Week 8 (Rosewell, New Mexico to Heber-Overgaard, Arizona)

Day 50 – Bike Ride to Roswell, New Mexico

To be honest, I was dreading today. From what I heard, we would be biking through intense heat and a whole lot of nothing. It didn’t take long to learn that the rumors were true.

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We saw hardly anything the entire day. The locals from Portales told us we would only be passing through one tiny town the entire 92 mile day and they were definitely correct. The only buildings we passed were abandoned. We went in one of them to check out because we needed something to look at besides miles of nothing.

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We came across some markings from last years group, Me2Sb12 (Maine 2 Santa Barbara 2012). Apparently they made the decision to stop at the same abandoned house.
So we made a matching marking in hopes next year will carry on this mini tradition.

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Matt and I carried on the long flat straight road from miles and miles. It was amazing how there wasn’t even one mild turn, just straight forever.

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And nothing to look at but the calming desert scenery.

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And the occasional abandon building.

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Matt and I continued through nothing for the remaining miles. Around mile 85 we began bonking hard. It felt as if we were getting heat exhaustion. I guess being under the hot sun for 10 hours begins to take a tole on your body.
Once we arrived to Roswell our first stop before we to to the host site was to check out the UFO museum.

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The museum was a bit of a disappointment o say the least. It seemed like they just had a ton of random information about the crash in Roswell and threw it all together to take up space on the office partitions lining the museum. There would be random documents of testimonies from “witnesses” saying stuff like “my dad knew a guy that said he might of seen something that night.” There was no real hard evidence to make it interesting. It was basically a big museum of something that might possibly be real. But I am still happy I went so I could learn a little bit about what makes Roswell so famous.

Later that night we we to out to hit the town since we had a day off the next day. Two of the riders, Amanda and Kaitlin, shared the same birthday so we decided to have a space theme birthday bash.

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Day 51 – DAY OFF – Roswell, New Mexico

I awoke at 5 today and took one look at my phone and thought “nope,” then rolled over and went back to sleep for another 4 hours.
When I finally did decide to get out of bed Emily and I went out to do a bit of exploring, we went for breakfast with everyone to a local Mexican cafe and then set off to a contemporary art museum.

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It was so peaceful walking around in complete silence and gazing at the beautiful paintings and sculptures. It was the perfect escape I needed from the fast paced Bike & Build life.

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In the afternoon we all set out to the Bottomless Lake which was about a 20 minute drive away.
The lake was beautiful to say the least. I am definitely being blown away from the beauty New Mexico has brought us. I never would of thought nothingness could be so beautiful. With the temperatures reaching over 100 it was nice to dip into the 70 degree water.

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For those of you who have been keeping up with this daily blog you may remember a picture of me and three other guys showing off our muscles at a swimming spot we found during the first week. Well here is an identical picture in the same order of appearance and the same stance.

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Although we may not be more muscular we definitely have more defined tan lines.

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Day 52 – Bike Ride to Carrizozo, New Mexico

Today was beautiful. No, the word beautiful doesn’t even give today justice. The ride was breathtakingly gorgeous.
I rode with Matt again all day. The beginning was much like yesterday, lots of wide open land for as far as te eye could see. There were some steady inclines as well but nothing compared to what we experienced in Pennsylvania.

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I was taken by surprise by New Mexico’s landscape. I was expecting to
see nothing but sand and desert for the majority of today’s ride but to my surprise I saw mountains upon mountains.
The views were breathtaking words cannot even describe it and the pictures I am posting don’t even do it justice.

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We eventually came across a small town that Billy the Kid came from. It was strange to walk around and think that this person was a celebrated outlaw for killing a mass amount of people. It really makes you stop and think what is wrong with america that we allow murders to have such a high reputation.

Later on we came through another small town that Smokey the Bear came from. We did a bit of exploring and went trough the museum.

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Growing up my Uncle Peter, who is a beat enthusiast, got my brother and I very interested in bears and even more so interested in Smokey the Bear. So, it was very neat to check out a museum about one of my childhood passions. In fact, in the gift shop they displayed Smokey memorabilia and I came across a it truck that was identical to the one I grew up playing with.

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After the museum we had a bit more climbing to do until we hit 7,000 feet in elevation then, finally, it was all down hill for about 5 miles falling 1,500 feet. And the views, the views were breathtaking. I know I’ve been overusing that word but I don’t think there is even a word in the English language to describe what I was seeing.

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I think the reason I’ve been finding New Mexico so overly beautiful is because my expectations were so low. Growing up in the northeast whenever someone would mention the southwest the only scenery that comes to mind is sand and cacti. I never expected to see such a beautiful mountain range throughout my ride. But it has definitely made New Mexico my favorite state this far.

 

Day 53 – Bike Ride to Socorro, New Mexico

Today was once again a gorgeous day for a ride. We all made our first stop 5 miles down the road at the Valley of Fire, which is a volcano that erupted a long time ago underground and all that remains is hardened lava throughout the park.
We raved there early in the morning just in time to watch the sunrise over the mountains.

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Next, we walked through a cement path that went through all the hardened lava.

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We then hiked up to the top of another hill in the park to grasp a panorama view of all the beauty that surrounded us.

