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  • Writer's pictureAlana

25. Chambers, AZ to Gallup, NM

May 8, 2024

After wrasslin' flats on the I-40 for week, I was relieved to see that the day's route took me mostly on frontage roads.

My relief was premature, I learned, when I went over the crest of a frontage road and found myself bouncing down Satan's washboard on a bajillion percent grade. Think gravel rumble strip, but with much deeper rivets, and on a ski slope. I am still shocked that I did not wipe out. I knew not to brake, but just to hold on for dear life until I spotted a slightly less deadly patch where I could stop the bumping for a bit, gently squeeze my brakes, and stick a landing.

Hoping that this was some temporary oversight of the Adventure Cycling Association, the progenitors of my route, I pushed onward, only to discover that the whole frontage road was an actual roller coaster (Memphians: Cast your memories back to the Zippin' Pippin') that I might ride on a mountain bike with full suspension, but only if there were money on the table. But on a fully loaded gravel bike with road tires, all of which needs to last me 18,000 miles? Oh hell naw.

So I turned around and hiked back up the devil's gradient.

Not gonna lie: I was a bit salty about this escapade. But the salt was sweetened when I crossed the border into New Mexico.

A first welcome sight was a billboard reassuring me that New Mexico protects my reproductive rights, unlike its neighbors AZ and TX. So that ruled.

Then, there was the landscape: soaring red rock cliffs suddely appeared and framed the bowl of the world. Where Arizona was all about sweeping vistas stretching out to forever, New Mexico decided to decorate the forever with undulating walls of red and yellow. I know I've said this before, but for real: Photos don't do it justice. Especially my crappy, sweat-streaked smartphone photos.

I had no idea how beautiful New Mexico would be, and I felt a surge of energy carry me all the way to Gallup. There, I stayed in the El Rancho Hotel, where apparently all the stars of Hollywood Westerns used to stay when shooting moves and each other in the desert.

Along the way, I stopped on the outskirts of Gallup to catch my breath and figure out dinner. An older gentleman emerged from an RV, explaning that his RV had broken down there a week ago and he and his wife were waiting to get it fixed. I decided to interview him for my book (see my next entry about that bit of business). He revealed that he is 86 years old, a Koren War Vet, and a triathlete who competed in Miami last year. After attributing his good life to Jesus, he said a prayer of protection over me and sent me on my way.

Distance: 52.8 miles

Climbing: 1.3 K feet

Totals: 1,224.3 miles, 44.9 K feet

Song: "Supernova" by Liz Phair

1 comment

1 comentário

5 days ago

This is such a great post! I love your descriptions (yup, that looks like Satan’s washboard ). Your calling has been travel writing all this time!

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