West Texas, Day 1

I flew out here to El Paso, Texas yesterday to see my mom. I’ll hang out here and help her for a few days and then on Saturday will leave for an Adventure Cycling Association biking trip in Big Bend National Park. It’s the least visited national park in the US, which means fewer RV’s to run cyclists off the road!

I shipped my Surly last week, so until it arrives I’m riding my “EP bike”. It’s a low-end Trek and is fine for its purposes. After messing around with it today (air in tires, grease and pedals on, cleaned and lubed chain), I set out to stretch my legs. This bike doesn’t fit me the way my Surly does so there’s always a bit of adjustment.

I was also testing the water delivery system – I have a platypus. I’ve never used it because I hate carrying things on my back, but for the Big Bend trip, I need to have extra water. Once I figured out how to drink from it, it was awesome!

It was a quiet Sunday morning and after a couple of miles I was happy with the gearing, the water, and the ride. I stayed on the one road (that the high school I attended is on) all the way out to the edge of the desert. I kept thinking something was wrong with my Garmin because I was averaging 17mph with very little effort!

Then I turned back to the west and BAM!

wind2 The source of my easy 17mph – I had been enjoying a nice tailwind. As I fought my way back to the west, these flags represent the cross and head winds I enjoyed.

I have to take a moment to say how much I enjoy riding out here. Yes, there’s wind and yes, there’s often unbearable heat. But there’s a surprising amount of bike infrastructure and people are generally good about giving cyclists room to move. They might think we’re crazy, but they’re much more open minded about allowing other people’s crazy to exist than back east.

The streets are wide, so even when they’ve not painted a bike lane, there’s plenty of room.

I stopped to do an errand and found a store I’d never seen before. It was clean and well-stocked and had bike parking outside. This being west Texas it also had a covered shelter with a picnic table for people to sit at while they smoked. Sigh.

wind1

But since it’s Errandonnee season, I took advantage of the opportunity to fill in another category. I’m going to switch the first one I did (delivering E-bike to bike shop) to non-store errand since I didn’t actually purchase anything. That way I can use this one as my Errandonnee #6 – Store. I picked up a few things to prepare for the Big Bend trip that I hadn’t wanted to carry via airplane.

wind4My observation for today is that while I really like bike lanes, I like people being ‘live and let live’ much more.

For Errandonnee #7 I’m putting this in the You Carried WHAT on Your Bike? Super Glue. Yep, I bought some because my bike mechanic at Green Lizard said it’s one of those things that can hold a tire together when you’re out in the middle of nowhere and just need to get to the next civilized place. Again, for the Big Bend trip, there are few services. My observation about this — I had to get a cashier’s approval to purchase it. Apparently people sniff it so its purchase is restricted to those of us over 18. Who knew?

Approaching my mom’s house, one can always figure out which direction to go. She lives almost underneath this water tower. When I was in high school we affectionately called it “the  mother ship.” When I took this photo I was about .5 miles from the house. Total miles today 16.

wind3

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