Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

The “Roll Your A**” Tour- West Texas and the Big Bend of the Rio Grande

It’s Christmas Eve 2014 and 50 degrees colder here in Santa Fe than what we have been accustomed to. After spending 14 days in west Texas and the Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park and sleeping in the tent or the teardrop trailer we are treating ourselves to two nights in relative luxury at The Lodge at Santa Fe. Tonight we’ll be taking the Christmas Eve Canyon Road Farolito Walk, an apparently popular city event, and ending up at The Palace to listen to some country music!
We have the touring bikes with us and left the truck for two nights in Alpine, TX while we rode to Davis Mountains State Park, down to Marfa and then back to Alpine. From there we drove down to Study Butte near Terlingua and left the truck for three nights while we rode around Big Bend National Park. A more detailed journal can be found here (link will take you to crazyguyonabike dot com)

rider in Big Bend

Riding in Big Bend National Park, a study in scale.

Sierra del Carmen

Riding toward Boquillas, Coahuilla Mexico with the Sierra Del Carmen in the background.

You may be wondering about the title and the name of the tour. We were parked outside the Army surplus store in Farmington, New Mexico, having just purchased and installed a carrier for our five gallon water container, when a white man of late middle age pulled up in his large Dodge Ram pickup truck, and walked over to ask about out teardrop trailer. When I told him where we were headed (West Texas) he asked if I had a gun because they, Mexicans, “will roll your a**”. That ended our conversation. At first I considered that he may be right and that I was foolish for bringing my wife down to the land of marauding banditos. But as we drove through the trashy, rundown outskirts of Farmington where iron bars adorn all the doors and windows of the homes and businesses, I began to consider that maybe he was not right. Maybe he lives in a bubble of fear and hatred and xenophobia, emboldened by hate radio and by Fox News. I was angered by the fact that just because I look like him he felt like he could vomit his racist venom on me. Then I began to feel a little sorry for him because his attitudes keep him locked in a shitty little world.
In the end, we weren’t rolled. We rode our bikes and hiked along the Rio Grande and we camped under the stars in some of the most magnificent country on the planet. The people we met were friendly and courteous, some of them going out of their way to see if we needed anything, or to offer us places to park the truck, or recommending places to go and things to see. I’m sure there are many places along the border where his predictions could come true, but there are many places in American cities, such as Farmington, where they could come true as well. I’m certain that if I looked hard enough I could even find someone who looks like me who would be happy to “roll my a**.

2 comments… add one
  • Bicycle Touring Pro - Darren Alff December 28, 2014, 5:31 am

    Bicycle touring through Big Bend National Park looks pretty epic. I’d love to do that one day.

    • Bike Hermit™ December 28, 2014, 4:16 pm

      Yes the riding is epic. But, as one of the park employees told us; it is not designed for bicycles. Distances between services are great and the roads generally follow the original contours of the land which means there is lots of climbing, some of it pretty steep. The weather can be extreme too and one really needs to plan ahead for all contingencies. The unpaved roads can be extremely primitive and rugged too.


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