Glenn Charles

Adventurer | Photographer | Connector

Today I am a Time Traveler with a Camera... Tomorrow, who knows

Are you prepared - Tarps

I have worked my way up into the pacific northwest and am now getting myfirst taste of the much storied weather. Lucky for me I was prepared withthe right tarp and tarp skills.

A tarp, in my opinion is an absolute essential for any type of travel. Silnylon tarps weigh ounces and when paired with 3mm parachute cord fit in avery small stuff sack. Having a tarp is not enough if you are not skilledin how to set one up. Nothing is more frustrating than a downpour with atarp that won't take the weather.

I use a 20ft top line with 6ft tie outs on each lash point of an 8x10 owaretarp. This provides me with great flexibility in how the tarp is hung . Insevere weather I can go low to the ground providing important protectionfrom wind and driving rain. In more benign conditions I can string the tarphigher for more living space.

I learned this neat trick from the hammock community for attaching the tarpto the top line which allows you to easily adjust its location. It involvesattaching two prussick hitches to your line and then hooking each hitch tothe tiny s-biners (5lb ones). These s-biners then clip to your tarp,allowing you to slide the setup left or right and then to tension the wholesetup by sliding each hitch outwards. I will post picks and instructionsshortly.

I have also added tie outs to the bike, one at the head tube and one on theseat post as attachment points for two guy lines. This allows me to use thebike as one of the endpoints for the tarp setup by simply staking out oneside of the bike using two 4ft guy lines. I can now roll to a stop, findone more point such as a tree, picnic table or stick, pull the tarp off theseat post and have a large dry area setup in a matter of minutes.

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Day 96 - Oxnard

The day started slow as I got up, packed and had coffee and breakfast on the beach, watching the tide and surfers roll in.  It was beautiful, but there are days you can tell the body is just not going to cooperate.  Today was going to be one of those days. 

Out in the distance on the ocean, you could see the the winds were really whipping up the seas, and that as soon as I left the protected beach of Malibu I was going to run full on into them.  Sure enough, as the morning progressed I became more exposed to the fierce winds and my progress slowed proportionately.  At one point the winds were blowing up the sands so bad that you could barely see and the sting of the dust smacking into you was quite painful.  I ran up on another north bound cyclist and we both took stock of the deteriorating conditions.  He was pushing on, but I was formulating my rationale for making this a short day. All I needed was to find a Starbucks and it would be all over.

It did not take long, before I came up on one in Oxnard, a starbucks that I had frequented on many occasions when I travelled here for business.  It was nice to find shelter and warm cup of coffee hit the spot.  I checked the weather and their were wind advisorys for the coastal region I was cycling, which proved to be the final straw for me.  As the afternoon wore on, the winds got worse and the temperature began to drop dramatically.  Luckily there was a state park only 3 miles away, 3 miles that felt like an eternity as I slowly cranked the pedals.

The nice thing about these parks and their hiker biker spots is it increases the chances dramatically that you will have some biking company.  Shortly after I rolled in I met Juan, a fellow from Spain that has been on the road for about 15 months, doing the Argentina to Alaska route, North bound.  He describes the winds down in Chile as just brutal.  Shortly after he rolled in, we had more company, Sarah and Wally, who were cycling from San Francisco to Tucson. 

With the wind howling and the temperatures continuing to drop, we all huddled around the picnic table, cooking warm meals and sharing stories of our travels.  I must admit that this is really something that I have been longing for on the road, some shared camaraderie.  I know that as I move farther north I will continue to run into more cyclists, and hear some great stories.

 

Day 95 East LA - Malibu Beach

It was a day of contrasts as I started out riding through LA and end withsunset over the beach. I rode along with my friend Errin on his morningcommute to work, Paramount studios. On the way I had the honor of meetingJeff, the founder of the Pablove foundation. A heart wrenching yetuplifting story of dealing with pediatric cancer. This is a charity thatyou must take the time to read about and contribute to. I will be writingmore about the foundation when I have some laptop time.

Errin then was able to five me a tiur of the studios including the Dr. Philsoundstage. It was really amazing to see this stuff in person.

After good byes I headed through west LA, finally making it to the Pacificand Venus beach. It was a cool day so I imagine that kept some of the folksaway but wow what an interesting place. Great people watching as you cruisedown the bike path or the shop walk.

Eventually I left the beach and headed out on Rte 1. This us really amajestic road and while I think it is beautiful now, I am sure it only getsbetter as you progress north. By late afternoon the sun came out making itmuch warmer. The wild flowers are in full bloom making the sea shore reallypop with reds, yellows and purples.

