I rode from Artesia, NM to Hobbs, NM today. I’ve definitely entered the Western edge of U.S. Oil country. The ride was 80 miles, primarily Eastward and just slightly South. The terrain was primarily flat with just a few hills and a total of 1,300 ft of climbing. It was a sunny day (again!), starting out cold in Artesia (high 30s when I left at about 10a) and the Temps were in the 40s and low 50s throughout the rest of the day. No wind in the morning and then a slight tailwind throughout the last half of the ride helped me into Hobbs. The ride was on Hwy 82, then Hwy 529 and finally on Hwy 62/180 into Hobbs.
You’ll see and read more about this below, but this entire region of NM is clearly commercially driven by the oil industry. I had expected that once I make it to TX, but hadn’t realized there is so much oil in Southeastern NM.
Hobbs has a population of about 40,000 people and one of the most notable things I’ve read about the city is that Charles Lindbergh often landed hear and Amelia Earhart landed here in 1928 on the first transcontinental flight by a female (http://www.hobbshistory.com/amelia.html). Cool.
As long as I’m in the area, thought I’d read up a bit on how these oil wells work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_wells. The wells I saw today (many 100s of them) were similar to that described in the Wikipedia article. An electric engine creates a rotary motion, the walking beam turns that into a reciprocating vertical motion and then a set of pipes/valves create pressure to bring the oil/gas to the surface.
Along the highways today, I saw all of the things you would expect around so many oil wells: 1) many 100s of white pick-up trucks driving all over the place (these appeared to be the primary workers servicing the wells), 2) oil trucks, 3) cement trucks, 4) and electrical utility lines everywhere (to drive the oil well motors). Much more traffic than I had expected but it gave me plenty to look at and dodge around throughout the day. Also, oil refineries and an electrical power station.
On to the pictures (I’m having to work harder now to find things worth taking pictures of! Will keep working on increasing the creativity of this over the next few weeks – I’m guessing I’ll have lots of practice…).
Oil refinery in Artesia.
Cool wagon wheel type irrigation system - all iced up early this morning!
Interesting statue in front of a business just East of Artesia. Must have been flowing water in the area at some point in the past - I didn't see any today, just dry river and creek beds - the "dry" theme of my trip continues!
Yes, oil wells.
Basically just showing that its still me on the bike (not much behind me to point out - people in Massachusetts would kill for the size of the yards folks have here - plenty of excess space).
Oh yeah, and it smelled like oil in the area - not the best of smells to ride in for 5 hrs...
This is an electrical power plant between Artesia and Hobbs - I bet its main use is to power all the electrical motors on the oil wells. Lot's of energy that we use to harvest gas/oil to create more energy that we use. Amazing when you think about it that we still can't generate electricity more economically than that direct from the ultimate source, our sun - through solar panels - probably some day but more innovation needed...
Ahhhh, Hobbs - made it!
Little out of sequence here, but this is the landscape about 30 miles west of Hobbs.
Updated map - I've now cycled more than 1,000 miles on the trip, as of today!
Short video of a working oil well.