I am blogging from the future because I am so behind in my blog like usual. So, I will tell you everything that has happened up until Day 47 (since this I am actually living in Day 49), when we were in New Mexico! A city called Taos to be exact.
I have quite a lot to fill in since Lampasas! The first place we went after Lampasas was called Brownwood. This is a picture of a cool scene on our route there. Unfortunately, I took the picture as we were changing a flat, the second within 15 miles, in addition to two broken spokes in our group within the same time span.
As I recall, the route was extremely hilly. Only three people were in my group:, Kenny, and me. We are all strong riders, so despite the crappy road and rolling hills, we were still cruising at an average of about 18 or 19 mph, even up hills! It was quite a small town, and really that’s all I am saying at the time! After we left Brownwood, we visited Winters, TX. An even smaller town of about 2000 people, it was quite an interesting experience. Here is a picture of the bulk of the town.
The place where we spent most of our time and had dinner was the combination of a diner, a movie/music store, liquor store, and computer outlet. Here are some pictures for summary.
Looking past my friends Kirk and Max, you can see it is quite the store. This seems to be the place in town to get all one’s basic needs. Coming from South Dakota, I could understand this small town feel. Many of the people on our trip were pretty shocked to see how “backward” this town seemed to be, as far as advancement goes. Yet, the hospitality really was great. We got to order whatever we wanted off the diner menu for free, and we actually stayed in houses for the night in small groups of about 5, with laundry done by our individual hosts. I stayed in a house of a very nice woman who let us sleep on her couches and guest beds, along with doing our laundry once it got too late. We watched Castaway while we relaxed there, and overall, I would say it was a good night. The next day, we set out for Snyder, TX. Here is a picture of the route away from Winters.
In this picture are Lauren in the neon and Jeremy and Lauren farther up front. As we started getting farther west, it became flatter, and the fields were so open. The weather became drier, as well as the soil. The sky also seemed to become bigger because of the extreme openness. Snyder was also one of those towns with really not that much in it. However, we did have an awesome dinner of burgers and Blue Bell ice cream! After Snyder came Lubbock, TX. Texas Tech University is here, and it was really cool staying in a college town. We stayed in a church literally right next to campus, so we were within walking distance of all of it. Shortly after we arrived, we were taken to Texas Tech field for showers and dinner. Here is a picture:
The second day was our service day! We went to a YWCA, where we made cards with kids to give to young cancer patients. It was really great to see how enthusiastic all the kids were and how much they looked up to us. Here is a picture of me with some of those kids:
Later that day, we also did some service for the Church we were staying at by sanding and painting some of their picnic tables. Later, we went to Torchy’s Tacos again because it was so amazing in Austin. Instead of the two tacos I got in Austin, though, I got three here.
We left Lubbock the next morning, but I had water van duty with Jeremy. This means that we set up the water stops every 15-20 miles. Jeremy and I tried to make the most out of it, so we attempted to do as many push-ups as possible! We ended at 650 by around 3 or 4 PM, then just passed out for the rest of the day. We also yelled and screamed at people as they came in to keep them motivated, and took many pictures while we were waiting. Here are a few:
We rolled into our Church for the day in Clovis, NM, which was more like a hut. It seemed like there was a very immediate change as we went into New Mexico, since many of the buildings were adobe, traditional-like and it became much drier. Yesterday, we had an 85 mile day into Tucumcari, NM. The scenery today was absolutely beautiful:
This last picture that was taken was right before a gravel road we took. Unfortunately, the gravel road turned out to last for 16 miles. After about an hour and a half of bumpy, slow riding, and soar hands later, we finally made it back onto pavement. It looked like there might be a storm behind us, so we tried to book it into a vicious wind until Route 66 (fortunately, there was a stretch where the wind was at our backs. We cruised at around 27 mph for almost the whole way on flat ground!). We hit the historic route 66, which took us right into Tucumcari. This is quite a small town as well, with a very 1950s feel. Here is a picture:
During the ride to Tucumcari, we maybe saw about 10 cars total. We were in the middle of nowhere for much of it, and it was very hot and dry. No cell phone service for many miles at a time, and the sky and land seemed to engulf us. Really made me feel small on this earth, but also appreciate nature and the beauty of this country. Yesterday was quite the day. We rode to Las Vegas, NM (no, not the actual Las Vegas), and that was literally the closest actual town sitting at 107 miles away. Here’s the catch: we were climbing uphill essentially the whole day. As I heard, we had about 4000 feet of climbing, which meant we were really going uphill for the majority of the time. The roads were not the best, and we were riding into a wind the whole time. I would say it was my toughest day yet, and I think a lot of my teammates agree. Despite how tough the ride was, it definitely was the most scenic! Pictures are below:
The views were absolutely terrific. The last two pictures were actually taken about 75% of the way up our steepest and longest climb of the day. We were going up a mountain face for three miles! Below is a picture of us coming into Las Vegas down a mountain. Las Vegas was right below what looked like the start of the Rocky Mountains! It was really great seeing we had already made it that far.
