Day 18: Tucumcari to Vega

Google Maps has lost its ever-loving mind.

This morning I was checking the route to Vega. ?Knew it was going to be around 75 to 80 miles. ?I pulled up Google Maps and saw this:


Note the blue line route takes you along I-40 to TX from NM . . . and then it wants you to drop and give it 50.

If you choose the “car route” it takes you by I-40 with no detour at all. ?But if you’re headed to Vega by bicycle, Google Maps wants to add another 25ish miles to your ride.

I couldn’t find anything online about it. ?There were no lane closures. ?No construction to speak of. ?Texas itself doesn’t ban you from riding on the Interstate. ?(As you can see, Google routes you right back to I-40.)

I kept playing it over and over in my mind. ?What does Google know that I don’t? ?I actually came up with a Plan B. ?I’d ride across the TX border and if there was something there that gave me pause, I’d back up (I?hate?backing up), and head south to Clovis, NM.

Long before I reached the border, I scrapped Plan B. ?Mainly because of this:

The wind was just?brutal?today. ?The only good thing I can say about the 20 to 30 MPH wind was it wasn’t coming out of the east against me. ?It was blowing primarily from the south. ?Which I had to ride against just to keep me from being blown into the traffic lane.

(For those of you who’re natural worry-warts and are concerned about my safety: ?at no time today was I ever in any danger of being thrown in front of a moving vehicle. ?I was on guard all day long. ?At no time was the wind?ever?close to injuring me. ?Really, guys, I got this, ok?)

Plan B would have called for me to head directly into that damned wind. ?Plus, the route to Clovis was, shall we say,?barren? ? It went on for nearly 60 miles and there wasn’t a single restaurant, gas station, or?any?business that I could find. ?Doubtful there would have been any cell service, either.

I decided just to go along 40. ?If some Texas County Mountie didn’t like me being there, he could tell me to leave. ?That didn’t happen and I saved 25+ miles by sticking to the main highway.

Return trip! ?Not long before the TX border, I stopped in San Jon. ?Cate, Craig, and I had stopped at the very same location when we were driving to Los Angeles.


As the three of us pulled into the parking lot, Devin came riding up:

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Devin had started on July 4 in Maine and was en route to Los Angeles. ?I wondered at the time if our paths would cross once I started back. ?If they did, I didn’t see him. ?Surely, by now, he’s made it all the way to California.

On our drive to California, I made fun of these places in Texas:



I couldn’t figure them out. ?They were little stands, complete with a bar-b-que grill. ?All well and good if they were in, say, the middle of state park or something.

But these places were dozens of miles from a town of any size. ?They were along I-40. ?No restrooms. ?Just the shelter things with adjacent bar-b-que grills.

Why? ?Who would use it? ?What traveler carries charcoal with them? ?What local resident says, “Honey, pack up the kids; we’re headed out to I-40 to grill us some brats! ?Better bring an extra bucket or two ‘case the kids wanna pee.”

When I pulled off of I-40 into the Picnic Area, I stopped to take that picture of the sign. ?(Two pictures above this sentence.) ?As soon as the bike came to a complete stop, my front rack and panniers went right over the fender and plopped onto the ground.

What the fuck?

I pulled them back up and slowly made my way to one of the picnic stands. ?Stood the bike up so I can figure out what was going on. ?A?brand new?less-than-3-months-old rack had broken in two places:

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In practical terms, I just lost the ability to carry half of my stuff. ?Without the front rack, there was no way to carry the front panniers.

I just sat there for a little bit, stupefied. ?It was like the tire that bubbled up on the way to ABQ:


I just flat didn’t know what to do about it.

After about 20 or 30 minutes examining the breakage, I figured out a way of using bungee cords and paired zip ties. ?I MacGyver’ed a fix:


I rode on another 25+ miles to the hotel and the rack held just fine. ?I’ve got about 40 miles to Amarillo tomorrow, so I’m hopeful the fix will hold until I can get to a bike shop and get a replacement.

While I was pondering how to fix the rack, I got some attention.


A very sweet couple with TX license plates on that huge motor home to the right just couldn’t believe anyone’d want to do what I was doing. ?(At that very moment, stymied over the rack, I couldn’t believe I’d want to do it, either.)

Then, a little while later, this other lovely couple from Norman, OK, came a’callin:



Sandy was from Hong Kong and was very interested in my massage business. ?She was a manicurist / hair dresser.

Plus, she also got a big kick out of my Go Pro clone:


I paid about $100, but I see it’s down to about 63 bucks now. That’s a GREAT deal.

He insisted Sandy and I take a picture together.


Mom, she followed me home. Can I keep her? Pretty please?

At the town before?the place where I stopped for the night . . .


(Well, I?have?to do this, right?)

I noticed storm clouds were once again threatening to soak me:

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They were soaking up what remained of daylight, too. ?I had crossed over into the Central Time Zone when I slipped into Texas:


. . . and I honestly couldn’t remember when the sun was supposed to set. ?I broke out the lights just in case I didn’t make it to the hotel before I lost all light. ?(I?did?beat the sunset?and?the rain!)

All along the last 25 or so miles I noticed one hell of a wind farm:


Turns out it’s called the Wildorado Wind Ranch. ?Seems to go on forever. ?The link says there are only 70 turbines, but, I think I counted about 7 million of ’em.