Ride for the Dream

Cycling From Coast To Coast

Day 13 – Las Cruces, NM

by on March 15th, 2014

Today was much the same as yesterday as far as conditions.  We still had a nice tailwind and were considering going all the way to El Paso, TX and picking up a day on the schedule.  We made it the 60 miles to Las Cruces in time to push on to El Paso but had to make an unscheduled stop to repair a Baptiste flat (or puncture as he calls it) just on the outskirts of town and also stopped at a local bike shop for some maintenance on his bike.  The 10,000+ miles so far on his trip has taken a toll on the equipment.  His front derailleur cable housing basically collapsed, causing the cable to lose tension. The result was being stuck in the same front gear for the last two and half days.  I performed some Kentucky engineering on his bike with a stick and a rock (custom fit of course) to at least fix his derailleur/chain on the large ring instead of the small one.  Unbelievably, it stayed in place for the last two days of favorable conditions and faster riding.  After the bike shop stop it clouded up, dropped about twenty degrees and started raining (of course after I mentioned in yesterday’s post that we had yet to see any rain) so we called it a day.

Cable Failure                  Redneck Engineering
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…..a pain when the rear wheel has a flat, have to remove all the gear/bags , etc.
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Before we left Deming this morning we met a very nice couple from Wisconsin on their way to California.  Here is a pic of Carole and Kerm Morgan.  They wanted to show their support (either that or they just felt sorry for us, we are a little rough looking at this point) and gave us $20.

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Some nice views as we rode into Las Cruces

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Day 12 – Deming, NM

by on March 15th, 2014

At the end of yesterday’s ride Baptiste and Ben were 40 miles behind me and Buck was 47 miles away on a different route.  He went up in the mountains as far as Silver City (where I had planned to go today) and was going to cross Emory Pass before returning to Las Cruces, NM.  As it turned out there was snow at that elevation (8,200 feet) and it likely wasn’t suitable for biking, so we made a plan last night to reconnect back towards where I was in Lordsburg, NM.  I waited until he arrived which happened to be about the same time (unplanned) Baptiste and Ben rolled into town from their 40 mile shortfall from the previous day.

We had very favorable winds for the afternoon and decided to go half way to Las Cruces and stop in Deming, 63 miles away, but didn’t leave until 1:00 PM.  That would have been impossible the last two days averaging less than 9 mph because of the windy conditions.  Mother nature paid us back today with 15-20 mph tailwinds from the west and we made it to Deming in like 3 1/2 hours.  Buck and I averaged 18.5 mph over mostly flat roads, by far the fastest leg of the trip.  What a difference a day makes.  That same trip the last two days would have taken more than 9 hours of riding and breaks.  With an earlier start the 120 miles to Las Cruces would have been much less of a workout than the prior two 75 mile days.  Conditions are everything.  I almost hate to say this…..but we have not seen a drop of rain since we left San Diego.

Not many pics today because of the later start (for me anyway) and quick trip.  I have some pretty scary tan lines going on, fingers from gloves, socks, sleeves, forehead……

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Tomorrow we go to Las Cruces, NM and then El Paso, TX

 

 

 

Day 10 & 11- Safford, AZ and Lordsburg, NM

by on March 14th, 2014

Yesterday was supposed to be a relatively easy 78 miles to Safford.  After all, Buck did it the day before and reported his highest average speed of the trip at 14.5 mph for the ride from Globe to Safford.  For those of you who ride your bike a lot that doesn’t sound like a real high number….but with a 28 pound bike loaded with 40-50 lbs of gear, wide tires (700×32) over some hills and it’s a pretty decent clip.

Well, to make a long story short….the winds shifted directly into our face coming from the east and blew consistently 25-40 mph all day.  Apparently this is very atypical with winds typically blowing 5-15 mph from the west.  You couldn’t see the mountains through the dust.  Buck and I have ridden together for much of the trip and finished together almost every day except for the one he decided to ride ahead, so we are fairly comparable with speed and time.  Today’s trip took me 10 hours of constant pedaling, much of it in my easiest hill climb gear just to be able to move forward.  I had to pedal on all of the down hills as well.  It was definitely the hardest ride of the trip on a day that was supposed to be relatively easy.  My average speed for the day was like 8.5 mph.  If you ride any distance on your bike you can appreciate what a brutal day it was.  There were actually a few times when the wind almost brought me to a complete stop…..crazy.  Ben and Baptiste were two hours behind me when I finished and ran out of daylight.