Also not shown here (because I could not get the picture from a friend’s phone), is a picture of my calves when I dedicated my day to a friend named Maggie from St. Olaf. Unfortunately, she suffered major injuries from an accident with a bus while running in Spain. She is recovering now, but her brain injuries are taking a toll on her. I continually pray for a quick recovery for her, and dedicating a day to her was the least I could do during this trip. On Tuesday, we rode into Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is the capital of New Mexico, and is a city of about 70,000 or 80,000 people. I personally thought it was much bigger than that, but the size did not take away from how cool the city was. However, before telling you about the city, let me tell you about the ride. Below are some pictures:
The above picture describes the general scenery we saw, and the bottom shows us riding into Santa Fe. You can see the Rocky Mountains in the background.
The day was only about 72 miles, but I personally thought it was one of our toughest days yet. After riding 107 miles almost all uphill from the day before, dealing with vicious headwinds while being trapped in a wind tunnel between the mountains, experiencing lower oxygen levels due to altitude, and climbing some crazy hills, we were all exhausted and frustrated throughout much of the ride.
However, even though the ride was tough, I tried really hard to stay positive. Although it was difficult at times, I knew I needed a strong, positive mindset to finish the ride. The latter half of our day turned out to be a bit easier, but we ended up arriving at the wrong address for our host! We biked 4 miles to get to our real host, and we arrived to a big lunch, donuts, and Jermey’s birthday celebration. He ate the biggest donut I have ever seen from Dunkin Donuts by himself, and the end of the riding day really seemed to cheer everyone up.
After all this, we swam at the recreation center where we were staying, then visited downtown Santa Fe. It was a really artsy, lively scene, and a live band was playing in the central area down there (which happens every day in the summer!). Below are some pictures:
It was a really relaxing night, but since we had a 9:45 curfew for the host we were staying at, we were all in bed by 10:15.
The next morning, many people went hiking in some of the mountain trails at about 7:00 AM, but I decided to rest my body and take it easy for the day, especially since some pretty difficult days were coming up. I hung out with some people with similar mindsets about resting up, we visited REI and Starbucks in the morning, then had Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. That night, I went downtown and once again visited some shops and had some good New Mexican dinner. Overall a great rest day!
The next day, we rode into Taos, New Mexico. This had to be one of my favorite rides. The scenery was absolutely amazing! Here are some pictures from when we were in Santa Fe and on our way out:
The mountains in the background were absolutely beautiful! I dedicated today to my grandfather on my dad’s side. His name is Alexander and he died from brain cancer before I was born. Although I didn’t know him, from the stories my dad has told me about them and how he made me think of my dad, aunts, and uncles, it pushed me through today!
Going out of Santa Fe, we had an eagle’s eye view from the top of a mountain:
It was extremely scenic. But our route into Taos was even more astounding. We actually ended up missing a crucial turn, so we took a different route than the rest of the group (which supposedly had an even more scenic route! Although, theirs was the hilliest yet). We ended up riding through a canyon. Here are some pics:
After riding through the canyon, we climbed a HUGE hill to the top of one of the mountains. However, the top had an amazing view. We actually rode right along the Rio Grande the whole time, and we saw a split in the land at the top that looked like a huge gorge. If you look in the picture below, you can find this gorge in the middle. It looks like a river, but it actually drops off:
Once we arrived into Taos, I took this picture:
It had a great view of the mountain range in the background, and had an old mudhouse feel to it. It’s a really cool place! Moreover, we are currently staying at a tennis resort! I am about to have what was claimed to be the best dinner (New Mexican food) by last year’s San Diego team. I am getting excited. Thanks for reading such a long post!