Keep on keepin’ on

Another fine day on the road! Clear and cool. Time to load up.

Nick was pleased this morning, for he had repaired his torn glove with a little sewing kit, and now his hands would both be warm.

A bargain.

The first thing we did after packing the bikes was to roll across the road and check out the tank, at Nick’s suggestion.  It was pretty dang cool.

Identify target!
They issue you a helmet like that when you train for the tank, because otherwise you'll knock yourself unconscious on the hatch at least five times.
Give ME a ticket for a busted tail light, aye?
Santa Rosa is clear of mines.
Trick or treat!

On the way out of town we stopped at a coffee shop and got their version of iced mochas.  For breakfast, Nick chose their lasagna with green chiles, then devoured it in seemingly less than a minute as we stood outside.

A coffee place! In this little town! YES.



“It’s actually pretty normal lasagna,” he said.  “I was expecting something with maybe corn in it.  Something New Mexico-style.”

While we were standing around, an old man rambled by.  For some reason he mentioned that his grandmother had grown up on land near the nuclear testing site in Nevada.  Nick commiserated with him, reciting all kinds of scary facts abut the radioactive fallout that had blown eastward from the site.  The guy’s expression was hard to read.  I couldn’t tell if he was unsurprised by everything Nick was saying, or quietly horrified.  Eventually he tipped his hat to us and rambled on.

We got back on the main road parallel to the highway, then went up a very steep hill, passing under the highway to the northern side.  At the top I declared it was break time.

“You know, I was just thinking, I’ve been doing rides like this for years and it’s probably the only reason I have the endurance built up for it. The fact that you’re more than keeping up is pretty impressive, even factoring age in.”
“I think I’m built for this. I’ve never been much of a sprinter. And most of my muscle is concentrated in my legs. It would be utterly un-doable on a normal bicycle.”
“I bet you could sprint really well with practice.”
“Yeah but I’m very poorly conditioned cardiovascular-wise.”
“After this trip you’ll be improved in that area, I guarantee it.”

Before hitting the highway again we met an old man who ran some kind of car museum.  He asked the usual questions about the bikes and then talked about a business he had back in Arizona.

The truck is a sign for trucks! Clever, but not clever enough to avoid bankruptcy.
Well now that's pretty funny right there.
Truly a weird car. With weirdo nearby for scale.
Car talk.

“If you’re passing back through there, give me a call,” he said.  “You’re welcome to camp any time.”  He handed me a business card which I tucked into my saddlebag.  It would be pretty weird if we actually passed through there, but, who knows?

We rolled under the highway again, then took an onramp.  Once again the shoulder was nice and wide, but also littered with dangerous trash.

Turn here for Tucumcari!
Yeah, no kidding.
Hypochlorite solution ... on what?
Old wall.
Actually they're not. The official state highway map says so.
My new summer home!
Lots of debris on this bit of road.

An hour later Nick rolled to a stop with a flat tire. We changed it by the roadside with trucks roaring by, and I extracted two short slivers of steel from the inside with my needle-nose pliers.  Probably acquired from running over the belting of earlier truck blowouts.  We reassembled everything, moved our clothing layers around, and kept pedaling.

Flat tire repair.
All-day ride? We can handle it!

Nick recalled our conversation from earlier, and added:

“I think also it has to do with motivation. There is no way I would be able to do four hours on a stationary bike. I think because this is traveling, and has a purpose, my body and mind are able to commit more resources.”
“Good point. Creating motivation is one of the big challenges of life. The brain is not easily tricked into taking the more difficult route.”
“Everything has a purpose here. I’ve just got to get over this next hill, or I’ve just got to get to the next hotel or to the next place with food. It’s something you can’t get with an exercise machine where you do the same thing over and over again. It’s hard to find motivation to just push some air around standing in place.”
“True. One thing I like about this kind of travel is, I never cover the same ground twice. There’s always something to see for the first and possibly last time.”
“Also, if I lose to you I lose my “young person“ status automatically!”

Big sky.

Nick checks his gear.
Nick finishes checking his gear.
Rest stop ghost town.
Somebody changed their tire and forgot their jack.
Long road.
Too bad we can't check it out!
Big sky on the highway.

We rode well into the night, listening to more of The Worst Hard Time.  The wind never did help us, though it did stop fighting us for the second half of the day.  Every hour or so we would unwrap a chunk of pizza from tinfoil, nibble it down, and toss the crust into the weeds.

This town really wants you to stop.
Just a chunk of wood.
It means ... something!
Bikes by the roadside.

The final stretch into Tucumcari was a series of increasingly steep hills that hadn’t registered on Google Maps, which annoyed me a great deal.


“This hill is as bad as the one back in town!”
“I had to put on my James Brown so I could keep keepin’.”
“Right on soul brotha.”

We got to our exit, which drew us away from the highway and towards the center of town.  Along the way we saw some spooky abandoned buildings and just had to check them out, even if it meant missing all the open restaurants.

Let's investigate!
Something terrible happened here a while back.
Super spooky.
Dixie Chick?
Get me my biggest pushbroom!
Every room inside was covered with garbage.

We checked in at the motel and then dashed downtown for Chinese food, a type of food I hadn’t had in what felt like ten years.  It was exactly as I remembered it.  But it was still the best option in a town otherwise dominated by the all-mighty hamburger and steak.

The only place in town that wasn't fast food or a burger joint.

A special day indeed.

I don't think the specials have changed in a long time.

We chomped, sorted through our gear, and traded memes back and forth.

Another day, another pile of gear in a room.

Nice of them to provide this little nook for the bikes.

Digging into our Chinese food haul.

Look! An actual vegetable!

The last thing I did was pull the busted tire tube out and soak it in the sink to locate the puncture, then prepare and apply a patch.  The patches were vital:  I seriously doubted that I could find a replacement tube for a 20-inch wheel in any of these small towns.  If it really came down to needing a new one it would probably be fastest to order one through Amazon and hunker down for a few days while it arrived.

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