Today was flat, with the wind mostly behind us and was only 57 miles – so a pretty gentle day overall given the challenges of recent days.
The road wound its way down the Rio Grande valley and occasionally crossed the dry river bed.
Most of the traffic used the interstate and so traffic on our road was pretty light. We passed numerous Pecan trees with signs which left us in no doubt that the absence of a fence did NOT mean help yourself. The trees were bare and so we were not tempted to be violators but pecan theft is clearly perceived to be a problem.
The signs saying that this was the chilli capital of the world continued on both number plates and outside farms. This was therefore the “Chilan” valley or the “Pecli” valley depending on how one wishes to see it. One interesting feature was the increasing evidence that this is a bi-lingual area where a large part of the workforce are of Mexican heritage. Signs were in Spanish everywhere and there were lots of Catholic Churches. Also, as we moved from rural areas to the suburbs, the affluence levels notably increased. Yards were tidier, there were fewer abandoned vehicles on show and more houses and less trailers.
We also met John Sumo, our first “Southern Tierer” going in the opposite direction. John is a teacher from Maine and did the Southern Tier route as far as El Paso in 2020 when Covid forced him to abandon the trip. He had driven down to El Paso, parked his truck and was starting again to complete the remainder of the route to San Diego. As the wind was mostly in our favour, it was inevitably mostly (totally) against John. He was on his own and breaking himself in on day 2 of a trip – a feeling we know so well. It is always tough at the start before the body adapts to the unusual amount of effort needed to cycle 50+ miles a day! We exchanged notes, gained valuable information about the route South of El Paso and wished him well. We also reflected on how fortunate we were to be traveling together. We are together 24 hours a day and really enjoying each other’s company. Doing this trip together is infinitely more enjoyable than doing it on one’s own.
As we came towards El Paso the wind got up and was against us in parts, but still mostly in our favour. We followed a bike path along the river bed, and then joined a main road. By this stage we were nearly at our warmshowers host’s residence but he was not back from work until later. So we had an hour’s stop at a lovely coffee shop, and did “stuff” like renew my Bar Practising Certificate (dull admin needed even on holiday) and more enjoyably spoke to Ant about his possible new job and the process of leaving his present employers on the best possible terms.
Then we ambled across to a lovely house where Mike, our WarmShowers host welcomed us and fed us a lovely meal. Mike is a radiologist with the US military and is posted to El Paso – the military’s choice not his. He was warm, interesting and a keen cyclist.
So not a spectacular day or one with any major challenges – just ambling along gently and experiencing dry, rural America. The desert south of El Paso will bring larger challenges but that is fine for now.