We stayed with a warmshowers.org host in Safford who actually went and picked them up about 13 miles from their house when they realized they were not going to make it.   The Larson’s cooked us dinner and breakfast, provided beds, showers and laundry.  They have a family home right next to their parents home on the same property.  We stayed with the grandparents, 83 and 84 years old.  I installed a new webcam on their computer they were fiddling with (hardly any great contribution compared with what they did for us but they seemed to appreciate it).  Their 19 year old grandson Kyle cooked us dinner because his father had to work late.  This is Kyle on the left.  Grandma and Grandpa fixed us some fresh waffles for breakfast. Special thanks to Mons (the dad) and his family. Unbelievable hospitality for three strangers.

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Earlier in the day I came across a guy that is walking across the country (yes walking)…..Forest Gump style.  He is 22 years old and by all accounts a normal, intelligent, educated guy.  He said he wanted to do this as a “life experience” before he started his career.  He walks 20-25 miles each day pushing a three wheeled stroller looking thing with all of his gear in it.  He started in Philadelphia and walked all the way to Abilene, TX before running into some extended unseasonably cold weather in Texas and decided to relocate to California and walk back to Abilene in nicer weather to complete the trip. His name is Carl.
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On Day 11 I left Arizona and entered New Mexico.  I was pretty much exhausted from the “windfest” the day before and today wasn’t much better.  Distance about the same, wind strong but not as bad but a positive elevation climb on the day. I averaged less than 10 mph and just put my head down and ground it out.  There was only one small town (Duncan, AZ) between Safford and Lordsburg, the rest was very secluded, no place to get water, etc.  It was obvious that by the time Ben and Baptiste reached Duncan that they would not make the 36 miles to Lordsburg before before nightfall and they decided to stay there. Someone let them stay in this trailer tonight for free.

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I am in Lordsburg, in a hotel for the first time in four nights and very much appreciating this bed after two nights of camping and sleeping on the Larson’s couch (although it was pretty comfortable).

The following welcome to New Mexico sign has a nice shotgun blast in it including a big hole and smaller buckshot holes.

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The New Mexico landscape was pretty barren today….

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Arizona yesterday in the early morning before mountains were obscured by dust….

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I have crossed over several “rivers” since leaving San Diego and none have actually had any water in them.  This was the Gila River riverbed (had a little water).

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Not sure how far I’m going tomorrow, Ben and Baptiste are 40 miles behind me and Buck is 47 miles ahead of me. I’m going to try and figure a way to hook back up with Buck over the next few days and ride with him for a while.  I think Ben will need to go at a slower pace and Baptiste appears determined to be Ben’s guardian angel.

 

Day 8 & 9- Superior, AZ and Globe, AZ

by on March 12th, 2014

I couldn’t post to the blog last night because I ended up having to camp where there was no cell reception…..more on that in little bit.

Yesterday morning we left my cousin Amy’s house after she and Chris made sure we had enough breakfast and food for the road…..thanks again!

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Our next stop was supposed to be Apache Junction, AZ but we were a little further along than planned so we continued on about 80 miles to Superior, AZ where we encountered some heavy climbing towards the end of the day.  Buck and I decided to push on to the top of the mountain, about 4500 feet with the last 5 miles accounting for a 2000 foot climb. Easiest touring gear straight up at 5-6 mph.  Ben and Baptiste (I misspelled his name in prior posts) elected to stay at the bottom and make the climb this morning.  It was very warm when we started up and didn’t anticipate how cold it would get once the sun went down at elevation.  We had our tents set up just before dark.  Temps dipped into at least the high 20′s and by morning ice had formed on the outside of my tent.  It was a bit of a long night but I was warm enough (but still cold) with all of my clothes on in my sleeping bag and small tent zipped up tight.  My first night camping on the trip so far and was a little creepy.  I could hear what I assume were coyote’s howling at different parts of the night.  There were a few other campers in the area which was actually of some comfort.

In the morning we headed down the other side of the mountain which was nice but chilly. Buck and I stopped in Globe, AZ for breakfast.  Buck decided to keep going to Safford, AZ (our next stop) and I elected to wait for Ben and Baptiste.  It was a short day for me but the climbing took its toll on Ben so we elected to stay in Globe for the day.  We are still on schedule because of extra miles put in yesterday and two days prior.  So, the three of us are camping tonight on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation about 8 miles out of Globe, next to their Casino.  Thats’s my tent in the front. Baptiste reading his book. Camping on “the res” is a no no unless you are on casino property from what we have been told.  This is at least the third Indian reservation we have traveled through.

