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Day 14: Las Cruces, NM to Alamogordo, NM

63 Miles - Ascent To San Augstin Pass, White Sands Missile Range & National Monument - March 5, 2011

Shorty's Gas
Shorty's Gas Station in Las Cruces. Love that cowboy on the sign! :)
Biking east from Las Cruces and away from the Rio Grande, I certainly expected an ascent, but this was one arduous and butt-kicking climb. At first, it was hard to notice the rise in the road, and I wondered if my slowness was due to the thicker inner tubes in my tires. Naaaah, it wasn't. I was riding straight over a mountain range, the San Augustin Mountains.

Every one to two miles, I stopped to rest. It's not ideal to have an imposing hill like this so early in a day's ride, but that's what the topography gods gave me today.

New Mexico Mountain Scenery Continuing east on a frontage road.
Organ Mountains, NM The Organ Mountains to the southeast.
New Mexico Mountains Looking back and facing west. Those are the Doņa Ana Mountains (I believe), a cluster of mountains directly north of Las Cruces.
Organ, New Mexico The climb was long. It was relentless. This ascent was not messing around. A casual cyclist or the faint of heart would surely have turned back by now and let gravity push them back to Las Cruces.

I kept looking up at that pointed peak, named San Augustin Peak (7,030 feet). Slowly but surely my view became closer as I approached the town or Organ, New Mexico.

New Mexico Mountain Scenery The road widened to allow more lanes for slow traffic. The hill intensified.

I stopped, snapped one more picture of San Augustin Peak ...

Highway 70 New Mexico ... then turned back and gazed at greater Las Cruces. Bye bye Las Cruces!

Whatever lingering concerns I had from Thursday and Friday (Day 12 and 13) about hitching rides were gone. This crazy workout gave me a new perspective.

San Augustin Pass, NM

San Augustin Pass

Ahhh San Augustin Pass! I was approximately 1,700 feet above where I started. Not much scenery at the top, but I didn't care. I was so happy to have conquered this pass. :)

P.S. It appears the more common way to spell this is "San Augustin," although some places spell it without the first "u" as in "San Agustin."

White Sands Missile Range The riding was super easy for many miles.

One disadvantage of speeding: It's difficult to take pictures. Yet at one point, I stopped from my 18-20 mph cruising speed to document the entrance of the White Sands Missile Range Headquarters.

New Mexico Mountain Scenery

New Mexico Mountain Scenery

Organ Mountains, NM

New Mexico Scenery

Plenty of mountain and desert scenery can be enjoyed on this section of Highway 70. Nothing too wild, but nothing boring either. I think the third photo, showing the jagged points of the Organ Mountains, is my favorite.

Highway 70 New Mexico Riding into desolation. Now this is New Mexico!

I think the empty desert matched what I felt inside. It was a lonely out there.

New Mexico Historic Marker Resting at a historic marker.
Share The Road Plenty of shoulder existed throughout this road. It was nice to be acknowledged though. :)
U.S. Immigration Checkpoint

U.S. Border Patrol Jobs

I stopped at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint like everyone else. I grabbed the center of the lane behind a large tractor-trailer and talked to a couple of motorcyclists behind me as we waited in line.

By the way, are you searching for a job? They're hiring! :)

White Sands National Monument Although I've been in many parts of New Mexico, I'd never been on this particular stretch from San Augustin Pass to Alamogordo. White Sands National Monument is one of the biggest attractions in the region. From the highway, I could only see small hills with white sands and common desert plants interspersed.

Sure, it would've been interesting to have explored the sands, but it wasn't meant to be. And personally, we have our own massive sand dunes in Colorado. :)

Past White Sands, the sun and lack of shade was finally getting to me. Thankfully the riding was relatively easy for the remaining 15 miles to Alamogordo.

I approached a disabled truck on the shoulder. Sensitive because of my own problems I've had, I stopped to see if I could help. They were nice people - snowbirds from Michigan who were heading back home. They said their truck stopped running, and they were waiting for a tow truck.

Of course, we discussed the basics about my ride, but it was too bad I didn't ask about the miniature car they were hauling. Maybe they could have driven that to Alamogordo to get help! :p)

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Alamogordo, NM

Gratified to arrive in Alamogordo! I went 63 miles, a respectable distance, but moreso, I had a normal ride with no flat tires or other problems.

I know I look a little crazy in the adjacent photo, but capturing the standard picture of my bike leaning against the sign wasn't enough. Oh and notice how tan I was becoming. ;)

Alamogordo, New Mexico
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Photo Above: Beautiful mountains east of Alamogordo from South White Sands Boulevard.

I stayed at the Motel 6 on the south end of Alamogordo. While on a computer for guests, a Twitter follower suggested I visit Caliche's Frozen Custard, a local favorite that serves all kinds of decadent, high-caloried ice cream and custard treats. That sounded like a great idea, but it was three miles (one way) from the motel. Tired and sore as I was, there was no way I'd walk that distance, nor was I willing to bike that. I never wanted to ride my bike around town after settling for the evening.

For better or worse, I experienced towns from the vicinity of my motel. If I couldn't walk there in short time, then I didn't go. If Alamogordo had any attractions or events happening say, on the north side of town, then surely I missed it. That's what biking across America was for me.

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