Day 18 – “Just what I needed” Cars

El Paso to Ft. Hancock 52 miles

Yesterday we enjoyed a Sunday ride through the quiet, sleepy countryside as we headed to El Paso. Traffic was light for the first 40 miles, and then we had to pay attention as we got into urban riding mode. El Paso is not quite as bike friendly as some of the other areas that we have travelled through. Lots of beeping at us, and not in a “just to let you know I am here” mode.

Notable about our arrival into Texas, was that it was a non event. There was not a Welcome to Texas sign anywhere! My official welcome occurred at mile 40 at McDonald’s. We enjoyed another Margarita party to celebrate crossing into Texas. It will be several weeks before we get another celebration.

Today, we headed out a bit later than usual to avoid as much of the Monday morning traffic as possible. Our ride today was just over 50 miles. Typically, I grow concerned when we have a lower mileage day on the cue sheet. These shorter days have translated into many challenging “terrain features”‘ aka hills, climbs etc. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that their was not any surprises in store. The ride was quite pleasant-perfect weather, manageable winds, even favorable at times, and a few sights to see. We even came across a flock of goats being herded across the road! That was quite a sight.

The highlight was heading out on the Mission Trail where we visited two historic mission churches. The first was closed when we arrived, beautiful and pristine from the outside, we were curious as to what it looked like inside. A couple of our riders went over to the mission office and were able to convince them to open up for us. I have faith, but I would not classify myself as “overly, or overtly” religious, but I am always moved when I enter into such places of religion and reverence. The women from the office opened the church for us, and in doing so, they stopped at each alter and gave thanksgiving as if it was the first time they entered. I have been fortunate to have travelled to the Vatican to St. Peter’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey in London, and to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Each of these so grand, and rich in art and religious artifacts. But here in the small mission church, I found myself taken by the simplicity of the architecture, and of the church itself. In the second Mission church, the alter had simple clay pots around it. A reminder to enjoy the simple things, not just the popular, more grand ones.

Today was the first day that I felt as though I was riding to enjoy the day, not to just get through another challenge, or tick off many miles to move us through the next state.

The other reason that we had a relaxing riding day, is that our destination for the night is the small village of Ft. Hancock and the Ft. Hancock Motel. Not much here, a place to stop on the way to somewhere else. We are very close to the Mexican border and have seen an increase in the number of Border Patrol vehicles. Many of these SUV’s are pulling ATV’s which they use to patrol off-road. Two more days before our rest day in Ft. Davis. Each day getting a bit longer, and a bit more challenging.

But I will not think about them until tomorrow, as today was just what I needed.