I got so carried away enjoying myself yesterday in Silver City that I failed to notice a pothole that was bigger than Dallas and so I had a bicycle-falling-off-incident. Fortunately I landed on my head, which was protected by a wool crash beanie and by a thick mat of crash hair.
I lay spread out on Main Street like a warm breakfast sure that someone would soon come running to see how badly I had been killed. But they didn’t probably because folks spread-eagled on Main are a common occurrence.
I didn’t think anything was broken, much, and then a policeman came over. “What happened?” he asked.
“I hit that pothole.”
“That one swallowing up half your front left wheel.”
“How come you are so far away from it?”
“Because I am acrobatic that way and can fly through the air pretty well.”
“I see. I’ll call the ambulance.”
“No, I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine.”
“I’m just old. That’s not from falling off my bike.”
I did. Back in the hotel I nursed my scrapes and cooked dinner, which was tricky because of the two smoke detectors and the sprinkler system and the prohibition on cooking in-room. I was frying up a side of bacon and that would set off everything. I didn’t want to burn down the historic hotel but I didn’t want to go hungry, either.
Finally I prized open the window, propped it open with the ice bucket, and used a dresser drawer as a stand for the stove so it would be against the open window, where I could blow out the bacon smoke. Since the drawer was whomperjawed I had to stabilize each end with a sock.
Once the bacon got going it smoked like crazy and I like to have passed out blowing so hard. I had to watch out that the flame didn’t catch the window sill or the drapes on fire. It was touch and go but it all came out okay except now the room was saturated in eau de bacon.
I planned on spending another day in the hotel and ditching the big 25-mile climb up to Emory Pass, and instead taking the weakling way over to Deming. But then I felt ashamed and even though it was going to be in the teens overnight, I packed my bike for an early departure.
About five miles out of town I saw a man stumping up a long hill going the other direction. I whipped over. “You okay?”
“Where are you going?”
“You got any money?”
“Here’s ten bucks. The McDonalds is less than three miles away.”
“Oh, man, thank you so much.”
“You are welcome! I have a few friends who gave me the money to pass on. It’s from them, not me.”
“That’s kind of unbelievable.”
“I know. What’s your name?”
“I’m Seth. Have a good one.”
“I will,” he said, and it sounded like he meant it.
The rest day, the smack on the head, and the nonstop eating must have helped as I was up and over the climb by 12:45, having left town at 8:15. This climb is so feared by bike tourists on the Southern Tier that most avoid it.
In fact it’s not very bad, just grinding and long, and by far and away the most spectacular scenery of the whole route. High elevation ponderosas, beautiful rivers and streams, craggy cliffs, pure air, no traffic, and at the top a spectaculat overlook. As usual, the hard and somewhat scary way yields the most reward.
I descended to Kingston, an old mining town famous for no Internet. My lodge hosts were gone and not returning til 4:30.
I was ravenous and cooked in the yard. It was a sunny day and I napped. My scrapes and aches melted in the warm sunshine. But I left my crash beanie on … just in case.