71 Miles - Huge Tailwinds; Guadalupe Mountains; Arrival in Carlsbad, New Mexico - February 28, 2017
Much thanks to Yajaira in El Paso for shuttling me to Salt Flat through Uber, the ride share program.
Yajaira was a sweet Hispanic woman. Obviously with the long drive, we got to chatting and made me feel at ease. We talked about her family life,
how crazy it was to quit my job to do this trip, and how much
I love Mexican food.
She taught me some Spanish words and phrases. I had the gumption to ask,
"Como se dice 'bicycle' en espaņol?" and she replied, "bicicleta." Now that was a word I needed to learn.
When she dropped me off in the Salt Flat Cafe parking lot, it felt like I had made a new friend.
I wanted to get a picture of her, but stupid me didn't ask for one. Maybe I was being sheepish. I think deep down I didn't want to spook her.
Whatever the case, I know I should have gotten one. So, the only image I have of her is from my Uber receipt.
Yajaira, if you ever read this, I did make it to Florida.
I'd make it 4.5 weeks later. :)
Salt Flat, Texas
One mile east of Salt Flat was this sign. 78 miles to Carlsbad?
That caused some fear. On my Day 19 page,
I typed like a tough guy about this two-day route from El Paso to Carlsbad, but let me clear. I was scared.
As I've said repeatedly, often in the morning I was filled with dread about what could go wrong. Out here, I was in the middle of nowhere with
hardly any services.
There really is an area of white salty sand, a salt flat. It was pretty with the Guadalupe Mountains in the background.
High Wind Warning
Yesterday was a wonderfully windy day, and today would be the same. Also, the winds would climb to the 30-35 mph range and would come from
the southwest. It'd slam into my back! :)
From Salt Flat, it is entirely uphill until one gets to 5695 feet at the entrance of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
I had a lot of climbing, but the tailwinds helped and kept morale better than average.
Slowly but surely, I gained in elevation. The Guadalupe Mountains sure are pretty and deserving of exploration.
Lots of huffing and puffing. That steep section was a killer ...
Eventually I made it to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
This would be the highest altitude on the entire journey and
last mountain range I'd have to contend with. Sure, I'd have hills and such, but there would be nothing of the magnitude of
the steep grades of the Rocky Mountain West.
Here's what I thought of the elevation ...
The riding was so easy after that. I had 2400 feet in descent before I'd make it to Carlsbad. Also, I had powerful tailwinds ushering me.
The scenery on the other side of the pass with serene with mountains and pines that turned into hilly plains,
but I didn't dare to pull my camera out while cruising at 20-30 mph.
Heck, I didn't even stop when I crossed back into New Mexico.
I think I was going about 18 mph for this one.
In Whites City, I rested at a tourist gift shop near the Carlsbad Caverns entrance. At the point, the winds
were at least 25 mph and probably more. Anything loose like litter or leaves were taken for a major ride by those winds.
As I rested, employees and visitors were alarmed that a bicyclist like me would be out in those winds.
I kept telling them it was okay because the wind was at my back. But they didn't understand.
I figured no matter how strong the wind was, if it was going in my direction, there was absolutely no way that I wouldn't take advantage of it.
There's a time to play it safe.
There's also a time to go for it.
It turned into a gray afternoon. The poor visibility made it look dreamy -- like something out of a movie.
The wind blows the U.S. flag in Carlsbad.
Arrival in Carlsbad. It was 24 miles of climbing, and then one of the easiest 54-mile bike rides of my life.
When I reflect on all 53 days of this journey, this two-day tour from El Paso to Carlsbad, totaling 149 miles, is the one I'm most proud of.
Can you believe I did it? I still have to pinch myself. :)
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