms.  Small price.

After pedaling 3 miles down a gravel road to get  to the Painted Pony Resort, we are already worrying about the ride out tomorrow and the ensuing 95 miles to Columbus.  Nothing we can do about it now; just relax, rest and enjoy.  Jeff took full advantage of our accommodations and was able to rest his muscles in the hot tub with a gorgeous mountain backdrop. The water jets massaged sore muscles as he relaxed before the foreboding clouds eventually reached us and let loose a downpour, while many riders were still en route.  
UK Update: Although he did not want us to share this, Graham also won the “lodging lottery” and is enjoying a posh bedroom in the main house.   

Note:  This property was originally owned and built by John McAfee, creator of the anti-virus software, and a colorful oddball, and who ran into some trouble in Belize accused of shooting a neighbor who had poisoned his dogs (allegedly), so I am sure it will be a movie at some point.  He was never charged, and he long before sold his software company.  This property in Rodeo was meant to be a place where he could fly his Ultralight planes, which is a perfect setting for that, and there is a great, looking unused hangar for the purpose--apparently he had a lot of gliders or planned to bring others here to partake in his hobby.  Either way, this is a beautifully furnished, spacious property, in the middle of nowhere (you cannot even see it from the highway) and we 60+ riders and staff have made very good use of it.

Kudos to Verizon

As coverage wanes in our remote locations, our fellow riders are relying more and more on the Verizon (Pedal4Paws) hotspots to meet their communication needs.  In Rodeo, New Mexico, our thirteenth day, Verizon is our sole means of communication.  

With the help of the lightweight and waterproof Verizon Wireless Sony Xperia Z2, Jeff and Lisa are staying connected throughout the duration of their trip, from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL, no matter what weather or road challenges are thrown their way. They’ll be pedaling away until April 27 – so be sure to check in on their adventures through their Pedal 4 Paws blog or Custom Canines on Facebook.

Riders (and their families) from California, Alabama, Missouri, Germany, and the United Kingdom are benefiting.  Here are a few of the riders: