Beauty, wild winds and kind people

Over 6 days the journey has had ups and downs (couldn’t resist). Leaving Albuquerque was joyous since there was a great send-off with representatives from Wings for Life and Crossroads for Women and a few more friends.

East of Albuquerque Emily joined me for 2 days, each of which involved a lot of elevation – over 2100 feet one day, just under 2000 the second – hard for me with all the bike weight. On day 2 we met a couple from San Antonio TX – both cyclists – and they were interested in the story of New Beginnings Work (that’s them in the photo with me). On day 3, which I call “tiny black bug” day, I rode from Vaughn to Ft. Sumner. I was pretty much alone with my thoughts and music in my head as there were only occasional vehicles. Animals, especially cows and steers, stopped and stared. At the halfway point, in Yeso, I had lunch sitting on a wobbly stool that I’m carrying and wondering what this ghost town was like when there were people.

In Ft. Sumner, a small town but with many closed businesses, it was late and there was no place to replenish water. The kind manager of the Super 8 loaded up all my water containers from his 5 gallon water bottle. Tap water in the southwest often tastes metallic and I didn’t want to ride back 2 miles to get water at an Allsup’s gas station.

I was panicked that night about the wind forecast (that included 40 mph gusts) for Day 4 so left Ft. Sumner at 7 am, arriving at my next destination – Clovis NM – around 2, with my lunch break in Melrose at another Allsup’s (this time, with people, not ghosts). An Albuquerque family asked me where I was going. The mother, Sheila, told me that her family offered shelter to a woman who had been released from jail and had no where to go so she went to the closest church (Sheila’s church). With this family’s help, AA/NA meetings and the support of the church, she turned her life around and is now in the medical profession with her own family.

This story is being told over and over by people benefited by those who reach out and programs like the ones for which I am raising funds.

Day 5 was a ride from Clovis to Littlefield TX. Trains, grain silos and a lot of open space still dominated. This was a day of flat roads, minimal winds and temps in the 70s and I let my guard down about checking out weather for Day 6 (to Lubbock). I sent out press releases to Lubbock reporters and on Day 6 I heard back from 2 of them. Meanwhile, as I packed up my bike to head to Lubbock, I then looked at the forecast and saw there were terrible winds. What? Why had I not paid attention to the weather? I guess the previous day’s pleasantness made me complacent.

What a hard day this was. Winds were around 15 to 20 mph from my left side and front, so at least I didn’t have to worry about being blown toward the traffic. But there were gusts of 35 mph and I also learned that when 18-wheelers pass in wind like this, bicycles lurch a bit forward then sideways (to the right) for a few seconds. Not fun.

When I heard a pop sound on my front tire, I slowed down to lean forward to see if there was any debris in the tire.

A car slows down next to me so I figured it was a Good Samaritan realizing I might have a tire problem. I look to my left and there is a camera in my face and a smiling person. Little did I know the reporter from one station would drive out to catch “live action” footage. I caught up with them 3 hours later at the first place I could take a break (should have only taken me 2 hours to get there, but the wind….). There was a second reporter waiting for me at the motel when I arrived around 5 (3 hours later than I expected).

Here are the links to the interviews:

http://www.everythinglubbock.com/news/klbk-news/67-year-old-woman-biking-cross-country-fundraising-for-programs-that-help-the-formerly-incarcerated

http://www.kcbd.com/story/31666791/67-year-old-nm-cyclist-stops-in-lubbock-as-part-of-cross-country-ride-to-break-cycle-of-incarceration

The day after these interviews aired, I ran errands on the bike and got a few honks and waves (saw no other cyclists and I guess I’m pretty identifiable), some handshakes, and a donation from a couple of $3 for whom I knew this amount was all they could spare. Today I learned this hotel where I’m staying is comping me one night and put the second interview on their website! Kind people all around.

If you are interested in donating, here is the link: http://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/new-beginnings-work

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