Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday, May 21 – Day 2 – Columbus, NM

We got up at 5 this morning and headed out just as the sun poked out from behind the mountains. (There are these big rocky mountains around – but most of the terrain is just this long, steady, barely perceptible grade.) By 10:30 or so we made it to the top of a long grade, and Columbus was visible but still 15 miles away, straight across a shimmering lake of sand. And by then it was hot.

I got moving and just sort of tapped out a rhythm at about 12-13 mph. But it was incredibly frustrating – the town so close you could almost reach out and touch it, but you look down at the speedo and it says you still have 9 miles – 45 minutes – to go.

What a bizarre place the desert is. I really liked it out there last night, and this morning’s ride was phenomenal. But it is such a struggle from 11-6.

One more note for today. The place we’re staying at is called Pancho Villa state park. Villa was one of several Mexican generals locked in a power struggle in the 1910s. He attacked Columbus in 1916, apparently because he was pissed at somebody in town who had sold guns to one of the other generals and because the other general had gotten some US help against him.

Anyway, after his raid the US government sent a bunch of troops down here and chased Villa around Mexico for awhile. (They never did catch him.) So there was this big military operation based out of Columbus, and now there is a museum about the whole thing.

So I walk into the museum, and the first thing I see is a big FWD truck that says, “Clintonville, Wis.” on frame above the radiator. (I grew up in Clintonville, where the FWD is the biggest employer. The town’s claim to fame is that the first four wheel drive truck was invented there, and they would get all the old trucks out and run them around in parades when I was a kid.) So I tell the manager or curator about this, and they get all fired up about it, and now they’re going to try to get ahold of the people at the FWD in Clintonville to see if they want to send some more trucks down here for a reenactment that the park puts on. I guess this battle chasing Villa around was the first time that trucks were used for military supply lines, and the trucks they used were FWD ones. Small world, eh?

All my gear made it the first 90 miles here with no problem. The only issue so far is that the whole front of the bike has a wobble at speed if I’m not holding onto it, which I think is just poor weight distribution in my front panniers. Also, I need to adjust the rear derailleur – the bike shop never adjusted it when they replaced the cable. Boo.

I’ve been quite a bit slower than I expected – cruising speed on flat pavement is around 12-13 mph. 15 mph takes a downhill, a tailwind, a favorable grade, a strong push, or some combination thereof. Headwinds suck with this setup (as expected) but on the flats I think I’m a good bit faster than Tim with his BOB (also as expected).
Both knees have held up without so much as a hint of complaint, as have the muscles. The show stopper has been all around exhaustion brought on by the sun and heat.

Day 2 stats:

45 miles
5 hours
1.5 gallons of water

(Note: reading this I noticed that we started out with 3 gallons and drank 3.5, which would seem to violate the laws of physics. But that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)

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