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Ride Across America, Day 7

Dear Readers,

day 7-contintental divideThe sound of distant locomotives awakened me just before the alarm on Saturday.  We had an early breakfast, a quick rap session to go over the route, and we were on the road before 6:30 a.m. Road construction meant that we would be shuttled a few miles by van. Then, just up another hill, the Continental Divide. In the background of the photo, shrouded by overcast skies present for the morning, are the beautiful varying red, tan, light brown hills that were on the north side of the road much to the way into Albuquerque. After that highlight, we spent the next 50 miles, some on Interstate I 40,  biking into the wind. Then, about noon, just after we exited to Route 66, the winds began to shift to the southwest. Along old Route 66 you see many broken down, abandoned buildings, once busy with the traffic that moved to the interstate decades ago.

Day7 HillsThe roads were mostly straight, altered only in the slow but significant rise and fall of the landscape. Truly, one could see 10 miles down the road – and you could calculate how long it would take to reach that distant site. While I could pedal 13 miles per hour up these hills (3-4% grade), the long downhills could allow up to 38 miles per hour. (My friends Sam, Dale and Steve would love those downhills.)

Parallel to the Route 66 and the Interstate ran the railroad with the frequent trains of 15 – 18 cars. Notable were the foreign business names on the truck trailers carried by rail: Maersk, Honda, Huyndai, etc.

Multiple obstacles to biking (and driving) exist on the road. Inattentive drivers are always a threat. Debris on roadway and shoulder, too. Animals; dogs, deer, rodents, birds and waterfowl to name some- obviously more a concern for a biker – but still dangerous. Yesterday, dogs allowed to run off their owner’s property chased one of our riders. When they stopped and started to walk back to their yard, one changed directions and started to move quickly, directly into the path of another biker. The ensuing accident caused bad road rash and hip contusion to the rider. The dog ran off – any injuries unknown. The rider was checked out by staff, fortunately, no serious injuries, given a new helmet and despite recommendations to get in the van, insisted that he continue riding with me to our hotel, 45 miles away. (Tough guy!)

At 124 miles we turned and started a very long and steep descent (5%) into Albuquerque, over the Rio Grande river bridge and into Old Town. Finally, at 5:30 p.m., mile 135, we arrived at our hotel. A welcome sight after a long,  scenic, sometimes tedious, briefly frightening ride.

Sunday, April 24th is rest day!

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