Cycling Advocates Ride to Pro Walk Pro Bike 2006

Daily Trip Log

from Vancouver B.C. to Madison, Wisconsin

Picture of Vancouver, BCGrouse Mountain Vancouver B.C.
from Chicago, IL to Santa Fe, NM
Date: 2006-09-19
Distance: 31 Kilometres
Cycling Time: 1.77 Hours
Average Speed: 17.36 kph
  Trip Distance since Leaving Vancouver - 4,534 Kilometres  

Thoughts for the Day



On the Train

As the sun crossed the horizon the flat, semi-arid fields of Colorado had a dark, rosy hue. The shrub brush glowed into the light of day. The dirt was soft yellow in colour. Along the way, two antelopes were grazing by the rail side. This part of the continent is flat.


Canals, some were not more than a shovel wide ditch, brought the mountain waters to irrigate these fields. Now, mid-September, the vegetation is close to the earth. Plenty of legumes or hay is grown here. Cut and baled in large square bales, they are stored under roofing for winter feed. Occasionally, some cows are about grazing on dried legumes in the fields.



The settlements and towns are not very interesting. Usually a collection of houses surrounded by abandoned cars, trucks, machinery, and any other metal objects left to rust. A small gathering of houses, assuming occupied by transient workers (another way of saying assuming Mexican workers) had adjacent to their residences small fenced-off grass pens where horses, cows, pigs, and so on were raised.



One has to ask why anyone would want to live in this type of isolated environment.



Now the train has come to a service stop in a town called La Junta, Colorado. Gone are the somewhat compact towns of the mid-west with treed-lined streets and homey residential streets and their brick, nicely maintained houses. Back are the excessive wide streets with buildings and their parking lots that are not conducive to walking. Trees are few to see. The structures seem to be thrown up without thought or without interest in making them pleasant to the eye. The land is bare with grey and yellow soil. There is little vegetation about. There is nothing that attracts one to say this town has something of merit.



It appears to have been a cattle auction place at one time. By the railway line are blocks and blocks of cattle pens. It is difficult to see what the economic basis for the area is now. There is a railway marshalling yard here. Grain, farming, and trans-shipment seem to be popular. Guess the town acts as a service area to these business activities.



Now the train is slowly pulling away. We are passing an electrical generation plant, driven by gas I assume. As the train switches tracks, the car is bobbing about shifting the computer. The train is now passing a large grave site.



The train operation is quite smooth with slow departures and stops. The track beds do vary. Sometimes the tracks are so smooth it is difficult to feel the motion. Other times, the tracks are so rough that one is just flipped around in the seat. Walking to the lounge car is then quite difficult.



I enquired if there were any outlets for connecting the computer to. The response was that there is a plug in each car but location seems to be unknown to the staff. Definitely, Amtrak has not decided to service the needs of travellers for their electric equipment or providing wireless services.



At the last station, the computer did pick up three wireless services but none had signals strong enough to connect. I have noticed that cell phone users seem to be getting signals on the train.  
  The train trip was not very productive, mostly listless, more trying to sleep or actually sleeping than looking out of the window or doing computer stuff. I did not bother bringing anything to read. Guess I just cannot take that inactive stuff. My enthusiasm for retrieving the bike, putting on the panniers and riding into town was not there. Why bother doing anything? Maybe I should take the bus into town instead. In the end I left two panniers at the station and minimized my load somewhat for the next few days.

  Now, in the distance I can make out the outlines of the Colorado Rockies.  
New Mexico

The train seemed to slow down to a crawl as the track wound its way up the mountains to a tunnel at the New Mexico state line. There was a sign by the tracks announcing that this was the high point on the Santa Fe railway line at about 2,300 metres. From there the train wound its way down a bit into a wide open, high level plateau. After a stop at Las Vegas, not Nevada but New Mexico, the train seemed to crawl the winding way down to Lamy, the train stop for Santa Fe. Not sure why the train speed was so slow, except maybe it was the track curvature. Now the track incline did appear to more to the maximum that trains can handle. Maybe with the tight curves the trains need to keep their speed down. There were four locomotives and about 10 cars on this train and it just crawled forward. Amazing!

The landscape changed. The yellow and gray soil turned to variations of warm red colour. There were rock outcrops from soil erosion by the spring water runoffs. There were a mixture of scrub brush and coniferous trees draped over the hills. There were hills, valleys, canyons, and flat land. The sky was clear. The air was cool. It is picturesque. It is easy to see why I like this part of New Mexico.

As the train made its way to the peak by the New Mexico state line, I was reminded that my body is susceptible to elevation changes. Now 2,000 metres in elevation, the head aches began. Listlessness set in along with dizziness and a sick feeling.

It has been a while since we cycled through the mountains on the west coast. That conditioning seems to be gone. The past few weeks were at Great Lakes elevations of a few hundred metres. I knew that, for some reasons, my body was susceptible to higher elevation and that it needed a couple of days to adjust. The last time I was here I had problems with cycling. Trying to plan my stay was based on a couple of factors, the weather higher up in the mountains and how quickly I would adjust to the lower amount of oxygen in the air.

  To say the least, the ride from the train station to town was not pleasant, although a short 31 kilometres. It was not the scenery either which was enjoyable. It was the breathing.

  I had options for the ride into town. At the train station there was a small poster standing on a table advising that there is a rail-trail into town. It seems that only the first portion is gravel and the rest is paved. The stationmaster did not seem to know anything about it. I tried to find the entrance but overshot it. The decision was to continue on the road instead and then take the trail from the city on the return to the station in a few days. So, instead of a relatively flat route I ended climbing a few hills. Maybe that was good.

  The first hill was not that steep but I had problems with it. My lung started to hurt. Stopped a few times to make sure there was enough fluid in my system. After a few hills and a stop at a service station for a juice and something to eat, it started to get better. The lung did not hurt as much. So went this short trip.

    Tomorrow will determine what my itinerary for the next few days will be. I was hoping to cycle to Taos. If I do not acclimatize tomorrow then that may not be a way to go. It will be interesting how tonight is. Things are a bit difficult right now.

    Tonight I made a visit back to a restaurant that we went to last time here. The food was good.

    Walking back I could enjoy the warm air, clear air, and the pink adobe style colours on many of the buildings. Glad to be back here and looking forward to the next few days.


Cycling Facilities


Santa Fe

Network Cycling in from the train station was primarily on roads that had paved shoulders. As there was more broken glass on the shoulders than one would like, some clean-up would be worthwhile.

Once Santa Fe was reached the paved shoulders disappeared and were replaced by bike lanes, except for right downtown.

Signage The county roads had bike route signs with the route number.

    In town I saw many roads with a bike route sign. Will explore these more tomorrow trying to determine what a bike route means in this city.


Intersection - Right Turn Lane and Straight Through Bike Lane


One right turn lane with a straight through bike lane was come upon. Santa Fe uses two dotted lines on each side of the bike lane from the start of the right turn lane.


Bike Lane Stencil


Santa Fe also uses the cyclist stencil in bike lanes, rather than the bike stencil.

Highways - Rumble Strip Placement - Too far to the right of the curb lane white line