I made camp at one of the hikers-biker camp sites and fell asleep to thedistant sound of the ocean. It was a really fantastic day.

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Day 94 - Urban LA

Once again a big thanks to Carl and Karen for their warm hospitality. Itwas a real honor to meet them and here about Carls pretty amazing bikingadventures.

I got off to a reasonable start with Carl once again leading the way. Wetook the leisurely route along the beach which was a great way to start theday. As we approached the pier it was clear that something was going on,either a movie or a TV show. It turned out to be the filming of an episodefor the show Criminal Minds. It was amazing to see how much effort andinfrastructure was needed to do something like that.

Next up we found the streets closed as this coming weekend is the Toyotarace series. It was press day today which meant the cars were rippingaround the tracks and the grand stands were open. I can only imagine howcool it must be on race day because just this little show today was amazing.

Carl dropped me off at the entrance to the LA river trail, a bike path thatruns close to 20 miles along side the river. For those of you that havenever seen the LA river, it is quite different from what you might expect.This is a large manmade structure composed entirely of concrete that funnelsthe water from north to south finally ending in the Long Beach/LA harbor.While the river is not that scenic, the bike path is perfect for workingyour way up towards downtown LA. The mixture of beautiful wildlife flyingaround you and the homeless tent camps provides for a stark reminder of howmany people in this country are still really hurting.

I was on my way to meet up with fellow Fargo fan Errin. We had met over thenet and I was excited to see his new Titanium Fargo and to puck his brain onultra light biking techniques and gear. Errin is riding the Tour Dividerace this summer and he has put together a really sweet Fargo build. He waskind enough to let me take it fir a spin and I must say, the Titanium isamazing and it made me not sleep at all as I dreamed of touring on an ultralight setup.

That had been my original plan but I deviates to the route of towing a BOB.While my kit is light, when you have a trailer ir panniers I thing that nomatter how hard you try, you still carry more stuff than you need. I am nowcommitted more than ever to doing a portion of my tour with a trailer freebike packing type setup. If nothing else it will reinforce living simply aswell as making those mountain passes way more enjoyable to cross.

As for the Titanium Fargo I guess I now have something to dream about.

Thanks Errin and Serbrina for hosting me. It was a pleasure to finally meetyou. I will post a link to Errin's website later this week where you canfind great tips on bike stuff as well as follow along as he prepares for theTour Divide race this coming June.

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Day 93 - The Pacific Coast Highway

It was a bright blue day with light winds , perfect conditions for gettingback on the road. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my rest, I was excitedto get back on the trail. The southern route across the country was nice,but I am really excited about the pacific coast.

After winding my way along urban roads I eventually made my way onto thePacific Coast Highway, a road that will be my home for the next 50 days irso. The smell of salt air and the whitecaps in the distance brought animmediate smile to my face.

The route .meandered along the highway and beach paths making for a veryleisurely 45 mile ride. My friend Carl met me about 10 miles from hid houseand slowly escorted be in. It was great to have someone with me that coulddescribe the area as we rode through it.

Between the weather and the comrade I could nit have ordered up a betterstart to this leg of my trip. Thanks Karen & Carl for your kindness andgenerosity.

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Last day of rest

It has been great for my body to get some much needed rest and pampering, save for the mountain bike ride yesterday.  The Fargo is cleaned and ready to go, as is the BOB trailer.  I am still searching for a new rear Schwalbe Big Apple tire, but I am sure one will be found soon enough.  My belly is full and my clothes are clean.  Now it is time to move forward and rejoin the trail as I push north to Vancouver. 

All rest is good rest, but when you live your life on the road, rest becomes restless and the need to move becomes stronger than the desire to sit.  I have effectively reached that point and am mentally and phycially ready to start the next leg of the journey. Now it is time to move forward and rejoin the trail as I push north towards Vancouver. This leg will be different in many ways, travelling though high population centers and dealing with cold and rain.  Rain will be a big challenge since the last 84 days of travel saw only 2.5 days of precipitation.  I will have to adjust my riding kit slightly to account for the impending moisture, but nothing to serious needs to change.  I lost a glove the other day, and I need to add some rain pants, but otherwise my trusty gore-tex jacket should suffice.  For this leg of the journey I have gone ultralight, giving up my solo tent in favor of my trusty bivy and tarp.  Time will tell if this is a good move, and it is something I am going to document in detail since shelter choice v. weight is such a big issue when travelling for prolonged periods.

The journey picks up again on Monday, thanks for following along!

