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November 17, 2019

Rhome, TX to Raton, NM

So today, I rode from Rhome, Texas to Raton, NM. My ride looked something like this.

Sunday. Nov 17, 2019. Odometer: 35,613. Depart Rhome, TX at 9:45 a.m.

1st Fuel Stop: Vernon, Texas. 11:38 a.m. Odometer: 35,756.9. Trip B: 143.9 miles. 4.265 gallons. 33.5 mpg.

2nd Fuel Stop: Claude, Texas. 1:44 p.m. CST. Odometer: 35,904. Trip B: 147.1 miles. 4.265 gallons at $2.29/gallon = $9.81. 147.1 miles / 4.265 gallons = 34.49 mpg.

3rd Fuel Stop: Dumas, Texas. 3:00 p.m. CST. Odometer: 35,982. Trip B: 78 miles. 2.08 gallons at $2.199/gallon = $4.57. 78 miles / 2.08 gallons = 37.5 mpg.

4th Fuel Stop: Raton, New Mexico. 4:24 p.m. MST. Odometer: 36,155. Trip B: 170.4 miles. 4.574 gallons at $2.799 = $12.80. 170.4 miles / 4.574 gallons = 37.25 mpg.

Distance Traveled Today: 542 miles.
Time in the saddle: 7 hours 45 minutes, roughly. (Gained an hour by riding west and crossing into Mountain TIme Zone at the NM state line).

The temperatures today ranged from about 60F this morning in Rhome, up to about 68F, and then back down to about 55F at Raton.

One improvement that I've made is I no longer use my cigarette-lighter-to-USB adapter to charge my iPhone while I'm riding. It only provides electricity to the phone sporadically. So, instead, what I've done for the last 2 days, is I've connected a USB cable to my MacBook Air, and I charge my iPhone with the MacBook Air (stowed inside my C.C. Filson handbag, sitting in my lap as I ride). So, I've got a USB cable sneaked into the suitcase in my lap, drawing power from the MacBook Air as I ride down the highway, constantly charging my iPhone 6S Plus, which I use for navigation.

The iphone-tethered-to-MacBook-Air solution works very well but, this morning, as I was leaving Rhome, it wouldn't function properly. It's a funny feeling to be riding down the highway in 2019 and have all of your technology fail you so that you're basically lost, and not sure which way to go. Like, suddenly you have the technology from 1974 and, without at least paper maps, you're pretty much hosed. I have the Garmin Montana GPS as a backup, so I'm not totally lost, but I pull over, reboot the iPhone, and now it's working fine, and I continue on my journey. I like to have the iPhone because Waze tells me where the police are in real-time, it also warns you of parked/abandoned cars, roadkill, traffic, and countless other hazards.

In my trip across North America, you sorta can't help but notice that, there's no trees west of Dallas. At all, really. Like, back east, there's pine trees and hard woods (oaks, sweet gums, etc), but once you go west of Dallas, there aren't really any trees to speak of. Most of the landscape is just barren wasteland, except in some locations where they grow cotton.

Also, there are no bridges, because there are no rivers, because there is no water.

A lot of west texas is farming cotton, apparently. Similar to what I saw in Mississippi. There (in Mississippi), the cotton litters both sides of the road, as it's harvest time, it seems. I stopped to take a photo of some of the cotton fields in MS, but couldn't get a good shot, and tried to ride my bike a short distance off of the shoulder, and ran over a bail of barbed wire. I was petrified that my tires would go flat, but for some reason, the didn't.

Something is wrong with my bike...maybe more than one thing...one thing is that my chain makes a horrible noise, even though I oil it every morning. Also, the bike sounds like it's missing, at low RPMs, so possibly it needs the spark plugs replaced? Not clear.

The time zone changes from Central to Mountain when you cross into New Mexico. There's a little town in Texas that's very close to the border with NW, named Texline, Texas.

After my fuel stop in Dumas, Texas, I decided to sort of push it a little to try to make the next fuel stop in Raton. I spend an exhorbitant amount of time trying to demistify the fuel gauge on the Africa Twin. Since I've pondered on it for countless hours, I thought I may as well document it as I think I understand it better today than I ever have before.

1) The fuel tank on the 2017 Honda Africa Twin holds 5 gallons of gas. This is fairly well established.
2) The fuel gauge indicator has 5 little lights/bars/indicators on the LCD display.
3) After studying the LCD display bars ad nauseum, I have determined that each of the 5 lights indicates/represents a specific range of fuel in the gas tank.
4) When all 5 LCD bars have been extinguished, there is still 1 gallon of gas in the tank, and the low fuel light indicator starts flashing.
5) Therefore, the range for each of the 5 LCD bars is as follows:
(a) 1st LCD bar - Indicates the fuel capacity between 4.2 - 5 gallons.
(b) 2nd LCD bar - Indicates the fuel capacity between 3.4 - 4.2 gallons.
(c) 3rd LCD bar - Indicates the fuel capacity between 2.6 - 3.4 gallons.
(d) 4th LCD bar - Indicates the fuel capacity between 1.8 - 2.6 gallons.
(e) 5th LCD bar - Indicates the fuel capacity between 1 - 1.8 gallons.
(f) Flashing Fuel Reserve Light - Indicates the fuel capacity between 0 - 1 gallons.

So, today, I decided to push it a little and try to make it to Raton without stopping for fuel in Des Moines, NM, even though I knew I had about 38 miles to go and was about to hit reserve. I'm not a smart man, but it's just that they were charging too much for the fuel and I figured...once it hits reserve, I've got another gallon of gas, and if I get 40 mpg, then I ought to be able to make it 38 miles to Raton. Fortunately, my gamble paid off, and when I refuled my bike in Raton, it would only take 4.574 gallons, so I still had nearly 1/2 of a gallon in my tank. So, I should be able to go about another 20 miles or so on that. But it's not a fun feeling when the sun is getting low and there are zero other cars on the road and I wasn't really sure what to expect when I got to Raton. Only once I got there did I remember that it's a little scam of a town where everyone charges the same exhorbitant rates for fuel. But, I was glad to make it there and still be alive instead of stranded on the side of the road. I should be riding with an extra 2.2 gallon can of fuel on the bike, and why I don't have it for this trip is anyone's guess.

When I roll into Raton, I see a few run down motels, and I go to one of the worst looking ones...I'm not trying to impress anyone here....just spend the night...I ask her how much a room is and she wants something crazy like $60 and I offer her $40 cash. She asks her husband, and he says, "yes...of course". Then I go to McDonald's and eat dinner. I started eating there again because of my Canadian friend Ben.

The room is heated, and I take a shower, and it's the best shower I've ever had. Like...it's one of those crazy shower heads they use to wash circus elephants...lots of pressure, lots of holes, and the shower head is about the size of a frisbee. I turn on the heat in the apartment, and start thinking that I'm going to live to see tomorrow. Life is good.

I ride my bike back to McDonald's and get a free refill on my Diet Coke. For some reason, they only have 2 sizes: Medium and Large. So stupid there are no words.

Posted by Rob Kiser on November 17, 2019 at 6:08 PM


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