Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 19 - What a Trip

I'm actually writing this post at the airport on the way home. The last day of riding was yesterday. I spent most of yesterday reflecting on the trip and writing this post in my mind. Of course, I only remember bits and pieces of it - lol. There is a lot to say so I will leave most of it for a follow up email after I've had some time to reflect. But here's what the day was like.

We started late with bfast at 7:30. At 8am we did the customary group photo. It's a short day (64 miles) with lunch at the end. This is the only time we get to eat lunch and NOT get back on the bike. I left with David, Craig and Chip aka, the fast boys. These are also really great guys to ride with - lot's of fun and lot's of humor, while keeping it serious. We did the first 35 miles with a 22mph avg.

Once we crossed into Texas, we did our last pass climb that eventually took us into El Paso. There was a great rest stop at the top of the climb where you can see El Paso and Mexico just beyond it. Since I arrived so early at this stop, I stayed to hang out with other riders as they came in.

Then there was the remaining 30 miles to ride. Some of it on the interstate where Carl got a flat. Lot's of fun changing a flat on the Interstate....NOT. To top it off we had a headwind the entire time on the interstate. But once we got off, we had a glorious tailwind - a great way to cap the trip. I was part of a group of 6 that maintained 30-35mph until we reached the hotel. A fun, fast, challenging day - that's PAC Tour! :)

Once we finished lunch we packed up our bikes and then made our way to our hotel rooms to relax. There was a buffet dinner for everyone - the only time the entire group ate dinner together. Then there were the closing ceremonies.

It was really great! And I wish you were all there last night. Lon and Sue present a plaque with a picture to each rider. Then there's the hall of fame inductees for those that reached 10,000 PAC Tour miles during this trip. And for those that reached 20,000 (there were 2 last night), they get a special street sign made that goes onto the PAC Tour Hotel vehicle. Other words were said and all in all, it was the best way to end the trip.

If someone said to me this morning that I had to get on my bike today and ride 100 miles, I'd say "no problem - let's go!". It's also nice to have some time off ;). This trip was really everything I wanted it to be. I hope to elaborate more in a few days.

Las Cruces, NM to El Paso, TX

Todays Stats:
Day 19 - 65 miles
RT - 3:20
Avg - 19.5
Elevation gain - about 1700 ft.


19 Days
1998 Miles
114 hours 27 minutes in the saddle
about 84,000 ft. of climbing
17.7 average
3 flats (all in 2 back to back days)
endless grunts, sweat, smiles and laughs

Let's Ride!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 18 - Easy does it

Nice easy pace today, our penultimate day of riding. We were a good solid group of 6 all the way to lunch at mile 66.

Here's a pic of Mark (my roomie) and I before today's start.

Lunch at Fort Selden - 101 degrees in the sun. Pic of Lil and Ray.

Riding through groves of pecan and walnut trees.

Once we got to town, Las Cruces, we rode a little further to the historic town of Messilla. This is a very typical looking Mexican square with a church at one end and single story shops around the perimeter. Luckily, there was an ice cream shop (The Chocolate Lady) and we had homemade ice cream on the plaza. We just booked a cab to take us back there for dinner.

Truth or Consequences, NM to Las Cruces, NM

Day 18 - 81 miles
RT - 4:07
Avg - 19.9
Elevation gain - 1200 ft.

Day 17 - Rollers!!

At dinner last night Mark told a very funny story. He and another rider met a girl (local) riding her bike yesterday. She asked where we started and where we were ending. Mark replied "Kalispell, MT to El Paso, TX". Then the girl asked how long it would take to get to El Paso. Mark replied "the trip is 19 days". To which the girl replied "you must really like El Paso" :)

I set out easy today and as the fast boys came by I thought I'd jump on with them. There were 5 of us in the paceline and we were cookin'. Averaging about 23mph. Then the rollers started - 40 miles of rollers!!! Unrelenting. This would make a great training course. I stayed with the group to the 2nd SAG (about 35 miles) and then did my own pace to lunch.

While alone it was kind of cool to be out in the dessert alone. Then I realized that both of my bottles were very low. A mile later I came upon a 3-4 foot rattle snake right in the middle of the road. Several miles later Steve came by with the van from the 1st SAG. I waved him down and filled both my bottles. Thanks Steve! That water (cold) made all the difference for me. After lunch Rich and I rode the remaining 11 miles together at a very comfortable pace.

It was a quick 77 miles today and with time to spare, we had our first day at an outdoor pool. It was fun to compare everyone's crazy tan lines.

