Boosted by the wind

Nick and I woke up to some extreme wind today.  Cycling would be dangerous, but it would also be a lot of fun because the wind was pushing straight at our backs, averaging almost 40mph.

Packin' up.

Almost ready to roll.

We dashed across the town, pursued by tumbleweeds and litter. It was pretty thrilling.

Another museum we won't get to check out due to COVID-19.

Just as we rolled onto highway 40 my steering went wonky and I knew I had a flat tire.  By the time I stopped and texted Nick about it, he was more than half a mile ahead.  Turning around and pushing back to where I was would be dangerous for him, so he hunkered down where he was, and I launched into my usual tube-swapping procedure.

“Looks like it was a thorn. High speed and weight can drive them in.”
“It takes so much effort to NOT move here!”
“Yeah! As you may have noticed, the trucks also make huge contrails as they pass. Watch your mirror and when you see them draw near, move as far to the edge as you can. The vacuum may pull you into the road.”
“Oh yeah. I watch ’em.”
“New tube in and inflated. 5 minutes.”

I got moving again, and caught up to Nick seconds later.  The wind pushed us both to ludicrous speeds along the shoulder of the highway.

We clocked well over 40mph without much effort pedaling.

Mid-day we got to a crowded service station and bought snacks, then hung around eating them and talking about the weather and the locals.

Nick pointed out a shiny truck with dual rear wheels and exclaimed “What does anyone need that for?  It’s obviously some kind of trophy to show he’s a man.  It looks like it hasn’t been used for anything.”

“Maybe hauling groceries,” I said.

As we talked, a man walked by us.  He proceeded over to that very truck, fired it up, and drove around the parking lot until he was facing the bench we were lounging on.  He poked a button and his window went down.  “You referring to this truck?” he said, with an aggressive tone.

I turned to Nick, extremely curious to see how he would handle the situation.

“You listening to our private conversation?” he shot back.

“I just happened to overhear.  Were you talking about this truck here?”  He patted the outside of the door.

Nick grinned at him.  “That’s none of your concern!” he said.

The man gave a blank look, as though he didn’t know how to respond.  Then he pointed at us both and said, “You know what?  Yew can go fuck yourselves.”  Then he drove away.

I couldn’t see over his window to catch a look at his wife, who was in the passenger seat, but I was willing to bet good money she was mortified, and that after about ten minutes of silent driving they were going to have an argument.

“My god he’s so sensitive!” said Nick, laughing.  “Jesus, guy, are you really going to get into a fight with a kid because I don’t like your truck?”

“Yeah, that was weird,” I said, shaking my head.

“You can tell he’s insecure about it.  If he wasn’t, he would have just gone ‘Huh, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,’ and just ignored us.”

“Yeah.  And if he had good reasons for owning that truck and just wanted to enlighten us, like in a friendly way, he wouldn’t have started off like that.”

There was a pause, and Nick got thoughtful.  “I know it’s different out in the country.  I mean, people here have reasons for owning trucks.  But that just seemed so blatant.”

“It was pretty blatant,” I agreed.  “But on the other hand, I’m guilty of something similar.  I don’t really need five bicycles, but I’m really into bicycles, and all different shapes of them.  Somehow I ended up with five.”

“Well at least bikes are cheap!”

“Hah!  Like these ones?” I pointed at our kickstanded recumbents.  “These are worth more than about a quarter of the cars that passed us today.”

“… Okay, fair enough, but it’s still not the same thing.”

“Yeah, not the same.  But I can kinda relate.  Maybe that guy needed a new truck and he saw the ‘dually’ wheels and went ‘Whoo, I wonder what that’s like.’  And then his wife was all, ‘If that’s going to be our next truck, you better keep it spotless or I ain’t riding in it!'”

“Well it looks like he’s regretting it now, because he sure wants to defend himself.”

I snorted.  “Yep.  That’s some buyer’s remorse right there.”

We packed up and got on the road.

Lots of wind!

Putting on some warmer gear.

The shoulder of the road remained wide, but became increasingly scattered with scraps of blown-out tires, broken glass, chunks of car body, and rocks.  It would be easy sailing for ten minutes and then suddenly we’d have to stare intently down at the road and dodge around, lest we roll over something sharp.  With a heap of touring gear on 100psi tires, going 40mph and above, the risk of flats was high.

Not the Carlsbad back in California!

“This is like playing pole position with rocks.”
“I have another video game analogy: It’s like playing one of those bullet-hell plane shooters!”
“Like my favorite, Einhander. Or ‘1948 Warplane’ — I don’t actually know the name of it but you know the one I’m talking about.”

It's a long road.

The wind remained helpful but also turned cold in the evening. We kept applying layers until we ran out of layers to apply.

Hunkered down behind the bike, out of the wind.

Eventually we rolled into the town with our next booked hotel.  Just as I was going down the ramp I noticed that the rear tire felt mushy, and realized I was about to have another flat.

We checked into the hotel room and sure enough, by the time I had all my gear off the bike the tire was a pancake. I spent the next half an hour swapping the tube and inspecting the inside of the tire, and found some nasty bits of steel stuck in it.

In the midst of flat tire repair.
Getting out the gear to fix a flat ... again.
This'll ruin your ride.
Two shreds of steel in the same tire.

With the tire fixed, I then dashed over to a Mexican restaurant and got enchiladas.  Nick ordered menudo. It was very cold out, and I was glad we were indoors and safe from the wind.

Enjoying memes.

Mmm, enchiladas with eggs!

I imported the GPS track and discovered that we’d gone 80 miles and ascended 1300 feet in about five hours.

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