Day 10: Holbrook, AZ to Gallup, NM
Distance: 62 miles
Climbing: 1,500 feet
For more photos, be sure to check Flickr.
The only thing that sucks more than headwind is having Microsoft Word crash after you’ve been typing for half an hour. Which it just did here at the Grants Laundromat.
Anyhow, as I was saying (pause while I save), we had a great wireless connection in the lobby of the fabulous El Rancho hotel last night, so I managed to get caught up a bit. It was quite a sight at 9:00 or so, with half a dozen Pac Tour riders sitting in the ranch-style armchairs in the lobby with their laptops in front of them. I e-mailed Anurang two chairs down to let him know that I’d posted the day’s Flickr photos. I finished up by 11:00, but I think Lynette was out there until 1:00 or so.
The next morning, I checked my tires and discovered that the front had gone soft, although not completely deflated, during the night. So I took it off the bike and went out to sit on the hotel’s porch to fix it. A Japanese tourist came out to take a picture of the hotel front and I could see him hesitate while deciding whether my presence would spoil his shot or not. He opted for a picture of the hotel with a cyclist fixing a bike wheel in front of it.
Mindful of the price I paid for not having found the guilty thorn in my front tire the first time a few days ago, I checked the tire inside and out. I could find nothing that might have caused a puncture. John Welch told me a technique that he had heard about, but never actually tried, that involves running a lady’s stocking along the inside of the tire on the theory that the stocking will snag on things that your finger might not feel. Alas, I packed no lady’s stocking on this particular trip. So, I went ahead and replaced the tube and hoped for the best.
After a pancake breakfast, I was ready for a “rest” day of just 62 miles with a slow climb to the Continental Divide followed by a mostly downhill run to Grants. I decided that one good way to pace myself would be to stick with Anurang for the duration of the climb, and that’s exactly what I did. It took about two hours to get there, and about half of the climb was on the interstate again.
When we got to the rest stop at the Continental Divide, we reconnected with Rhona and Gavin, the Scottish cyclists who are 11 months into a 12-month trip around most of the world for charity. That was great because it gave Lon the opportunity to give them the spare route cards that he’d found for them.
Anurang, Lon, and I left the rest stop at the Divide together with the Scots, and we headed for Grants on the frontage road. Here’s the strange thing: yesterday we were essentially climbing all day and feeling like we were descending because of the tailwind we had. Today, we were pretty much descending all day, but having to work hard to do it, as the wind got progressively worse. Some of the time, I rode behind Lon and Gavin, who were discovering mutual acquaintances and discussing all sorts of things I couldn’t really hear over the wind. Other times, I rode with Anurang and Rhona, who were keeping a slightly more reasonable pace.
Anurang told me later that we rode this same stretch five years ago 50 minutes faster (on the bike) than today. I believe it. Toward the end, it really felt like we were crawling. So much for a “rest” day. However, we did finally get in early enough to have time to eat a big lunch at the Grants Café with our new friends and to wash clothes in a real laundromat rather than in the sink.
(For lunch, I had some pretty spicy cheese enchiladas. Lon ordered a bowl of chili. After it came and he took one bite, he called the waitress back and asked if he could please have a cheeseburger. I don’t think they make the chili quite that hot in Wisconsin.)
After getting back from the laundromat, I offered to let Gavin and Rhona check their e-mail et cetera on my laptop while I got my stuff sorted out. It was nice to have an excuse not to be writing this, so I got out my Route 66 ukulele and noodled for a bit. Next thing I knew, it was time for dinner.
Ride. Eat. Eat. Ride. Such is our life. This time, we walked a hundred yards farther to a place called El Cafecito or something like that. I had some New Mexico-style burritos to complement my earlier enchiladas. I have also become addicted to sopapillas with honey. Rhona and Gavin joined us and we heard more about their travels and talked about all kinds of stuff cycling-related and otherwise.