Thursday, June 30, 2016

Over the pass to Silverthorne

Day 24 - June 30th
24.7 miles (plus 56 slacker miles)
Total: 954 miles

I don't know how we managed nearly 25 miles today. I was still feeling less than perfect, and our ride into town for random groceries showed that I wasn't full strength.

We needed to get to Silverthorne today to stay on schedule. I have a friend meeting us on Sunday, a home stay scheduled for a couple days after that, and a potential home stay a few days after that. I was in no shape to ride the 70 miles to Silverthorne, and the weather was calling for rain and thundershowers all day long, not exactly what one wants when biking over a pass.

Apricots and I sat at a coffee shop discussing our options. I made a few calls to people listed with WarmShowers, a service the connects cyclists to one another for support. After going through almost all possible scenarios, we found a host in Buena Vista. I asked if we could take a rest day at his home to save money, or if he could shuttle us down the road to help us keep schedule. Mark kindly offered to take us to the top of the pass so that we could roll down hill into Silverthorne. As I was only weak, this felt like the best option.

Mark (the second Mark to help us on this trip) picked us up and drove us up the Arkansas river valley, a premier whitewater rafting river. He told us a little history of the area, and movements to turn the defunct rail line into a trail for pedestrians and cyclists. Currently the government says no, so the locals are pursuing a different option to turn an old stagecoach road into a pathway.

We passed through Granite, Leadville, and finally Climax, an obsolete town that was taken over by a giant Molybdenum mining operation. The top of the pass was a giant scar on the landscape, but still very cool to look at.

Since the rain was falling the heaviest at the top of the pass, Mark drove us a bit further to a bike trail on the other side. He saved us the burden of cycling on a highway in a rainstorm. Instead we could cycle a beautiful bike path down into Frisco, and then on to Silverthorne, all of it mostly downhill.

The rain didn't let up much, but we made the wet grind down to Frisco where we stopped in to warm up and have lunch. After lunch we cycled t he last bit down to Silverthorne, taking a winding path around Dillon Reservoir, before crossing the dam and dropping in to Silverthorne.

Silverthorne is a nice town nestled in a valley behind a giant dam. It's a little unsettling to look up at a wall of rock, knowing how much water weight is pressing against the rock. I sure hope the dam is over engineered.

In town we bought new tires for our bikes and did laundry, the had a tasty dinner at a Bakery/Brewery.

The forecast for the next few days is rain. I am not looking forward to biking in cold rain.... but we must push on if we are going to do this whole trail.

Tonight we spoiled ourselves to a hotel for solid rest. Hopefully my illness bug will have taken leave by morning.

Live life at a slower place.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Is New Mexico still chasing us?

Day 23 - June 29th
26.8 miles
Total: 929.3 miles
Moving Avg: 9.4 mph

We woke at six this morning. The room was pretty warm, but it was good to get rest. We used the kitchen in the hostel to make some hot coffee. It is nice to have such simple pleasantries, as we travel without a stove to cook our food. We eat only cold food. Unfortunately, this makes town food that much more alluring, and hard to live on a limited budget.

By seven am we were rolling down the highway toward Silverthorne. We were both wanting an easier ride, so we saw a path along a rail line that led to our next town stop. Since the highway paralleled a river and rail line, we knew the climb would be super gradual, and paved the whole way. On top of that, it passes through Leadville, CO. Word has it that this city has the highest elevation airport in the United states.

Twelve miles down the road, Apricots and I sat on a curb at a gas station eating tortillas and tuna, and drinking gatorade. I was feeling low energy so we took an early lunch at the gas station.

Twelve miles past there, I was really struggling with my energy, so we pulled into a coffee shop in Buena Vista. We had coffee and tiramisu. Amped from the coffee, we headed out of town for the final thirty five miles to camp at Sugar Loafin Campgrounds.

Two miles later, I was crashing hard, and Apricots made the executive decision to call it a day. She knew I was sick from something, and that I needed rest. We pulled into an RV park and set up camp.

I think I had some bad water, as I have been visiting the bathroom more than I should, and I was obviously low energy. I crashed in the tent, while Apricots biked back to town (in a light rain) to get me some probiotics, zinc, and grapefruit seed extract. She played doctor for me today, pumping fluids and being the awesome person that she is.

Hopefully my energy will be back tomorrow. We have a big day.

