[This weeks blog went out in error before it was ready! Here’s the updated version: Ed]
Links to all the Blogs and Maps
Many many thanks to all those that have donated.
A special thanks to those that contributed at the Two Sawyers (Woolage Green), the Red Lion (Bridge) and the Fitzwalter Arms (Goodnestone) in our collection jars. It means a lot to us and we’ll see you soon & regularly for another pint.
Keith in the USA
Totals in the USA: 1205 miles, 46516ft climbing and 86:31 hours riding
This week: 400 miles, 12918ft climbing and 26:16 hours riding
USA Day 12 Sunday November 17th
I was up early as normal and had breakfast in the Mexican restaurant next door. Not sure why I bothered it was bad. Egg, tiny sausage and a slice of white toast.
I get on my way knowing it’s a 90 mile ride again today, mostly slightly uphill. I’m back onto Route 66 and after half hour I get a puncture. My first in the USA. I soon have it sorted and I’m fretting about how long my day’s going to be already.
It’s praires on both sides again and not a lot to take my mind off the miles. A couple of young jack rabbits running around is an improvement anda large bird of prey lets out a screech as it takes flight. It’s not long before I’m 50 miles in and I pull over for some lunch. The ARMCO barrier gives my somewhere to lean my bike and rest on. Not the most picturesque place.
Later the scenery changes a little with lots of stone escarpments on either side of the road. Someone has actually adorned the cliff faces with Indian mannequins. It feels like an arrow is going to cross my path at any moment.
It was a pretty dull day today, but 95 miles clocked up. I spend the evening repairing inner-tubes and going over the bike. The rear wheel isn’t looking good.
USA Day 13 Monday November 18th
It’s very cold this morning. Clear blue skies and icy roads.
The first couple of miles is up hill which is good as that will get my temperature up. Generally it’ll be slightly downhill most of the day. It’s ok when you’re in the sunlight but the shadows are cold.
I don’t seem to be able to get going this morning. After two good days maybe I’m tired! An hour in and I get a puncture. No worries I’m in direct sunlight and it’s quite warm.
The surroundings are similar to yesterday; prairie to both sides and advertising hoardings for Indian rugs, blankets and jewellery. All the genuine article, maybe.
As I cross one of the junctions the tarmac jumps up, I hit it pretty hard, and I hear a ping from the back wheel. I carry on enough to clear the junction before I stop and take a look.
It’s not looking good; one broken spoke and one spoke nipple pulled out of the rim. This added to the temporary spoke is critical.
I take my lunch whilst going over the scenarios. Hitch a lift, phone for help or ride on and see what happens. It’s only 24 or so miles. So I set of riding as carefully as I can Counting down the miles. Strangely I get a beep of the horn and a big wave of encouragement from a passing driver. Don’t get that too often here. Thought about trying to flag him down but he’d gone.
The scenery changed a little, forest to my right and a huge cliff face to my left.
I limped into the motel feeling sorry for myself. Booked in for two nights, I’ll have a beer or two tonight and mull things over. It will be fine tomorrow. Seems the nearest bike shop is back 60 or onward 90+.
Tomorrow’s another day.
USA Day 14 Tuesday November 19th
[No cycling today as Keith ponders how to get his back wheel fixed: Ed]
A rest day today. I walk into town and visit the Uranium mine and two breweries.
I leave the hotel just before ten and pick up from the parking lot a pair of “Raybans”. They are very nice and the sun is shining.
So I’m walking down the high street in my shorts and Raybans, bright sunshine and about 5º. I look like a local.
It’s a 2 mile walk to the museum. When I arrive the guy is very friendly and interested in my previous mining history. We chatted for some time before he sat me down and showed me the introduction film. Then you’re on your own. You call the lift (man-rider) and go down to the mine itself. At points throughout the tour there are buttons to push that give you a commentary on what’s happening in the area. All by a former workers.
The set up was very familiar to me and a lot of the machinery was what I had worked with in Kent. In fact the battery lights and self rescuers were identical. It took me a couple of hours to make my way around completely on my own. A great experience.
When I returned to the surface I joined a group of older local folk interested in the mine because their fathers had worked in the uranium business. Which shut down in the US around 1986-7. The same time I came out of the coal industry.
I made my way to the Route 66 scrapyard brewery on the way back. Nothing new here apart from the fact it was situated in a scrapyard.
From there to the Elkins Brewery Company, nice couple of beers here. Sampling 5 or 6 of their brew. All very good but I need to get back and sort my bike out and make plans to move on.
Decision made, cycle 70 miles tomorrow on my broken wheel. As my brother would say ‘Faint heart never fxxxxx a pig’. I’m going for it.
USA Day 15 Wednesday November 20th
Fly-through Map of USA Day 15.
Breakfast is in the hotel. I ate every thing I could. It’s raining outside and cold. If my wheel breaks down today I’ll could be stood on the hard shoulder for some time.
I cock my leg over the saddle and set off. I’ve gotten rid of anything I can to keep the weight to a minimum. I’m not carrying food or water, well one bottle of water.
It’s 70 miles mainly down hill with a bit of a climb towards the end. I set of gingerly avoiding any changes in the tarmac, avoiding all pot holes and debris. It’s a shaky first hour or so.
I get a few toots from passing drivers appreciating my efforts in the rain. I’m starting to relax now and pushing a good average speed (17mph).