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Tomorrow we are heading 78-80 miles to Safford, AZ before we head into the biggest climbs of the entire trip in New Mexico, topping out at 8,000 feet plus over a 3-4 day period.  Ben has decided to reroute around the mountains to avoid the climbing and reconnect with us in Las Cruces, NM.  He will be on his own for those three days.  I’m not sure what Buck’s plan is but think he may wait for Baptiste and I for the big climbs…. but he also may just keep on trucking.

The scenery the last two days has been spectacular but it just doesn’t translate with Iphone or handheld camera pictures. Ben’s chain broke today but he and Baptiste successfully repaired it.  I had a slow leak in my front tube although couldn’t find anything in the tire.  I changed it out anyway to be safe as I waited for Ben and Baptiste.

A few pics….

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Day 7 – Chandler, AZ

by on March 10th, 2014

This morning we rode a few miles past Phoenix to Chandler, AZ.  My Aunt Jackie lives in Phoenix and my cousin Amy and her family (husband Chris and three sons Eric, Mark and Nick) live in Chandler.  Amy and Chris were gracious (and brave) enough to invite me and the whole crew to stay at their house for the night AND cooked us a wonderful dinner. My Aunt Jackie came over as well and we enjoyed a sort of mini family reunion.  Definitely the best food and company we have had on the trip.  It has been several years since I have seen Amy and her family and it was great to catch up.  A heartfelt thanks to Amy and Chris….you have a great family and a beautiful home (Good luck Eric on your interview).

Today was supposed to be a sort of mini recovery day.  Ben spent most of the day at the local bike shop getting a new touring bike set up and having his other bike shipped home.  The rest of us stopped by an REI en route to get a few cycling related items.  By the time we made it to Amy’s house in Chandler we still logged about 50 miles.  We are about 25 miles ahead of schedule so we will have to make some decisions tomorrow about how far to ride and where we end up.

Me with Amy and Jackie                                                                Cousins

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Batiste and  Chris                                            Buck and Amy

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Ben and Buck with Jackie

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Day 6 – Surprise, AZ

by on March 9th, 2014

A quick note to anyone who may have tried to reach me through the “Contact” page on the rideforthedream.com site.  I had forgotten that a lot of those emails were getting caught in the gmail spam filter the contact form is linked to.  The spam folder only keeps a few days worth of emails in it before it automatically deletes them.  I f I didn’t respond it means I never got it.  Please try again or email me directly at ktgambill@gmail.com

Our original plan for today had us doing only 55-60 miles, arriving in Wickenburg, AZ and about 70 miles tomorrow to Phoenix.  We decided to push past Wickenburg and rode 86 miles to Surprise, AZ.  This will allow for a shorter ride into Phoenix on Sunday and kind of a rest day.  Ben and Buck are both lightening their load a little by mailing home some of their gear.  Ben is also going to swap his modified road bike in Phoenix for a proper touring bike with a third ring on the front for hill climbing and a rear rack to better distribute the load of his gear.

I’m starting to feel less depleted at days end, and recovering quicker for the next day’s ride which is encouraging……fighting my back a little bit but nothing to be concerned about at this point.

Today was extremely windy and made for some tough riding early on.  Batiste lead us up a 30 mile gradual uphill stretch with a very strong headwind by riding point and allowing the rest of us to draft in behind him in single file.  He’s a very strong rider with his 10,000 mile base already logged on the trip (and he’s 29…).  This was my view for those 30 miles (I know…don’t text and ride!)
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Both Buck and Ben had flat tires today.  Ben was lucky enough to be able to change his on a stop at a small market.  Buck was less lucky and we had to change it on the side of the road….was also the rear tire which means you have to remove all of the gear from your bike (rear panniers) and turn it upside down, etc. Flat tire count is now Buck (3), Batiste (1), Kevin (1), Ben (1).  Both flats were caused by wires from steel belted truck/car tires, same as my flat yesterday.  Ben and Buck are riding Continental Gatorskin tires and Batiste and I have Schwalbe Marathons (I’m sure you were dying to know).