Cleveland forest

I got to spend the day mountain biking some awesome single track in theClevland National Forest. I borrowed a specialized front suspension bikeand dud my beat to keep up with my friend Chip. The trail was steep,technical, and hot, all of which conspired to make it a challenging ride.

I spent more time crashing and walking than I did riding. I did manage totake some fun pics of Chip working his way down the single track, springflowers in bright bloom. Luckily I did not loose too much blood or breakanything, but I am going to be very sore tomorrow.

Two more days of rest and then I am back on the trail.Sent from my Windows Phone

San Diego, 3,052 Miles – The Southern Tier

I woke before dawn in a field of wet lush grass, frogs and crickets chirping, sounds of birds doing their spring thing. It was quite the contrast to the past 84 days of winter that I had spent pedaling across the southern states of the US. The day before had been one of those epic pushes, the kind that challenge both the mind and the body. I left Ocochito early in the morning, hoping beyond hope that the winds had finally died down. I had the last climb of the southern tier, over 4,000 ft of elevation gain ahead of me and I did not want to battle both the climb and the winds at the same time.

 

As I set out I stopped at the last gas station for a while, bought two snickers bars and one power bar. Once again I was virtually out of food and decided that with these items and full water bottles I could make the push up the mountain and get to a town with a real grocery store. The climb started out on I-8 and was, in my mind a fairly gentle uphill route. Having persevered through the farm roads of Texas hill country, with their mind boggling grades and then the 8,000 foot pass in New Mexico and multiple crossings of the Continental Divide, I felt that I was really prepared for what California had in store for me, at least at this point in the trip.

 

I was pleased with myself and the strength and mental endurance that had been built over the long miles of the trip. I have come to learn that for the most part, the hills and the mountains are a mind game, one played between your head, your heart, and your legs. I guess all of my traveling has paid off as I slowly and methodically worked off the miles. After hours of averaging no more than 5 mph, and often going at rates much lower than that, I was treated with a beautiful sight, a sign indicating I had finally reached the elevation of 4,000 feet, the highest point that I would have to overcome before descending to San Diego.

 

I took a moment to rejoice in my accomplishment, and then pushed off down the grade. It is always a special feeling when you begin your trip down after a long and difficult climb up. The road swept into a lovely place called Pine Valley that felt as if I had been transported back to the mountains of the east coast. The air was moist and the grass was green, the smell of spring was in the air mixed with the smell of wood burning in the nearby homes. I actually had to stop and add two layers of clothing as I had become so accustomed to the arid dry south west, that the moisture in the air was chilling me to the bone. I knew I had one small climb left before everything was down hill, but at this point it was pure pleasure.

 

Camping in civilization would once again become a problem, and since I had already logged more than 50 miles over 8 hours, it was time to begin the search. I made the final small climb and found an RV campground with a little grassy park out front. When I can, I always try and ask, so I found the manager and inquired about laying out a bedroll in the park and sleeping for the night. His response, “what will you do in the middle of the night when you need to go to the bathroom?”. I thought the answer to this was obvious, but what he really meant was, no you can't stay here, and this is just a lousy excuse for why not. So, I thanked him and moved on, light quickly fading into dusk and a serious mountain chill in the air. Luckily, not far from there I found an old trail that led to a grassy field, completely secluded where I could safely camp for the night. I always love finding these places, the kind where I know I am isolated and can move about freely without fear of raising angst in others.

 

The next morning I woke to the sound of spring birds and the knowledge that I was almost finished with the Southern Tier, and beautiful trek across the southern states of the US. I had about 40 miles of downhill grade that would take me into San Diego and the ending point, Dog Beach and the Pacific Ocean. The first 20 miles went incredibly fast, mostly due to the grade of the back country roads and the portion of I-8 that I was allowed to ride on. The remaining 20 miles were a little slower due to the urban nature of the route. A quick stop a Starbucks to get some juice, and re-charge my phone and I was off, knowing that the next time I stopped I would be done. The remaining jewel of the route was the path through the San Diego canyon park, an absolutely gorgeous ride through woods, and creekl and and a perfectly graded bike path. From there it was just a short couple of miles to the beach. At one point I ran into two guys on trikes just starting out on the southern tier route, going west to east. I wished them luck and pushed off, next stop, Dog Beach.

 

Finishing journeys like this are often surreal, you look back mentally at all that has been accomplished and endured, and somehow it seems as if it was so long ago. I think that this continues to reinforce the notion to me that all that matters is the ever present now, what you do today, how you live your life now. I had ridden more than 3,000 miles across the country on bicycle, not having ridden a bike in over 5 years prior to the beginning of this trip. I never once doubted my ability, my fitness or the mental toughness that would be required to complete such a journey. To the contrary, I knew that taking things one day at a time and embracing the kindness of humanity would see me through.

