I pedaled out of El Paso on my DoubleVision tandem recumbent, stopping for a quick visits at Parkland High School, Campers Plus, a weight measurement of 181kg/400 pounds at Dyer Street Jobe. Pushing that much mass certainly justified an outstanding lunch at the Edge of Texas Restaurant. I continued North on US54, a premier route for all road users. I was grateful for the
Border Patrol who ensured my safety. It was my first night of excellent sleep, though a midnight rain did influence me
to roll over so the drops didn't flood my face. The next day, I pushed onto Alamogordo, where I ate another 2-hour meal at the Golden Corral. I stopped at the Diamond-Shamrock to buy
one Powerball. I left the flats and pedaled up First Street, turned North on Scenic, then North again on Florida to US82 but first saw my respite, the Plateau Espresso, 2724 North Scenic Drive, the monthly special was a fresh-squeezed lemonade.
It was a bit late in the day when I began my Eastbound ascent on US82, but I pushed extremely
hard, determined to make it as far as possible. After an extremely strenuous half-hour, physics asserted
itself and I displayed rare multi-tasking. While falling, a simultaneous thought flashed through my
brain that perhaps I should've listened to Susan & Jack Goertz, owners of Tandems Limited, that I
ought to consider purchasing a different...
No point in beating myself up about that now, especially since I am reminded of it every time I
go over unintentionally.
Back to the physics: I have always treated my bicycles like small pick-up trucks, and was now
pedaling a 5th ton machine. Much of that weight is precariously fixed over the rear wheel. That means
the master wheel is in front of me, where the handlebars and pedals are located, had frightfully little
traction. US82 is generally a safe road to bicycle although some stretches are narrow with little room
for error. I was pedaling on the lane line, staying out of the motor lane when the rear wheel slipped on
gravel. Not only was I on a steep grade, there was a sideways angle, and the high gross weight, all of
which combined to create more demand for a horizontal position than the vertical.
Fortunately, I escaped with an elbow scrape and a broken flag. I abandoned anymore negative
thoughts, and was grateful that my Double Vision was as well built as it is. In fact, I noted that my body
was also holding up remarkably well, too. I saw the Sun hanging lower in the sky and needed to soon
start looking for a camping spot.
Drawing close to the tunnel, I knew my fate: I had to get on the East side and camp, otherwise
I'd have to wait until tomorrow morning. If I can just avoid that and not have to cycle into the Sun...!
Pedaling as frantically as possible to get through the short tunnel, I camped on a ledge between the
metal guard and rock barrier, rather close to the intimidating Fresnal Canyon.
The next morning, 30JUL, I pedaled a mile into High Rolls, where I spent two hours eating at
the General Store and gas station. Two miles later, I kicked myself for not pushing myself enough to
overnight at the international Cloudcroft Mountain Park Hostel. Next time...! I pushed on, stopping
next at the Spring Mountain Restaurant for, you guessed it, an exceptionally fine catfish meal. Now it
was time for the last couple of kilometers/miles, into Cloudcroft, with an altitude of 2646m/8681ft.
Almost in a stupor, I rolled past the main part of town to a restaurant where the locals eat, The Cross-
Eyed Moose Cafe. I'm not antisocial, but I didn't want to offend anyone else with the malodorous scent
emanating from my body so I sat away from the main dining area. Of the various entries on the menu,
the bratwuerst (and two other German dishes) stood out because they seemed out of place among the
other offerings. Waitress Crystal explained the history of how these pieces are unique to this restaurant
and community. I was exceptionally fatigued, but it all sounded delicious--it was! I also benefited from
the fact that this excellent cafe is part of the wonderful Aspen Motel, where I ended up lodging for the
night. I'm afraid I left quite a ring on the tub. It was great to not be sleeping beside the road tonight! I
had a comfortable queen bed, color television, plenty of cold/hot water, and, once I pushed the bed
toward the opposite wall and moved a chair, I was able to get my tandem inside! The price seemed a bit
steep--$76usd, tax included, as well as breakfast, but it was a better stay than anywhere else around--
unless I wanted to sleep out again. I consulted with my wife by cellphone, and she encouraged me to
stay there, too. Who was I to argue? It was a good stay, well worth it considering everything I went up
to get here.
