50 miles east of El Paso is where we started on Sunday. The wind was at our backs and it was a smooth ride for a while. The map that we were using had us turn onto a farm road and we took a nice ride through the Texas country side.
- Side Note: The tail wind was the strongest we have experienced so far. We were traveling at about 17 mph and there was no wind resistence at all. It was like we were riding in a vacuum. In the middle of nowhere, no people, no cars, no wind, no sound except for the clicking of our chains and gears. We noticed a train up ahead but we could not hear it. Very strange, it felt like we were cycling through the twilight zone.
The scenery was pretty great. Just to the right were huge grassy fields and in the distance were some sweet Mexican mountains…a guitar softly wailed in the distance…what?
Then the route turned to the northwest. Not directly into the wind but it sure felt like it. We were traveling slightly uphill but it felt like we were climbing a pretty good grade. At one point Dad was practicing his “tacking” skills which involved pedaling directly into the wind and then turning and holding out one arm so the wind could push him along…what a barney.
At mile 23 we encountereds I-10 and headed east again with the wind at out backs. It wasn’t long before we started a climb. We continued for about 5 miles and met Mom for lunch. My knee was not feeling top notch at this point but I was managing. During our rest I iced the knee and then heated it back up with our new microwavable heat pad. Took a few Advil and we were on our way. We had come about 30 miles that morning so Mom left to meet us another 20 miles down the road. However, the knee was not willing to warm up for the afternoon ride. We went about a mile and I could not make it all the way around with my left knee. So I got out my phone to call Mom to come pick us up because we couled not continue that day. No signal. So Dad started to push me up the hill to see if there was a downhill that we might be able to ride the wind for a few miles. Pushing me was getting us nowhere fast and I figured out that i could just do half a stroke with my right foot and then back pedal for half a stroke and repeat and that would get us somewhere. So I tried this for about a mile and a half and it was too much work for little reward so we decided to try the phone again. I reached into my pocket and the phone was not there! Idiot, you must have dropped it when you tried to call the first time. I could hardly propel myself at thisw point so Dad decided he would go back against the 40 mph wind and look for the phone. I took shelter under an underpass and waited for him to return. He was gone for a good 45 min and when he finally returned he was empty handed, couldn’t find it...stuck. So Dad decided that he woule go ahead and look for Mom while I would stay at the underpass and try not to freeze in the wind.
So Dad left and in the meantime I figured I might try to find someone to lend me their phone for one call. There was a rest stop down the road so, pedaling with one foot, I approached a guy who did not speak a lot of English and he told me that he did not have a phone but I could use his CB. Thanks, but that’s not gonna work. I went to the only other people at the rest stop, here is an excerpt from our conversation:
Me: Hi, do you folks happen to have a cell phone that I could borrow?
Lady: We’re Canadian.
Me: So…Canadians don’t used cell phones?
Canadian Lady: We just use it like a pager, ya know, we don’t make calls.
So I gave up on that one. Obviously Canadians are afraid of crazy, phoneless, one legged, bearded guys on tricycles…go figure.
So I sat under the underpass for 2.5 hours w3hile Dad rode 20 miles to find our ride. When the sag vehicle arrived, I got in and we went back for one final look for the cell phone. We found it next to the road where we stopped to decide which way to go. Thankfully we were all still in one piece so we drove on to Van Horn for the night crossing the central time zone boundary on the way.
That night as we chilled in the Desert Fox, I knew I was not going to be able to ride the next day unless we figured something out. So I looked up some local doctors to see if we could take care of the problem in the morning. It turned out that all of the listings for doctors were in Odessa and Midland which was about a 2 hour drive. Wait a minute, I have a friend in Midland maybe he can recommend a doctor. I called my buddy Clint and he said that his Dad’s girlfriend Vanessa works at the hospital and she might be able to get me an appointment with a sports physician, what a great coincidence. In the morning Clint called and said that Vanessa got me a 230 appointment with Dr. Mark Fredrickson in Midland…awesome. So we left right away, it took 2.5 hours and we were a bit early. We sat in the waiting room for about 15 minutes and who comes in but Clint and his Dad (Dave)! We chatted for a while and I mentioned that I was looking for a machine shop where I could have some work done on the crank of my bike (my uncle suggested that I shorten the crank on the left side so my knee would not have to bend as much when it comes around). It just so happens that Dave is a manager for a company called Cameron Compression Systems and they operate a machine shop in town…another convenient coincidence. He made a phone call and said that if we drive to Odessa after the doctor that a guy named Rich would take care of us.
The doctor told me nothing different than all of the other doctors that had looked at my knee. The knee is fine its just overused. So he gave me a prescription for a strong antiinflamatory and sent me on my way.
Dr. Fredrickson was a very nice guy and I appreciate him taking me in on such short notice. Thank you also to Vanessa who set this up.
Side note: We are currently driving back to Van Horn and it is snowing like mad outside.
After the appointment, Dave had to catch a plane so we (Mom, Dad, Clint and I) piled into the car and headed for the machine shop. We were greeted by a gentleman named Jeff, we explained our situation and he said they would figure something out. We also met Rich Fuston, the Machine Shop Sr. Service manager, very nice, tall fellow with a southern drawl.
Once inside the shop, we met a few if the technicians whi helped us out. Chris and Thomas. We talked about our options and decided that they would try to drill and tap a new hole in the crank, moving the pedal in toward the center and effectively shortening the crank…
The only problem was that the bike uses all metric size hardware and the threads on the left crank are reverse (righty loosey, lefty tighty). So first of all, they were going to have a tough time finding a metric tap and it was going to be impossible to find a reverse threaded metric tap. We found that the right pedal is forward threaded so if we had two right pedals, we might be in business. So Mom, Dad and I visited a local bike shop to buy another set of pedals while the guys at the shop called around to find the right metric tap for the job. We went to a great bike shop in Odessa, Bicycles Etcetera. We bought a crank puller, a pedal wrench, a new set of pedals and a spare crank in case our plan did not work out.
When we got back to the shop, they had found a metric thread tap at a local supply store and they were ready to go to work on my crank. So we pulled the crank and they drilled the hole. They did not have any metric drill bits so the hole was just a smidge too small, they went someone to Sears to fetch a bit of the correct size while Clint, Rich, Mom, Dad and I took a load off in the break area with tea and coffe (they really took care of us).
The guys finally got the pedal to fit into the threads and we put the crank back on the bike. I sat in the seat and back pedaled a few times noticing how much less my left knee was moving compared to my right…sweet.
So now we are headed back to Van Horn. It has stopped snowing. Reinforcements have arrived for us in Van Horn. Our good Friends (pretty much family) Wally and Mary Krill had left on Saturday from Grass Valley, CA and they caught up to us today so they are going to travel with us for the rest of the trip. Wally and Mary were great cyclists back in the day. They traveled all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the US in Bikes, it will be nice to have their experience on our side.
Tomorrow we are having lunch in Van Horn with a new friend Linda Mizell who has organized an event for us, should be fun.
Before I go, I want to draw attention to the treatment we received in Midland. I was overwhelmed by how everything worked out. I was also overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality that was shown to us. The guys at Cameron Compression systems donated about 5 hours of their time and energy on the spot and did it with a smile. Thanks guys, it was great to meet you. You guys may have provided us with the boost we needed to get over the hump…we’ll see.
Me, Clint, Rich, Chris, and Thomas