 

I took the obligatory pictures of me and the bike and the ocean, posted them on the social media sites and then sat down and smiled, breathed slowly, reminded myself that this is what life is all about. It is all about the memories that we create by living a life of joy, happiness, peace and most importantly, LOVE.

 

Vancouver, here I come :-)

 

 



Day 81 & 82

The story is the same, brutally strong winds have brought me to astandstill. They started in earnest 3 days ago but I still managed about 55miles in a reasonable amount of time. Yesterday they were so strong it tookme almost 8 hours to get in 50 even with a surprise visit from Tucson Stan.

The problem with that kind of wind is the effort you have to make just to go5 mph. Even spinning on my small ring was a challenge. I often foundmyself pedaling leaning sideways into the wind only to have a truck pass meand almost topple me. The climb yesterday through the large dunes wasamazing but after that it was a mess.

I made El Centro shortly before dark, found a McDonald's and gorged myselffor the first time in the trip. I left in search of a place to camp,eventually finding shelter in a field behind a huge stack if hay bales.

Morning came and at first light I was optimistic about the winds. Theforecast was for them to lighten, but alas there would be no such luck. Ittook me two hours to go ten miles and I was spent. Finding some shade, areal commodity in these parts, I set up to eat a second breakfast, dorepairs, and take a nap.

I was still optimistic that I could get some miles in, so after a couple ofhours I set out for more punishment. Between the miserable condition of theroad, the strong headwind, and my never ending flat rear tire, I managedanother ten miles in two hours. Yes, i now officially have worn thru aSchwalbe Big Apple tire and must find a way to replace it in San Diego.

At this point I was spent, physically and emotionally. I ran into a cyclistjust starting out, all brightly dressed, clean bike, and no dirt. Wechatted for a bit and I wished him well. I then looked at myself and sawtge grit and grime if almost 3000 miles in me and my bike, and just smiled.

99 Miles to go with one 4000 foot mountain pass to get over. Hopefullytomorrow will be calmer.

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Day 80 - Tacna to Cali

I knew when I woke in the middle of the night to howling winds that todaywould be a challenge. When I had to hide behind a shed at 5:30 AM to blockthe wind I knew today would be a challenge. The good news is that I was atleast mentally prepared for the day ahead which did not dissapoint on thechallenge scale.

The stretch from Silver City to Tucson and then through Yuma and intoCalifornia has been almost exclusively on the highways which has not alwaysbeen bad. However, today with the strong winds and the huge lettuce trucksi was being blown all over the place. I would imagine that my 8 mph averagespeed did not help.

The route has largely been flat but before heading into Yuma you must climbout if one valley, up over some modest mountains and then back down again.It was on tge downhill that for the first time those trucks really botheredme. I had previously noticed that trucks which are completely loaded andlacking a fancy cab, really push the air sideways. Well today it was thelettuce trucks and they definitely scares the crap out of me. Each passingtruck pushed me sideways several feet which is bad enough when going slowand downright freaky when doing 25!

I was amazed to see tge amount of agro in these valleys. It is always asight when tge desert goes from brown to a patchwork of green. I have notbeen to Yuma in about 15 years and in that time it has really. Hanged. Lotsif green agro fields and plenty of concrete RV parks, something i definitelydon't get.

Entering California meant i am getting close to the end of my first leg. Ihave to navigate the funky CHP rules about highway access until i can pickup the ACA route in another 25 or so miles.

The wind is still blowing and the air is a bit chilly but the sights arebeautiful. The sun is setting, casting a brilliant orange glow on themountains to the north and creating a similar but more stark look on thedunes to the south.Sent from my Windows Phone

Day 79 - Gila Bend to Taca

Today is going to be hot, at least that was my impression as I woke andbroke camp. In need of power and some supplies I opted to have coffee atMcDonald's on the west end of town. When I got there the long lines of greyhair people reminded me of Florida. I have learned that this is the land ofthe desert RV park. A phenomenon that I struggle with a bit because thereis not much to do out here, but if you are after peace and the drone of I-8,well this is your place.

Did you know that at one time the date trees of Morocco were threatened withdisease so they sent 11 offshoots to the United States for safe keeping. Itturned out that disease did in fact kill all of the date trees in Moroccothus making all modern day date trees defendants of those 11 off shoots. Iknow this because there is a town out in Arizona called Dateland and theygrow lots and lots if dates. Fir starving, broke cyclists they also have avery generous sample policy, which I grudgingly took advantage of.