I wonder if the illness is from bad water. We did accidentally pull water from a civil tap that had warnings of e. Coli in the water.... but that was all the way back in Vallecitos, NM.

Maybe the pizza was bad food....

Maybe I am just tired from so many hard days. Maybe New Mexico finally caught up with us and is still trying to officially kill me.

Live life at a slower place.

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The Salida Reset

Day 22 - June 28th
51 miles
Total: 902.5 miles
Moving Avg: 7.3 mph
Overall Avg: 4.2 mph

This morning we made the long gradual ascent to Marshall Pass. It wasn't slow though. The grade was a perfect grade. It allowed us to gain elevation, but not fatigue from the steepness, a near perfect 200 feet per mile for all sixteen miles. I never needed to push the bike, and the two of us only needed to take a handful of one minute breaks. If all climbs were that easy, I would be happy. On top of that, the quality of the road was near perfect with a fine gravel and hard packed dirt combination, all energy exerted moves us up and forward.

We knew that the grade going down was identical, so happiness awaited us on the otherside. A descent that is graded so there is no need to Pedal, nor any need to break. We arrived at the top and enjoyed tortillas and tuna and mayo and mustard. hose mayo and mustard packets bring dull food to life.

On the flip side we started our 25 mile descent to Salida. It turned out to be a very bumpy road for the first half. In fact, it was too bumpy to coast. As such, we ride with our hands poised on the breaks. During a particularly bumpy stretch I noticed my rear brake suddenly stopped working. Then my rear tire fell off. I heard this loud grinding of rubber on metal, and screamed "oh shit! Oh Shit! OH SHIT!"

I managed to get my feet unclipped from the pedals and on the ground before falling over. Fortunately my tire stayed close enough to in frame to prevent me from crashing down onto the derailer or frame and causing serious damage to the bike. Unfortunately, the rest of the ride down the mountain I was paranoid it would happen again. So we descended at a dismally slow pace for downhill.

The last ten miles into Salida were paved and downhill so I finally picked up confidence to move at a normal pace. We cruised into town, and went to the bike shop first. I wanted a mechanic to look over the bike and double check that everything was okay. He gave it a thumbs up, but tried to sell me on a new tire. This is probably a good idea, but we are going to hold until Silverthorne to make that purchase.

Post bike shop, we hit up lunch, and made plans for our next leg. We decided to save money, we would push out of town about six miles. A not-so-quick stop at a grocery store, and we were on our way out of town.

As we left, we bumped into Joy. As we all suspected, it was probably the last time we would see each other, so we said our goodbyes, and pushed out of Salida, into the very steep, very humid, next leg.

Three miles in, and about 1000 feet of elevation gain, Apricots and I decided that we weren't wanting to do it. We both had uneasy feelings about the leg, and a strong desire to get solid rest.... and some ice cream, pizza, and beer.

We turned back and checked in to a Hostel. We then got pizza and beer. Then ice cream. Then warm dry quiet sleep.

Live life at a slower place.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two Passes in a day!

Day 20 - June 26th
65.1 miles
Total: 803 miles
Moving Avg: 6.9 mph
Overall Avg: 4.6 mph

Tired.

We went to bed late, after two racers arrived at the hostel. They are tandem riding the divide. Crazy.

Then we woke early and made the 20 mile jaunt to La Garita. On the way there we dealt with some rough two track roads that were fun and wobbly and bouncy, but we also went down a sandy wash for a couple miles. I hit the sand and fell. I laid dead on the ground until Apricots asked if I was okay. I was fine. Just a fool on the ground clipped to his pedals awkwardly.

The breakfast at La Garita fueled us up to the top of our first pass, Carnero pass at 10,120 feet. A long descent followed to a very hot highway with no shoulder space.

Six miles later we started our climb up the second pass. Cochepa pass (don't quote me on the pass names, I am beat and too lazy to check) is also a little over 10,000 feet. While resting in the shade, Joy and Jeff caught up with us. They are two other tour cyclists moving at roughly the same pace as us.

The four of us made the slow jaunt up the pass, in a desperate search for water. Each passing creek bed was dry and reminded us of New Mexico. Near the top, Jeff scored us some water from a group of people camping with RV Trailers.

