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Day 09
Do the winds ever blow out of the west?

ROUTE: Las Vegas to Tucumcari NM DISTANCE: 107 miles WINDS: easterly and brisk...10-15
WEATHER: sunny and warm TERRAIN: Hilly...mostly rollers and one significant wall TOTAL CLIMBING: 2800 feet


The road to Tucumcari is one of my favorite rides.  We follow highway 104 all the way from Las Vegas to town.  It's a fairly narrow state road, but you only see a car about every 10 minutes.  What's more, the scenery is magnificent and I took over 200 photos today of riders as they made their way eastward.  On both sides of the road as we depart Las Vegas are vast pastures with a small homestead about every 10 miles.  From about 15 miles up the road, you can still usually see Las Vegas perched at the foot of a snow covered mountain range. 

The ride starts out with a gentle climb for probably a 1000 feet to the top of the Las Vegas Plateau where the terrain rolls and the roads are fairly smooth.  This high rangeland on top of the mesa offers spectacular views.  At mile 32 we descend off the mesa to a canyon floor about 800 feet below.  There the road offers a screaming descent that opens up spectacular views of the valley below and the surrounding mesas.  It's really hard to concentrate on maintaining control of your bike when the views are so beautiful.  After the descent, it's a mix of flat to large gentle rollers all the way to Tucumcari.  There was one steep 0.7 mile 10% climb at mile 67 (below right) that got everyone's attention but the rest of the climbing was mostly graded under 5%. 

The beautiful views may have gotten the best of Dave Dubock today.  He was stopping on the descent off the mesa to take a photo and got tangled in a water rut in the gravel and fell.  He's scratched up a bit but he's OK.  Nothing that won't heal...even his pride.  It happens to all of us at one time or another...we just fall off our bike.  The good news is he'll be back in the saddle tomorrow...a little sore perhaps, but he'll ride.  Oh, his bike is OK too...whew.

As we neared Tucumcari we passed another historical area where Kit Carson had an influence.  It seems we've seen several markers ever since we left Los Angles...that guy really got around.  We passed the site where Ft Bascom was built to protect the area from Comanche Indians in 1864.  Kit led a campaign against the Indians in this area in 1868 from that fort.  The fort also served as protection from New Mexicans who were trading illegally with the Comanche.  The fort stood from the early 1860s until it was abandoned in 1870.  I tried to imagine living in a fort in this territory...tough life to say the least.

Tucumcari is a small town of 4000 people and is situated in the eastern part of the state along I-40 between Amarillo TX and Santa Rosa NM.  The legend of how Tucumcari got its name was told by the great Apache Chief Geronimo.  Wautonamah was an Apache chief who had a daughter named Kari.  He was interested in her marrying one of two braves, Tonapon and Tocan.  Both were worthy of his daughter's hand and who ever married Kari, would be the future chief.  Wautonamah decided they should fight with daggers for his daughter's hand.  Kari loved Tocan, and hated Tonapon.  As luck would have it, they fought to the death and Tonapon was the victor.  Upon seeing this, Kari rushed forward and grabbed a dagger and killed Tonapon.  After that, she took her own life and fell upon her love Tocan.  The grieving Wautonamah also took his life when he saw the two lying together dead and as he died, he cried Tocan...Kari.  I guess if it had been the other brave, the town would be called TonaponKari.  I wonder if it would have caught on?

Well, that's about it for the day.  I spent the day taking photos and making sure everyone was staying warm.  This is usually our first "get in early" day but due to the headwinds, we still had another rather long day with the last riders getting in around 5:15 or so.  Hopefully the winds will cooperate tomorrow and let us get our usual early arrival into Dalhart...we sure could use a long afternoon to recover.  If it does, the 94 miles to Dalhart will seem like a warm up.  We're due some good winds...keep us in your thoughts and we'll ride again tomorrow come rain or shine.  See you then.



Vic to Jud and Dave: "I'm going to ride with you awhile, Pam's in a bad mood and she needs to see what it's like to ride in the wind alone."  Sorry Vic, but when she reads this, you may be riding alone tomorrow.  :-)

"When you ride with Steve you pray for an uphill so you can recover."

Heard while climbing the wall: "At least we have a headwind!"

"I think the maintenance workers around here just drive around here all day...there's just nothing to do out here."

"Oh look!  We have napkins at the SAG."
"Kate, we've had them everyday."
"We have?"


We got out of our routine this morning...we put the lettuce and spinach in the fridge in our room last night and this morning they were frozen in a hard brick.  Barb had to go to the store on the way to breakfast so we could get on the road.  It seemed to be going well in spite of this minor hiccup...we thought of everything except:  In the van she drove off in she had Shane's helmet and had left her passengers at the motel.  The lunch van was packed full and didn't have room for anyone to be riding inside...after reloading the luggage trailer to make room for passengers and Karen loaning Shane her helmet we were back on track.  It all worked out fine except Shane almost choked to death on her tight chin strap while riding to breakfast.  When told of her snafu, Barb said, "Just because you have a ticket, you still have to board the train or you get left."

Geoff thought he left his riding shorts in a previous motel and was trying to find a bike shop to buy a new pair.  We don't have a bike shop for a few days Barb told him.  Later he told Barb they showed up in his luggage.  They must have just been hiding.



Would you want either one of these guys riding by your ATM?

Daily preride and then stand in line for the bathroom.


This sign pointed down this road

I think I'll wait to mail my letter

Ken had so much fun climbing the wall that he went back down and did it again...well, part ways.

The riders were treated with scenes like this almost all day.

Bob, Pappy, and Scott talked this Bud Light truck driver to follow them to the motel...YEAH!!!  Bud Light for my friends!

I claim this land in the name of America by Bicycle.

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