Buck on ground, me supervising….                                                                                       

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Ben’s desert trooper get up
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It was a slow “news day” picture wise.  Just a long day riding in the wind.  I was eating lunch at a Subway in Wickenburg when I saw a girl wearing cowboy boots and spurs.  I wasn’t sure if it was a fashion statement or the real deal, then five minutes later another girl walked in with boots, spurs, hat and one of those pizza sized belt buckles.  Real cowgirls I reckon.

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This plaque was on a historical marker.
It references a stage coach ambush and
massacre by Apache Mojave Indians in 1871.

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We would have liked to stop in at this
Dude ranch and ride some horses but
our arses are too raw.

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Day 5 – Salome, AZ

by on March 8th, 2014

California is behind us and now in Arizona! We were all a little sluggish this morning following the hot 90+ mile ride through the desert yesterday.  We had less than 70 miles to ride today so we took our time, making several stops and trying to stay together as a group of four more than the last couple of days.  We were still a little spread out but would regroup every 15 – 20 miles.  The weather was sunny and not as hot but very windy, which made some of the hills tougher than they might have been. We ran across some interesting characters today.  The guy below is named Jim Smith (which I kind of doubt is his real name based on the way he said it….had to be there).  Jim is 80 years old and travels around with his dog.  I think the bike is basically his home.
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A few miles down the road Buck and I looked off to our left and saw a guy that had this mechanical jig set up, and appeared to be mining for something.  Buck wanted to get off the bikes and go talk to the guy.  I wasn’t sure it was a good idea at first, but he was happy to talk to us and very friendly.  He was mining for gold and had a gas powered generator/pump hooked up to a kind of sifter, for lack of a better term.  He would shovel dirt/sand through the screen, the big rocks would roll of the front and the finer material would pass through the screen and into a vibrating panel that had baffles on it.  The heavier gold would settle in the baffles while the dirt/sand would fall out the bottom (at least that was my best take on it).  He proudly showed us some nuggets he mined and even told Buck and I to grab a shovel and make like we were gold mining.  A very cool experience…..thanks to Buck for making me stop.

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I picked up a flat tire with about six miles left to ride.  I pumped it up three times and nursed it into Salome where I made the repairs at the town’s only hotel ($43/night).  I had a strand of metal from a steel belted car tire in my flat resistant kevlar lined tires.  It was as sharp as a hypodermic needle and about half as thin.  I took the opportunity to tighten everything on the bike and wash/relube the chain which gets pretty gummed up with dust and dirt.  I should be good for another 500 miles or so before doing it again.  The flat tire count so far is Buck (2), Batiste (1), Kevin (1), Ben (0).

Batiste had never seen a cactus, yellow school bus or dually pick up and he took several pictures of all of the above today. Pretty funny.  He also doesn’t wear a helmet when he rides….wears a kind of straw cowboy hat.  He’s an “interesting” character for sure.  I think he intends to go all the way to Florida with us before taking a 12 day cruise from Miami to Spain to continue his ride there.

I don’t know much about cactus, but this looks to be a pretty big one.

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Some other miscellaneous pics from today….
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Day 4 – Blythe, CA

by on March 7th, 2014

We had a long day planned so I was on the road at sunrise, about 6:00 AM.  I was out a few minutes earlier than the other guys and went about 30 miles and then took a break to wait for them.  Buck showed up shortly thereafter and we continued while Batiste rode with Ben a few miles back.  I think Batiste can ride as fast or slow as he wants to but seems content to have some people to share the road with for the time being.  At days end we covered 92 miles.  The entire route except the last 2 miles was on one road, saw one gas station and one small roadside convenience store and that was it.  After the first ten miles out of Brawley it was pretty much desert the whole way including a long section where it was just sand and dunes. The landscape changed with some field crops on both sides of the roads as we got closer to Blythe.

By mid afternoon temps were in the upper 80′s and made the long ride feel longer.  We did have to pass through a border patrol check point mid-way through the ride, even though we were about 25 miles from the border.  They had a drug dog sniffing each car as it came through.  We chatted briefly with the guards and lingered for a few minutes because they had an overhead awning that provided some shade before moving on.

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We passed a couple from Belgium going in the other direction.  They started in Boston and were heading to San Diego (I think).  Seems like a rough time for that route…..I’m sure they saw their share of bad weather along the way.

