Saturday, October 22, 2016

183: Saturday night live at the casino!

Oh yeah! Can you beat this? We are staying at the Sky City Casino Hotel on Interstate 40. And it's Saturday night! Roger will most certainly want to go down and try his hand at the video poker  machines. Maybe we'll get lucky, and win a couple of bucks.
David gave us a great send-off

We got lucky today on our ride. Our host David came out with us to the place where our route intersected interstate 40. This part of the ride climbed above Albuquerque about 600 feet. Then we were going along the frontage road of the 40 for quite some time. The weather was absolutely perfect for riding! We were comfortable, we had favorable winds, and the ups and downs on the route were not a problem.

At one point we had to enter the highway for about 20 miles. The shoulder was not in great shape. It was old asphalt, covered with black goop. That surface made it very difficult to see the debris and rocks, and we hit something that caused a pinch flat on the rear wheel. I knew it had happened - I heard the rock go spraying out to the side after we rolled over it. When that happens, you just hold your breath waiting for the flat. And there it was - pssst, pssst, pssst, and then the whuff, whuff, whuff of the wheel on the pavement.

Our racks are mounted on the axle, which means when we have to take the tire off, we have to remove the packs as well. So fixing a flat is a bit of a process. We took everything apart, and found the problem with the tube. We have a set of extra-large patches, and the holes were lined up well, so we decided to patch it rather than replace the tube. When Roger added some air to the tube after the patch, we were surprised to see that it had two more "snake bite" holes on it! Probably as the bike came to a stop, we cut the tire one more time on the rim. Well, these two were very small, and so we patched them as well.
Historic Rio Puerco bridge

Once the tire is back on the bike, Roger puts the packs on, and then I add the other stuff - the tent, shoes, bungee cords, and our flame orange safety flag. Just as I finished that job, Roger looked at the tire and said, "it's flat." Aw, crap!  We disassemble everything again, take the tube out, and find that the first patch had failed. Though the patch was large enough to cover the slits in the tube, apparently we didn't have enough of the glue at the end of the patch to hold it. We put in a new tube, got the bike back to rights, and finally set off again after an hour. Yikes. That's the longest stop for a flat we've ever had.

The rest of our ride was through the Laguna Pueblo, off the highway on a back road. It was truly lovely. We were next to the red rock bluffs and lava flows and it was very interesting terrain. Not too long of a day - just 60 miles - and completely perfect riding conditions until the last 12 miles or so, when the wind turned around. As Roger put it, we made a tactical error stopping to eat, since we lost some good riding time with the tailwind. BUT - I am not sure I would have been able to continue without something to eat, so . . . that's just how it goes sometimes.
Red cliffs + black lava flows + winding road = great ride

I love the striations in the cliff faces, and the eroded features. 

We have had a couple of days when the altitude is just a bit of a factor, as well. Although we live at 1300 feet in Redlands, and often ride around home up to 5000 feet, we have spent quite a lot of time lately near sea level. Crossing Texas, we began to rise, and since we turned in Oklahoma we've been steadily climbing. Still, there is a difference between 3500 and 6500 feet, and so the passes the last couple of days have left me just a little bit less comfortable. Tomorrow we will cross the Continental Divide, at what I believe will be a record elevation for our trip. So that should be fun! 

And did I mention that it's so very dry? Wow. Nails, lips, heels - everything is drying up and splitting. I am constantly applying lotion, salves and balms. 

The landscape has given us a gift - because the climbs are longer, and more gradual, the descents are, too. In the past three days, we've been able to coast down some great hills - reaching 40 mph for the first time in months. I can't think when we last went that fast. Perhaps it was that final descent off the Cumberland Gap, way back in Tennessee. Since that time, we've been mostly moving along under our own steam, and it's pretty hard to move the tandem that fast without the aid of gravity!

We'll be crossing the Continental Divide somewhere in there tomorrow!

The day's report:  Albuquerque to San Fidel, 60 miles/8671 to date

The route is here

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