Two Weeks before this adventure, I practiced riding the bicycle with my gear on the bicycle. During this time, I broke a spoke in the rear wheel. I took the bicycle in for a checkup, and one week later the repair cost over $900. The bike shop thought I might be better off purchasing a new bicycle. I thought otherwise and now my bicycle has new tires, wheels, shifters, and gears. Let’s hope I made the best decision.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Stayed up until 2am packing for the trip. Up at 6am to meet my father for my ride to the Atlanta Airport. I flew Frontier via Denver, CO to Albuquerque, NM. In Atlanta, I had to check my bike box into over-size luggage for an additional $75. My only other baggage is a small Marmot backpack in which I carried a set of riding clothes to change into once I landed in Albuquerque, NM. In the Atlanta Airport, I was patted down wearing shorts, t-shirt, light wind-resistant jacket, and flip-flops. The flight from Denver, CO to Albuquerque was less than one hour.
I landed in Albuquerque just after 2pm local time (MT). I switched to my bicycle clothes in a bathroom stall; found where over-size baggage is collected, and began to put my bicycle back together. It took me about an hour to successfully put my bicycle back together and get items situated for riding in the city streets. I stopped by the Tourist Info. Desk for assistance with riding a bicycle to my destination; however friendly, the information desk was of no help for bicycle routes around town.
I did not know it at the time, but Google Maps sent me on “bicycle friendly” roads (via side streets) which was really cool experiencing how updated the bicycle information is in Google Maps. I made the 7 mile ride to the house where Li & Lilly where staying. I met Li for the third time (two times previously in New Zealand; where Li had been bicycling around New Zealand).
Li & Lilly were staying at a cycle friendly house they had found online using WarmShowers.com; a website devoted to finding traveling cyclist a place to sleep for free in towns across America. Li & Lilly have been bicycling from Iran since February 2013. Li & Lilly have been in Albuquerque, NM one week waiting for me to arrive.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Li, Lilly, and I have been hanging out at Guy’s (WarmShower.com host) house. A winter storm is headed along I-40. Over the last few days, we have had rain and winds. Snow will occur this weekend, and even colder temperatures and more snow further west along I-40. We have been planning how to avoid the storm. Some ideas have been to head south and ride along I-20. One option is to ride Amtrak to Flagstaff, AZ and wait out the storm; or find a motel in Albuquerque and wait out the wintry weather.
Lilly has been cooking Chinese dishes each night for the 4 of us. I have only helped by assisting Lilly with cutting the vegetables. Each meal contains rice or pasta (chinese noodles) with an assortment of vegetables and meat. Left over rice is turned into fried rice the next morning for breakfast or lunch. Li and I headed to the grocery store in the rain to purchase groceries for our evening meals.
Guy (Warmshower.com host) has guests coming in on Friday. So we need to be out of the house by Friday…So Thursday afternoon, we took Guy (host) out to his favorite New Mexico Mexican restaurant in town. Chiles seem grown and sold in everything here- breakfast, lunch, and dinner here in New Mexico…so I hope you like spicy. After lunch, Guy (host) dropped us off at his work- which happens to be the outdoor store REI. What luck! Li did some more shopping at REI trying to find winter clothes to survive next weeks cold weather.
We spent the rest of the cold and rainy evening going to the shopping mall and outdoor stores trying to find Li clothing- nothing found. We rode the public transport bus back to Guy’s house in the blistery weather (Li & Lilly running as fast as they could to get back into Guy’s house…unfortunately we did not take a key, and remained locked out of the house until we were able to contact Guy).
Friday, November 22, 2013
The train ride from Albuquerque, NM to Flagstaff, AZ is $300 for the three of us with our bicycles. After what seemed endless amounts of planning, we have decided to rent a motel room for 3 nights and only spend $109. We will leave for Flagstaff on Monday when the weather turns better, and the snow is limited.