Refueled with water, we made the final push to Luders Creek Campground, where we ate dinner together and congratulated one another for cycling two (ish) passes in a day, and putting away 65 miles on dirt roads with over 5000 feet of climbing in the day.

Getting stronger.
Tired.

Live life at a slower place.

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Nothing to Report Here Folks

Day 21 - June 27th
48.5 miles
Total: 851.5 miles

The cow's moo was heard all night long. We made fun of it, but then some nearby campers told us that the farmer had just separated the calves from their mother.

The moo was a call from mom to her babies. And it went on all night long. And that is sad.

The day was rather simple, with little to report. We finished our ascent of Cochetepo Pass, and then made the long gradual descent to Sargents. In the last six miles to Sargents, I bonked. My speed dropped dramatically, even though the last miles were flat and on paving.

We arrived at the trading post, where I ate much food, and had two giant iced teas. The caffeine did nothing to wake me. I wanted to nap, and eventually I gave up hope on pushing ten more miles toward Marshall Pass.

Apricots and I decided to get a mini cabin so we could shower, do laundry, and get solid rest before the climb tomorrow.

Today we passed the center of the racing herd. We passed probably 20 racer cyclists today, and had pleasant conversation with those who paused for a chat.

Live life at a slower place.

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Day 20 Addendum

I was too tired last night to give much effort to the blog post. I missed a couple details.

When we stopped in La Garita for breakfast, we also bought two sodas to bring with us over Carnero Pass. As we made the climb we were hoping to get over the pass before the afternoon thundershowers. For the most part we made the 18 mile ascent without stopping for breaks. As we neared the top, we started hearing thunder, and saw a lingering storm cloud chasing us. We kept climbing and looking back to see if we were outpacing the thunder cloud.

Near the top we were losing steam, so we pulled out our sodas to sugar burst us over the top. Apricots had a soda with "This is how we do it" written on the can. She read it aloud, and I thought she was referencing how we push ourselves over passes, then I realized she was reading her can.

I read mine:

"I'm on top of the world."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

All that downhill

Day 19 - June 25th
29.4 miles (plus a couple town miles)
Total: 737.9 miles
Moving Avg: 9.3 mph
Overall Avg: 5.5 mph

We made it to Del Norte. And even though it was pretty much all downhill, I am tired, so this will be a short one.

Up early, we made the 90 minute climb to the top of Indiana Pass, the highest point on the Great Divide trail. It is marked at 11,910 feet, but after going over the pass we climbed just a hair higher to 11,945. See the attached picture for our 6:45 joy. We almost made it on time to catch the sunrise.

Following that climb, we made a 23 mile descent of roughly 4000 feet. We passed four or five racers, and wished them luck on their long climb.

By 9am we were at a biker hostel. I rushed over to the Post Office. A care package from my folks arrived, full of tasty treats. Additionally, our new tent arrived. I returned to the hostel, and we set it up. I am so happy with it. Sure it may be heavier, but it is bigger, and it zips shut on both sides. No climbing over one another. No dripping water. No mosquitos.

Then we ate pizza and had some beer and cheesecake. Then laundry. Then three or four hours at the bike shop.

A new bike shop in Del Norte just opened. Kristi Mountain Store is a satellite store to their main location in Alamosa. The staff were super helpful, and helped Apricots and I learn more about our bikes. We got new chains, and Apricots had some other modifications done to her bike, including a rack which will enable her to carry a more equal share of our joint load. (Maybe I will soon be walking less, with a lightened load).

Back to the hostel for dinner, and packing. Tomorrow we have 37 miles to cover to get to the top of the next pass. We hope to get there before thundershowers.

Sargents in two days.
Salida the day after.
Silverthorne two days later.

That's the plan at least.

Live life at a slower place.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Destination Summitville

Day 18 - June 24th
33.9 miles (plus 3.8 slacker miles)
Total: 708.5 miles

Here we sit in a hail storm at 11,300 feet, four miles from the highest point on the Great Divide, Indiana Pass.

How did we get here?

Today has been, in my opinion, the most beautiful day of our ride thus far. We woke a touch later than we usual do, but we only planned to do about 30 miles.

Our ride started with a gradual ascent through the Conejos River Valley, where cabins and lodges nestled themselves in the green valley in an idyllic setting that  have only existed in puzzles, postcards, and calenders until now. As we climbed up the valley, we would bend each new curve to find new delights to photograph.

