Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Marfa lights

Off to see the mystical, magical lights of Marfa. Google it.

We went, we witnessed an experiment in mass-hysteria. If you wanted to see the lights, you did. Skeptics weren't rewarded.

A picture I didn't get posted two days ago...Aaron, one of Bubba's staff, prefers sleeping outside to sleeping in a tent. On this night he perched his hammock up in a tree. He's also known as "Krash" and "Nature Boy".

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

1/3 of the way, whether measured by # of days or # of miles

Somewhere between Ft. Hancock and Van Horn, TX today we put 1000 miles under our wheels since leaving San Diego. At day 17, we are 1/3 of the way to 50. Alanis was singing in my ears saying she recommends biting off more than you can chew. I agreed with her. I certainly do.
West Texas cacti and mountains ---->

This stuff, along with some other magical balms, is becoming quite popular lately:

Behind me, in order, Jon, Diane, Mickey, R.O., and Phil ------------------------>

For Garrett and any other SBSP fans

Jon and I were racing down I-10 in excess of 35 MPH. It's OK, though, because the speed limit here is 80.

Tonight we are camping at Eagle's Next RV campground in Van Horn, TX. I've been paying more and more attention to the RVs lately. Grandma, it might me time to buy one of these bad boys!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sitting outside with Downhill Bob, sipping vodka and coke, watching the sun set over west Texas mountains. Life remains good.

A little more on Columbus, New Mexico

<---- Pancho Villa

Columbus, N.M. is not much more than a wide spot in the road. There are two grocery stores, a couple bars, two (I think) restaurants, one gas station. It sits on the edge of the U.S./Mexican border. The most interesting point is a state park, named for Pancho Villa. P.V. was a bandit back in the early part of the 20th century. In March, 1916, he sent his thugs to attack the town of Columbus and the Army installation, Fort Furlong, in the middle of the night. Villa's intelligence was faulty and his band was roundly beaten but 16 Americans, civilians and soldiers, were killed in the attack. General John "Blackjack" Pershing was assigned the task of chasing after Villa and disbanding or dispersing his gang. Around the area, Villa is still regarded as a hero instead of a terrorist, which I don't understand. In this case, at least, attacking the U.S. and murdering citizens in their sleep gets you a state park named after you. I suppose Bin Laden should petition to have a park named after him.

Villa surrendering to Pershing ------->

Despite the questionable naming of the park, it is a very nice park, with a great museum, hiking trails, and a volcanic mound from which one might gaze down into Mexico at night:

Exterior corner of the museum. Don't cut the cactus, raise the roof.

The mountains here are different

On the way to Ft. Hancock, TX.

Jon and Diane wheeling past some west Texas mountains. I wish you could see them better, they looked like they were sculpted. The mountains, I mean, not Jon and Diane.

A good, swift ride today. Stopped at the proverbial hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant for lunch. The locals there were very friendly and the food was delicious. I had fresh squeezed lemonade that was unbelievably tasty, made with a hint of lime. Not much else to see. Some agriculture: Pecan and Black Walnut groves, alfalfa farms, onion fields. Apparently there is no shortage of water because the farmers here irrigate by totally flooding their fields. We saw a few very friendly dogs. Three in one pack ran down a hill to our right, crossed the road in front of us, and sat on the left shoulder and watched us wheel by. Another, a cattle dog ran with us for as long as he could keep up, seemingly enjoying the exercise. Some chihuahuas behind a fence let us know we shouldn't hang around. Good day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dirty Tricks

One of our riders, Jon, is a recently retired Air Force veteran. He was a navigator on C-130s. His wife, Mary Ann, a Naval Communications Officer, is stationed in Bahrain, but came home for a few weeks leave and joined Jon (and us!) on our layover in Columbus, New Mexico. They stayed at a B&B a couple blocks from the state park where we camped. This is what friends do....
El Paso is exactly all I have heard it is, so far, unfortunately.
Sitting at DQ waiting for 11 other riders so we can all enter the Lone Star state together.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

93 miles from Rodeo to Columbus, N.M., so I tacked on 7 more yesterday and got my first century of the year.
Click on any of these pictures to enlarge. We rode through a vicious sand storm shortly after noon. That really is me in there. Somewhere.