On Thursday I went to a local bike shop in the rain and had the bike shop install two new tubes with a sealant inside to fill leaks once my tire has been punctured by a goathead. Goatheads are a non-native of New Mexico that puncture tires. Known only locally, goatheads are a bicyclists nightmare. A trip around Albuquerque can leave a bicyclist stranded if not prepared. Li, Guy, and the Bike Shop said I need to protect myself from goatheads puncturing my tires…”There’s no way I will make it out of ABQ without a flat”. On the other side of the coin, I am now carrying 4 extra bike tubes. (Image search: “Goatheads” to see what I talking about). From Amarillo, TX to Albuquerque, NM, Li & Lilly had 8 flat tires.
That afternoon I rode bicycles with Guy. Guy had not ridden in 5 months due to neck surgery; Guy seemed elated he was back on a bicycle and ready to start riding again; we went for a few miles.
We cleaned Guy’s house, packed up and made the 10 mile ride to the TravelLodge Motel. It was very cold, and extremely windy. I was wearing all my gear. The ride to the motel was pleasant only in that if was downhill. My hands were cold, but we made it, and both Li & Lilly still seemed to be able to survive the temperatures.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
So we are now held up in a motel until Monday morning. Feeling useless, I decided to try and ride in the weather to the local Trek Bike Shop. I donned all my gear (three jackets, gloves, hat, a pair of pants). By the time I made the 2+ mile ride to the bike shop, I was sweating. I had the bike shop adjust the gears on the bicycle and I was able to find another saddle bag to go underneath my seat post rack (trailer). The one I brought had a faulty zipper. The saddle bag cost $38, a little pricey, but I have been looking all over town as Li shopped for clothing. The Bontrager Saddle Bag was made of recycled tube tires and fit all my bicycle gear…so I hope the bag is worth the price.
As far as the weather for today, it was a light snow off and on throughout the day. On my way back from the bike shop, I stopped in a local burger restaurant (Blake’s Lotofburger) and purchased the Li, Lilly and I lunch. Blake’s is famous for chile Burgers, so it was spicy.
Later in the day, Li & I went to the Post Office to mail some of Li & Lilly’s gear back to my house in Atlanta. On the way back from the Post Office, we stopped in at WalMart to find bicycle mirrors for Li & Lilly.
We are pretty much stuck in a two bed, no fridge, no microwave room with three bicycles and a lot of gear. Li & Lilly did cook dinner of rice, steak, tomatoes, and peppers over a campfire stove in our room.
Our biggest fear is the wind, rain, snow, and cold. None of us are really sure if we have the equipment to make it to warmer weather (somewhere west of Flagstaff, AZ). We have decided to only stay inside motels, hotels, and casinos because of the cold when we can. I called one of the motels where the owner informed me his motel was in the “middle of nowhere”. I talked to him about Li & Lilly’s adventure, and the motel owner is willing to “comp” us for our stay. We shall see. Li & Lilly were excited about the news!
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I slept in; laying around until 2pm. Outside were spots of snow, with some areas having several inches deep. The weather was brisk, but the sun came out for 1-2 hours. Li and I went to WalMart to buy lunch and food for tomorrow’s 60 mile ride to the Casino (only place to stay inside). The Casino is expensive ($80/nite), but we fear we can’t make the 80 miles to Grants, NM (next town with motels, food, etc.). We had a late lunch of warm rotisserie chicken, and Li & Lilly cooked rice, meat, eggs, and veggies for dinner. We will try and leave early tomorrow morning to make the 60 mile ride to the Casino. We found out late tonight, that Li & Lilly left chopsticks and some other gear at another WarmShower’s host home here in Albuquerque. We will meet Dave (WarmShower host) in the morning at a local coffee shop. We hope to leave ABQ, NM before 8am. Weather should only reach 32F as the high tomorrow, with some snow flurries in the afternoon.
Sunrise 6.45am; Sunset 4.41pm