Tomorrow we leave California and will end the day in Salome, Arizona.  The following are a few pics from the day (a couple from yesterday). Some are from Ben’s camera.

Solar powered cattle feeding stations.

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Nice hat Batiste!

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Day 3 – Brawley, CA

by on March 6th, 2014

Last night in Jacumba, Buck ran across another cyclist named Batiste after Ben and I had checked into the hotel.  They decided to camp together a block or so down the street behind the town playground/library….. a few hundred yards from the Mexican border fence (no thanks!).  This morning we all had breakfast at the same place we had dinner.  Batiste is 29 years old from France and is cycling around the world solo (yeah….around the world).  He arrived in Los Angeles a few days ago and is making his way to Miami, FL.  He crosses different countries (or continents) on bike and will then fly with his bike to another location, kind of piecing it together ad hoc.  He has already been through much of Europe and Asia and has pedaled over 10,000 miles.  His bike has wide mountain bike style tires because of the varied road conditions he has traveled.  Batiste’s english is certainly better than my french but it takes some effort to understand him.

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We all started the day together and had a staggered finish into Brawley.  Not sure how long Batiste will be with us but it has been interesting to have him along.   Ben had a strong day in the saddle and rode most of the day with us as a group.

After a short 500 foot climb out of Jacumba we descended over 2,000 feet and 6 miles straight back to see level.  It was nice but was over in a flash.

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Once out of the hills the temp was very warm, 85 degrees (was about 40 when we started).  The rest of the ride was mostly over bad roads and rough asphalt but we made decent time and arrived in Brawley by mid afternoon.  Buck had two flat tires today, the first of the trip as a result of small thorns.

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Tomorrow we go to Blythe, CA.  It’s about 90 miles and is supposed to be 88 degrees.  We plan to start a little earlier to get some miles in before the heat kicks in.

Day 2 – Jacumba, CA

by on March 5th, 2014

Day 2 in the books…..only forty something more to go.  As anticipated, today had more climbing and distance than yesterday, a little over 50 miles after a couple mile ride around town trying to find where Buck pitched his tent.  Ben and I checked into the lone hotel and Buck went to find a place to camp (he’s hardcore), before I realized that we had no cell phone coverage.

I felt really good today and stronger than yesterday despite the tougher climbs.  The weather was good and the scenery even better.  It’s probably a little hard to see but the picture below represents the elevation change of the last two days.  San Diego is on the far left.  We are currently towards the right side of the big elevation.  After a several mile climb to start the day tomorrow we get to go all the way down the ride side of that elevation, back to sea level. We plan to ride 70 miles tomorrow to Brawley and 90 on Thursday to Blythe, CA.

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Buck and I are a little stronger climbing right now than Ben (understandable considering he is spotting us over 100 lbs each, amazing what he is doing) and we rode ahead both yesterday and today, hooking up with him at the end of the day.  Buck is strong as an ox at 64 and powered through all of the climbs without issue (I am impressed to say the least).  We started and finished together both days.

The last 25 miles or so we saw more U.S. Border Patrol Agents than all other people combined.  They were everywhere….at check points, on 4 wheel ATVs, on horseback, helicopters and SUVs on the side of road and passing us with regularity in both directions.  We stopped at a check point and chatted with these guys for several minutes.

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We stopped for lunch in a tiny town called Campo….met two young soldiers at a Subway, one was shipping out to South Korea and the other was headed for Florida (I told him we were as well and got a nice reaction out of him).  Several people asked us where we were headed and all had pretty much the same reaction….really? why? how long will that take? etc., all were friendly and wished us luck.  We met two older women who were wearing uniforms and driving a decked out SUV that said Sheriff’s Volunteer Patrol on the side.  They are volunteers but all of their supplies, vehicles, uniforms, etc. are furnished by the Sheriff’s Department.  Kind of a state sponsored neighborhood watch.

Jacumba supposedly has a population of 500 but not sure where they all are.  The town has one small hotel, one 4 table restaurant, small grocery/market and that’s about it.  Many of the homes are trailers, half the buildings in the two block “downtown” are vacant.  Probably the most interesting thing about Jacumba is that the Mexican border fence is a few hundred yards away.  I can see it from my hotel.  That’s it in the distance behind me from the road and it got closer as we rode into town.

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I thought this pic looked a lot like the one at the top of the Blog pages.

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A few miscellaneous photos from day

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