Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day Fifty-one, 090420 - Pecos, TX

Day Fifty-one, Date Monday, April 20, 2009
Time in Saddle: 9:50
Distance for the Day: 95.82 miles: From NE of Whites City To Pecos, TX
Accumulated Trip Distance: 2253.9 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 3778’/2846’, Highest: 3788’, Accumulated: 1102’
Speeds: Avg: 9.7 mph, Max: 23.4 mph
Weather: 48° in the AM, warming to the mid-80s, clear with light breezes
Expenditures: $33

Got up about 5:45am, finished breaking down by 6am (sunrise), had a bit of breakfast, and was ready to hit the road towards the town of Carlsbad, NM by 6:45am. Slight change of plan: at 7:18am, decided to skip going to Carlsbad by taking County Road 720, which cuts out the corner that Carlsbad is in, and leads to Hwy 285, making it a mere 85 miles to Pecos, and whacking a good 30 miles off the route. I didn’t really need to go to Carlsbad, anyways – nothing there I couldn’t get at Pecos, TX, so, fergeddit. I made one little error, though: I don’t think I quite brought enough to drink for the trip, and every “town” along the way had no services. Of course, there were always some residences, where I’m sure I could have begged for water, but I didn’t want to have to do that. I got what I believe was Flat Number Nine at 2184.0, and had it “fixed” by 10:07am. A previous patch had failed, so I just pushed it back down to re-seal it (may or may not work). I used one of my compressed gas cartridges to overinflate it, to bring out the tire’s bead. (The beads on Schwalbe tires are apparently a known problem. They’re good tires, but you have to take extra measures to get them to fit right.) I entered Texas and Mountain Time, again, at 11:22am. I saw a roadrunner for the first time in the wild, he was about 50 yards ahead of me; he dashed out into the middle of the street, and then dashed back into the bushes. Meep-meep! My starboard front tire went flat again about 12:11pm – the patch failed again, so this time I just replaced the tube with a new one.

When I arrived at about the halfway point, the “town-that-used-to-exist-but-didn’t-any-longer,” Orla, was like a mini-ghost town, with old, decrepit gas station, store, and other small buildings, except for one bright red roof sitting a bit behind the rest. I was skeptical, but went to take a look anyways. By golly, it was the Red Roof CafĂ© and Bar, and it was open! I went in and got a soda + two pints of water ($3) (enough to get me safely to Pecos), and chatted with the two nice ladies, there. I suggested they put a sign out on the highway advertising their presence, and they said they had something in the works. We chatted about my trip, and they wanted to give me more water and food for free to help the cause. I thanked them, but only took one more bottle of Clamato Tomato Cocktail, more to make them feel good than out of any actual need I had. They were so nice! Fully re-hydrated, I continued on down the road. The sky was totally clear, and the sun was hot, even though the air was only warm. By the time I hit Pecos, it was mid-to-late afternoon, and I stopped in at the local firehouse to ask where in town I might find free wi-fi. The only place the firelady knew about was a Mexican restaurant further on in town. I headed out that way, found the restaurant, but didn’t want to spend the money to buy a meal and to use the wi-fi. There was a gas station across the street, so I went over there and did something else: I water tested my leaky Thermarest mattress. I just took my bottles of water and poured it over the bottom side, and sure enough – bubbles from a spot that showed no indication of a puncture. I circled the spot with a pen, and then spent the next 15 minutes drying the mattress by waving it around in the warm, dry air. I must have looked kind of like a kook, dressed in my biking tights and helmet, waving this big orange thing around for no apparent good reason. Oh, well. I got it dry, and put another inner-tube patch on it; hope it works!

I went back across the street to the restaurant, and sat outside on the curb, and hooked-in to the wi-fi, and worked there until it was dark. Embarrassingly, the owner of the restaurant came out after it closed, and asked if I was “stealing secrets” from his network. I felt about *this* small, but replied in the negative. I finished up, and wondered what I should do about camping, when I saw the Dairy Queen was still open. I went in and got a burger and choco malt ($6) – mmm-mm! That choco malt was great! Okay, now what? I went to the grocery store and bought some fruits and vegetables ($4) out of guilt for having that burger, and then went looking for a campsite. I was headed out of town, when I saw a Flying J truckers’ stop, and went in there to look for some trail mix. I found out they also had hot showers, and a Laundromat. I was filthy, and two whole sets of biking clothes (that included the one I was wearing) were dirty, and I decided to come clean. I had been hand-washing my clothes in sinks, but I figured at least once in a while, I should get everything *really* clean. So I paid for the shower ($8.50) and the laundry ($4 for washer, dryer and soap), and more food supplies ($9) and took a long and luxurious shower, got *all* my clothes clean, and even worked on blog material – how nice! By the time I was done, it was almost 2am, I started packing everything back on the trike to go, and got to chatting with one of the truckers. He was impressed with my story, and wanted to give me money (I told him I was laid off), but I thanked him, and told him I wasn’t poor, just out of work. Another example of how kind and generous people can be. Okay, so it was dark, I was heading down a dark highway in the wee hours, and found a side road which I followed a few hundred yards from the main road, and stealth camped there. It worked out well – that road wasn’t used at all during the night, and only started to get occasional and sporadic traffic just before sunrise, so I had a good, if somewhat short, night’s sleep.

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