Sunday, September 17, 2006

Day 8 Socorro, NM-->Ruidoso, NM

First of all did you know that ruidoso means noisy in Spanish? It has lived up to its name in that there is a convention of motor bikers here at the same time we are. I have heard that as many as 30,000 bikers are here which doesn't sound possible since Ruidoso only has a population of 9,000. Then again it is a ski/resort community so they probably thrive on tourism.

Departrure: 7:02 a.m.
Arrival: 4:30 p.m.
106 miles
6,700 feet of climbing
Temperature at departure: low 50's
Temperture upon arrival: mid 60's

We got off to an inauspicious start today in that the route card had us turning Right out of the hotel parking lot. We got 1 mile down the road when the SAG van caught us and re-routed us. Phew. We really weren't looking for bonus miles.

All of us were in variations of warm clothes given the temp except Dennis,from Alaska, who seemed to think it was still summer. He had on only a short sleeved jersey and riding shorts. By the first rest stop most everyone had shed the long stuff and cached them in the mesh bags that hang on each of the SAG wagons just for that purpose. We could just as easily stuff warm clothes in the mesh bag were we to be climbing to a higher EL and need warmer gear later on. One of the challenges of the mesh bag is that nearly everyone has black arm and leg warmers and bright yellow rain/wind jackets. How to tell them apart at the end can be a challenge.

Today we got a good mix of relative flatlands and the promise of some steep climbs at the end of the day. Before the first rest stop we passed the entrance to the White Sands Missile Range. Couldn't see anything from the road, however. Later we passed through vast fields of lava--boulder sized chunks of lava. I have a couple of pix I'll post but they don't do the fields justice, but...

The climbing began at mile 86 or so. In three miles we climbed 1,000 feet reaching an EL of 6,300'. Then, in the next mile and a hlaf we climbed another 800' and had reached an EL of 7,000'. Over the next 10 miles we would climb another 1,200 feet reaching an altitude of 7,250'.
There were several steep descents teasing us making us believe we had finished the climbing for the day, but no such luck.

Many of us have had various altitude sickness issues including difficulty getting full breaths during some of the seemingly endless climbs; fluid retention; coughing, etc. But tomorrow we will begin our descent into flatter parts.

There was a black bear sighting on the way to dinner. Other sightings included a desicated bobcat, a live snake (possibly a rattler), and infinite number of grasshoppers and locusts big enough to dissect in highschool biology class.

Tomorrow we're off to Roswell, NM home of the UFO Museum. The weather forecast is for 39 degree F. at the time we're pulling out. We begin with a steep ascent so we should be warm by the time we get to the top.

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