Leg; 1,097 miles / 1,765 km
Total; 7,144 miles / 11,497 km
(Check out our Instagram page for regular photo updates)
New Mexico was a blur! Our route took us along highway 9, which skirts the Mexican border and has very little in the means of amenities. Every other car is a Border Patrol vehicle and we didn’t fancy wild camping with the prospect of being woken up for an interrogation! So we cycled through New Mexico in two very long days. The landscape is barren, but beautiful. We had our eyes peeled for roadrunners, but we were helped out by a large bird of prey who spotted one first and dived into some dessert shrubbery to send the roadrunner flying. Meep meep!!
We exited New Mexico into El Paso. Like everywhere we go, EVERYONE warned us about the drivers of El Paso. Luckily, one of our kind Instagram friends sent us a bike friendly route through the sprawling metropolis and we thought it was a pretty cool place. Shortly after El Paso we had our third stint on a US Interstate. The rules regarding cycling on these giant American motorways are simple; if there’s no other way from A to B, you can ride on them. We loved it. We got blown from Fort Hancock to Van Horn with a tailwind from 30-50mph. We even free wheeled up a 7% hill. And that leads us bust another Texas myth….
The Lone Star is NOT flat! West Texas is best described as lumpy, and extremely steep in places. There are no big climbs, but it’s a bit like Northern California in parts; up and down all the time. The steepest hills are northwest of Austin, where grades above 20% are common.
We took highway 90 across west Texas. It’s a beautiful route with loads of hippy towns along the way. Yup, Texas is very liberal! Our favourite place was Alpine, with its great wall murals and wild west facades. Marathon is also a cool place (not to be confused with Marathon, Florida, which is where we are writing this right now, sat at our hosts tiki bar…), especially for stargazing and a rare opportunity to see Agave Americana (Century Plant) in bloom. And you won’t want to miss Prada Marfa, and the nearby Target ‘store’; bizarre art installations in the Texas dessert.
We also got to experience the famous Tex-Mex hospitality, as we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day eating and drinking with new friends in San Antonio. We visited the Alamo, ambled the famous Riverwalk and visited the funky new Pearl Brewery quarter. We were lucky enough to stay with new and old friends in San Marcos, Austin and Conroe, before heading into the supposedly aggressive parts of east Texas. Which, we never witnessed…
As if to remind us how friendly Texas is, on our last day we met a delivery driver at a gas station. Ruby had a packed schedule but she took time to hear our story and hand us some cold bottles of water. An hour later she pulled in front of us to tell us she’d called a local Mexican restaurant who would give us whatever we wanted on the house. Sure enough, we met Ruby there and had a delicious meal. An hour after we parted, Ruby stopped in front of us again and said the next 10 miles of road were drab with no shoulder, ‘would we like a lift’. The tailgate came down, bikes were loaded in the back in no time and Ruby jettisoned us to the Louisiana border in no time. A great send off from a great state. Thank you Texas!