Day 14: Grants to Albuquerque

Oh, the day started out so well.

I wanted to get at it early. ?ABQ was over 80 miles away. ?I was out the door in 50 degree weather at a quarter past 7.

Google Maps had it about right today on the elevation chart from Grants.


Mostly a slight downhill ride until around the mid-way point. ?Then a little climbing to do.

The scenery was quite lovely.

20150918_064055 20150918_085436 20150918_085444 20150918_085730

Even took the time to snap a few with me in front of the lens.

IMG_20150918_090100 IMG_20150918_085955I got some kicks out of this sign, the first in a series from the Route 66 Casino Hotel:


I wanted to know if the $99 comfort?room came with the blonde. ?She didn’t look like?she?was that comfortable in that pose.

A little bit further was this sign:


Was the blonde only for comfort? ?She?looked?like she’d be fun, but perhaps the contortion she’d twisted herself into had knocked all the fun out of her and they left her off that billboard.

In any case, the Route 66 Casino Hotel was a convenient place to stop for lunch. ?It was quite the place.


Note the size of the truck next to the sign.


Looks like the place attracted some interesting talent:


But personally I would have bought tickets for the live version of?The Price Is Right Hosted By . . . Jerry Springer.


There was another reason for stopping here. ?Mainly, that huge bubble on the elevation chart . . .


. . . started right there at the casino. ?From the looks of it, it was about a two mile climb.

It turned out to be a?five mile climb. ?The casino was at mile marker 140. ?The mile marker at the top of that hill was 145. ?Geeez.

I couldn’t really complain all that much, though. ?Getting to the casino was 55 miles of very smooth riding, mostly down hill. ?I figured a two to five mile climb was the least I could do. ?Good heavens, I’m in the western United States. ?There are mountains to be climbed.

On the way?down?after I’d reached the summit at mile marker 145 I heard a rhythmic thumping. ?As if I’d picked up something in the tire.

I pulled off to examine the tires. ?Recently, I’ve been doing that by rolling the bike as I examine the front tire. ?Then roll it to do the same for the back tire.

But I couldn’t roll the bike. ?Something?was blocking the back tire. ?Did I pick up a rock or something and that rock’s jammed between the tire and the fender?

I picked up the bike to bounce it and hopefully dislodge whatever was blocking the tire. ?What I didn’t notice was my right leg was positioned right under my pedal. The first time I picked up the bike and bounced it, the pedal scraped the length of my leg.


I said lots of cuss words. ?It hurt like a sumbitch.

The tire still wasn’t moving. ?I removed the rear panniers and started examining the tire closer.

That’s when I noticed that it looked like the tube had done this weird expansion and pushed the sidewall of the tire out.

What the hell?

I took everything else off the bike and flipped it over as I’ve done four other times this trip.


I let the air out of the back tire, the removed it. ?This is what the tire looked liked.


Again: ?what the hell? ?I’ve?never?seen a tire do that. ?In my entire life. ?Never.

Spare tubes I’ve got. ?A spare?tire? ?No, sir.

Three flats on that tire and then?this? ?Jesus.

Had that tire locked up while I was coming down hill at 30+ miles per hour . . . I shudder to imagine.

Time to break out the phone and look up the insurance I had bought on the bicycle. ?For $10 more than the cost of the insurance I had purchased the?roadside assistance?for a bicycle. ?Time to see if that sawbuck was a good investment.

I got the insurance company on the phone, then their dispatcher. ?It was frustrating for us both because the noise from the road made it almost impossible to hear anything she was saying. ?(And undoubtedly she was having as much trouble hearing me, too.)

She asked a lot of qualifying information . . . and most of it was incredibly dumb information to ask me when she had it all in the computer. ?For example, she wanted to know what the serial number of the bike was.

“I have no idea. ?It’s stamped on a spot on the frame in numbers so small, I wouldn’t be able to see them if I had a microscope.”

I guess she was just trying to confirm that I really did own a bike that they covered. ?She finally settled for when the bike was built, and by who, and what color it was.

Before she’d dispatch someone, she needed to know where I wanted it taken.

“A bicycle shop,” I said.

“Which one?” she asked.

“I don’t know which one. ?I can’t look one up while talking to you. ?I’m not from Albuquerque so I don’t know.”

“Well, sir, I can’t send a tow truck to you without knowing where it’s going to go.”

Then why don’t?you?look up a bicycle shop?” I asked exasperatedly.

She put me on ignore. ?After a few minutes later she came on the line. ?”I can’t find any bicycle shops.”

What? ?It’s Albuquerque. ?There’s got to be a hundred bicycle shops!”

“Albuquerque? ?You said you were in?Avery.”

Arrrgh. ?”I don’t even know what / where an Avery is. ?No, I’m ten miles west of?Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

She paused. ?”How do you spell ‘Albuquerque’?”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

The tow truck was promised to arrive no more than 75 minutes later. ?I pulled out my portable chair, hooked the phone up to the battery (because I was down to a 30% charge) and started catching up on newsgroups and emails. ?Might as well do something constructive, huh?

While I was waiting I had?two?people stop and ask if I was ok. ?How sweet was that!


He’d shot past me on the Interstate, then turned around and drove back on the side road just to check on me!


Michelle stopped to check on me. She gave me the number of her friend at the local Trek store. Also told me about the NM state fair if I wanted to drop by later!

About 30 minutes before the deadline I got a call from the towing company. ?”What kind of car do you have, sir? ?My truck operators are there in the area and they couldn’t find you.”

Car? ?I don’t have a car. ?I’m on a?bicycle. ?And I’m the only guy between mile markers 145 and 147. ?I’m dressed in bright yellow. ?You really can’t miss me.”

A few minutes later the tow truck arrived. ?They made short work of loading the bike onto the flatbed.


On the way to the bicycle shop we talked about their biz. ?I asked them what the strangest thing they’d ever towed before. ?Personally I thought the fork lifts they’d toted would rank up there, but they both said my bicycle was the first one of?those?they’d ever retrieved.

I got towed here:


What a great place. ?Friendly. ?Knowledgeable. ?Well stocked.



I showed the mechanic a picture of what the tire looked like when it had stopped me. ?(The bubble must have been heat-related as it had gone down by the time I got to the bike shop.) ?The mechanic had never seen a tire do that, either.

Several months ago I’d driven to Dayton to buy some new tires for the bike. ?Made by a manufacturer named Schwalbe, online reviews were?ecstatic. ?I remember in particular one reviewer who’d ridden his bicycle thousands of miles through?Afthanistan and the rest of the Middle East?and?had not suffered a single flat. ?Those sounded like the tires for me.

But the owner of that bicycle shop in Dayton didn’t want to sell them to me. ?I’m still scratching my head over that.

The mechanic in ABQ, though . . . that was his first suggestion. ?”Schwalbe. ?About as bullet proof a tire as you can get.” ?I had to shake my head. ?If only I’d insisted on those tires back in Dayton . . . ah well. ?Spilled milk.

At $50 a tire, $12 a tube (the tubes being more puncture resistant than a regular tube), 3 spare tubes, and labor to put it all together I was out $175.

But if I don’t suffer another damned tire issue between here and South Carolina, it’ll be worth it.

Day 14. Should have been closer to 80 miles, but I stopped riding when I noted on the chart below. Except for the 8 to 10 miles to the hotel, but I didn’t count that.