Charley’s ride across America 27. Leaving Texas, small towns, what a hard day is like


Day 53 march 21.  43 miles 5:48 several stops to talk to eastbound cyclers end in Ft Hancock TX

Day 54 march 22. 63 miles. 8:00 met three cyclists heading east. 10 miles city sidewalks, end El Paso TX

Day 55 march 23. 43 miles 5:00 some headwinds, lovely riding, some rain, end in Las Cruces NM

Total miles 2208

Dear friends and family,

We rode into the westerly headwinds to leave Texas behind and enter New Mexico.

Both Gregg and I thoroughly enjoyed  riding through Texas.

We were warned to be extra careful there for fear of illegal immigrants, rednecks, and political and religious zealots.

Facts: people could not have been nicer. We learned “ the Texas Way” of hospitality is real.

Several young people we met, mostly in the tech world, told us they moved to Austin and heard about this southern hospitality with disbelief until they experienced it for themselves to convince them.

Texas has good roads, often with wide shoulders, making for good ( pretty safe) riding.

The natural beauty was wondrous to behold. Riding all day on country roads with big views, no traffic, and no wild dogs was what I came on this trip to experience and got a bucketful of it.

Many small towns had over half the buildings deserted. Online research and our asking those who stayed gave the same biggest reason: the young people move to the big cities for better jobs and opportunities, then the old folks remaining die off and leave their businesses deserted. A lot!

The typical small town has a gas station with convenience store, maybe a restaurant, one small motel, and not much else remaining. Those businesses sure did appreciate customers like us passing through. The owners often discussed something about their town or business with us and were curious about our trip.

The little, funky hotels were more than adequate. After all, what more do you need than no bedbugs, clean, working shower, and a fair bed. Even the doors lock.


We were looking at alternative plans for going through New Mexico and Arizona, to bypass Phoenix and visit Tucson and Bisbee.

Last night checked weather forecast and found next five days of west winds from 15-40mph. Not a good place to be in the open along the Mexican border, with no services or shelter.

So, reconsidering the Adventure Cycling normal route over the two NM passes to Phoenix, AZ.

That’s how it goes, check distances, services, weather, riders condition, and make decisions.

The  morning ( yesterday)

Up at 0500, with stretching and then coffee.

Out to breakfast at 0600, get lots of calories to support a 63 mile ride into headwinds in and through the very large and sprawling El Paso. 

The Mexican ( they all are here) restaurant offered omelette, hash browns and toast in addition to the usual huevos. 

Started at first light, kind of cold, but not wanting to wear a jacket or gloves to stay cool and ride.

First three hours were delicious riding through pecan tree groves and small towns on a country road. We went faster than normal, averaging eleven mph for those hours with our heavy bikes.

Then we hit the city limits and encountered a Mexico-like outskirts with pawn shops, car repairs, tire repair shops and taco restaurants. Now the traffic increased and the room at the side of the road for us decreased. Having to be paying close attention to car parts in the road, gravel, and traffic. 

This turns into newer housing developments, then franchise land of sprawl strip malls extending for the next 10 miles or so. America at its worst.

Our route took us through the refinery, past the factories and to the big border crossing, where 50 or more semi trucks waited for entry into Mexico. We saw the wall that Donald had built and stopped to admire it. Then directly through downtown with the high rise buildings, to head north going uphill while riding on city sidewalks with drop off curbs, disappearing concrete and stoplights with pedestrian crossings.

 Each turning car had to be made aware Of us as we crossed and rode. Tinted windows did not allow for that driver/biker communication to keep us safe, so we had to chance it. Think Mexico sidewalks with big drop-offs and very uneven.

As we passed several franchise fitness centers we pretended to mock them for their one hour workouts.

“Liz, I’m going to the gym, I’ll be back in eight hours”, was our pretend alternative. Getting punchy by now.

North of the city, the suburbs presented every franchise available again, set in newer strip malls for another ten miles.

Near our motel we came across two brothers biking east and shared tips for a quarter hour.

Now we were tired of the riding, the traffic and sidewalk challenges and the headwind (17mph) and the heat (high 70’s). Eight and a half hours in the saddle. My brain was tired from the sidewalk and street navigating. I was getting concerned about my decisionmaking abilities.

I was thinking maybe a rest day would be in order, sleep all day tomorrow. Lay low and wait out the biggest wind. My brain was very tired- overworked from navigating the city streets. My body was tired.

That Red Roof Inn bed felt pretty comfy after my shower.

Too late for lunch, we opted for an early rather huge dinner of ribs and enjoyed a life philosophy discussion with the restaurant manager.

Life is good, tiring, challenging and I’m enjoying the hell out of  all of this.

My brain was too tired to allow for any writing last night.

Appreciate your feedback.

Sending love,


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