Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 12: Altar, Sonora to 10 miles from Santa Ana, Sonora....Then on to Nogales, AZ

Day 12: Saturday, October 22    Altar, Sonora to Kilometer Marker 16 on Highway 2, Nogales bus terminal to Nogales, Arizona      Miles: 40     Flats: 4, 8 (trip, total)

We left Altar feeling great.  We had a delicious breakfast of nopalitos cactus at the migrant shelter and we picked up some groceries for the day and we were off!  We were going strong until exactly mile 2.77 when I had to call Eric back because my rear tire was flat again.  At this point, both the tube on the bike and the extra had been patched in the same place with thicker pieces of innertube because we thought the problem was a little piece of the metal bead that was coming out of the tire.  When we took the wheel off this time, and pulled out the tube, Eric realized we were misdiagnosing the problem.  There was rubbing all the way around the inside the tube and the real culprit was determined: The Velox Rim Tape.

Day 12 = this times four

I bought this rim tape that I was told was the best, but I didn't know it came in different sizes.  It covers the spokes on the inside of the rim TO PREVENT FLATS.  Well, the size I bought was too wide to fit neatly in the depression of the rim, so it was poking up and rubbing on the innertube.  We ripped it out, found only one hole for the moment, patched it and biked on.

We stopped for snacks around mile 25 and after a delicious coke and some beef jerky, my tire was low again.  Off came the bags and boxes, over went the bike and on went another patch.  In the same exact spot.  But the thing is, patches that are in the same exact spot as another patch don't want to stick, because there is already old glue and dirt and crud there.  At this point, the rear tube and the extra tube had been patched a couple times in the same place (and the front tube is probably rubbing on Velox too, but hasn't blown yet!).

We were back in hilly country, expecting to climb at least 300 meters in the day's ride.  It was beautiful and surprisingly Eric and I were actually really glad to be using our hill muscles again.  I realized I like how a hill provides a simple goal that you can see, while you can see a flat, straight stretch go on forever in the desert and you can already tell there is no where to stop for a coke.

But we were dragged down by mechanical difficulties and my tire went flat twice more in the next ten miles.  On the last one, my anger spiked as we pushed the bikes toward a teeny patch of shade made by a mesquite tree.  But when we finally decided that the only option was to hitchhike the last 10 miles to Santa Ana, I got really excited!  I had never hitchhiked and I always wanted to!! Not necessarily in Sonora, Mexico, but what choice did we have in that one?

In fewer than 20 minutes, a nice driver named Alfredo (otro angel de nuestro viaje) pulled his big truck over and we were able to tie our bikes up in the back and jump in the cab.  We chatted about migrants and narcos and the situation in Mexico  and his job hauling stoves and washers and refrigerators from Tijuana to Monterrey as we rode to Santa Ana and then to Magdelena, 20 km more down the road.  He spoke bluntly about politics in Mexico and even showed us how he was ripping off his company by paying the employee at Pemex to inflate the invoice when he purchased diesel.  He said the company expected him to do that, because they know he can't live on their wages, and that is just how Mexico works.  He did make me nervous when he texted while driving--I imagined the text "picked up another two...I will drop them off for you at X point."  But we were delivered safely in Magdelena where we had intended on spending the night.

Eric, tying our bikes in the back of the truck

Magdelena, Sonora is beautiful! We tried to find our contact, who had apparently moved to Tucson, and we tried one last time to fix the tubes.  Eric ripped off the old patches and cleaned the tubes with gasoline so there was no old residue.  Still, the patches would not stick.  My wheels are 27" which is bigger than a normal tire, so we knew we wouldn't be able to find new tubes in town.  With few options left, but much indecision, we opted to take a bus to Nogales for $7.00 each (cheaper than a hotel).  We were only a day's ride away, 70 little miles, so we were really disappointed as we tucked our bikes under the bus.

Pretty Magdelena - hope to visit again someday

Arriving in Nogales, Sonora, we stretched Eric's extra 26" tube on my wheel and rode (in the dark) to the port of entry.  We zipped through and made it to the apartment in Nogales, Arizona where we had lived this past August with no problem, except bruised egos.  But we were so happy to be there and count ourselves lucky that we only missed one day of riding and we were able to see Altar.

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