It seems like we climb more than we descend. By now it should be down hill all the way to the East coast.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Leaving Arizona

Tonite we are camped in Rodeo,New Mexico. We are merely feet from the Arizona border, and not much further from Mexico. The town of Rodeo would have to liven up ten fold to become a ghost town. But apparently, in her day, this was the place to be. Nine brothels, once upon a time. For those who believe in poetic justice, each of those brothels later became churches. It seems Rodeo was a station put in for the railroad that shipped copper, silver, and other ore from Bisbee to the East.

We had a guest speaker after dinner; a true to life sergeant in the U.S. Border Patrol came and told us about his work and some mighty interesting stories of fun times had by all. BTW, he said that Border Patrol duty in Vermont is thought to be primo duty that the agents all desire.

I will say that the border patrol is omni-present here. Their trucks are up and down the highways constantly. We've witnessed their eyes in the skies, the way they literally drag the ditches and culverts looking for foot prints, their jeeps parked high in the mountains watching the border, and (not me but) some of our group saw eight illegal border crossers arrested.

These are indeed strange times in which we live.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tombstone and Bisbee, Arizona

Today started out as a thoroughly crappy day. Due to the love and kindness of great family and good friends, it improved. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Bisbee, AZ is quite the place to see. Once a hopping mining center (of copper and silver ore as well as assorted gems) it retains it's historical side but seems to have evolved into a craft and art center as well. Unique is a good word to describe this place.

Don't ask me. We were intrigued but the doors were locked and so we didn't find out.

Tombstone was a bust. Apparently the West doesn't become WILD until after 10:00 and we were there early. I will tell you that the wait staff at the Longhorn back home is a lot better looking.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We had a really good dinner tonight in Tombstone, AZ. and then sat around and talked and joke for awhile. Camp is quiet. We're all worn out.
Lite snow @ 3300 ft. Fingers numb from the cold and can hardly shift gears. We'll almost be at 1 mile elevation before heading down again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I have no idea how Dennis and Gus found us but they did and they came bearing gifts from Wisconsin. Thank you Minikels!!!
(L-R) Riders Jon, Robin, Phil and our guide, Jim

UA campus. Local brews. REAL taco pizza. Yes, I partook.

Good morning from cold COLD Catalina, Az. Bike tour of Tuscon today.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

80 miles today to end week 1. We climbed about 1300 ft. as a mid morning snack. I now have a love/hate relationship with the head wind. Terms of endearment.

Friday, March 19, 2010

One of the staff pulled a prank on Bubba Overnight

Arrived in Gila Bend

Below the big sign is a list of the 5 townspeople designated as ld crabs. What an honor, eh?

Leaving Dateland

It really looked like it wanted to rain when we started out this morning. We chased those rain clouds east until they tired out and evaporated away.

On the way to Gila Bend

Tied to the hitching post

Somebody broke the road

We hit a tiny problem. The road we were on either was washed out or some planned construction was started and never completed. There was no one working on it. I took off my cycling shoes and walked my bike, barefoot, across the sand, about 1/4 mile. You do what ya gotta do. Actually, the cool sand felt good on my feet.

Honorary Fire Fighters

In Calexico, we enjoyed being guests of the CFD. The chief swore us in as honorary firefighters. As we slept, the real fire fighters answered two different calls during the wee hours. Wisely, the real ones didn't ask the honorary ones to go along for assistance.

That is Jon in the striped shirt on the left. He retired from a career in the U.S. Air Force on March 1st and joined us on this ride on March 13. Good planning. Of course, that is "Bubba" in the white shirt next to the chief.

Evening Rider's Meeting

Each evening we have a meeting to talk about the day's ride and get a briefing on what the next day will bring. And we consume a couple of adult beverages.

Two shots of the desert in California

I took a lot of picturs of the desert and of the mountains. I promise not to bore you with all of them, just some here and there. Suffice it to say that this country is amazing to see up close.


Although these cabins look like they should have been back in Alpine, this was Live Oak Springs. Nice cabins, we slept 3 to a room. Two got beds, one got an air mattress. (I got a bed.) There was also a "lodge" with a satisfactory kitchen and an adequate bar. The best thing about this place is that we were able to get a warm night's sleep.

More Alpine Campsite

Bedroom and Living Room, cow pasture style.

First Camp Site - Alpine, CA.

This camp site was actually a large pasture on a working cattle farm. It came complete with cow patties.

This is the kitchen above on the left. Fully self-contained and so far able to supply nothing except excellent food. That's Victor standing on the side. He's one of the four riders from New Hampshire. He and I have riden together quite a few miles already. He's an orthopedic surgeon and is very interesting to talk to.

