The American Southwest, Part One

Forgive me Father, it’s been three weeks since my last confession..

I’ve surpassed 4,000 miles total.

So much has happened!

In the end of last month, I had my biggest day ride. And I’m not talking about the 127 miles into Dallas. Two days after arriving, I rode out of Dallas and all the way to Tempe, TX – 138 miles. After the following day of a comparatively moderate 70-something miles (though still over 100° F, like that whole week), I reached Austin. A huge Thank-You to my big brother Morgan, and to my new sister-in-law Lauren! After almost a week of rest, a 2-wheel workout, and lots of amazing Austin food, I scooted off to San Antonio, where I rested for a day. Unfortunately, resting for me means walking around 10 miles to sight-see and drinking 7 beers, so I don’t think it helped.

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Dick’s Last Resort on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX

Needless to say, for this and many reasons, the mileage has started (finally?) to take a toll on me. Even with some shorter days and lots of sleep, Western Texas was hard. Especially with the 4 tube punctures in less than 3 weeks. Instead of buying individual Gatorades at gas stations, I’ve started to buy the bulk powder – 3 lbs at a time. That makes about 22 liters. I’ve gone through almost 3 of those in 3 weeks, in addition to a few other drinks (probably 3 gallons of chocolate milk). Alas, I reached New Mexico! I came in through Roswell, enduring 3 days of constant, harsh cross-winds. Like if you were doing that dance you do to get the water out of your ear, for hours on end, but holding 80 lbs. And you’re on a unicycle. I saw some alien crap and looked at art and broke into old buildings with a complete stranger for a whole day! Welding is best done with gloves on. But she’s too much of a badass.

Almost in Albuquerque, where I’ve been looking forward to meeting my friend Colin. He will be joining me (he has 2 wheels), through New Mexico and Arizona, and we will cycle past the Grand Canyon and to Phoenix. My friend’s nickname is Colina. That means “hill” in Spanish.

Dangerous winds up in the New Mexican hill country
Dangerous winds up in the New Mexican hill country

But wait! Things get harder! Like I side, I was getting multiple flats. The tubes were new, so it must be the tire wearing out. Unfortunately, the 36 inch diameter tubes and tires can ONLY be ordered online, and they’re not cheap. I had a patch kit, but it ran out of glue. So, 2 days from Albuquerque, I leave Santa Rosa and start to hit mountains. And despite the amazing scenery and sunshine, the hills were accompanied by wind. Lots of it. Average wind speeds were at 20 mph, with gusts of up to 35. It was mostly headwinds, but some gusts were crosswinds, nearly knocking me over sideways. My average speed was cut exactly in half. And the final day to my destination was somehow just as rough, despite a sudden lack of wind…
I tried fix-a-flat for the second time this trip. It only worked for a short time before spewing violently out of the hole. I accepted my punishment (for what?), and decided to use my baby pump to fill it with air – every 4-5 miles. It takes almost 10 minutes of continuous pumping, bent over, just to fill it once. So you know. I did this 5 times in the first 25 miles before resorting to one last-ditch effort. I had 2 patches left, but with no glue. If I slap them on and immediately fill to capacity pressure, maybe the pressure against the inside of the tire will hold them. Just maybe. And it worked! Suddenly I was flying and throu some of the most unbelievable scenery near Albuquerque. And I mean it both metaphorically and actually when I say – it was suddenly all downhill from there.

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Albuquerque Mountains, Old Route 66

Perhaps it was the cool mountain air, but I think I had tears in my eyes. I was shouting “Hallelujah” repeatedly, like I had joined a black church! I guess, ultimately I am having fun. Or at least having a time.

And my biggest sin? Perhaps a lack of acceptance. I might just rather have the obstinance to “go down with the ship,” for a captain is innocent if his intentions are pure. (But he is nonetheless responsible.)

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I have updated my book excerpt with something new, I hope you enjoy. Speaking of which, since the book will be called “the Naked Unicyclist,” I was thinking of another name for the mini-documentary: “Record of One.” Obviously it has the multiple meanings, but its also pretty short and sweet. Feedback is welcome on the material and names, as well as my site in general!

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3 thoughts on “The American Southwest, Part One

  1. I continue to be amazed and proud of you. My favorite picture is the one through the spokes of the wheel. Keep writing about your efforts to complete your journey, and make sure you keep back-ups of everything. Grandma Joyce and I will definitely be in line to buy your book!

  2. Keep up the good fight!!! Always great to read updates on your journey. My favorite part is you shouting hallelujah at the top of your lungs….because I KNOW it must have been a joyous moment.

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