Another solid day of 74 miles got me to the small town of Taca where I hadto buy water from a box stand where $.25 got me a gallon, so I boughttwo. Thank goodness for town parks and baseball diamonds because they savedme again, albeit at the expense of the two teens who were rejoicing in thespring time fashion of making out.

Ahh, you remember those days don't you, the ones where you were young andcould just sit and kiss for hours on end. Well this young couple toleratedmy presence as they went about there fun and I made my dinner all the whilereminiscing about love gone by.

My friend the big dipper was out early tonight as I blew up my sadthermarest and rolled out my sleeping bag for a night under the stars. I amexcited about reaching the coast but will miss these nights sleeping in theopen with a blanket of twinkling lights lulling me to sleep.

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Day 78 - Gila Bend

The storm that had rolled through cleared out nicely. I was up early towatch the sun rise up over the mountain lined desert. It is always aspecial site when you get those blues, pinks and a tint of orange as the sunis working its way up.

The winds were calm and the road flat, a combination guaranteed to producebig miles. Today was no exception and I managed a solid 84 miles beforecalling it quit.

I don't know ho cyclists do this stretch in the warmer months. You go forperiods of 20-30 mile stretches with no services and no shade. Water isgold and if you don't carefully plan your consumption you can find yourselfin a bit of a bind.

The desert is definitely a monotone ride with barely anything to distinguishone mile from the next. This is definitely a great time for music androadside junk analysis. For example, why must truckers pee in plasticbottles and then toss them out onto the road? It makes for a horrible messthat is needless. They could simply throw them away with the rest if theirtrash and eliminate the roadside blight.

I camped in a rest area on the east side of town, cooking dinner in theparking lot and then moving out into open land after dark. It was a solidday that got me ever closer to the Pacific coast.

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Day 77 - Tucson to Picacho Peak

It was a great stay this weekend with my friend Stan. I ate a ton and gota clean shower; clean clothes; and some nice rest in a bed.

The forecast for today was not good with reports that the storm system thathit California was moving my way. I got off at a reasonable hour but the winds were already up. Lucky for me, they were more of a rear quartering wind so I flew out of town. I made about 53 miles in less than three hours.

However, things were about to change as the wind was beginning to blast me from the side, the kind of gusts that require you to lean the bike into the  wind. Of course when the gust goes a way you then have to scramble to keep control. These side winds intensified and then slowly moved to hitting mehead on.

I guess I am getting smarter in my age because at this point I had no desire to grind out another ten miles over two hours at max effort. I took this allas a sign to take cover and ended up spending the entire day in a large tourist trap. They were extremely nice and allowed me to hang out in their food court while i played on my phone and OD'd on Fox news....

The storm intensified with the torn up sands creating a white out. Cars and trucks took shelter and i no longer was alone in my desire to avoid the elements. I waited until closing before heading out to a vacant lot next door and made camp in the light drizzle.

Some days you just have to take what nature throws your way and just roll with it. Today was one of those days.

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Day 77 - Vale to Tucson

Last night I camped out in the middle of the desert with nothing but themoon, the stars and the coyotes. It has been so nice of late that I havebeen able to just sleep out on my pad with my sleeping bag. Each time Iwoke i was greeted by the brilliant near full moon and the big dipper as itmoved across the night time sky. It was one of the nicest nights of thetrip.

In the morning I had a quick cup of coffee and cereal and the I was off tovisit my friend Stan. Stan and I met two years ago at a hostel in Ketchikan AK. It was not long before Stan rolled up his scooter to greet mr and helpme work my way through the suburbs and then to his home.

After getting directions I was off again to enjoy a slow morning ride through the outskirts of town. Beyond the shear beauty of the area the next most noticeable thing was the number of cyclists and pelotons that were outfor their Saturday morning rides. It was really great to see such a largebicycling presence.

Working my through town it was wonderful to be greeted with bike signs; bike lanes; and bike lane transition markers. Not since Austin had I seen a town that appeared to be as bike friendly as Tucson.

About 30 miles later I made it to Stans place where I will spend two days resting and catching up.

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Day 76 - Wilcox to Tucson (Vale)

I spent the night camped in a little league ball field, the second time in my odyssey that I have needed to resort to such tactics.  When I arrived in Wilcox last night, I immediately made my way to the local park, but it was much to well lit and populated for any form of camping.  After dark, the people left, and I found myself in a far off field next to Interstate 10.  Other than the constant drone of the trucks and the full moon, it was pretty pleasant night.

