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Day 16: Cloudcroft, NM to Artesia, NM

90 Miles - Long Descent In Sacramento Mountains, Lupe's Homemade Burritos, Riding On New Mexico Plains - March 7, 2011


Mayhill, New Mexico

Highway 82 New Mexico

Mayhill, New Mexico

In the mountains, every steep ascent is followed by a thrilling descent. Today I would enjoy the benefits of yesterday's climb, as it was largely downhill throughout my 90 mile ride to Artesia.

The first 18 miles were wonderful. Loads and loads of descent. Easy riding. I was cycling so fast that I didn't take any pictures. Only when I reached Mayhill (adjacent photos), did I pull out my camera.

One note: A few people warned me that no services existed between Cloudcroft and Artesia. While I did have plenty of food and drink stocked up, there were three places on this route that could be a help to cyclists. The first was in Mayhill, a small town with a general store and cafe.

Highway 82 New Mexico The descent continued. Large spoon fulls of descent. It felt like it would never end!
Highway 82 New Mexico The road twisted and turned through a valley with the Penasco River flowing in my direction. As I traveled east, the mountains became smaller, and the ridges and hills had less trees. These were signs I was leaving the Sacramento Mountains.
Runyan Ranch, NM

New Mexico Pistachios

At 40 miles, I came upon a commercial stand run by Runyan Ranches. You can get every type of refreshment here: drinks, fruits, candies, you name it. I was ready for a break and massaged my lower right side of my back, which had a twitch that was screaming for some attention.

I chatted with the owner, who informed me we were at 5,500 feet in elevation. That meant I had yet another 2,000+ feet in descent to enjoy. Nice!

They also had various gift items for tourists. Those green and red chile flavored pistachios looked so good, but alas, I saved my money. :)

Welcome To The Great Plains East New Mexico Plains Photo Above: Highway 82 eastbound travels into the nothingness of the Great Plains.

The end of the mountains came upon me quicker than I thought. Suddenly, there were no more trees, no major hills, no nothing. Welcome to the Great Plains!

I will not lie: From a scenery standpoint, it all stopped here. Glance at the photos from the first 15 days, and notice the magnificent mountains, breathtaking deserts and stunning western landscapes. Upon entering the eastern New Mexico plains, I entered a new phase of the journey. Although the obsessive chronicler in me would continue to document so much of what happened, I wouldn't take as many pictures each day. The banal surroundings didn't demand it.

By the way, the plains weren't all that bad. Once I was fully out of the mountains, the winds picked up - a westerly wind that slammed against my back. With the elevation descent and tailwind, I made it to Hope, New Mexico (20 miles) in what seemed like no time.

East New Mexico Plains Near the same spot as the large photo above, I turned back to photograph the opposite view to the west. The foothills of the Sacramento Mountains sit in the background.
21 mph I frequently cruised at about 20 mph.

Believe me, I was careful, but I had to get a shot of my speedometer. :)

Hope, New Mexico

Hope, New Mexico

Steve and Lupe

Hope, New Mexico

At 70 miles, I arrived in Hope. Elevation 4,085. Population 200.

I stopped at a small grocery store and was ready for a prolonged break. I had to get out of that strong wind for a while.

Meet Lupe (third photo), a nice lady who runs this establishment and has carved a niche selling her homemade burritos. I ate a carne asada burrito with red chile that hit the spot. I loved it!

Afterward, I sat for a while, used the restroom and talked with Lupe. I really appreciated that she didn't make me feel like I was a "burden" or "loitering." She welcomed me. Of course, she was amazed that I had biked here in 16 days from California. She told me about her business and what it's like living in this tiny town. We agreed that people in small towns are usually so much friendlier compared to a big city, where people don't have the time and energy to stop, talk or say "hi" in the middle of the day.

Lupe was the greatest. I had to get a picture with her. :)

ADDENDUM: I invite you to read my book about my first trip in 2008.

East New Mexico Plains

East New Mexico Plains

Highway 82 New Mexico

Outside, the wind greeted me with a howl that would have scared me if it wasn't going in my direction.

Onward I biked on the east New Mexico plains.

Various types of yucca plants and yucca trees dotted the land.

Artesia, NM

Artesia, New Mexico

Eventually, I entered the city limits of Artesia, New Mexico.

Starting Point: Cloudcroft (8,650 feet)
Ending Point: Artesia (3,380 feet)

That was a 5,270 foot drop in elevation. What a ride!

Artesia, New Mexico Main Street in Artesia.
Steve in Artesia, NM
I kept the "photo of Steve" daily streak going one more day with this self-portrait on Main Street in Artesia. Behind me is the town's movie theater.
Like yesterday, this was another day when I could have kept going, but the nearest lodging east of Artesia was in Lovington (65 miles) and Hobbs (78 miles). Ahhhh, to have had a support vehicle tho followed and shuttle so I could have cycled another 10, 20 or 30 miles to pack on the miles. It was a shame not to take more advantage of the wind. Still, 90 miles wasn't bad. To this point, it was my highest mileage for any day.

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