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Showing posts from May, 2018
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Miss Flexibility challenged (30 May)  No riding for me today, as it would have been more of the same as yesterday, except "only" 71 miles. My day was supposed to be working out in the hotel gym and pool (no hometrainer in the gym, just running machines), hiking at a nearby lake (oh, not alone ... too dangerous, I was told, unless you were "prepared" with some sort of weapon). So I went with my third option: visiting museums.I first dropped in on the XIT museum and learned all about this enormous (3 million acre) ranch. The gentleman at the visitor center told me much about the history and about cattle raising today. He is a rancher himself and his brother-in-law has a dairy with 3,200 jersey cows. The area around Dalhart is one of the biggest with extensive feed lots where beef cattle are fattened for the market. He also introduced me to the newest museum project on the "Dust Bowl" era. This was the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of Am…
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Samson and me (29 May)
Leaving New Mexico for one day in Texas and I had great plans: a brief visit to a nearby reservoir and then cycling about 20 miles from the second SAG stop to the border and back. But I have discovered on this trip how quickly plans must be changed. I think I should change the F in my middle name from Frances to Flexibility! The heavy truck traffic on the one lane highway and the strong headwinds already made me sceptical about my designs. And when I learned that there was an excellent hiking path along the reservoir, the decision was made: I'll hike today. The Ute Lake Reservoir is the largest weir dam in the world outside of China. I learned that with a weir the water flows over the construction, while with a dam the water flows over a spillway. I was enjoying the quiet and the gentle breeze (a cousin of the nasty headwinds the group were suffering) when above me I spotted dog tails wagging away. Suddenly two enormous chocolate labradors came charging dow…
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My Supermini Triathlon (28 May) 110 miles through New Mexico with the wind and the "Wall"...that's what faced our riders today. With a great deal of respect, they took on the challenge, and were surprised! Many found the route to be the most beautiful of the tour to date. The countryside was more varied than expected, with rolling hills and even an imposing gorge (which many didn't really appreciate on the exhiliarating descent). The road was mostly good, the traffic negligent and the wind friendly, except for the last 20 miles, which was sort of unfair actually. And the much discussed infamous "Wall" (8% during 0.8mi) was conquered by all. My little "Triathlon" was really super: I rode 10 miles - well, actually 5 miles toward the group and then the 5 miles back. I really loved the quiet countryside, listening to the crickets and observing two pronghorned antelope (or were they observing me?!) Then I visited the Conchas Lake State Park with its i…
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Routes Through History - The Santa Fe Trail (27 May) Today our riders traversed the Glorieta Pass, which in my brochure from the Pecos National Historical Park  says "became a cultural crossroad through which hunters and gatherers, traders, conquerors and explorers, immigrants, soldiers, ranchers, and tourists passed" as well as cyclists. The well preserved and documented ruins at Pecos tell the sad story of the flourishing Pecos Pueblo and its demise. In the ghostly remains of the Pueblo it is still possible to imagine Pecos through the centuries. Inside a Kiva, an underground ceremonial room which were believed to have connections with the spiritual world.After visiting the Park I drove to the SAG stop and on Paula's advice rode back along the road towards the approaching riders. The road was good, the traffic practically non-existent ... but the wind! I was so glad after about five miles to encounter Emil, Pete and Marc so that I could turn around and cycle back to t…
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Our rest day at Bandelier National Monument (26 May) After a wonderful Skype session with the Hürlimann Family and wishing János and Amélie good luck on their bike races tomorrow, we enjoyed a big breakfast and a pleasant chat with Tom T. Then we took off for the Bandelier National Monument. At White Rock we boarded the Shuttle and rode down into the Canyon. The Park is the site of the earliest Ancestral Pueblo settlements in the mid-1200s. An introductory movie and practical booklets explain the geography, history and culture of these people. The walls of the canyon are made up of compacted volcanic ash up to one thousand feet thick. The ash was the result of two volcanic eruptions, each 6 hundred times more powerful than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The Ancestral Pueblo people built rooms into the walls, which can be visited by means of ladders. After spending several pleasant and educational hours in the park, we drove back to the Plaza in Santa Fe, marveled at the many …