On the right is our Dining Room. Casual dining only. That's "Downhill" Bob in the front center.

Status report

We are camping at an RV "resort" in Gila Bend, AZ. We are still in tents, sleeping on a gravel parking lot. :-)

But there is reported WIFI here, and I'm going to try to upload a bunch of pictures tonight.

The picture is of the support staff responsible making sure we get all the way. Left to Right are "Gopher", Erica, Bubba, Gerry-the-cop, Krash, and "Downhill" Bob.

Yesterday one of our riders succumbed to a stomach bug that knocked her out for the day. She rode with us again today and seems much better. She's even smiling.

Today, another rider got spooked along the way by a pack of dogs that wanted to play. She fell and went to emergency care. We hear she's been patched up and will join us tonight. She swears she will ride again tomorrow.

Everyone else has been safe. There has been a large number of flat tires, but that is to be expected. Cactus thorns are tough on skinny tires.

Last night's campsite in Dateland, AZ. was right along a Union Pacific freight rail. We had trains all through the night. You can imagine that the trains were the talk of the breakfast table.

59.13 miles today. The weather has been GREAT!!! We chased some rain clouds from the start but couldn't catch them. I have been feeling well and the riding has been phenomenal. Some more Interstate 8 riding today for part of the way. Not everyone is excited about riding on the Interstate because of the traffic, particularly the truck traffic. I might be nuts because I find it exhilarating. And I can get to higher speeds.

It's time for our evening meeting, so I will get those pictures up later.
I love getting pictures of the grandkids. My own version of performance enhancing H-G-H.
Using the Oakleys for the first time on open road today. Wow! Thanx Bubba!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I just enjoyed another strawberry / banana energy gel courtesy of Haley, Garrett and Hayden. The cold weather gear has been great, too. Thanks, guys. Love you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

So, here I am in Yuma, Az. 59.13 miles today but only averaged 12.9 mph because that head wind found us again. Gotta keep a good sense of Yuma to ride here!!!
I forgot to wish everyone Happy St. Pat's day. Enjoy!
We made front page of the Imperial Valley Times. You might find it online. Our story was below article: Locals Protest. :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Today was reward for first 2 days of climb: we fell from about 4300 ft to about 300 ft before noon. Then 30 miles across the desert. Tonite camping at firehouse

Monday, March 15, 2010

This picture is from Sunday, March 14

It is traditional to dip your rear tire in the starting ocean and then your front tire when you arrive at the other coast. No one ever considered, apparently, the effect of sand and salt on expensive bicycle parts.

Where in the world are we?

I should start putting our overnight cities in the blog post somewhere. I wanted to upload a GPS map of our location everyday but I am having difficulty uploading pictures or maps. I am only moderately successful at posts.

On Sunday we rode from San Diego to Alpine, California. Today from Alpine to a place called Live Oak Springs. There is a casino here, and the cabins where we are staying overnight. That is IT!

Tomorrow we ride down to Calexico, Ca. We will camp in the side yard of THE fire house. Maybe they will let us slide down the pole.
OK, I'm not gonna lie to you, today was a killer. Only 30 miles but straight up and into a brutal head wind that kicked everyone's butt. We all made it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 1 done. 40.2 miles, kinda like a check out ride. From sea level to 2000 ft. ASL. I'm not nearly as sore as I thought I'd be.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Safely in Jacksonville, Fl. Delta is reporting the flight in the morning is already overbooked! GRRRR, I hate what the airline industry has become.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bike Ride Eve

Tomorrow the adventure begins. Multi-modal twice transcontinental extravaganza! I drive to Florida to park the car to fly to California to ride to Florida to drive home. WHEEEEE!

Tonight we had a really nice dinner with the whole family. Good times and best wishes to me.

I'm all packed and ready to go. I can't think of a thing I'll need that I don't have in the bags. I'm sure there will be something, but I hear they have grocery and drug stores in California now.

Adios to everyone here at home. I will do my best to keep giving you updates on progress.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A lotta help from my friends

A big BIG thank you to my friends Jon @ Bike Surgeon in Shiloh and Andy @ The Cyclery in Edwardsville for helping me get prepared for this trip. You guys are the BEST! I highly recommend these two!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shipping the bicycle

I shipped my bike to California today. Take good care of my baby, FedEx, or I'll come get ya!

Post Script: According to FedEx, the bike was delivered yesterday, March 8th. One more thing off the check list.