Day 5: Wednesday
Distance: 57.73 mi
Average Speed: 14.1 mph
Maximum Speed: 36.8 mph
Time in Motion: 4:04:44
We took our time this morning and slept in a bit. We wandered over to a "bakery" where breakfast burritos were served. After that, we headed southeast toward Alpine.
It was warming up nicely as we rode, and there was not much traffic. The roads were excellent. My knee was a bit sore for a while in hte morning, but it felt better later one. The ride yesterday wore me out a bit, apparently.
Soon we arrived in Alpine, which seems like a nice town. We stopped at "Bikeman's" bike shop. It was nice to visit with "Bikeman," who confirmed that his shop is, in fact, the only bicycle shop in a 200 mile radius. This is our only chance to visit a bike shop on the trip, so we stopped. I needed to replace the pump I lost along the road and Jesse checked the pressure in his tires.
After lunch at a Subway we hit the road for Marathon. It was a beautiful ride. The weather was great, the road was smooth, and the sun was shining as I pedaled between the Del Norte Mountains and Glass Mountains. For a change, I wasn't ready to get to town when we arrived.
Marathon itself turned out to be another twilight-zone town. Each town on the trip thus far has had its own oddities. Many were near ghost towns. But this place looked like it was in business. There are art galleries, bakeries, a fitness center, and so on. But every single place is closed, at least for the day. This is no ghost town. Everything appears to be in business and is very nicely kept up. The signs on the doors of the business indicate they should, at the time we visited, have been open. But they weren't. As we walked around town we hardly saw a single person. It was very strange. Soon, a friendly dog started following us around -- grateful, I assume, to see another living creature. He followed us to the grocery store where Jesse and I were able to get some snacks for lunch.
The town, as I said, it very well kept. It seems like an artsy tourist town. It's fairly modern, clean, and yet maintains a historic character.
We checked into the Gage Hotel, which thankfully is open for business, though it is quite expensive. Our room was $108 for the night. I got the feeling that it is the historic Gage Hotel that draws people to this place. It is a very nice place.
Supper was an interesting adventure. With everything closed near the motel, we opted for dinner in the restaurant attached to the motel. Jesse and I walked downstairs and wandered to through the patio dining area to the front door of the restaurant. The man asked us "Would you like to see a wine list?" I looked around and immediately felt extremely underdressed and self-conscious. I was wearing a t-shirt, some lightweight pants, and tennis shoes. Jesse was wearing a plain white t-shirt and black sweatpants. And this place looked like the nicest of restaurants in downtown Saint Louis. I swear I heard my wallet scream "retreat!!!" But there was no other option for food nearby, so we were seated at a table. A few other patrons could be heard in the other room. The waiter lit a candle on our table and handed us our menus. There were only about ten or fifteen options, and the prices ranged from $30 to $40 each for the entrees. I ordered some pork tenerloin, potato croquette, and roased vegetables. Jesse had a steak of some kind. The food was absolutely amazing, and by far the best we have had (and will have) on this trip. The bill came to over $80 for one meal, which for me was outrageous. But, like I said, it was our only option and ... it was so good.
The Gage Hotel and associated restaurant are a strange anomoly out here. It just doesn't fit in this part of Texas, which is mostly full of mom & pop greasy spoons and Mexican restaurants. I sat at our table confused. The whole town of Marathon doesn't fit here, for one thing. Secondly, why is everything closed when the signs say they're open (and everything is still in business)? Thirdly, where are all the people? We are in the Twilight Zone.
Tomorrow we head for Sanderson. After that, we're not sure what will happen. There is another long stretch without lodging for something like 110 miles. The length of the daylight is again a concern. There are no mountains in our way, but if we had a headwind it could be a really, really, really long day. Thankfully Anita, a woman who knows me through my web site, was able to put us in touch with some people, like her coworker Genie, that have connections with that desolate area we'll be riding through. But we've been unable to arrange any lodging to break up that long stretch. Pray for tailwinds!