Friday Mileage: 75
Saturday Mileage: 89
Sunday Mileage: 49
Total so far: 851
I made it to Las Cruces, NM today and this is a cool little town with a university and a lot of very friendly people. Everyone I have met has been extremely nice and helpful. I am staying with great hosts from couch surfing and plan on taking a rest day tomorrow. Ramey and Ben are both into outdoors activities and have gone on 4 month hikes from Mexico to Canada, gone mountaineering in Argentina and are avid rock climbers! Very cool people who have given me some great advice on traveling too. So far couch surfing has proven to be an awesome resource.
Friday I made it to the border and just about 2 miles past the welcome sign when I found a great place to camp out. I was pretty fatigued at that point and i am sure that made the spot all the more appealing! I camped out in a dry river bed and had a good night's sleep even though I was essentially sleeping on a bunch of rocks. Riding a bike for 8 hours a day makes everything comfortable i guess! Before my trip I had a lot of trouble sleeping, not so anymore. The only drawback to the spot was a damned thorn bush that kept catching my clothes every time I went by it. I got up at 6 and was rolling at sunrise and made good time putting down 40 miles by lunch. I took a long break at a tourist information booth to get my game plan laid out for the next few days and the woman there was super helpful and gave me a New Mexico and Texas state driving map.
I was gaining elevation up to the high planes and after lunch I caught a nice tailwind and put down another 49 miles riding until I came to Deming, NM which is a pretty interesting little town. It was one of the bigger towns in the area, but it pretty much consisted of one long street with a few restaurants and a Walmart. It seemed to have a lot of character though with all of the old homes on the main street. There really aren't that many people out here in NM. However, that does make it really easy to find a nice quiet place to sleep. I put up my tent down a dirt road and laid out watching the stars which are beautiful out here because there are no other major light sources to obscure them. I couldn't see another human being in any direction, it was a cool feeling. Apart from the highway which was a good ways away from me, i was totally cut off from anyone. It is nice to lay out and stare at the sky with all the millions of stars up there and just listen to the wind. It is a calming experience and not something I ever found myself doing in my busy life before I left. It was a good day and a really nice night.....
Until mother nature decided to end my peaceful sleep by turning on the gale force winds! Holy cow, it started to blow like a tornado was going over head. I was camped out on a dirt road about two feet below ground level next to a little tree, so I had a bit of a wind break, but it still came tearing through my camp like nothing else. The wind just howled and it kept lifting my tent off the ground. I didn't sleep much because everything was flying around and it was so loud. In the morning I had to force myself to get out of my sleeping bag because it was so dang cold. As soon as I got out of the tent it blew away! I had to run and catch the thing.
I was up at 6 again and riding at 7. It was too windy to cook anything for breakfast so I only ate trail mix (which is all i had to eat until Las Cruces, there were no food stores or restaurants for 50 miles!). It was a tough day riding straight into a fierce, cold headwind. I had to use my buff for the first time (yes it has skulls on it, the only other one at the store was pink with little blue squares!) and it really helped to keep my face from going numb. It was slow going, it took my about 3 and a half hours to cover 20 miles! Ouch, and I had to go 50 to get to Las Cruces. Riding into a headwind is worse than climbing a steep hill. With a hill, you can see the top and you feel good when you get there. With a headwind, it is unending and you feel like you are just fighting for every inch of ground you cover. The road I was on was perfectly straight too, with unchanging scrub scenery and a slight incline. That adds up to a not fun day of riding. It took 7 hours of hard pedaling to cover 49 miles!
A funny thing happened though as I was having a tough time crawling at a snails pace down the road. I pulled over to one of the gas stations between Deming and Las Cruces and the guy at the counter asks me how I am dong and I say: "cold and windy!" and he says back to me: " Yeah it is cold, but this is more of a light breezy day. A windy day gets up to about 100 mph around here." My jaw just dropped! If this was a "light breezy day" I have no idea what i would have done on a real "windy" day.
Days like this are pretty tough, but they build character and make the trip a challenge. It wouldn't be right without tough days. Once I hit snow and driving rain in the mountains then I think i will know what a real tough day is.
=First Glimpse of the Rio Grande!=