The plan was to get cracking early in the morning and make it all the way to Sierra Blanca, a solid 90 miles from our Motel 6. Kristie had arrived that night and brought much-needed moral support, not to mention crucial supplies.
The next morning rolled around but we just rolled over. There were too many other important things that had to be taken care of before I could tackle another day of cold winter riding in West Texas. There are worse things in life than a day spent in a warm hotel when it is cold as fuck outside.
Once you get into Arizona the thorns begin taking a toll on your tube supply, and the thorns in Texas are not only bigger and better but they are much more plentiful. The tires I had mounted in Quincy, California a few thousand miles ago were now so thin that they badly needed replacement. My new tire of choice was the Panaracer Tourguard Plus.
Their salient feature is cheap, with add-ons that include thick and puncture-resistant. Baby Seal at the Dropout Cyclery had found a pair and sent them out with Kristie.
“Let’s go see the city,” I said, after getting the tires mounted. “But first let’s go have some genuine Texas huevos rancheros.”
“How are they different from California huevos rancheros?”
“Have you ever seen a paper airplane?”
“Have you ever seen a jumbo jet airplane?”
“That’s the difference.”
Her skepticism was palpable until the waitress slid a massive plate of huevos rancheros with fresh tortillas under her nose. She took a bite. All of the blood ran into her face. She began to sweat. A giant smile of disbelief crept over her face. “These are fucking unbelievable,” she said.
In a few moments her plate was spotless and she was aggressively licking her fork and spoon. “I guess you liked them,” I said.
In order to compensate for the 4000-kcal breakfast we decided we should take a quick tour of the city. Somehow we wound up on the freeway paralleling the border. You can see how much America fears and hates Mexico when you look at the border wall. It is more vicious and nasty and hostile and hateful than anything the East Germans ever built.
Kristie immediately punctured as we pedaled alongside the semi tractor-trailers who were honking, flipping us off, and otherwise treating us with the respect that bicyclists in Texas are entitled to. “Was there a special reason you went with those Butterpat tires?” I asked.
She wasn’t very happy. “I’m demo- ing them.”
“Ah,” I said. “Well, since you have flatted twice in 5 miles and we have 300 miles on the menu over the next couple of days, my calculation is that we will need approximately 120 inner tubes to make the ride. I’m not sure my backpack has space for that many. I have an idea.”
“What if we find a bicycle store and buy some new tires that are actually made for riding on the road?”
“But these are made for riding on the road.”
“I know. Technically, everything is. But there is this funny lettering on the sidewall that says ‘Gravel King’ which makes me think that perhaps they were designed for riding, you know, on gravel.”
“But I already spent over $60 on these things. It’s ridiculous to have to spend more money on more new tires when I already have new tires.”
“That’s okay. I’m independently wealthy and have a vast network of blog subscribers each of whom pays me $2.99 a month. After we get your new tires, new tire levers, new CO2 cartridges, and new tubes, I will only need to get another 300 subscribers to offset the cost.”
“When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad. How many subscribers do you have now?
“Well, you do like challenges.”
We found the bicycle shop after riding a few more miles by which I mean ten. They were very happy to see us because we obviously didn’t know what the fuck we were doing. “So you need tires?”
“Okay. So what did you have in mind?”
“Well her tires aren’t holding up very well on the road so we were hoping to get something that would be more of, you know, a road tire.”
The man looked at the tires. “Well, these are Gravel Kings. That means they are for primarily riding on gravel. Not for riding on the road.”
“I see,” I said, looking like an idiot.
“Yes, a soft tire like this is not suitable for riding somewhere like West Texas where there is a lot of chip and seal road surface and especially where there are so many goatheads. If you ride these tires for very long out here you will get a lot of flats. Do you see where it says ‘Gravel King’? This means they are primarily gravel tires. Are you familiar with gravel riding?”
“I think I know someone who did it one time.”
The man looked at me funny. “Gravel riding is for riding on gravel, it’s not the same as riding on the road. That’s why it says ‘gravel’ on the tire. Perhaps you’d like some road tires?”
On the way back to the hotel we got hungry again so we stopped at a place called Good Coffee. I ordered chicken mole and Kristie ordered what every gringo in every Mexican restaurant orders, chicken enchiladas. Green sauce of course. It was delicious and we ate until we felt really sick.
The weather forecast didn’t look great but since I had spent all of my money on tires there was no chance of holing up for another day at the Motel 6. I picked up some oatmeal at the grocery store and we began packing up for an early departure tomorrow. In earnest.