60 Miles - Flat Tire; Hitchhiked to Deming; Continental Divide; Frontage Road to Deming, NM - February 23, 2017
This morning I had something to look forward to. Tailwinds! The wind frequently comes from the west in this region, and as you can see,
by the late morning I'd have 25-30 mph tailwinds. I was giddy. When you have friendly winds, the riding is easy.
Flat Tire #1
I got my first flat tire twelve miles east of Lordsburg on Interstate 10. The shoulder was rough with the conditions that often lead to flats --
lots of rock particles, pebbles, and plenty of debris from frayed tires.
I leaned the bike against the Playas exit sign (see photo) and got to work. I pulled the back tire off, got the tube out, and started to work the new tube in.
I decided to put some air in the tube so it had shape, which makes it easier to work it in the tire.
I grabbed my pump only to realize... it was broken!
Long story made short, the pump was either broken before the trip began (which I doubt) or it had been
damaged from being affixed to the frame (more likely). Whatever the case, I had no pump and couldn't air my tire. No, I didn't have those air cartridges.
I've never needed them because since when does a portable pump break? After this experience, however, I'll probably have a few on me in the future.
So I had no choice but to hitchhike to a bicycle shop in Deming. I resolved I'd return to this very spot when all was fixed to resume the ride.
The Flat Tire and Hitchhike
It's a long video, but here's the nitty-gritty of what it's like to get a flat on an Interstate, realize you can't fix it, and then walk for over an hour
as you try to hitchhike.
It may sound funny, but I recalled it was Friday (a work day) and asked myself, "Wouldn't I rather be here than at my job?" Oh yes, I did.
I love being a therapist and my last employer was a good one, but I had to take a sabbatical. I needed this adventure, even if it meant
being temporarily stranded in southwest New Mexico.
I tried to hitchhike and stuck out my thumb with my bike beside me. Vehicles were flying at 75 mph and up
without anyone stopping. I did it for a few minutes as about 50 cars and trucks "whizzed and whooshed" past me. It was humiliating.
So I decided to hoof it. I still tried to hitch a ride, as I kept my left arm and thumb out while holding my bike on my right.
I tried to appear like who I was -- a harmless cyclist who had a legitimate need for help.
And I walked. And walked. And walked. 15 minutes went by. Then 30 minutes. It was well over an hour. Still no one would pull over.
Sometimes I'd peak my head back and try to make eye contact with motorists, all the while with my thumb out. No luck.
My experiences with hitchhiking were limited to a few scenarios. When I lived in the mountain town of Buena Vista, Colorado,
sometimes I'd walk (for exercise) while it was drizzling and drivers would kindly pull over and ask if I was OK and needed a ride. On the flip side,
there were a few times when I gave rides to long-distance hikers who needed to get to the nearest trailhead of the Colorado Trail. (It was obvious from their
camping gear and appearance what they were doing.) In 2008, during my first bike across America trip,
my rear derailer broke
between Brawley, CA and Blythe, CA, and the very first vehicle to pass me on that two-lane desert road pulled over. All in all, I've experienced a willingness
from people to help.
So this was different to me. Here's my theory:
Interstate 10 in New Mexico is where many people are speeding at 75-90 mph on a long journey. It was probably too inconvenient to stop.
Sure, if you're cruising at a slower rate on a country road, it might not be a big deal to offer a hand.
Nonetheless, it was baffling. Especially when about 100 pick-up trucks passed me.
My gosh, I was planning to give $20 to anyone who'd let me toss my bike in the back and take me to Deming.
So what did I do? I kept walking. Honestly, I wasn't that upset. My stride was confident.
I was going to make it to Deming one way or another -- whether by foot or bicycle.
A billboard indicated there was some kind of business in Separ, seven miles ahead, and maybe there was
a gas station or an auto repair shop where I could use a pump.
The wind grew stronger. At least it was at my back. At 1 hour and 15 minutes, a car way ahead was pulled over. It was waiting for me.
I hustled up and saw it had Florida license plates. It felt like a sign.
I was headed to Florida too!
The Hero of the Day
Junior of Alvin, Texas drove me 40 miles to Push 'N Pedal in Deming.
This is Junior, the young man who took a chance on this stranded bicyclist. In his passenger seat, I wanted to be respectful
of his space and didn't say much, but soon it became clear this was a good and easygoing guy.
It turns out Junior lives in a suburb of Houston and had attended his father's
funeral in Tucson.
He was now returning home in this rental car. (He's not from Florida.) We talked about some meaningful things about life. Some fun topics too.
I got the sense Junior is a humble person who doesn't want a lot of publicity over a good deed,
but I want to acknowledge him. How could I not? He's part of the story now. :)
Push 'N Pedal Bicycle Shop
The guys at Push 'N Pedal were welcoming. It's a repair shop for a variety of things like lawn mowers, vacuums, and other appliances and gadgets.
They also have bicycles for sale and can repair your bike.
The older gentleman showed me the culprit of the flat -- a long and sharp frayed wire that was probably part of a tire.
They got me back on the road and for no charge, for which I'm grateful.
Push 'N Pedal didn't sell portable pumps. So I biked to the other side of Deming to buy one at Walmart.
In the self-checkout area, I noticed the security camera and did a selfie with my pump. :)
Outside of the Walmart, I was ready to go. My tire was fixed. I had a pump. Now all I needed was a way to get back to
where I was stranded so I could bike to Deming. Remember, cheating is unacceptable to me.
I couldn't act like I biked here from Lordsburg or just continue to Las Cruces. There were miles that needed to be accounted for.
Dignity and Pride, a taxi service, shuttled me. My driver's name was Moses. Like with Junior, I had another pleasant talk for a 40+ mile drive.
I did have to explain to him that he was driving me 43 miles out -- just so I could bike right back to Deming. He respected that. :)
Moses dropped me off in the middle of nowhere. The wind was howling by now! Thankfully, there would be a frontage road much of the way.
I was moving quickly. Within 30 minutes, I passed the Continental Divide. It's not the greatest shot.
I wasn't in the mood to do anything special -- not after all the drama from the morning. Also, I
had been here six years earlier with Tom Vossman and got a better shot with him. (See photo below.)
NOTE: Do you see my tattered glove? When I posted this online in real-time,
Erik Digre and Eva Merrill joked about them and made donations so I could buy new ones. Much thanks! (I wouldn't buy new gloves until I was in
No hands on the handlebar. :)
For about six miles, I had to ride on the Interstate when the frontage road ended. Soon though, I'd be on another frontage road
that would take me all the way to Deming.
Here was an attractive mountain that's named the Victoria Mountains, according to my map ...
Gage, New Mexico
At Bowlin's Butterfield Station and Dairy Queen, I roamed in their gift shop. If you want a New Mexico themed gift, come here.
Those New Mexico license plate key chains were pretty snazzy if you ask me.
They also sell mugs for cheap!
State Highway 418
About ten miles out, State Highway 418 would be the frontage road of choice.
It would distance itself from the Interstate and give some peace and quiet -- while that wind blasted against my back.
Adjacent are two Facebook live videos.
The desert in Southern New Mexico is different from
Southern California and
Arizona. The beauty is more subtle. This was a pretty view of Red Mountain (elev. 5422 feet).
You are welcome to stay connected with me on my author page.
The Motel in Deming
The swimming pool at my motel had icky water and litter. Eeesh! :p)