Sixteen miles later, we rolled into Platoro, CO. This tiny town should have been our destination yesterday, but we fell short and tired. It is a cute little town nestled in between the striking hills which make the Conejos river valley. We stopped in at the Gold Nugget Cafe for a breakfast of french toast and cheeseburgers.

Deliciousness consumed, we moved along. The weather report told us thundershowers would head our way around 4pm. We had high ambitions of making it over the pass by then. I didn't think it was likely, but maybe we could pull it off.

Yesterday we spoke with a Tour Divide Racer (he was around eighth place at the time, out of about 200). We talked about how hard it was for us, but that we felt we may be getting stronger. He said, "That's the difference between tour biking, and race biking. As a tour biker, you start off weak and build up your strength. As a race biker, you start off strong and quickly deplete yourself until you are just a shell of a human."

Maybe he was right, maybe the cheeseburger, french toast, and coffee, did it, but Apricots and I killed it climbing out of Platoro. We kept a solid pace, and rode the whole first climb without walking our bikes. A couple hours later, we were seeing the potential of hitting Indiana Pass. The clouds hadn't really started forming, and we were maintaining a decent pace.

....did I mention everything was beautiful....

We made our way to the top of the difficult climb for the day. We had some wobbles up and down to do, and then a six hundred foot climb to the top of Indiana Pass. Then it started raining.

Then it cleared up.
Then we started rolling our way to Summitville. We didn't want to get caught in a lightening storm, so we were hoping to find decent shelter in the abandoned mining town. On our way in the rain, we flagged a passing ATV type vehicle, and asked if Summitville had any shelter. They said they didn't know, but they would be happy to throw our bikes on the back and drive us there.

Since it was raining, and mostly downhill, we decided to take them up on the 3.8 mile ride. Once we got to Summitville, the only shelter was a metal picnic shelter, perched in the open space. We decided that may not be the best place to hang out during the passing lightening storm, so we ducked behind some derelict miners huts, and set up a tent by the trees.

Shortly afterward, the rain came. Then the thunder, and lightening, and the hail. It was then that we learned our tent was also no longer water proof, as drops fall on us, while I write this.

----
Sixty minutes later, the thundershowers passed. We decided to pack it up and make a last ditch dive for Del Norte. Since we were in a mining community, there was an abundance of roads to confuse us on our way out. I flagged a car down and asked for directions. The gentleman was fairly certain we were moving in the right direction, but by that time, new thunder clouds were looming overhead.

We asked if more lightening was likely, as we are still adjusting to the afternoon Colorado storms. He didn't know, but invited us to take shelter in the Water Treatment plant. We took him up on the offer.

Years ago, Summitville was a gold and silver mining town with over 700 residents. Now it is abandoned. A break in one of the mining systems caused unhealthy amounts of cyanide, copper, and other heavy metals to enter the water runoff, all the way down the system. The EPA stepped in and built the water treatment facility to clean the water before it runs down hill.

Every year, the treatment plant collects water runoff from the winter melt, treats it, and then sends it on its way. All of this snazzy information came because the car I flagged is the boss of the water treatment facility. He invited us to spend the night in a board room, and gave us a grand tour of the process. It was pretty cool, and we are grateful to have a dry flat surface to sleep.

Tomorrow, we gotta wake up early and make it to Del Norte before the post office closes, or we will be trapped in town until Monday...which Apricots might like due to the tasty brewery we have now been informed of.

Live life at a slower place.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hello Colorado!

Day 17 - June 23rd
20.7 miles (7 slacker miles)
Total: 674.6 miles

We slept hard last night. We were exhausted. Those miles were behind us, or so we thought.

It sprinkled off and on through the night, so the route had no chance to dry. I figured that once we got moving it would be dry. We slept later than usual, and the sun had started to burn off the clouds, finally hitting the road to turn the soft clay into a hard packed dirt.

Nope, the route had other plans for us. Within half a mile my back tire seized up. I flipped the bike over and went to work clearing the mud out. For whatever reason, the mud seems to gather between my tire and fender but not Apricots' tire and fender. She can't ride in the mud, but her tire doesn't lock up like mine. I think it is a combination of my heavier load, and slightly different installation of the fender.