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After that we hopped back on our bikes and continued pedaling.
Before long we came up over a hill the displayed more beautiful breathtaking mountains. At the bottom of the hill just before we ascended again, Matt, Sarah, Jeff and I stopped to do some chalking. Each year during our summer across country it is a Bike & Build tradition to hold a Bike & Build prom. This usually takes place in a tiny town with nothing to do. And since that is all we have been going through lately, our prom will be coming up shortly. Each rider asks one another by “chalking it” on the road, much like we mark our turns and what not. I decided to ask Julie, and since i knew she was riding as sweep today I knew I had some time. With the help of my group of riders that day we chalked in big letters going up the road, “Julie, this scenery is almost as beautiful as you. Prom?” And then drew a heart with my name inside it.

Due to lack of cell phone coverage I had to wait til we all met up at lunch to receive my answer…and she said YES!

(Picture will be up shortly of the chalking)

The first half of the ride was a very gradual climb that it didn’t even feel like we were going up hill not to mention the beautiful scenery that helped distract us from it.

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After awhile we finally began our decent, which made us all very happy.

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Day 54 – Bike Ride to Pie Town, New Mexico

Today was an exciting day. We finally got to ride to the notorious Pie Town, although it only containing around 35 people in the town it was a town favorite from past riders and with a name like Pie Town who wouldn’t look forward to it. I rode with Julie to this notorious town.

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It was an 84 mile day, which was probably the most exhausting 84 miles of my life. The entire day had a strong headwind that had no signs of letting up and to add to that we had quite and extensive amount of climbing. At one point we hit 8,100 feet in elevation. But the scenery made up for all that.

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And I should mention that today’s scenery was very bipolar. The beginning of the day it felt like we were in the desert due to lots of dry land and lack of vegetation. But by the end of the day it felt like we were in Colorado,there were giant boulders and pine trees and signs indicating elk crossing.

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I was not expecting this from New Mexico but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. We finally knew we made it once we hit the continental divide, which is what Pie Town rests on.

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In the morning when we received our cue sheet for the day as I ready we would be staying at the Toaster House I thought to myself, “this place is gonna be weird” and my thoughts tended to lead more to the negative side. But upon entering the Toaster House quickly became my favorite host location yet.
Those house is owned by an older lady that when she bought the house she noticed sever backpackers walking though her front yard. She soon learned that the Continental Divide Trail runs right in front of her house. Later on she bought a new house but still kept her first one which became the Toaster House which became a Reston place for hikers of the trails. She still maintains the home which has quite a few beds and couches for passing travelers.

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The home is littered with pictures and notes ad business cards tacked to the walls by passing travelers. Atop the kitchen table rests a few notebooks that are filled with messages from those who have stayed there. I managed to find a few notes from past Bike & Builders.

Once we all arrived and got settled we walked down to the community center for dinner and, of course, pie. It was really neat meeting with all the residents that choose to live in such a remote town. “You truly have to love it to lie here,” many of the residents said, who are mostly retired, especially when you have to drive 35 miles to get gas and over an hour to buy groceries.

I spoke with one resident who lives about 10 miles from town in the middle of nowhere (obviously) and travels to Argentina once a year for anywhere from 1 to 3 months. She said she is always looking for house sitters to take care of her pets and watch over her house while she is gone. She said everything will be paid for except food so that is one thing I am considering doing for a month for her this April. (And I know my parents are shaking their heads while reading yet another crazy idea of mine.)

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Pie Town definitely has its name for a reason, the pie was amazing. And despite it being such a tiny town with not really much of anything going on, I really want to go back.

Oh, and we found a toaster that dated back to Maine 2 Santa Barbara 2010 (Me2Sb10).

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Day 55 – Bike Ride to Springerville, Arizona

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Today was probably the easiest day yet. I rode as sweep with Tessa.
Being that we started at the top of the continental divide the majority of our day was down hill along with that it felt like we had a bit of tailwind for a change. We managed to pace at 18+ mph for the majority of the morning and then eventually hit one of our last state lines. ARIZONA!!!!!

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We got to stay in a pretty sweet host once again. It was a giant dome for an indoor football/soccer field that also contained a basketball court. It was huge to say the least.

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Day 56 – Bike Ride to Heber-Overgaard, Arizona

Today I rode with Alex and a pig tied to my back. I should explain…growing up in the country we used to raise a few pigs each summer so when I was biking through farm land a few states ago I saw a sign for pigs for sale, I took a picture and sent it to my dad asking if I should pick up a few. So on mail drop day, which was today I received a fairly large package that weighed nothing. I opened it to find a ballon pig with a note telling me to strap it to my back.

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The pig lived for about 9 miles until I was cruising down a hill at about 22 mph and a semi was coming up the hill. Anyone who has passed a semi on a bike before would tell you you will experience a big gust of wind after it passes. Once that happened my piggy went flying into a field by the roadside and nicked a barbed wire fence and popped. He lasted much shorter than I anticipated.

We biked through what felt like the north. I kept thinking we took a wrong turn and wound up in Colorado some how. There were pine trees everywhere and we managed to come across a state park with a lake for swimming.

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The remainder if the ride was gorgeous. I have yet to see elk even though I see a sign every 5 miles indicating elk crossing. But until then I’ll just keep pedaling.

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We were luck enough to arrive I. Such a small town on the right day. A crawfish festival was going on about 3 miles before the host location. Just about our entire group stopped to check it out. Ellie and I went up to one both to ask to try some because neither of us had tasted it before. Still wearing our cycling clothes, we asked for a fish and a demonstration on how to eat it. The man showed us how the have us an entire plate full for free and said “have fun!”

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They were delicious. A little spicy but still delicious.

 

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