Day 1: El Paso, TX – Radium Springs, NM

Last night, Donald and I looked over our plan for the trip and decided on the route for the first few days. We picked Chamizal National Memorial as the symbolic starting point of our trip – it’s a park right on the border of US and Mexico and where the US and Mexican presidents first met. And more importantly, there’s a sign saying it’s the border! We left the air-conditioned comfort of our Airbnb and wound through the streets of El Paso for our photo-op.

We stopped by a number of stores to pick up last minute supplies and finally make it across the Rio Grande and out of town around 2pm. We covered about 15 miles at this point – not much progress! It was a moderately windy day and we went back and forth between a headwind and crosswind as we found ourselves on rural roads. It was on these roads, surrounded by groves of pecan trees, that I was lent a sense of being back on the open road. The reminder that this isn’t just a vacation, it also calls for quite a bit of pain and stubbornness.

At least the heat isn’t too oppressive! We churned through the miles and as evening approached we made good progress towards our destination for the night – Leasburg Dam State Park in Radium Springs, NM. Remember that name, we’ll be going through another Radium Springs in 2400 miles!

On the road to our campground we spotted a touring cyclist headed towards us. His name is Jude and he’s averaging very high mileage days on his way East across the Southern Tier route. We chatted for a bit and went our separate ways towards the approaching night. Not two miles later I got a flat tire – looks like a pinch flat. I made quick work of it but the delay still makes it that we rolled into the campground in darkness.

Today’s ride showed me how this tour is different from the last two. Instead of leaving directly from home and spending 2-3 days on familiar roads, we’re in uncharted territory from day one. It’s nothing like our Seattle to Alaska trip when we headed into unfathomable stretches of wilderness – there are lots of little towns, suburbs, and gas stations for replenishment. We’re also very rusty. I haven’t trained on a bicycle enough and we both need to work on our packing efficiency. The drivers are courteous though and the uncourteous dogs are fenced in.

Notes from Donald: “I hope we get a tailwind tomorrow”

Today’s mileage: 74 miles
Total: 74 miles


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