February 12, 2016
By meriwether, Feb 15 2016 02:40PM
Buenos Dias All from El Paso -
I have finally come to the end of Texas. Checking my odometer from when I first entered Texas at Port Arthur and now as I sit on the border of Texas and New Mexico, I have rambled across 980 miles of the Lone Star State. And as I entered this West Texas border metropolis, I achieved the 6,000 mile mark for my journey . . . and next week will be 6 months of peddling along the perimeter of the United States.
Rolling across this immense canvas of West Texas, I’ve been inspired by the endless vistas of plains and open range land . . . by the hills and craggy mountains . . . by the grandeur of such wide open spaces. It does make one feel small when you are out in the middle of it though, and it does have an indifferent nature, not really caring if I have a flat tire 40 miles from the next town. At the start of my ride from Marfa to Van Horn, Texas, I was greeted by a sign that said, “NO SERVICES FOR 74 MILES”. In a car, not such a big deal, but on a bicycle - it IS rather a big deal, and a touring cyclist needs to take heed! Luckily I had a wonderful tailwind that day, and those 74 miles bowed before my furiously spinning wheels. And Wednesday’s ride then from Van Horn to Fort Hancock was even more exceptional, though the wind was not as cooperative - the beauty of the rugged landscapes made up for any extra exertions. And there WERE exertions with some steady climbing and a pesky wind out of the Southwest . . . but ah - the downhills; that’s what it’s all about!
When I first started this ride back in August, my days were in the 30 to 50 mile range. Now, the 60 to 80 mile range is the order of the day. There is no choice - once you are out there, you have to keep going, unless you want to reside permanently in the desert.
Starting out in the mornings is difficult, just because it’s so darn cold. Leaving my Warm Showers host, Alan, in Marfa for the long ride to Van Horn, it was in the upper 20’s. Then it warms up quickly and reaches the upper 60’s or low 70’s by late afternoon under a bright blue sky with nary a cloud about. But as soon as the sun dips below the horizon, down she goes again.
When I was in Alpine last weekend to catch the Superbowl, I stopped at the bike shop there to see about a tire and ended up having my whole drivetrain replaced - chain, rear gear cluster, and front cranks and gear rings - it was past due after 6,000 miles.
On Friday I did a phone interview with Patty Gelb from the UT Alumni office, and she is going to write an article about my journey for the next issue of the online UT Alumni Magazine which will be sent out at the end of February, so keep an eye out if you do receive that. About 10 minutes after I hung up the phone, I was contacted by the NBC affiliate here in El Paso, and they sent out a photographer/Reporter to do a spot on my ride which may air tomorrow. So it’s been a bit of a busy “rest” day!
Now I’ve come to a rather large question to deal with - to Proceed On or not to Proceed On. Many things bouncing around in my head right now regarding my journey at this 6,000 milestone which I won’t elaborate on at this point. I will update you on any major decisions in that regard, and which way the wind may be blowing.
I’ve posted a couple of “360” video clips on Youtube as I traversed West Texas on the way to El Paso. If you would like to check those out, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCplw16Owc0
Many thanks to Dianne Elzey and repeat donors Tom and Patti Lammers who have made recent donations in support of my ride for Habitat For Humanity and Save The Children!
Thinking in El Paso,
Keep on pedaling My friend. I have enjoyed reading Your post. Thanks for the inspiration