Saturday, April 28, 2012

Get out of town

Day 14. Here in Moriarty, NM a light mist is falling. All day we rode under an overcast sky and now the front is here. Honestly it seems weak as fronts go. Certainly a distant cousin to the the two bullies  that blew into California during the ride to Santa Monica. When you're not on your home turf it's hard to know whether tomorrow will be OK weather or a washout. We spend every day outside, under the sky.

Everyone thought today would be an easier ride, after our 82-mile day from Grants to Albuquerque. Only 55 miles! Of those miles, roughly 20 were spent along the bike path along the Rio Grande, heading north. Beautiful scenery but Saturday morning is clearly rush hour for joggers and cyclists. Then we climbed. And climbed and climbed up to the base of the Tramway. We were not the only cyclists; this is a popular route.

Todd caught up with me on his new Specialized road bike. He could see that we were in a group, with route sheets clipped to the handlebars. He's been a whitewater rafting guide but sold his boat last year. ("But it doesn't mean I can't get another one".) The idea is to compromise by getting back into cycling because his wife loves to ride her bike. It's something they can do together. Their kids are still young, but they'd like to do some touring in other countries, like Viet Name and Bhutan. Friends have done that, so it's become their long-term goal. Apparently the national metric of Bhutan is Gross National Happiness. Who wouldn't find that appealing?

The conversation takes a darker turn, toward the white Ghost Bikes we are seeing in Albuquerque. We're passing one right now on this hill. He warns me about the drivers here but no warning is necessary. In the few hours we've spent in this city, the only surprise is how few of these bikes we've seen. Several of us had close calls, either on bike or on foot. The drivers in ABQ are insane. Bike infrastructure seems to focus on multi-use paths, which are not terribly safe or practical for cyclists. New Mexico actually ranks 46th among the states for cyclist safety. Last night we did see a Critical Mass gathering in the Plaza Vieja on the way home from dinner. It must be tough to be a bike advocate here. Like climbing a long hill...

From the Tramway area we tacked south, ducked under I-40, and then east again on Route 66. It looks like a frontage road, but every so often there's a New Mexico Route 66 sign. More climbing. It's not very scenic and the frontage road is busy. I didn't take pictures.

Our little group stopped at a convenience store for snacks. One key skill is to be able to fuel yourself for riding out of gas stations. It doesn't matter if you like the food, just that it's edible and contains enough calories to get you up the hill. If you see someone reading the Nutrition Facts in a convenience store, it's probably a cyclist.

My take is a roll of 6 Hostess Donettes (crumb top), leftover GORP from the pre-ride, and coffee made from hot water and Via (mine). Others had "brown water" coffee, a weird almond amaretto drink from a machine, Red Bull, potato chips, and a grab-n-go burrito. It's a little cold in the wind up here - we must be over 6000 feet.

The terrain rolls (into a head wind) on the other side of the hill, down to Moriarty. It's relatively early but feels like we put in some real miles today. To avoid yet another waffle combo breakfast at the truck stop next to the motel, a trip to the store is in order.

The sky outside Moriarty Foods.
There's a small chance of thunderstorms today, and the clouds are starting to look more organized. But I still need my yogurt and cinnamon roll.

When we first came into town it looked like one long truck stop. Chain motels and fast food joints. Et cetera. Despite its first impression, Moriarty is known for a couple of things. One, it provides fireworks to the greater Albuquerque area. The sale dates are limited by state law. But in the legal date window, you get your fireworks here.
Missing Bella, Resident Kitty.
The warehouse with the fireworks is conveniently located between our motel and the truck stop. The light misting we are experiencing should help in case of explosion or fire.

Another thing Moriarty is known for is this fabulous neon sign.
Dennis films the Roto-Sphere
Last night at the Econo Lodge Old Town, our guest speaker was the former head of the New Mexico Route 66 Association. His hobby is restoring old neon signs along Route 66. They obtain grant money and take applications from people with original neon signs that need TLC. The signs get new paint and neon, and are reinstalled for a new life. We watched a short PBS documentary that followed the process of restoring 8 signs several years ago. Well, this was one of the signs! It's called a Roto-Sphere. Many of us ate dinner at the restaurant under the Roto-Sphere, El Comedor.

After climbing for ~25 miles today, everyone else is tucked into bed at this America's Best Value Inn. I'm going to go do that now, too.


  1. Shall I find us flights to Bhutan??? You do have to pay a daily tax of $200 or $250, which includes:

    All internal taxes and charges (including the royalty)
    All Meals
    All travel with a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide
    All Internal Transport
    Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours

    .... may have done some research already.

    1. LOL Miss L! At the moment I'm relishing domestic tourism...