Interactive Route Map

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Adaptation.

As opposed to doing a write up of the past few days I'm just going to post some simple observations/ thought I've had in the past few days in New Mexico.

Thu Nov 24, 2011. Crossed into NM! Met by strong winds not in my favor. Slept near a ghost town on abandoned cattle grazing grounds. Eerie feel to the whole place, weird sounds at night.

Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:39 AM- Awoken by 50 mph wind gusts. Tent survived. 5500' lower 30's.

9:30 AM- On the road, averaging 5 mph. Very strong head/ side wind. 40°

11:30 AM- Wind ended in an instant. Cruising at 15-20 mph. Minimal climbing. 6500' 52°

1:20 PM- Calm; tail wind. Passing a dormant but not yet extinct volcano. Some clouds ahead.

1:29 PM- Hail is falling, 1/8th inch diameter max. Winds at 40mph+. Temperature dropped. Found shelter just in time in an abandoned building. 7000' 38°

1:58 PM- Hail ended, freezing rain started.

2:43 PM- In a gift shop writing out postcards. Cold.

3:12- Western skies look clear. Decided to move on. Wet roads on highway translate to wet shoes. 35°

4:28- Fencing everywhere, can't find a camp spot. Cold. Frostbite risk if I don't warm up/ dry out soon. 6500' 32°

5:42 PM - Freezing. At a cattle farm. Owners said I could camp by the main road, people complained & I ended up by the slaughter house. Shit. 30°

5:57 PM- eating a pb&j sandwich. Can't think straight. Calm outside, 28°

6:54 PM- Can't fall asleep. Frustrated & angry at myself that I'm riding through such beautiful country yet can't find spots to camp at. How could someone just fence these mountains off? It doesn't make sense.


Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:54 AM- Snow coating on the ground. Incredibly strong winds, tent stakes became undone and I am literally being moved by the wind. For the first time ever, I am scared for my life.

4:32 AM- Woke up to a ton of snow inside my tent. The shit hit the fan fast. Got inside one of the barns, complete blizzard conditions outside. Dragged my tent through a foot of snow in some spots.

5:01 AM- Got everything mostly dry. Hope they don't kick me out of here. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow. NOAA weather is stating "clear, lows in the 20's, heavy wind" for the Raton area, which I am about 10 miles & 500' ele. higher from. This tells you (and myself) how sporadic & uncertain the weather can be out here.

6:53 AM- Hit my head on the low farm door trying to go outside to take care of business. Headlamp took the hit & cracked.

7:12 AM- Farm foreman was glad to find me inside as opposed to frozen to death outside. Skies have cleared, some snow on the ground. Calisthenics routine of 50 sit ups & pushups to warm up before getting out of my sleeping bag.

9:14 AM- On the road, 21°, wind chill of 8°. Wearing 4 layers, 2 pairs of gloves, socks & hats.

10:35 AM- Made it to Raton, NM. 7000' up, warming up.

11:20 AM- On my way to Cimarron Canyon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving!

Just want to thank the staff at Allsups for giving me a full thanksgiving feast, complete with all the trimmings.

About 3 miles from New Mexico currently, some 4600' up. Relatively warm, in the high 50's.

Whoever put this sign up never rode on the GWB or west side during a storm VVVVV

(:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Into the unknown...

It's decided, I will be venturing into the high peaks of the Rockies to make it west. I contemplated going south through the middle of New Mexico, but with that I miss the opportunity to visit the 4 corners, Grand Canyon, and some 13,000+ foot peaks. I feel confident in my decision and I'm sure that I will make it across just fine.

It will get cold ( down to the negatives), it will be windy ( making the wind chill temperature even lower) and it will be a challenge. There is a chance that I might get stuck somewhere for a while waiting out a snow storm. Ice on the roads is also a hazard that I have to be cautious of, as well as constantly changing weather conditions.

I'll be carrying enough food to last me a week and will have enough water at all times for at least 2 days. There is, however, a very minute chance that I might not make it out. On that note I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way, everyone who has been following my journey, and everyone who supported what I'm doing. I hope you all get to one day experience the freedom, adventure and solitude that I've got to. To end I'll paraphrase Christopher McCandles: "I now bike... Into the wild."

Check back in a week or so for another update & to read about the Sangre de Cristo Mountains!

Peace, -W

The open Texan road.

Another week has passed, making it 8 weeks on the road. Somewhere east of Wichita Falls also marked the halfway point between NY & San Francisco. Currently ( in Amarillo, TX) I'm some 1200 miles from CA & 1500 miles from New York. The halfway point of this whole trip should be west of Las Vegas, meaning I will have traveled well over 5 thousand miles and climbed some 150,000 vertical feet.

Texas turned out to be awesome. The folks out here are truly amazing, the scenery is grand, the roads are in great shape and the temperature is just right. Texas is currently in the longest 1- year drought ever, so I sure hope that as soon as I'm out of here you guys get all the rain you can handle.

The beginning of the week was spent on highway 82. Temperatures were in the 80's and I was flying north-west thanks to a tail wind. Wednesday night a cold front came through and that night the temperature dropped to the low 20's. I figured this would be my first cold test as I've never camped out in cold weather before. I stayed on what I believe was an oil field; it was unimproved land for the most part and I was able to get far from the road, didn't hear a car all night. In the morning the temperature was 30° outside, some 40° in my tent, and a toasty 75° inside my sleeping bag. With a liner and some warmer clothes I'm positive I can handle a low of 0° when I'm traversing the Rockies next week. Frost covered everything that morning so I slept in and let the sun do it's job.