I woke early, even earlier than normal, to make sure I was out of such a public place before people started moving around.  The night before I had stopped at a Safeway, the first one I have seen since the east coast, to pick up bananas.  What I love about Safeway's is they have Starbucks in them.  I knew that they opened early, so after packing up I headed over and sat down for a great cup of coffee and free WiFi.  Before you know it I had met this really talented artist and found myself talking about his art, my travels and great places in the US to call home. He and his wife were headed back out west after doing the east coast art scene but they had made the decision to relocate to xxxx North Carolina, one of my favorite places on the east coast.

Due to my lounging in Safeway for way to long I was now off to a late start.  It was 80 miles from Wilcox to Tucson and I had hoped to make it to the Colossal Cave state park which lies about 17 miles out of the city.  However, the winds have really been coming up, and I had just done to big days, so I was really unsure of how far I would make it once I hit the road.  Luckily as I started out, the winds were reasonably light and my legs had enough energy to push me forward at a decent clip, although not as good as yesterday morning. 

The terrain seemed to largely be a climbing elevation, which also contributed to slightly slower speeds.  None the less, I found myself making good progress as I approached Texas Canyon, a location I had been warned about as being one of my last big climbs.  By then I was feeling pretty good and just moving along at a good clip, even up hill.  I must say the lighter load in the BoB is making a big difference in my climbing speeds.  Then, well, the dreaded feeling that only occurs with a rapidly deflating tire.  Here I was, half way up the climb, 18 wheelers wizzing by, and really no place other than the shoulder to do a repair. 

I slowed to a stop and watched the last of the arir flow out of the rear tire -- why oh why is it always the rear tire?  I must say right now, that I have been so lucky compared to others that I have met.  This is only my 4th flat over 2500 miles, and that is really impressive.  People ask me all the time about my huge tires and if they are really efficient, to which I say, hey they really roll when inflated.  Scientifically, well, I have no real idea and speculate to a certain extent that smaller tires would be more efficient, and I might even try them out when I get to the west coast, but you can't argue with the flat resistance of the Schwalbe Big Apples.

I managed to repair the flat, put in another tube, got back on the bike and it immediately flatted again.  Needless to say, I was questioning my luck, but I figured out that it was a bad inner tube that I put in and not another flat.  However, I still had to repeat the whole process of changing out the rear tire, and re-inflating the monster 2.3 Big Apples, something that is really quite a chore with my little pump.

Later that morning, I approached a lone rider going down the highway just short of Benson. I slowly worked my way up to them and met Leann, a woman from Orlando who was riding across the country at an amazing pace.  We stopped and had lunch together where I learned that she had left Orlando barely a month ago, averaging over 100 miles a day for a good portion of the trip.  She had started with a BOB trailer, but quickly dumped it in favor of an ultra light setup. She managed by her lightweight setup by eating out all the time and staying in hotels the majority of the nights.  This allowed her to carry the bare minimum on her carbon fiber, dual suspension mountain bike.  We finished the day by riding to the Tucson area and she really could cruise up those hills.  On the downhills, the Fargo and Bob, quickly pulled ahead of her, but I was never able to keep up with her on the clims.  It made me long for an even lighter setup, so the wheels in my head continue to turn as to how I can go ever lighter without sacrificing my ability to camp and cook.

I managed to roll off the highway at the Vale exit and worked my way another 7 miles to the Colossal Cave state park. I got there after five with the gates closed for a special event.  I don't mind ignoring closed signs when I have to but an event with people made me skittish, so as tired and spent as I was, I went in search of a place to camp.  Not 200 yards outside of the park entrance was an elevated creek wash that I quickly rolled the bike into and found a nice rocky/sandy oasis in a desert of pointed, prickly, stingy things.  It turned out to be an perfect place to watch the moon rise up over the canyon, back lighting the giant Saguaro cactus and listen to the coyotes howel at the brightly lit sky.

Day 75 - Lordsburg to Wilcox

I can't say that last nights sleep was the best ever but I guess it did thetrick. I stayed under cover at the rest area but after dark all the lightscame on and this place was very well lit. Luckily I am blessed with theability to sleep in mist places so by simply covering my eyes with my trustyBuff I was good to go.

Since the winds have really been coming up strong I was up before the sunin order to get a jump on things. My plan worked great and I banged out 47miles in about 3 hours. A quick break for lunch at a rest area thatspecialized in jerkey, honey and olives. Definitely one of the mite uniquecombinations to be found in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Unfortunately the wind and road slope had different plans and between thetwo, the remaining 26 miles took almost exactly 3 hours. Quite a changefrom the morning but the slow pace allowed me time to think and observe.

