Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 29: Santa Rosa to Clovis, NM or Wow it sure is windy!

It's 6 am and I walk down to the lobby for breakfast. The room is empty except for an older couple. They look at me in my bibs and HAA jersey and I can tell they are puzzled. I get my food and they ask me if I'm going for a bike ride. I try to explain that I'm riding to Clovis and then heading to Dallas. They interrupt me. "Oh, we are going to Dallas. We'll see you there!" And then they went back to eating.

So much for that conversation.

Around 6:15 Don and Dennis come down. We all eat, get some coffee and then load the van. By 7:15 Don and I are on the road. It's 42 degrees outside and the wind is from the North West. Excatly what the weather forecasted. The forecast also predicted the wind would shift from the North East  by 9 am. Thus, the early start. Riding to beat the clock.

Don and I ride up a hill, turn right and now we are leaving Santa Rosa. Not much rush hour traffic but of course it's Sunday. A truck passes us here and there. Not much else.

The road goes on forever. Nice surface and we are moving well. I see a steep hill ahead and am surprised. It's supposed to be a gentle slope. Then it hits me. With no landmarks it's impossible to judge distance. What I saw as a steep hill was a 2 mile long gentle rise.

With the wind wind from the NW and riding South East it was quiet. Just the sound of the light gravel on the shoulder snapping crackling popping under our tires.

Soon it's 9 am and we feel the wind shift. Huge tumble weeds start dancing across the road. Left to right. . At times we have to dodge them as they fly towards us. Please please no goat head punctures.

No punctures, but  soon we will be heading due East which means we will have a mix of cross and head wind.  For a while I ride diagonally behind Don. He's doing a great job blocking the wind and I enjoy the break. I worry though that he is working too hard. We shift positions and now I'm working. The pattern repeats over and over. We are both now starting to feel the pain.

We stop for a water break at mile 28 exactly as planned. Dennis is full of energy. Don and I are worried. But we drink up and continue. As we approach Fort Sumner we head towards a tunnel and I see something fly at me. Not sure what it was. Don say's I hit a bird. Video replay confirms it. Drats. Here's a shot moments before the collision. I feel bad.

We reach Fort Sumner,  hang a right and park in front of their version of Sadies.

No relation to Albuquerque's but clearly a popular place. It's about 9:30. We made good time. Dennis orders food for us from their limited menu and Don and I take off to face the wind.

Fort Sumner is apparently famous for Billy the Kid. Here's a few shots along the way:

Wow, they even have his real grave!

Soon we have left Fort Sumner and are back on the open road.

It is tough riding. The cross wind is fierce and hitting us in gusts. We lean our bikes into it and struggle to ride in a straight line. Each mile becomes more difficult. Now it's a combination of head wind and cross wind.

Trains come and go. Watching them pass by is a good distraction.

Occasionally a semi passes us and it feels like someone pushes us from behind. Almost like being on a swing and getting a good push. It lasts about 3 seconds then goes away. A 3 second high. Then a semi comes towards us form the opposite direction and it has the opposite effect.  A slap in the facce and it feels like we're going backwards.

I look at my Garmin though and see we are moving well even though it feels like we are crawling.

I need to be patient. Don't fight the wind. Just ride and enjoy.

The clouds are now coming out and Don takes this as a sign of stronger winds. He's right.

We stop for lunch around mile 66, again exactly as planned. It's nice when things work out, even if the conditions are tough. We eat our burritos and soon are back on the road. 

The wind is worse and Don pulls over and says he needs to check his sugar. It's low, dangerously low so he opts for the van and I continue solo.

I ride on. I repeat to myself over and over. "I like riding a bike"  "I'm doing this for a good cause."  "We are saving lives and preventing strokes"  It helps. The miles roll by. Just 30 more to go. 

Soon I'm no longer repeating anything. Just riding. Marveling at how efficient my bike is at fighting the wind. And then I'm just there. Not thinking at all. Just taking in the experience. Feeling the wind, feeling the sounds of the trains that come and go. 

Occasionally I look at my odometer and am pleased when I see mile 90 roll up. I stop for a short water break and give Dennis the go ahead to drive on to the hotel. 

I ride more softly now. Not really pushing it. Just riding patiently. 

I'm now at mile 106 and I hear the cow bell ringing. There's Dennis out on the side of Route 60 with a huge smile, ringing the bells. I turn and roll towards him. He's happy. Happier than me I think. 

I ride to  the van. I'm tired but more than that, I'm relieved to have hit 'home" again and no major aches and pains. Just the stiff neck. 

It's about 2;45 pm. Actually much better than we had predicted the day before. 

I sit in the van, change my shoes. The van is rocking with the wind. Nice to be off the road!

It was a big day. We both worked hard. Dennis provided incredible support along the way.

Here's the Strava summary. 

Tomorrow is another big day but after that we get a breather before continuing our push towards Dallas.

Cheers, Dave


  1. Tough day, only 40 miles per burrito're usually good for 53 miles. We are all very proud of you and Don, way to go!

  2. The burrito I was given was small...I think it only gave me about 30 miles...

  3. Kudos to Dave for having the fortitude to push through 106.6 mi. of that bad wind and still have the energy to post to this blog. I hoping for a better tomorrow.

  4. I hope the wind dies down -- you need a break! Thanks for entertaining us with your blog each day.

  5. Great stories, Dave! I can't wait to catch up with you in Houston. Flat, flat, flat Houston. And I'm not talking about your tires.

    1. We are getting closer Ron. Can't wait to see you too. I also need help on our route into and out of Houston.