Thursday, September 21, 2006

Day 11 Clovis, NM--> Amarillo, TX

Departure: 7:05 a.m.
Arrival: 1:30 p.m.
110 miles
Climbing
Departure Temp: 55
Arrival Temp:

Today proved to be another “recovery day”. Winds, strong winds, prevailed from the west, southwest so we veritably flew out of NM and into TX. This will probably be the only time in my life that I will turn in a century (100 mile ride) with a 20 mph average.

I thought yesterday’s topography (NM) would be similar to today’s (TX) but it was, indeed, different. NM had shaggy prairie grass while the expanse was sprinkled with those brillo pad-esque bushes. Texas was just plain flat. And the stench of cattle, oh my! If the cattle weren’t in the feed lots they were being whisked down the highway (US Route 60) in cattle trucks. Even the county roads are marked, e.g. FM 3333. FM refers to “Farm to Market.” I renewed my commitment with the cattle to remain vegetarian. One of the towns we passed through was even named Hereford!

Trains, oh my goodness, the trains. I have never seen so many and so long. It makes the trains that run through Des Plaines, IL pale in significance. As soon as one 100 car-train passes, the next comes rolling through and sometimes they are going in both directions at the same time. Never ends. I guess training is alive and well for the BNSF in the West.

Riding through the little town of Canyon I saw the Happy Bank founded in 1908. I wondered what it would be like to be at a convention of bank Presidents and CEO/CFO’s. There would be representatives from Chase Manhattan, LaSalle, Citibank, and Happy? Hard to take that guy/gal seriously, I would think.

Our cue sheet indicated we would be descending into a canyon for 5 miles at a 10% grade. We would then need to climb out of the canyon to get to The Big Texas Restaurant and Motel, the home of the free 72 ounce steak; free only if you can eat it, a baked potato, salad, and shrimp cocktail in 60 minutes. I was pretty intimidated at the thought of a 50-60 mph descent and then climbing out of that for 5 miles. I was prepared to ride in the SAG wagon through the canyon. Made sense to me to conserve my legs and immune system for the next 2,000 miles of the trip rather than blow it out on one canyon. But, as luck would have it we were routed around the BIG canyon and only had a fun descent and easy climb out. So, win-win for all.
Tomorrow we’ll be in yet another state, Oklahoma. Erick will be our first of four stops with the Sooners.

3 comments:

Nick Gerlich said...

The Happy Bank is named after its hometown...Happy, TX. It has prospered and expanded throughout the Panhandle. They've got a lot of dough, mostly old farmers' life savings.

It was nice to ride along with some of you guys on Wednesday, albeit for only a few miles. I rode with Mike & Nancy, and then Lon. I live near Canyon, and teach at the University there.

Best wishes as you finish your trip!

Nick

Nick Gerlich said...

The Happy Bank is named after its hometown: Happy, TX. It has prospered and expanded throughout the Panhandle. They have a lot of dough...mostly old farmers' life savings.

It was fun riding along with some of your guys on Wednesday, elbeit for only a few miles. I rode with Mike & Nancy some, and then Lon. I live near Canyon, and teach at the University there.

Best wishes as you finish your trip!

Susan said...

Nick, I understand I have you to thank for re-routing us so as to avoid the 5 mile, 50 mph descent and 5 mile 5mph ascent. I ride a recumbent (and also am from Chicago) so both of those are against me when it comes to the steep ones.