Caballo, NM to Las Cruces, NM
1600 ft of climbing
The day began with the winds a bit more moderate than yesterday but continuing to blow from the south-southwest.
We woke and washed up and went into the gas station/convenience store/laundromat at the campground. Our new friend at the counter was comfortable with us feeding like we were at a trough and helping ourselves to refrigerated drinks and food and bringing him the empties when we were done.
I had another stellar (great) sleep but Chris said it was his turn to wake weary from a restless sleep. I think he popped in the mountains but to his credit he never complains so I only know he's hurting when I wait at the summits. When climbing, you find a rhythm based largely on grade and your weight. Your body is naturally comfortable generating and maintaining a given power output and that level varies between riders.
Sensing Chris's struggles the days into and out of Silver City, I took some time this morning to explain drafting to him.
When one cyclist rides very close behind another, a power savings in excess of thirty percent can be realized by the trailing cyclist. I explained that ideally he should have his front wheel six inches from my rear but I stressed that he should never let his front overlap my rear because if the wind gusted and blew me sideways into his wheel, we would both likely suffer involuntary dismounts (crash). Unfortunately our view directly in front of us is obscured by our bar bags.
I went on to explain the protocol of drafting so down the road, when he is doing day rides, he wouldn't irritate riding partners. The proper protocol holds that cyclists take turns pulling, or being the front rider. I further explained that our situation is unique and as good as I've been feeling, he should let me do all the work today if he felt tired. He did his best to stay with me and I did my best to wait for him.
We rode off and realized immediately the wind was blowing in the 15-20 MPH range gusting to 25 or so. Our route had us heading into the wind at about 1:00 o'clock most of the day (our direction of travel can be described with 12:00 o'clock being directly in front of us which means 1:00 o'clock has the wind not quite straight in our faces but close to it).
Our route was a bit winding and when we came around to a cross wind (3:00 o'clock) I told Chris he should move as much to the leeward side of me as possible using me to keep him out of the wind. On the rare occasions the wind came around to 4:00 o'clock (more of a tail wind than a head wind but not directly at our backs) our speed would go from 13 or 14 to 22 or 23. Those times were brief but wonderful.
We rode to Hatch (the chili capitol of the world) and stopped for an early lunch. I try to set a good example and often ask Chris to describe how much of what types of food he's eating. Ride lunches work best for me as primarily carbohydrates with some protein and allot of hydration. I avoid cheese but sometimes a pizza slice or two works pretty well.
People sometimes say things to me like, "you can probably eat as much of anything as you want". That's not exactly true. Some fuel is better than other and sometimes you have to keep eating even after you're full to avoid constantly operating at a caloric deficit. It is an unnatural relationship with food we have and that makes it kind of unpleasant sometimes. Fortunately I have a big appetite and the stomach volume to match.
After lunch the wind seemed to pick up a little more and between Hatch an Las Cruces I heard a small explosion behind me. It was Chris's legs falling off completely (I don't mean either of those things literally of course).
We got to Cruces and our turn for El Paso and Chris had continually been falling off even after I moderated my pace to a crawl.
I stopped and waited for Chris to catch up and we both agreed it would be counterproductive to continue into an ever increasing afternoon wind for the four hours I figured it would take us to go the forty additional miles.
We got a room and I seized the opportunity to find a Radio Shack to get a cable for my camera and am at this very moment sitting at a Kinko's preparing to post some pictures one I finish this text post.
I had a voicemail when I turned on my phone at the hotel. It was Dianne at the Post Office in Salome. My parts arrived there today. Overnight took eight days. I'm glad we didn't wait!
We achieved another milestone today when we crossed the Rio Grande.
More to come.