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Those Swiss are everywhere (25 May) Today's tour led through the picturesque "town" of Madrid (pronounced MADrid), a famous stop for Harley Davidson riders. This was especially true after the movie "Wild Hogs" with John Travolta was filmed there. The town consists of colorful shops and even more colorful people with the main drag only about an eighth of a mile long. During the day there are literally hundreds of Harley riders stopping in to have a drink, something to eat and to buy souveniers. Michael, pictured above, is the guide to a group of Europeans AND comes originally from the same town we do! I had planned to go hiking again today, but traversing the countryside, I really felt more like cycling. When I got to the park and didn't have enough money for the fee (and thinking of all the warnings to look out for rattlesnakes) I changed clothes, took out my beautiful Sirrus and rode the four miles back up the road to Madrid. As I was arriving, the first …
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A little touch of Switzerland (24 May)While the riders made their way to Albequerque, I drove ahead to the Sandia Mountain Airial Tramway and traveled up to the top of the mountain at 10,320 feet. In contrast to the hot desert floor with its gusty winds, here there was a cool breeze and shady forests, just perfect for hiking. The tramway was originally built by the Bell Company in Kriens, Switzerland (which no longer exists) and the new cars are also from a Swiss company, so I felt just a little proud about it, especially when the driver asked if anyone was out of the country and I could say: Yes! Switzerland. (On the other hand, with my fear of heights, I was not so especially delighted to learn that they boasted the second longest free hanging rope between two towers in the world ... more than a mile!)The area at the top was truly beautiful with well constructed paths, thick forest and lovely wild flowers. There were, of course, lots of people at the viewing deck, but the further y…
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Learning about New Mexico (23 May)On the way up the Pyramid Trail I met Jessica, a young full-blood Navajo woman. She was just on her way down from the top but came back up with me to show me the views and give me valuable insights to her people. With great candor, she also described her own life. Suffice it to say, two years ago she turned her life around, just now finished her BA in Criminal Justice - with honors - and will be going for an interview with the Navajo Police next month. Having finished my hike, I returned to the road and was consumed by envy! Here was a beautifully paved road with virtually no traffic, winding its way between white cliffs ... until 8 miles on I hit a dead end sign!!In the meanwhile, the riders had crossed the Continental Divide, and braved two ghastly miles of bad shoulder on the I-40. When I caught up with them, they were already rolling into Grants and I beat Emil to the hotel with a mere five minutes to spare. Since we had arrived so early, we were…
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A ride back in time (22 May) While the real riders made their way along Highway I-40 towards Gallup in New Mexico, I spent the day in the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. First of all, I rode the upper loop, stopping to take photos along the way, then drove down to Blue Mesa where I made a number of fascinating discoveries.  That the world is really quite small was brought home when a young man on a bicycle that seemed to be loaded down with his whole household began a conversation with me. And so I met Stefan Schlup from Basel, Switzerland. He was on his way from Miami to San Francisco, and was delighted to be able to converse in Swiss German, for a change. The most amazing coincidence, we discovered, is that we will be flying back to Switzerland on the same day, with the same airline, at the same time! Whereas most of the Painted Desert seems to be held in various shades of orange and magenta, the Blue Mesa is a composition in blue and grey. The earth there is qui…
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Win(d)slow Arizona (21 May) This little play on words lends to several interpretations: yes, it was extremely windy on the I-40, and yes, it did slow most of the group down considerably BUT Winslow was a cute contrast to slogging along the highway for 90 miles! The lady in the truck figures in the Eagles first hit single, Take It Easy, and is a big tourist attraction in Winslow. People come from all over - even Scottland, Wales and Switzerland - to be photographed in the Standin' on the Corner Park. Another attraction along the route were the many endless train compositions crossing the plains. Just imagine how many trucks it would take to carry the loads on those flatbeds! No wonder it takes up to four locomotives to pull the wagons.Below two photos that tell a little story about a certain group of Cross Roads cyclists. It appears that they got into some trouble riding the wrong way along the road and ended up behind bars in a seedy Winslow jail! They were eventually released on…
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Grandchildren and the Grand Canyon (20 May) We began our rest day with a Skype sitting with our daughter and her children in Switzerland. János, who will be seven in July, told us all about his first experiences as a new member of the Aegeri Bike Club. He goes to training every Tuesday after Kindergarten and enjoys learning new skills and practising racing techniques. Next Sunday he will have his second race in the EZK series for children. After a brief chat with his little sister, who will be having her first race, we said good-bye to everyone and took off for a day's visit to the Grand Canyon. We spent a wonderful 5 hours walking the Rim Trail from the Visitor Center to Maricopa Point (and back from the Village to Parking lot 3), about 8 miles in all. There were so many opportunities for taking pictures! Every time you walk just a few meters, you have another perspective of the Canyon. The weather was very pleasant and although there were lots of peope at the first overlooks, t…