Even with the mass of 18 wheelers it is really a beautiful stretch of road.Both sides are lined with distant peaks and with a bit of imagination youcan see why thus was Apache land. From up high they had a clear view ofanything coming for a hundred miles. What a time that must have been.

I managed a quick nap under an overpass and then finished the last 14 milesinto Wilcox. The winds howled during dinner making my stove work doubletime. I went to remove it from the cannister only to find out the cannisterseal is shot. If I leave the stove head on then it doesn't leak. Luckily Iwill be in Tucson by Saturday where there is an REI.

Be sure and keep an eye out on the moon this weekend. It is a super moon,coming closer to the earth than any time in the past 18 years. It should bepretty spectacular.Sent from my Windows Phone

Day 74 - Silver City to I-10

I was somewhat sad to say goodbye to Silver City and William, my host, this morning as I had grown fond of the town and the great people I met.  It is a very eclectic town with something for everyone, including a travelling vagabond like myself.  To William and Glenn and my new friend Jim, thanks for making my stay so enjoyable.

The ride into Silver City as you may recall was an amazing downhill experience.  Well, as you can imagine, around here what goes down then goes up, so the climb out of Silver was exhausting.  The vast majority of the first 28 miles were up hill, occasionally offering up a descent, which only meant you lost valuable altitude which would then need to be regained.  This went on exactly as William had described, so I was at least mentally ready for it.  The most challenging point was crossing the Continental Divide, again, and then realizing there was still one more brutal climb up and out of this range.

Finally, at almost exactly mile 28, I crested the the top and was greeted with a sweeping panoramic view of the valley below, with the ever-present New Mexico mountains off in the distance, ringing the valley almost as if they were sentinels guarding the way.  The treat now, 15 glorious downhill miles to the intersection of 70, just a couple of miles outside of Lordsburg.  It was one of those down hills that was sloped just perfectly, enough of an angle to give you a good 22 or so mph, but not so steep that you had to spend half your time on the brakes.  It allowed me to just cruise down the mountainside and into the valley, all the while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

From there it was up and into Lordsburg and a stop for more bananas.  In my quest to find the cheapest form of snacks, I have discovered that out here bananas are incredibly cheap, often in the .49 cents/lb range making them one of my favorite go to foods.  They don't do so well in the heat, so it is important to get a few ripe ones and a few green ones in hopes that they don't go bad before you eat them. 

Lordsburg gave me the impression of a fairly dusty and dry southwestern town, not at all what I had been used to up in the Gila area.  I got my bananas, found a McDonald's to re-charge at, and then hopped on I-10 with all the hustle and bustle of a world I left behind a couple of weeks ago.  It made me realize just how special it was to pedal those crazy graded farm roads up and over the mountain passes, nary a car or truck to be seen, just beautiful mother nature patiently waiting for you to soak it all in.

I managed to make it to one of the rest stops and have set up camp here with a number of other weary travellers.  There is even one of those monster RV's out in the lot, sides extended, satellite dish pointed up.  I see these huge RV's all over the place and I just can't figure them out, but each to their own, and if it makes them happy then more power to them.  At the price of gas, which I see across the street is over $4/gallon, I sure don't know how they do it?

Tomorrow I push on to Tuscon, hoping to get in a good 60-70 miles before the wind kicks up.  It is a constant issue now as the spring winds are in full force, and unfortunately, they blow West or South West every day.  The odds of me getting a tail wind are zip!

Lastly, I had some time in Silver to research other cyclists that are out on the trail, some simply seeking adventure, others searching for meaning, some doing both.  There are two pretty amazing women that are cycling the ancient Silk Road, starting in Istanbul and working their way to India.  It is a fantastic journey, with a great story and they have some amazing pictures, so be sure and check them out here, and if possible, donate a few dollars to their 'Scurvy' fund.  I just love that!

Day 62

I sat on the picnic table overlooking Lake Caballo trying to figure out what to do. It was 3:45 and I had a little more than two hours of light left. I could stay and pay $8 for a primitive site, nothing more  than apatch of dirt in a field, or I could move on.

The day started at 4:00 out of fear if high winds and tough going. Instead  I found light tail winds and strong legs. A small Mexican cafe provided me with two huge egg and cheese burrito plus a cup of coffee, which combined really fueled the day. I had easily pounded out close to 50 miles already,cranking the pedals and rocking out to the Zac Brown band.

