Canyons, Cacti, and Cowboys
After the Joe Martin Stage Race (Fayetteville, AK), we embarked on a 17 hour road trip to Silver City, NM in preparation for the Tour of the Gila stage race. Silver City is at 5,800+ feet so the sooner we arrived, the more time we would have to adjust to the elevation. I am normally not one for road trips but this one was rather painless and, might I admit, beautiful (I also had the luxury of not driving and a full bench seat in the van to stretch out on)!
We drove from the rolling hills and green fields of Arkansas into Oklahoma and then quickly transitioned into the dry, arid climate of Texas before reaching the northeast corner of New Mexico. I would take breaks from reading "A Walk in the Woods" (a true account of hiking the Appalachian Trail) to stare out the window at the changing landscapes. After hours of admiring the red rocks and Mesas in the distance, I was incredibly excited to spot a cow licking a light post. It's the little things...
I'm not sure if it was the book I was reading or the acres of desolate fields, but every direction I looked I found a canyon that I was suddenly impelled to climb or a field I wanted to run across and lay in at night under the vastness of the universe. There were small traces of human habitation - a discarded truck tire, a sun-bleached billboard peeling off its wooden structure, or the rusted shell of an abandoned pick-up truck. But in the distance you can see a human-less expanse of land past the highway debris. If you need some alone time, this is the place. Just pull over and start walking.
I have never been so appreciative of the expanse of the country and the diversity of landscapes as on this drive. I could just imagine hiking through the desert and stepping on land that no other human has ever touched. There is so much exploring I need to do and so many crevices in the hills I need to see. Though I am not ready to do that drive again tomorrow, I really did enjoy those 17 hours through areas of the US I had never seen!
A few side-notes:
1. There were real Cowboys in the rest stops!
2. There is a town in NM that we passed called "Truth or Consequences" - who would ever come up with this as a town name you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia:
Originally named Hot Springs, the city changed its name to "Truth or Consequences", the title of a popular NBC Radio program. In March 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, announced that he would air the program on its 10th anniversary from the first town that renamed itself after the show; Hot Springs won the honor, officially changing its name on March 31, 1950 (the program originated there the following evening, April 1st). Edwards visited the town during the first weekend of May for the next 50 years. This event was called "Fiesta" and included a beauty contest, a parade, and a stage show. The city still celebrates Fiesta each year during the first weekend of May. The parade generally features area celebrities such as the Hatch Chile Queen. Fiesta also features a dance in Ralph Edwards Park.
Best Friends and Broken Spokes
You know you have great friends when they hand-make spokes for your wheels…
Yesterday during the group ride I took at bit of a tumble. It was totally my fault but nonetheless a bit painful and embarrassing! Thankfully I walked away with little more than a few patches of road rash.
We were in a small group off the front of the ride and I was suffering a bit on the back. I made a short effort to get back to the group and in the split second that I glanced down, someone was moving slightly to the outside and slowing a little to avoid a potential crash situation on the inside of the group. My wheel overlapped theirs and their rear skewer tore out the spokes on one side of my front wheel. This made the wheel incredibly unstable, and essentially was like slamming on the front brake. I Superwoman-ed it over the handlebars and onto the pavement.
Juan rushed over to make sure I was okay and waited with me as we called Uber. Since the part of road we were on was narrow and a somewhat blind corner, they rode to an area before the curve to alert oncoming cyclists and traffic while I was loading my bike into the trunk of my Uber ride. With a hug and a kiss from both of them I was on my way home, trying my best to avoid getting any road rash nastiness on my Uber driver’s pristine leather seats.
Later that afternoon at All 4 Cycling, Luis made sure I was okay and handed me a Heineken as I carried in my broken steed to the ultimate bicycle healer, Vitico. I had eight broken spokes on my front wheel and unfortunately we did not have any of the spokes that I needed. I was so bummed I was not going to be able to ride my favorite FFWD wheels for training today. There was also a pesky piece of spoke stuck inside the carbon rim of the wheel. Vitico carefully removed the five-inch-long spoke with the precision of a surgeon through a tiny spoke hole.
Since we didn’t have the spokes I needed, I had already planned to use another wheel for today’s training but to my surprise, an hour later, Vitico had already fully re-laced and trued my wheel! I found out later that Vitico had essentially hand-crafted eight spokes that would fit my FFWD wheel from other spokes we did have in stock. I was in awe of how innovative Vitico is but mostly floored by how much he truly cares about my bike and I (muchas gracias hermano!!).
I am so thankful to have these people supporting me in the pursuit of my dreams, which I know would not be possible without them!
I have included a video on YouTube titled "How to Care for Road Rash" but hopefully you will never need it ;)
Professional cyclist turned professional triathlete living in Boulder, CO.