About Author: Alex Wilson

Alex is a Vermont-based writer and president of the Resilient Design Institute. He is also founder of BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, a leading provider of information on green building practices. Among his more career-focused books and articles, Alex is the co-author of four Quiet Water Canoe and Kayak Guides published by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Posts by Alex Wilson


Day 21 – Biking to the Stars

Route 118

On Route 118, heading toward the Davis Mountains. Click on any image to enlarge.

13 April 2011 (posted the next day). It was a long, hard day today. I had wanted to get a really early start, but ended up not getting off until 7:45—though that wasn’t too long after sunrise. For the first 39 miles, I was heading due east along Interstate 10—the first half of that on a nice frontage road, the second half on the Interstate shoulder. There was supposed to be a strong tailwind all day and it started out that way, but then, inexplicably, the wind shifted to a modest headwind for about 20 miles. (The wind makes such a difference!)

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 20 – Entering Central Time Zone

Frontage Road

The untraveled frontage road along I-10. Easy pedaling! Click on any image to enlarge.

12 April 2011. Uneventful is good! I took it easy today, pedaling only 36 miles—including the length of Van Horn and back upon my arrival to town. I was fighting a fairly strong headwind (over 20 mph for most of the distance, I would guess), but the only elevation gain was about 400 feet as I-10 crossed over the Carrizo Mountains.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 19 – Tired and Sore – But I Fixed a Flat

Bike repairs

Leo appeared seemingly out of nowhere on his 100-day Walk Across America.

11 April 2011. No sooner did I have my panniers removed from my bike and the rear wheel off—with everything strewn along the unused terminus of the I-10 frontage road—than this chipper voice came out of nowhere. “Hi, I’m Leo Schreven, and I’m walking across America in 100 days” (or something like that). I had been so focused on my first flat—and nervous about fixing it, as it had been many years since I’ve fixed a flat myself—that I didn’t notice him approaching.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 18 – Continuing on to Texas

In front of Lee Herman's house

Getting ready to head out at the not-so-bright-and-early time of 9:50. I'm in front of Lee Herman's house in Las Cruces--what a great host! Click on any image to enlarge.

10 April 2011. I was undecided last night as to whether I would take a “recovery” day in Las Cruces, or press on. I figured that either way, I’d take it easy in the morning. If I decided to leave, I only wanted to get to around El Paso.

In the morning, though, I considered the situation a little more closely. The weather forecast was for a west wind of about 20 mph—ideal for biking, as long as you’re going eastward. I realized that it was Sunday; El Paso is a pretty big city with significant rush-hour traffic—so better to get past there as much as possible on a non-work-day. And finally, my experience with the wind in Hatch took quite a toll on my confidence. If I could have a good day, that might do a lot for me emotionally.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 17 – Did you say windy?

Windy on Route 187

The wind started to pick up as I biked south along Route 187. Dust from dry fields would be picked up and blown across the road.

9 April 2011. I’m sitting in the Hatch Public Library, out of the wind as I await my rescue.

I left early this morning from Kingston, as planned. It was still dark, so I had my headlight and rear flasher on, plus my flashlight easily accessible should I need to identify some mystery animal along the road. I must, say, it was pretty amazing bicycling all alone down Route 152 from Kingston to Hillsboro. Not a car passed me for the first ten or twelve miles.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 16 – No Longer Resting – Up and Over Emory Pass

Self-protrait at Emory Pass

A self-portrait at Emory Pass.

8 April 2011. I got a fairly early start out of Silver City this morning: 7:30 am. I lingered long enough to get some breakfast at the hotel (opened at 7) and let the air warm a bit (from the low-40s). Initially, my left knee was pretty sore, but after pedaling a little while it felt much better.

My route took me east on Route 180 to Central, then on Route 152 through Hanover and up over Emory Pass to Kingston, New Mexico. Central used to be called Santa Clara, but the town became an open-pit copper mine, and residents were relocated. Indeed, the massive Santa Rita Copper Mine, easily viewable from 152, was my first stop this morning.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 15 – Still Resting in Silver City – and a Visit to City of Rocks

City of Rocks

An afternoon outing to City of Rocks State Park, between Silver City and Deming. Click on any image to enlarge.

7 April 2011. Another day of generally taking it easy. After the continental breakfast at the hotel, I changed my room at the Palace Hotel to the less expensive single ($51) room I had originally wanted. That meant a bit of packing and organizing.

Then I took my bike to Gila Hike & Bike for a “fitting.” The saddle (seat) height was just right, but it’s about an inch to an inch-and-a-half further forward than it really should be—according to measurements that the co-owner, Jay, took using a plumb line. He was able to move the saddle back slightly, but less than a quarter-inch. A different saddle might allow it to set back further, but I don’t really want to break in a new saddle on a trip. I guess the frame should really be slightly longer for my body. Jay also adjusted the clips on my pedals so my shoes won’t slip out and secured the magnetic pick-up for the bike computer so that it should work better now.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 14 – Resting in Silver City

Downtown Silver City

That's the Palace Hotel on the left--corner of Bullard and Broadway--where I'm staying. Click on any image to enlarge.

6 April 2011 (posted the following morning). If I were looking for excuses as to why I’m not bicycling today (or tomorrow), I could point to the “Red Flag Warnings” for the area. Prior to this trip I hadn’t come across that term—a high wind advisory—but I’ve seen it several times now. Steady winds of 30 mph with gusts in the upper 40s were forecast for today and tomorrow. I suspect that Emory Pass, which I’ll cross, is even windier.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 13 – New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment

Route 78.

New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment. Here I'm coming out of the mountains on Route 78 into the Mule Creek Valley. Click on any image to enlarge.

5 April 2011 (posted the following morning). The biggest problem at the hotel I’m staying in is that my room is on the second floor. Coming upstairs to my room just now, after posting yesterday’s blog down in the front lobby, my legs are protesting loudly! I’m spent!

Though today’s ride was probably easier than yesterday’s (at least relative to elevation gain), I had worn myself out yesterday, so today’s ride was hard. I was also bucking a headwind most of the day—though, mercifully, it turned around toward the end of the day and helped push me up the gradual, 1,600-foot climb toward Silver City, where I am now. There was also a section of road today—Route 78 when I came into New Mexico (absolutely gorgeous)—where there are many steep dips and rises. On the elevation profile I have of the Southern Tier route, those level out, and the ride appears pretty-much flat, but on most of those uphills I had to shift into my lowest gear and really crank at 4 mph. Exhausting!

Read the rest of this entry »


Day 12 – Climbing into the Mountains Toward New Mexico

Climbing toward New Mexico

The notch in the far distance is the pass--preceded by lots of hairpin switchbacks. Click on any image to see a larger version.

4 April 2011 (posted the following evening). I’m at the Cole Creek Campground in Apache National Forest. Beautiful spot. As soon as I got over the pass from the west, ponderosa pine appeared; it’s great to see a tree again!. So it’s more than dust, gravel, and cactus at this campground, which is just over 6,000 feet in elevation.

Quite a day of climbing it was! I started around 7:20 at my WarmShowers host family in Safford. Over breakfast, I chatted with Mons Larson’s father—that’s the house where I’m actually staying. Real character. He must be at least 80, but is president of the Electric Co-op with 10,000 customers and seven or eight power plants—some coal, some natural gas; he also delivers excess milk to poor people and a soup kitchen. Also, a great sense of humor.

Read the rest of this entry »