The next day I picked up my first package from home in Greenville, TX. Got a ton of chocolate from my mom, some warmer clothes and a new tire for my bob trailer. I also go my sunglasses from a friend and some welcomed extras. After some 2 months on the road it was definitely nice to receive those things.

I camped out at a city park that night after getting permission from the local police station, and then continued north until I hit Hgw 82 and then 287, which I've been on for the past few days.

My animal encounters this week have been few, the only memorable occurrence was finding my stove pouch half inside a tree all torn up after I left it outside at night. I've been warned to watch out for rattlesnakes, but I doubt many are still out this time of year.

As I'm headed into western America I'm seeing a big change in not only the scenery, but people and their lifestyle. They lead good, honest lives. They're thankful for what they have and are satisfied with the life they're leading. Simply put, their content. (At least that's the impression I'm getting.) Even the radio stations here are simple. They advertise local businesses, don't go out of their way with gimmicks to entice you, and play good 'ol country songs.

Heading on 285 I saw the landscape gradually change from green & lush to yellow & dry. Elevation wise everything was gradual as well. Greenville was at about 500' above sea level and Amarillo is at around 3000'. All the climbing was done in the big ring and most of it was via false flats.

Going to spend another night in Amarillo while I make my decision whether to head North-west into the high Rockies (mostly via highway 64 through Raton, Taos, Farmington, etc.) or go south west on the desolate highway 60. Each route presents it's challenges but folks are definitely urging me to go south to avoid the unpredictable weather up north and cold temperatures.

In the meantime I uploaded some new photos to my flickr account which is on the side >, feel free to check them out!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sickness

Oct. 31- Nov. 6th

This past week has been pretty tough, I lost my cell phone (not that I'm a big fan of them) and got sick. The highlight was staying with a couple from warmshowers.org in Pensacola who treated me to some amazing home- baked bread and soup & let me stay with them for 2 nights. Thanks Ray & Donna!

Biking with a bad cold is a ton of fun. You can't see much because you are constantly tearing, you can't pedal because you're achy, and it's hard to breath since you're nose is stuffy and you're coughing. Recovery is slowed due to the constant stress on your body, and you're worried about getting sicker. I haven't really wanted to write about any of this as I hate complaining about such menial problems but I guess it's all a part of this trek. It was probably my fault that I got sick ( swimming in cold Gulf water on a relatively cold day is never a good idea) but I'm getting through it while still keeping a positive outlook and enjoying every second as I wheeze and puff down the road.

When crossing state lines you definitely feel a sense of accomplishment, especially after 2 weeks and some 900 miles in the same state ( Florida). Georgia had some nice bike lanes and friendly people, & while road condition deteriorated much in Mississippi the people stayed nice. I enjoyed being out on the 4 lane divided state highways, they pose no distraction to my peddling, offer a nice wide shoulder and usually have plenty of spots to camp out at along side them. Traffic is usually light and I don't have to think about turning left or right, I just go.

Nov. 7 on

Tuesday turned out to be a very interesting day. The plan was to make it over the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and continue west into Louisiana. Both google maps and my gps showed me two bridges; the I-20 interstate bridge and the old highway 80 bridge, and both routed me to take the highway 80 bridge. It turned out the old route 80 bridge has been closed for some time, and that it's only used for special events. I talked with the visitors center and they arranged for someone to take me over the bridge. After waiting a good hour it turned out they couldn't take me across after all. I was told I should "take my chances on the I-20 bridge". "And possibly die?" I asked. "nah, we had people do it before". How this state worker knew that people had crossed it before or why he was suggesting I break the law (bicycles/ pedestrians are prohibited on interstates) is beyond me. Since the next crossing was 60 miles south or 30 miles north via a ferry I decided to "take my chances". I took the onramp and was riding on a foot-wide shoulder that had metal water drains with cut outs parallel to my wheels. After successfully making it over about 30 of them my rear tire sunk in and immediately flatted. A couple of feet later I came to the bridge connection, two hair-comb ending interlocking plates that don't really come together all that well and leave a 3" wide by by 2' long gap. Surly my front tire fell in and I was stuck. Thankfully my fender didn't brake and my wheel stayed true, but a flat was a given. Trying to figure out what to do on the interstate shoulder I noticed my trailer tire flatted at some point to. The next exit of this damn interstate (it was elevated) was 4 miles west and all my wheels were flat. I walked for about 2 miles until I found a spot where the ground was low enough below me (some 12 feet), took out my paracord, tied it to a lamp post, and repelled my bike, trailer, & then myself down. My cord snapped and I fell, trapping my arm under a rock. I spent 126 hours trying to cut it off... Just kidding, but I did repel down the side of an interstate.

I had no spare tubes; just 2 patches and some glue left. I couldn't see any houses nor cars, just a dirt road and some railroad tracks. I was at least 15 miles from the nearest town and at least 80 from the nearest bike shop. It was starting to rain. I was screwed. I spent 3 hours using electrical tape, crazy glue and some old patches to fix the 10 or so punctures that I had acquired going over metal grates. It worked, and I made it some 15 miles west. I stopped at a gas station to ask where I could camp and was told the area I was in wasn't very nice, and that I will probably get robbed. The owner said I could stay behind the gas station, but as I was about to do that I heard I was currently in a tornado/ severe thunderstorm zone. I ended up getting a motel and stayed there trough the next day hoping to cure my cold a bit as it had moved down into my chest. I watched Hgtv all day and realized that I miss my tools and working.

Currently in Louisiana, can't understand a word the people say. Instead of rudely asking "what" 100 times I just end up nodding nowadays.
It should be another day before I make it to Texas. Hopefully the weather stays nice, my cold goes away, and I don't flat anymore; but even if it all goes to shit who cares, It'll still be a good ride.