Day 38 - El Paso

I made it! Back to civilization. It sure does feel good to be clean. I love showers.

I have just finished the toughest stretch of the tour. 228 miles from Kermit to El Paso, in three days. The only services I received along the way was some water at a picnic area at the halfway point. It took me three days. The last two nights I camped off the side of the road. There were no towns to speak of, no convenience stores, no cafes, no campgrounds, no motels, no groceries. I was completely self supported except for water.

I have a suspicion that very few bicycle tourists ride this route. It's very desolate, there are some big climbs, and there were brutal headwinds. There is no way on earth I would have made it in three days on a regular bike. The recumbent is so much better in headwinds.

Today was brutal headwind day, plus the first 24 miles were all uphill. It wasn't a steep climb, by any means, you only go up 1200 feet. But combined with the 20-30 mph headwind that got stronger as the day went on, and it was a very grueling day.

I am in the Motel 6. There are two RV parks in town to camp at. I rode by one, and it was dusty, and the wind is going to blow all night. The other one is next to the expressway, which is very noisy when you are in a tent. I decided to get out of the wind and get a room. I had dinner at the Arby's next door, due to the combination of hunger, fatigue, and the 5 Arby Melts for $5 special.

I'm taking tomorrow off. I'm going to ride about 10 miles to another motel on the north side of town, and restock on the way. I just did the laundry. I need find some Internet access to update the web site, find a book store, and find a bike shop to get another patch kit (stupid thorn bushes, I pulled two thorns out of the rear wheel this afternoon, after the triple-puncture front wheel fiasco last night).

The scenery today was more of the same pretty cool desolate desert and mountains. When you approach the mountains east of El Paso from the east, there don't appear to be any mountains. You climb gradually until you are over the top. From the west, they look like mountains.

Here are a couple views from a picnic area just over the top. This one is looking west. Check out the payback I'm about to enjoy.

Mountians (156K)

This one is looking north.

PicnicArea (215K)

I was going to stop and have a backpacker meal for lunch, but the wind was blowing so hard I didn't think I would be able to keep the stove lit. So I just rode into El Paso, which is only 25 miles, and downhill, but took three hours due to 30 mph headwinds.

If there is a nice part of El Paso, I haven't come across it yet. Coming in from the east on Montana Avenue (US 180 & US 62) is horrible. You've got trailer homes, huge junkyards, strip joints, and all manner of industrial decay. One side of the road is Ft. Bliss, which is undeveloped desert scrub that catches all the litter that blows across the street. Eventually you pass the airport and enter strip mall hell.

One interesting thing, all morning there were fighter jets zooming by. I think they were F-16s, but they flew by so fast and low I couldn't see well enough to be sure. I think this area is popular for training flights. The fighters were only about 1000 feet above the ground. When they go by, they are almost silent, because it takes awhile for the sound to get to you, like thunder after lightning.

Here is the route ridden for today.

Actual38 (82K)