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Old 05-05-2004, 11:13 PM   #50
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,772
31st March

Another great day. Woke before 7 and went outside to be greeted by a gin clear day with no cloud. For breakfast I order ‘Huevos Rancheros’, a Mexican dish which, like most food from that country, looked like it had been travelling at high speed when it hit the plate. It’s very tasty, however, and it sets me up for the morning’s ride. I set off at 0815 and head North up the 118 – I’m heading for Terlingua Ranch, which has been recommended to me by Arch, Julie and Warren as the place to stay around here. The only reason I didn’t try for accommodation there last night is that it’s a bit remote. Eighteen miles up the road I turn right and start heading East towards the Ranch. The road is rough asphalt, but I can maintain 20-30mph quite happily on it. 3 miles from the Ranch, the ‘pavement’ ends abruptly and I’m riding along a rough stony track, with washboard corrugations. After a while I arrive at the office…



Yes, they have a room, $42 per night – excellent! I book in for 2 nights. The rooms are set out in fours as separate cabins – I’m in No 32 and I ride up the track to empty the contents of my panniers into the room before leaving. I ride back down to where the pavement starts, but instead of carrying on to the 118, I turn right, down another dirt road. Arch has told me about this road – it runs for 23 miles and joins the road from Marathon, Highway 385, which I came down yesterday evening.



At first the going is relatively easy, if a little rough from the corrugations. I see plenty of wildlife, including a coyote (which looks like a large fox) which runs parallel to the road for a few seconds. Soon, though, the going starts to get a little rougher…



…as soft sand begins to make an appearance. Now I’ve no doubt many of you off-road gods reading this are wondering what the problem is, but, as an off-road novice, the front wheel washing out scares the poo out of me. I slowly paddle my way through several stretches of soft sand – it’s clearly areas where a temporary river has formed in the recent rains. After a while it becomes easy to spot the areas of sand in advance, and I’m able to make relatively good time. It’s getting warm and the exertion is making me sweat – time to try out my latest purchase, a ‘Camel-Back’ water carrier – carries 2 litres of water in a small haversack with a drinking pipe which sits on your shoulder. It works as advertised and I continue to use it throughout the day. Eventually, I’m back on the 385 and smooth tarmac, feeling rather pleased with myself at not dropping the bike…



After a short breather I turn right and head, once again, towards the National Park visitors centre which I visited last night.



I arrive, looking like a character from a Western, and clump my dusty way to an available table in the café. The waitress immediately asks me what I’d like to drink. I ask her for ‘Sweet Tea’ and she brings me a glass and a jug “You look like you’re going to need that, honey” :P. I eat an a unmemorable lunch, during which time I discover that the wild pigs I saw yesterday were, in fact, Javelina (pronounced Hah Veh LEE Nah) and are not related to pigs, but are a separate species, having fewer teeth and straight tusks. So now you know too. I get back on the bike and ride down towards Rio Grande Village…



…a campsite 20 miles to the South. It’s very warm now – the thermometer at the café was registering 88º F. Three Mule Deer cross the road at a leisurely pace just ahead of me. The road South is fantastic, with the distant cliffs on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande a spectacular backdrop.



The cactus are still in bloom and their scent is everywhere. Eventually I reach the end of the road, Boquillas Canyon.



I sit for a while, listening to the complete silence, broken only by the irregular tinkle of the engine cooling and the occasional buzz of a passing insect. The temperature soon reminds me it’s time to be moving, though, and I head back the way I’ve just come from. As I pass the turning to the visitors centre, I start down the road I travelled last night. It’s a completely different view in full daylight and I stop to marvel at how far I can see. As is always the case, the photo doesn’t come close to capturing the grandeur of the scenery…



As I continue towards Study Butte, a coil of wire lying in the middle of the road suddenly uncoils, straightens and winds off into the scrub on the right side of the road in a flash of reddish copper. I stop to refuel at last night’s motel and buy a cold six pack of beer, before pressing North to Terlingua. I turn up the rough asphalt road and note with some amusement, that I’m now doing 50-60 mph, as opposed to my 20-30 this morning – the off-roading has clearly done my confidence some good. I eventually get to my cabin after 200 miles riding and, whilst waiting for the shower to reach the right temperature, open a beer.

Note to self: Always allow tinned beer to stand after riding over corrugated roads…
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MikeO screwed with this post 02-13-2006 at 12:25 PM
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