Monday, May 26, 2008

Las Vegas, NM to Tucumcari, NM: 109 miles

Another desert century! Gack!

We started out from Las Vegas on a beautiful morning--39 degrees and a light breeze--it actually felt nice! After 1.8 miles, we turned on Rte. 104, with the warning that there were no services (or restrooms) for 75.9 miles. And they weren't kidding--there weren't even any bushes tall enough to hide behind! (I won't tell you how we handled that!)

About ten miles into the ride, we had a rider down. It was Ron (the one who came back up Mingus Mt. when I was in trouble). When I arrived, he was lying on the ground, Mary Ann (she's a nurse) was there and they had called an ambulance. It turns out he is OK, scrapes and bruises, broken helmet... very good news. I haven't heard how the bike is... I expect we'll see him and his bike on the road tomorrow.

Because of the accident, the first scheduled sag, at 28.2 miles, was not set up when we came through. A nice man named Art, who lived at that property, gave us cold water... 5 miles or so up the road, the CrossRoads van was waiting for us, to give us water, gatorade, and snacks. That was a welcome sight! Right after the impromptu sag we saw the signs for a dramatic descent. There were three of them! One read: Caution, winding road next 3 miles. The next one read: Caution, 9% (down) grade next 3 miles. The last one read: Watch for falling rocks! And our cue sheet told us there were 2 cattle guards on the descent, both with dangerous cracks!

By the time I reached the bottom (3 miles and over 1,000 feet in elevation later) everyone who had been behind me was now ahead of me! But I did not panic... I made it down the grade with no tears and no crashes. The rest of our descents today were very manageable--some were miles long. So even though we climbed 4,200 feet, we descended over 7,000 feet, ending up at 4,085 feet tonight.

We were warned of a steep .7 mile climb at mile 67.3 and they weren't kidding! Apparently it is called "the wall".... made it up the climb along with a few other stragglers. After the climb, at mile 76.5 there was a store, with a sag stop and real flush toilets and running water! Yay! We climbed some long grades before the end, and by the end I was using granny gear to climb even a viaduct!

Conditions on arrival: 94 degrees with 21 MPH winds with gusts up to 35 MPH. Of course for the last 30 miles of the ride it was a nasty crosswind! By the end of the ride I was with Janie and Paula, and at 102 miles Janie had a flat tire! Rats! Paula is the fastest tire changer there is, and had it changed in 5 minutes flat... the operative word is flat! After she changed it and filled it up, the valve stem gave out and it had to be changed again! Not a fun day, but here we are in Tucumcari!

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