30th April 2016 Grants, NM to Albuquerque, NM 127.4 kms - 79.2 miles Up = 603m - Down = 1070m
30th April 2016 - Grants, New Mexico to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Poor Finn - he had to stay outside last night and I heard heavy rain on the roof of the van. I don't think it snowed - and if it did it has melted away - but it felt freezing when stepping out of the van having spent another night sleeping with several layers and my jacket on!! Cool conditions were predicted for today with some "precipitation (be that rain or snow) and light to medium winds - from the west - yippee - tail winds!!
We had about 125 kms to ride today and while generally trending down hill, there seemed to be a bit of a sting at the 100 km mark with a 5k climb - before dropping down into the first big city since leaving the west coast - Albuquerque on the Rio Grande River. So frequently on this trip we get reminded of songs bearing the names of the places we are riding through!
The roads started off wet so care was needed, but fortunately the wind dried them pretty quickly so riding conditions were good. We would be without the support van for a time this morning as late yesterday a "low tyre pressure" warning light had come on and Pat wanted to go check that out. What we do find amusing and inconvenient here is that you have to pay to use an air pressure pump at a garage to check your tyres. These seem to range in price from 50 cents up to $1.50 - how we take for granted that this is still free in Australia and New Zealand.
Pat headed to the first garage, put in her 4 "quarters" to get air for the tyres - and the machine didn't work. Complaining to the service station attendant did not one bit of good - apparently the air pumps are owned by a third party and the service station doesn't really give a stuff about them. Pat drove on, and a few hundred metres down the road found a "Tire Shop" - Delta Tire Pro's - that was open - early on this Saturday morning. Here she received great service. They identified a faulty valve in the rear wheel on the passenger side - and promptly fixed it and sent her on her way - no charge!!!! Thanks a lot Delta!!!
Meanwhile we were enjoying slightly downhill and tail wind conditions - perfect!! Before too long we came across more roadworks. This was a reasonably long stretch and our "shoulder" had been utilised as the only lane that 2 lanes of traffic had to merge into. We got off our bikes and started to search for some safer way to get through, maybe behind the coned off areas. While we stood roadside thinking about this a very large WESTERN EXPRESS truck gave us a friendly "toot toot" and waved us on to the road in front of him. He drove along very slowly behind us - despite the fact that we were pedalling furiously and trying to get through as fast as we could!!. These times are very memorable and we were extremely thankful that he protected us in an otherwise pretty dangerous situation!!
55 kms into the day - my front wheel punctured. I rang Pat to find that she was making good progress after getting the wheel fixed and she would catch up soon to where we were stopped. I set about fixing the puncture and only required use of the floor pump when she arrived. We had taken to checking our tyres regularly to try and prevent these bits of wire from giving us so many issues. I found a bit of wire in my rear wheel and when Don pulled that out - down it went. So - for me it was a quinella of punctures at that stop - hopefully for the day!!
Once fixed, and some snacks had from the van, progress was excellent although not many eating places were to be found when we wanted lunch - so again - roadside snacks from the van were had. Just as well we had taken on some energy bars as the uphill was long and gradual and the wind had changed direction to be a head/side wind. It was a tough section!! All I could do was get into granny gear and pedal and pedal knowing that sooner or later - later really - I would reach the top.
We exited at 149 and stopped at a Love's Service Station for more food and a break. I took this opportunity to touch base with our warmshowers hosts for the next 2 nights - Dan and Susan. They advised us how to use the bike-path to get to their place once we were at the Rio Grande. Pat of course couldn't do this so she followed her Navman to get there. From Love's we went on to Route 66, literally down into Albuquerque - great bike lane on the road and we barely had to pedal for about 10 kms! There was more water in the Rio Grande than I expected - but it is fed from the melting snow - and we had seen plenty falling in the mountains as we rode along! Across the bridge and then onto bike paths alongside the Rio Grande until we turned off into the street where we have wonderful "warmshowers" accommodation with Dan and Sue - both keen cyclists. Their daughter has ridden to many places including all the way down to Patagonia!!