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Day 17: Artesia, NM to Seminole, TX

107 Miles - Southeast New Mexico Oil & Gas Lands, Texas State Line, Helpful Tail Wind - March 8, 2011

Artesia, New Mexico

Artesia, New Mexico

On the east side of Artesia was this oil and gas refinery on Highway 82. I thought it was an appropriate photo to start the day, considering all the oil and gas exploration and development that happens in this region. I hope I don't sound offensive, but much of Artesia had an odor of oil and gas. Even while inside my motel room, I could smell it sometimes. :o)

Anyway, Artesia sits near the Pecos River, a major watershed in eastern New Mexico. And so as I biked east and away from the river, an ascent awaited me. It was nothing terrible, but I wasn't riding quickly.

Southeast New Mexico

New Mexico Oil Pump Jack

The gas and oil industry is thriving on the southeast New Mexico plains. Storage tanks and pump jacks are all one can see on these lands. So many vehicles were on the road, mainly pick-up trucks and semis related to oil and gas.

Yesterday a local told me that business was booming in southeast New Mexico and west Texas. "No recession is happening here," he said. He spoke about available truck driving jobs that paid a very good hourly wage, and they were constantly in need of reliable, long-term employees. I will say I did see some help wanted and "drivers needed" signs among the drilling companies this way.

Achy Legs On The East New Mexico Plains
New Mexico Oil & Gas Pump Jacks
Photo Above: Oil pump jacks comprise the scenery for about 30 miles east of Artesia.

As usual, my legs were sore and my body felt "cranky" as I started my ride. It seemed like most of my leg muscles made themselves known to me in a cantankerous way at one point or another. This morning, my left calf muscle - upper calf and on the outside - had a distinct discomfort as I went through the motion of pedaling.

Today, I gave that left calf muscle a name: Beverly. Why? I don't know. The name randomly hit me and I went with it. The only two Beverly's I've ever known was a girl who grew up on my street as a child, and a professor with that last name. I know ... odd. But these are some of the things that went through in my head on mornings like this.

I continued biking in the middle of nowhere. Surely a "normal person" wouldn't bike east of Artesia for the fun of it. Obviously no aesthetic value or aspect of "being in nature" would lure the average person to bike this route. In fact, the only people out here were working hard on this Tuesday morning. I compared myself to them, and had a moment of insecurity. The inquiry surged in my mind: Why am I doing this again? That question would arise from time to time, but I knew better than to think too much.

New Mexico Bicycle Route A short break after turning from Highway 82 and onto Highway 529. Around this point, the winds really picked up. Again it was a westerly wind! :)

46 miles to Hobbs was my certain destination, but I also noticed Seminole, Texas on that sign. I thought, "Maybe ... if I continue to ride well ... and these winds help ... and I don't have any snags or problems ... I'll go for it."

New Mexico Plains The pump jacks, storage tanks and oil & gas structures diminished as I went east.

I have seen most parts of America, and not much compares to the vast openness of the eastern New Mexico Plains. Three years ago, I biked from Roswell to Tatum, an area that seemed even more empty than this region.

New Mexico Plains Highway 529 had a 10-15 mile section of rougher road with minimal shoulder. Not too many vehicles were out besides truckers. In retrospect, the route will do for a cross-country cyclist, but if I were a local in Artesia or Hobbs, I would avoid this road.

One story: I was climbing a hill with no shoulder, as seen in the adjacent photo. A semi approached from behind and honked - not a rude slamming of his horn. Although I had every right to the road as much as that truck, I stopped, got off the road and let that tractor-trailer pass. I realized a large semi passing me up a hill (with limited visibility of oncoming traffic) could be dangerous for them. It felt like the courteous thing to do.

Oil Industry Semi I was making good distance and realized I wasn't taking enough pictures!

Adjacent is a shot of a pulled-over semi as I approached Highway 62. Westbound, this road leads to Carlsbad and El Paso, but I traveled east to Hobbs.

Hobbs, New Mexico

Hobbs, New Mexico

The winds pushed me like crazy for the final 12 miles into Hobbs. New Mexico seemed to go on ... and on ... and on ... but finally I was nearing the end.

Hobbs, NM West Marland Boulevard in Hobbs.
Subway Restaurant

Roger

At 75 miles, I gave myself a prolonged rest break at a Subway inside a convenience store.

Right now I'd like to give special thanks to Victoria Ring (Twitter: @VictoriaRing) in Colorado Springs for supporting my ride with a $50 Subway gift card. There I was, creatively holding it out in front of the Subway counter. I bought a foot-long buffalo chicken sub with a bag of barbeque baked chips.

Thank you, Victoria! I ate so many yummy Subway sandwiches because of you! :)

Resting outside, I met Roger (adjacent photo), a truck driver who passed me a long while back in those oil and gas fields. He was a really nice guy from Idaho who runs his own trucking business. He told me about his son, near my age, who does various kinds of long distance running.

By the way, Hobbs was my intended destination for today, but with the winds blowing like they were, I couldn't stop. Also, how could I not continue knowing Texas was only five miles from this very spot?

Three States Completed, Seven To Go! Texas State Line
At the Texas state line, I said good-bye to the Southwest. California, Arizona and New Mexico were all under my belt. It was time for some Texas action ... Yeehaw!

The scenery was on the flat side in Gaines County, Texas. :) West Texas Scenery
Seminole, Texas

Despite the shoulder being less smooth on the Texas side, the wind continued to push and push me.

Seminole, Texas

And then I arrived inside Seminole, Texas.

107 miles. My first century ride of the tour.

By the way, today was the first day that my streak ended ... no photo of myself. :(

Seminole, TX
I liked the old clock at the center of town.
And then it was dinner time. Upon crossing into Texas, it seemed like every little town in Texas had a Dairy Queen. I would try many ice cream treats with my favorite being the Heath Bar blizzard. :)

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Dairy Queen in Texas

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