Stuff I did on my trip that wasn’t bike racing

Because all 1405 of my blog readers desperately want to know how much ass I’m kicking at all these cycle races, I tend to update that way firstly. Turns out I actually do other stuff, too.

First off, I need to write about my two host housings in Arkansas and Silver City. Kevin and Pam in Arkansas aren’t just “host housing,” they’re friends, and they’re awesome. They rode a tandem after their wedding: he in his tux and she in her wedding dress. Fairly certain that automatically makes you cool. Kev wants me to get into bikepacking, and I would have already pulled the trigger on a Salsa Spearfish 2 if I actually had the cash flow to allow it. Soon enough. The Colorado Trail is right by me. It starts in Denver, and ends in Durango. Miles and miles (300+) of singletrack and fire roads. I would love to do the whole thing. So Kevin and Pam are great, easily my favorite people in all of Arkansas. Their dog is Jack, and their cat is Melvin.

In Silver City, I stayed with Christine and Mike. She’s an interior designer, he’s a sculptor. Guess how awesome their house is. Answer: very. He does lots of metal and rock juxtaposition, and his sculptures are all over their yard and in their home. Lots of New Mexican flavor, from the handmade bowls I ate my cereal out of each morning (I want to say someone related to Mike made them) to the pottery and ornaments and statues and sundry other knick-knacks all throughout the house. Very cool. I shared the host housing with three dudes from an Albuquerque team. They were great guys. I’ll probably be crashing on one of their couches at some point if I ever pass through again. Mike and Christine have an old Malamute/Chow mix named Chinook. He was really cute. Two cats, total lap cats. Their names were really long, like three or four words. One was just nicknamed “Cute” and the other was “other cute orange one,” because I am terrible with human names and obviously even worse with animal names.

Since I didn’t do the crit at Joe Martin (I’m still smarting quite a bit over that whole race, but whatever), I got a head start on the drive toward Silver City. After doing the Interstate 40 thing to Amarillo, TX, I took some sweet backroad highways through New Mexican towns like Hereford, Clovis and Portales. I must say, driving on small highways through tiny towns feels much more real to me than the Interstate. It feels a lot more like bike touring, where you actually get a small feel for how people live there, what the terrain is actually like, how the towns smell (seriously), little things that Interstates hide from you. So that was fun. I went to Roswell, planned on sleeping in my car at the Walmart. They have a UFO museum, like right there on the main street. I wanted to go in, but apparently it’s closed at midnight. That’s so stupid! Obviously if an alien comes and visits and wants to enter the museum, he-she’ll arrive late at night. I mean, when was the last time you read about an abduction in the middle of the day? It’s like ghosts. The human mind doesn’t work as well at night, so it mistakes floorboard creaks and cornstalks blowing in the wind as evil deadly spirits or aliens from the Andromeda galaxy. Did you know a photo of all 7,000,000,000 people on planet earth is in the dictionary under the word gullible?

roswell, aliens

They sell aliens at Walmart here. $1.99/pound. But they don’t pay their alien staff a living wage. Damn aliens have rights, too! You might even call them in…alien…able rights. No, you’re right, you wouldn’t. Jesus. Oh, Roswell is awesome, btw.

I couldn’t sleep well at the Walmart, though. Either too much light, too little room inside my car, or all the goddamn aliens playing kickball in the parking lot. I decided to do what any person who isn’t the best at driving late at night but needed to drive a little longer would do: I entered the 24/7 Walmart, bought a bunch of Twizzlers, a liter of caffeinated beverage, and continued on my merry way.

After consuming roughly 750 calories’ worth of Twizzzzzzzlerslerslerslers, I was finally too tired to drive (unless it was driving into a tree while sleeping, then I was at just the right amount of sleepiness!). I found a turnoff that said National Forest, and I pulled off. At this point I was near Ruidoso. Literally 100 feet from the road was somehow the middle of nowhere. Seemed as good a spot as any to camp. Much less light. Just a nearly-full moon, and about three zillion stars. I slept in my car for a while, but like I said, I was cramped. I need to be horizontal to reach my full sleep potential, which is probably in the 95% percentile of humans. I sleep good.

So I grabbed my sleeping pad and sleeping bag and just slept two feet from my car. What I’d failed to realize when driving the hour or so from Roswell was that I had gained some somewhat serious altitude. I awoke in the middle of the night freezing. Not literally freezing, because I’m still alive. But whoa nelly, it was cold. I put a sweatshirt on, climbed back into the sleeping bag, and prayed there weren’t any hungry black bears around since I was just sorta lying there with no tent to protect me from bears who are afraid of tents. Well, 6am rolls around and after dreaming about bears (not even a joke), some curious little bird was trying to figure out what the weird blue, wrapped-up humanface was. All I remember is a couple loud chirps about two inches from my face, and I jump.

“Bear! AhhhhhhhhhrrrrrrggggAAAAAA!!!” I yell.

The bird jumps a few feet away, perhaps even more intrigued at this strange noise-making sleeping bag.

The sun’s coming up, so I drive on. To White Sands!

This blog post is getting long, so I will sum up what I did in two sentences: bike ride from Alamogordo up to Cloudcroft, and my most expensive lodging of the whole trip, at $3 for the night. And now, photo gallery:

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