My overnight joy became a joyous day. The free breakfast was fantastic, and I finally began
coasting downhill, continuing East on US82. I next stopped at the Mayhill Cafe for lunch, staying only
one-and-a-half hours this time! Nicely refueled, I continued pedaling through interesting countryside of
of the increasingly sparsely arboreal Lincoln National Forest, reaching the boundary marker. After a
brief laydown by the sign, I pedaled on, immediately entering Chaves County, and rolling extremely
well upon one of the finest rural multi-modal routes I have ever had the pleasure of cycling. I began
seeing billboard announcements about clean bathrooms and other amenities within a few miles. I
stopped at the only open facility on the road, the Tom & Pam Runyan Ranches roadside market, petting
zoo, fish hatchery/2nd largest spring in NM. I spent a few hours here; not only eating, but feeding fish,
and talking with my wife where cell service (Sprint, T-mobile) was finally available. As dusk
approached, I camped in one of the three parks in HopeNM, in Ethel Altman Park, adjacent to the
Mayor's office. I feasted (or famined?) on a half-pound of cherries that I had purchased at the Runyan
market, saving the other half-pound for breakfast.
I was up and pedaling before the Sun rose, going to the much larger community of Artesia;
surely I'll find a place for a heartier meal than cherries and water?! Within an hour, I was passing what
looked like the Richard M. Nixon entrance gate to a wealthy ranch and into Artesia proper. I was
hungry, but I skipped the fast food establishments, convinced that there would be a restaurant of local
character. But it was Sunday, and the only place likely open might be church. However, I was taken
aback by an amazing downtown full of sculptures and grateful recognition of the history that made
Artesia. I took ample pictures, but when I found myself being pushed by the 181kg/400lbs pedacycle
instead of the other way around, I knew I needed food, and fast. I turned South on US285 (7 Rivers
Highway), which I would eventually pedal to Carlsbad--after refueling.
What a pleasure it was to find the eatery Chapz, which I could tell was a great restaurant
because there were few parking spaces available! The man in charge, Roberto, gave me privileged
seating, where I stayed for another two hours, gorging on Huevos Rancheros, coffee+cream, pancakes
supreme (gotta' have those 'berries & bacon!) and menudo.
Replenished, I pedaled South into a brisk headwind. Six miles(9.4km) later, I spotted a roadside
park that had covered picnic tables. Perfect for a much needed siesta! This was the Earl Boulden Park
that commemorated the 7 Rivers Community and Cemetery, which disappeared after construction of
the Brantley Dam on the Pecos a short distance away. Upon reflection, my stopping here was
immensely à propos. This would also be where my biketour disappeared.
My reasoning was validated by decades of experience; I have undoubtedly cycled well above
160,000km/100,000miles, both commuting and touring, in any kind of weather or conditions. After all,
I had just cycled 359km/226miles. My plans were for no more than three or four more days in the
saddle. However, with my background, you would think I would have thought of possible headwinds
and planned accordingly. I didn't. Laying on my backside I could see, even without my spectacles, the
Southerly whipping my bikeflags and other debris by me. Don't mistake me; it was not quite up to the
fictional tornado in The Wizard of Oz and I did not see a witch blowing by on a bicycle. I did see me,
though, pedaling into that headwind, and knew continuing into it the final 341km/ 212miles could
easily double my cycle time. I simply couldn't give an additional six to eight days, especially
considering a promise I gave four days ago. The honey-do commitment I made was lingering over my
head, and I am a man of my word if nothing else.
Initially with hesitation and reluctance, I called home. My daughter was motoring to my
location within minutes. Spitting sand out of my mouth, I conclusively decided that, yes, I had made
the right decision to speed my return home. Simultaneously, I resolved to cycle the Carlsbad-El Paso
segment at the next opportunity, which will likely be Thanksgiving in three months. Hey! An excellent
way to burn off that turkey!
[postscript: US62-180 is currently undergoing reconstruction between White's City and Carlsbad, but
the route West of there is newly rebuilt and fantastic for bicycling, with large lanes outside the rumble-
strips, which are interrupted every 12 feet of so as per AASHTO guidelines.]
Everything is OK just before I pedal North! (www.juanitohayburg.com)
Part of US Highway 82 between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft goes through the Lincoln National Forest. There is a nice pullout with great views just west of the tunnel.
The roads between Cloudcroft and Sunspot are two mountainous, curvy New Mexico Highways. They have a number of pulloffs so you can enjoy the beautiful views of the Tularosa Basin and take photos.