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Old 05-05-2004, 11:29 PM   #56
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,752
6th April

A very long and odd day…

I woke to find a fine morning, with blue skies and, according to the Weather Channel, very little chance of rain (I also hear that the authorities have declared a state of emergency in Carlsbad, where I started from yesterday, because of the flooding – they apparently had 4 inches of rain in 36 hours over the weekend I was there…). I skipped breakfast, checked out and was on the road for 1000. Being sure not to pick up any hitch-hikers…



…I set off towards the White Sands National Monument. Set in the Tularosa Basin, the white gypsum sands cover 275 square miles of desert. The National Parks Service have constructed a series of roads, of both paved and rolled sand, to allow you to ride around the dunes…



…the sand in bright sunshine is dazzling and sunglasses are a must.

I continue South West towards Las Cruces, through the San Agustin Pass. When I reach the other size, the whole valley is laid out before me, as is…



…the town of Organ :P

I turn onto the I25 and head North and a very odd thing happens. After 20ish miles, the signs and cones warns me that there is a Border Patrol check-point ahead. I slow down and join the queue of 10 or so cars awaiting checks. I get my passport ready (I’ve been checked like this 3 times so far). As I get to about 2 cars from the check-point, I notice that the pick-up truck behind me is edging forward, between me and the ‘shoulder’. Assuming he’s something to do with the Border Patrol, I move over to the left to let him through, as the ‘shoulder’ is non-existent – in fact it’s a 3 ft drop. As the cab draws alongside me, the driver (in the uniform plaid shirt and baseball cap of the hardcore redneck) stops, looks at me and says ‘You know, I’d like to F*ck you up’. Certain that I’d mis-heard, I said ‘Pardon?’ and he repeated it – his facial expression leaving me in no doubt as to his sincerity.
My finely honed social skills sensed that further discussion on the subject would almost certainly be futile, so I put the bike in gear and moved in front of him again. He and I were waved through the check-point without being stopped and, as I accelerate away, it’s clear he intends to catch up. I’ve had enough, so I accelerate up to about 110 for a few miles, until I estimate I’m a couple of miles ahead of him, and watch my mirror. I never see him again.
I reflect on the incident. I can’t take it personally – I never spoke to the man (it normally takes a conversation of at least a minute before people feel this way about me) – I come to the conclusion that he is either anti Brit, anti Bike or anti people in general– or a permutation of the above. Whatever : – the hell with him and his twisted existence

I arrive at the most unusually named town in New Mexico – Truth or Consequences…



Originally named Palomas Springs, the US Post Office changed the name (how does the Post Office rename a town?) of this small town to Hot Springs in 1914. In the 1940s, Ralph Edwards, the host of a popular & long running radio show ‘Truth or Consequences’, offered nationwide publicity to any city which would change its name to Truth or Consequences - in 1950, a majority of the residents elected to rise to the challenge. In 1964, an even larger majority voted to keep the name, although there is apparently a move afoot to vote on the issue again.
In the meantime, it’s the only town in the world to be named after a radio show…(apart from ‘Steve Wright in the Afternoon’, in Connecticut)

I head back down the I25 for 7 miles and turn right onto Highway 152 towards Silver City. It’s a great biking road through beautiful scenery



with some spectacular views.



152 is a fantastic road, full of twisties and has a great road surface.

It starts winding its way up into the hills – there’s still some snow on the north-facing slopes of the higher ones. You can see forever from some of the lay-bys…



I come across the Santa Rita mine…



…which is vast – probably the biggest open-cast mine I’ve ever seen.

At Silver City I turn right onto the 180 North…



…before turning left onto the 78 and entering Arizona…



…where the scenery starts getting really beautiful…



…and the roads start getting very twisty. It becomes a trade off – do you ride the fantastic biking road the way it deserves, or slow down and give the scenery the attention it merits? Decisions, decisions

I then come across the town of Clifton. Clifton is a mining town. Or rather, it’s a town sitting on the edge of a mine. A HUGE mine – it makes the Santa Rita look like a pothole in comparison.



It’s a copper mine – there’s a public viewing area which quotes some figures from 11 years ago – the mine produced 125,000 tons of ore per day – processing 830,000 tons of rock per day to achieve this. Further down the road, I find these trucks…



…unfortunately, though I asked nicely, I couldn’t get a picture of the Adv alongside one of them – but the cars parked beside them give you a clue – they are big – really big – the tipper bodies carry 350 tons of rock at a time…

I refuel at Clifton and head North on the 191. As I leave Clifton, a sign says it’s 90 miles to the next services. It’s 1800 and a beautiful day – that will mean I’ll be in Alpine in about 2 hrs time – it’ll just be dark… I decide to press on – Clifton only had one motel, I noticed, at the junction of the main road and the railway line, which must be in use continuously in order to move that amount of ore…

Highway 191 is, quite simply, the best road I’ve ever ridden. It’s cut into the side of a series of hills and mountains and snakes north through the Gila and Apache National Forests.



The road continues to climb and snow appears on a regular basis, first just on the northern slopes, then, as I get above 9000 ft, on all the hillsides, with just the road clear. The road is extremely twisty and I’m not making good time. There are loads of signs warning of deer, not just ordinary deer, but Elk. I press on towards Alpine as the sun sets. The views are still fantastic…



Soon it gets dark – thankfully I come across a car heading in the same direction as me (one of only 3 vehicles I see in 90 miles). I tuck in behind him and take advantage of his lights to give me early warning of wildlife for the last 20 miles. Thankfully, all I see is a rabbit – and I manage to avoid him

I arrive in Alpine, a small town in the hills (6000+ ft), after 440 miles, find a cheap little ‘Mom & Pop’ Motel, have an excellent cheeseburger at the local café and write up my journal. Checking my mileage I note that I’ve completed my first 10,000 miles since arriving in the USA on 1st February…

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MikeO screwed with this post 12-11-2010 at 02:40 PM
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