I didn’t stop for five hours and smashed the ride and arrived at my hotel at 12:30 dripping wet. I’m not allowed to my room till 15:00. No worries. I set up my laptop and picnic in the lobby. Helping myself to coffee and pinching the sweets off the reception. The soon give me my key.
It turns out there are half a dozen or so cycle shops in town and Kristian as been ringing around for me.
After warming up and eating I decide to take my bike to “FAT TIRE BIKES”. I’d spoken to them on the phone and they’re very helpful. Its another 12 miles to them but it’s dried up a touch now. It’s an excellent route mostly on cycle paths and following the “Rio Grande river” for a couple of miles.
The staff are super friendly and eager to help, especially Sharon and Clint. They have a 36 hole rim, so we agree to rebuild using my hub with new spokes and rim.
It’s ready the following morning. Excellent.
USA Day 16 Thursday November 21st
[No cycling today either: Ed]
I have a relaxing morning as the shop doesn’t open till ten. Snowing outside. I order my “UBER” cab and I’m at the shop at 10:03.
It’s all good, they’ve done a great job and I’m back on the road. I leave the shop in the rain and make my way to REI. I’m in need of some warmer gear. I pick up a snood, winter socks and a Therma-rest air pad for camping. I refuse to sleep on the floor when it’s this cold.
I make my way down to the “The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History”. This place is pretty amazing but also a lot outdoors. Cold and wet. I’m not hanging around.
Down town to the “High Noon restaurant” as recommended by our friend Paul. Excellent lunch (Tacos). Time to get back to the hotel and warm up. Clean the bike and repack my bags to make room for the new airbed,
All sorted but it took me longer to clean the bath after than it did the bike. I popped down the shop to pick up stores for tomorrow and had my haircut, Burger, beer, fries.
USA Day 17 Friday November 22nd
I’m up early to check the weather; it’s cold and damp. Better than expected. Breakfast in the hotel is nothing special.
Decided I’m only riding 70 today what with the new back wheel and things. The only other option is 110, and that’s a struggle in the cold.
I set off through the town for the first ten miles (should have moved hotel yesterday). It’s a steady climb out looking up at the snow topped peaks. Just a flurry I say to myself.
The climb’s longer than I thought, pushing and pushing. The snow’s getting more intense. Cars are approaching me with 4 inches of snow on them. I’m a little apprehensive to say the least. It’s a great ride; I left the Route 66 at the 20 mile mark and I’m now on the “Salt Mission trail”. It’s a lovely twisting road up through the mountains. What with the snow I could be in the Alps. The climbing is easy and generating heat. Only my feet are cold. The descents are freezing and my eyes are watering. I can’t see the Garmin never mind the road. Dave’s glasses will have to go. I’ve got my new “Raybans” now.
After the mountains we’re on the rolling plains, but still patches of snow about and the wind is cutting across my shoulder. The small section I rode into the wind almost brought me to a stand-still. The roads have been good and clear of snow all day. The Garmin says go left, I look and it’s a track. I follow the Garmin but after a couple of miles the sign reads “Dead End”. I do you a U-turn and retrace my route. Three dogs appear as if from no-where. No worries they’re too far behind and not barking? No they’re not, they are level with me and looking to have a go. I’m flat out; They chased me all the way back to the junction. At least I wasn’t cold anymore but I had to get off and recover for a minute or two.
No worries; a quick look at the map and I’m 16 miles from home.
It’s a strange 1920’s hotel. The room is freezing and dated. The heater does work, just not been on for a couple of years. Dinner in the hotel, it shuts at 6. Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. Wonderful, just what I needed.
The bike was good today, along with the scenery.
USA Day 18 Saturday November 23rd
It’s breakfast in my room. My granola and milk and coffee provided by the hotel.
I leave at 7:30. It’s been light for some time but it’s icy outside. Stunning clear blue skies and a tail-wind. All wrapped up and happy to ride. It’s long undulating roads today mainly downhill and praire on both sides.
I seem to have the road to myself this morning, only the odd car coming towards me.
I’m spotting Eagles today not sure what type. Also a kestrel sat on the fence post. Making good time and riding hard to keep warm.
I pull over for a spot of lunch. It’s surprisingly warm out of the wind.
Later I spook a herd of “Pronghorn deer” as they race across the prairie but parallel to the road. So I have a good view of them for a mile or two. Finally they turn away from me and stop. Pretty dumb animals, but look good with their white rumps. Only 25 miles to go now so I sit up a bit, no rush and the wind doesn’t cut when you go slower.
I join a slightly bigger highway with not a lot of traffic and a nice wide, smooth hard shoulder. As I descend a dip in the road I spot a cat just to my left. It’s a cat OK a bloody “Bobcat” sat in the sparse grass. I pull up take my camera out and walk back. No sign of the thing. I’m gutted, what a sight, lovely markings down it’s flank and ears erect. No idea where it went, didn’t fancy searching through the gorse looking for it. Spend the rest of the ride thinking about the Bobcat, a chance in a million. Up there with my all time best spots [pun intended I expect: Ed].
Overland To India
See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.
Whilst they are in India they will travel separately.
It now appears the separation is more permanent. The Blog now only refers to Jess. Whether Ben has been airbrushed out I don’t know. So we’ll follow Jess for now and wish Ben all the best with whatever he is doing.