The result of my efforts was good distance but also a tired body. I knew  that if I headed out I had close to 20 miles of road and over 1000 ft of elevation to go before reaching Hillsboro. Hillsboro is nestled at the base of the 8,228 ft Emory pass making it a strategic destination. An added benefit was my maps listed it has having a town camp, sweet, a free site in the middle of town. What better place to take a rest day at.

I opted to go for it and it was as painful as I expected. Legs spent, the first series of climbs were slow and agonizing. Rewarded with a long plateau I was unable to capitalize on because my legs would not crank,instead I had to spin, going no more that 7mph. Earlier in the day these same flats yielded 14 - 15 mph speeds without any real effort.

The sun was getting lower and the real elevation gain started. Now I was climbing and climbing with the little voice in my head just saying stop,camp, no rush. I ignore this voice often because it generally just wants to take the easy route.

A quick glance at the clock and i knew i had 30 minutes of daylight and maybe another 30 minutes of dusk and yet more than 4 miles to go. It was not looking good for making it before dark. I found myself cursing the gods for constantly ending each days ride with a head wind and a climb.

Three miles to go and i reached a sort of plateaus with a sharp curve sign ahead. Were the gods listening, was this the end of the climb? I rested a bit, then mustered the energy to move my now lifeless legs. Heavy as they were i pushed forward and rounded the bend. The sun had now dipped below the distant peaks, but there before me lay the valley floor.

Yes, a sweeping, winding road worked its way down the hard earned elevation i had just gained. I smiled, thanked them for listening and pushed off. The air had turned chilly and as i approached speeds of 30 mph i was getting cold, but I did not care as the downhill road covered the remaining 3 miles in a matter of minutes. The only effort on my part was steering and braking, a real necessity on the fast, winding descent.

I arrived at dark to the town of Hillsboro NM and a lovely little town park with restrooms. What a treat those will be in the morning. It was a long day but well worth the effort. Now for a much needed day of rest.

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Day 61 - Radium Springs

I left Art in the border fairly early after making an adjustment to mysaddle. It had begun to sag a bit so after a few twists of the wrench I wasset, a nice taught saddle.

The road out of the El Paso surroundings is almost entirely Pecan farms.This time of the year the branches are bare, but I can only imagine what thefields must look like when they are in full bloom. At certain points alongthe rout the road narrows and the pecan trees create an archway over theroad. A pair of local cyclists told me that during the summer .months theytake their time going through these green tunnels.

Passing through the little town of Mesilla made me want to stop and Li gdr.Art galleries, cafes, restaurants and shops line the streets. It wasamazing to me how the architecture of everything changed so dramaticallywhen I hit New Mexico. Shops and homes all have that southwestern Adobestyle, light colors and flat roofs. I wonder why the roofs are flat?

The winds picked up throughout the day, as had been the case the last 3days. By early afternoon they were strong enough to I.pact my rude so Ifound shelter until late afternoon, hoping they would ease off as the daycooled. No such luck was had -- leaving me to grind away the final 16 milesto my first New Mexico state park.

The winds were whipping and it made for tough camp setup and cooking. Myattempts at homemade wind screens are failing me and I fear a commercial oneis in my near future.

As I lay down under a blanket of stars the challenges of getting to thispoint all seemed to fade away. Peace in the desert night is easy to find.

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Day 60 - New Mexico

I started my day early, having wild camped in a pecan orchard, I wanted toget out before being discovered. I found another pecan tree along the sideof the road where I made coffee, ate breakfast and watches the sun ruse.

Today rude was to be short, basically working my way through El Paso andthen out and into New Mexico. I opted for the route that takes you throughtown instead of the alternate loop road. I guess the price for seeing a bitof the city is traffic, but I enjoy the brief reconnection with thecivilized world. The hustle and bustle, large volumes of people and cars,combine to remind me of what I don't miss.

I took my time and saw one of the memorials commemorating the peace treatybetween the US and Mexico. It sits right at the border where long lines ofcars wait to enter the US and a double strand of barb wire fence separatesthe two countries.

My legs were quite tired today and the ride out of town is a good sizeclimb, so with the sun at my back I opted to sit in an air conditionedStarbucks for a while, patiently waiting for cooler afternoon temperatures.

The final push out of town was marked by very dense traffic that seemed tonit quite grasp my right to be on the road. Foe a good bit of time I couldhave reached out and touched almost every car that passed me by. Noincident but it did require me to aggressively take the lane.

I found shelter outside of town at a rustic art studio. The giant metalsculptures were a calling card and the resident artist offered a place tosleep and a nice, albeit cold, shower. The weather has been great so thiswill be another night sleeping out under the stars sans tent.

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