Truth or Consequences, NM got it's name from the game show. Somewhat of a dare, they offered to see if a town would change it's name to the name of the show. This goes back to the 1950's sometime. Of course, we were all hoping and thinking it would be something more western, sherrif or judge-like, about how the town got it's name. The original name was Hot Springs, NM

Socorro, NM to Truth or Consequences, NM

Day 17 - 77 miles
RT - 4:28
Avg - 17.3
Elevation gain - 2200 ft.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 16 - Dog, Heat, Wind

We rolled out this morning as a small group of 2 - Rich and I. After the first stop, I rode solo for a bit. About a mile from the rest stop I was chased by a dog. This is the 3rd time this has happened on this trip. Sometimes it can be a little scary as they can come right up next to you and might bite you on the leg. Depending on the road, and how you're feeling, you can usually out run them. I knew those sprinting drills would come in handy!

About 15 miles after my encounter with Fido, Rich and company caught up to me. This was a really good group of about 8 riders. I joined them all the way to lunch.

The morning was somewhat overcast which kept the temps cool. Leaving the lunch stop (mile 75) the temps were really going up. For the next 2 hours it was between 95-105. But it's a dry heat :), and we were going downhill for the first 20 miles. The group stayed together all the way to mile 105, when I got a flat (this time the front tire got a thorn in it). Thankfully, Matt and Ruth stayed so I wouldn't have to battle the headwinds alone. Great day riding with some great people. One to remember.

btw - the pic (last) of what's supposed to be a river, is actually the Rio Grande. Somewhat underwhelming in this area.

Moriarity, NM to Socorro, NM

Day 16 - 120 miles
RT - 6:20
Avg - 19 mph (fast!)
Elevation gain - 2500 ft.

Day 15 - Mostly Solo

Today was a good day. Everything started off fine. Rode past Santa Fe and then through a nice little town, Madrid. In Madrid, I got my 2nd flat of the day. No complaints though, I haven't had a flat all trip. And it's quite common, for some reason, for people to have multiple flats in a day. The scenery more than made up for it though. Lot's of climbing and lot's of solitude.

Right after lunch there was a 1 mile climb that averaged 15%. I knew to eat a light lunch! I then rode mostly on my own through the middle of nowhere, New Mexico. But the skies were offering a great show. Clouds seem to form out of nowhere. You can see the rain fall, 20 miles away. Some thunder and lightning too.

We've been eating Mexican food the last 2 nights and it looks like this will continue for the rest of the trip. But hey, that's what you eat in New Mexico :)

Espanola, NM to Moriarity, NM

My Garmin has stopped working.

Todays Stats:
Day 15 - 118 miles
Elevation gain - about 6000 ft.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 14 - Expect the Unexpected

First, thank you to all that are reading and leaving comments here (or sending emails). It's great to receive your thoughts, comments and encouragement. Thanks!

I wasn't quite sure how I was going to feel today. We had a relatively short ride today, but I was tired and starting to get a little achy. But we slept late today (6:30) and the route was very favorable. We had a tailwind most of the way and with about 2500 ft of climbing it was not going to be a hard day. What made it even better was that we would descend about 5000 ft in total. So there was more downhill than usual. Then add to that a beautiful change of terrain, the willingness to be a tourist and stop (HA!) and the commitment to ride super easy - a perfect day! All the stars were aligned.

After leaving the small town of Chama the terrain started to resemble something quite different than the lush green and tree heavy areas we've been in. It's obvious in the pics. Lon mentioned that Echo Rock was worth checking out. It looked easy to do so we took the turn and sure enough, the path was paved all the way up to the amphitheater. This place is like the perfect echo chamber. Lot's of fun.

Lunch was near some adobe ruins. And the rest of the ride took care of itself. Just great and into the hotel by 1:30!! Plenty of time to recover and gear up for the last 5 days ahead. Wow - what a tour.

Chama, NM to Espanola, NM

Todays Stats:
Day 14 - 81 miles
RT - 4:25
Avg - 18.4
Elevation gain - about 2500 ft.
Weather - Fantastic

Day 13 - Race the Rain

Today's ride was great, but we're all starting to feel a little tired as the last few days have been long and mountainous. That said, this was still a good day... at least until I got to the Continental Divide sign. Then the clouds starting moving our way and it became a race to get to the hotel before the downpour started. I made it, but some others weren't so lucky.

I'm quite tired now from the last 3 days. Phew! That was a lot of riding!

Unfortunately, my bicycle computer is having some problems so I'm not getting very accurate readings. Here are the stats as far as I can tell.

Montrose, CO to Chama, NM

Todays Stats:
Day 13 - 121 miles
RT - 7:16
Avg - 16.4
Elevation gain - about 6000 ft.
Weather - Just fine :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 12 - The Queen Stage

Click on photo to see the full size version.

From Montrose, CO, through Ouray, Silverton and in to Durango, CO.

The mark of a great day - I would do this ride again... anytime!

Todays Stats:
Day 12 - 114 miles
RT - 7:28
Avg - 14.9
Elevation gain - about 8500 ft.
Weather - Cloudy