For roughly four miles we pushed our bikes over the grassy meadows to avoid the mud trap road. It was so inviting, looking all smooth and easy pedaling, but one minute on the road would lead to ten minutes of clearing mud off the wheel and fender.

Eventually we dropped far enough in elevation that soil composition with rocks and less rain made the road a manageable ride, or maybe the sun had finally baked the clay. Miles began to disappear as we rolled downhill.

Just before leaving New Mexico, the state threw one more climb at us, as if to say "I am still trying to kill you." Our energy was low from high altitude, hard work, and next to no food left, but we pushed through the climb and crossed a cattle guard from New Mexico into Colorado.

Happy dance was had by all two of us, and the last of our food was consumed as a snack, before we rolled on into Colorado. The trail was beautiful and green.

We rode our way to a rail crossing, energized by the sound of a train whistle. We waited at the rail for the train to come, but never saw it. I believe we had barely missed the opportunity to see the classic black steam locamotive of the Cumbres  and Toltec scenic rail line, a 64 mile path at the border of New Mexico and Colorado that regularly draws onlookers as it pushes its way through the mountains at 10,000 feet.

Since Apricots and I both heard the train, twice, but never saw it, I am convinced there is a person with a train whistle/horn that watches for cyclists passing by. He blares the whistle/horn to tease us, and places bets on how long we linger before moving on. We lingered 15 minutes. We never found the train station we were hoping to get a snack at.

Half a mile later, we were on paved road. Two miles later, our destination for brunch was closed and for sale. Our chains were grimy from mud, so we stopped to clean and grease the chains to make the ride easier. We still had to climb back up to 10,230 to cross over Manga Pass.

Depleted of energy, we churned slowly past the closed restaurant and up to the pass. At least we would be to Horca in a couple hours for lunch. We hit the high point and had an amazing ride down a very quiet highway. Dropping close to 2000 feet over five miles, we glided with happiness towards Horca.

It almost erased all of our hard memories of the last couple days.

When we arrived in Horca, the restaurant and convenience store were both closed (permanently). All we had for food on us was a half empty bottle of Tapatio, and a liter of water.

I flagged a car and asked where the nearest food was. He talked of places 15 to 20 miles away, and I sank a little. Then he mentioned a small store down the road seven miles at a ranch. I caved, and asked if we could throw our bikes in the truck for a ride up to the store.

We hopped in the truck, and made our way to the store. Drained of energy, we caved to the idea of renting a cabin so we could shower and rest for our next leg. The shower was cold, and the grocery options were abysmal and overpriced. On the bright side, we feel refreshed, revitalized and ready to tackle the highest point on the trail in a couple days.

Also we gave our bikes a shower. They were covered in an inch of mud/cow crap almost everywhere.

Time for dinner, and then bed. Early morning climb tomorrow.

Live life at a slower place.

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Aspen and happy elevations.

Day 15 - June 21st
47 miles
Total: 619.1miles
Moving Avg: 5.7 mph
Overall Avg:

Today was a bit of a climb. I don't really feel the altitude, but our pace shows it.

After an early wakeup, we made a small climb before descending into Vallecitos, NM. The town is dilapidated and tiny. We were chased by nearly wild dogs that were biting at my tires. Pedal fast, and bark back. In doing so, we almost missed the turn for the Community Center.

I called to Apricots to turn around and come back, so we could use the community center. The building was closed, but the water tap was on outside, so we topped off our water.

But, more importantly, there was a WiFi connection. I logged on to REI and placed an Order for a new tent. After Apricots spent the better part of ten minutes squishing bugs with tape (our makeshift flyswattwer), she was convinced that a tent was a good idea. Hopefully it will arrive in Del Norte before we do, so that we can swap out our tent.

We pushed another five miles to Canon Plaza, where a lady runs a tiny snack stand. We are talking about a village of ten to fifteen houses in the middle of nowhere. She sees enough people going to the mountains for hunting or fishing, so she opened up a 100 square foot shack of random treats.

Apricots and I pulled up on our bikes, and she drove down on her ATV to sell us happiness. My happiness was a soda, a coffee, two burritos, two small pies, some corn nuts, a gatorade, and probably something I am forgetting. Apricots had a little less than I did, but we chowed down on some nomnoms while talking with the owner for a long while.

Then we pushed on to make our climb up and over Burned mountain. The route was very steep at first, a definite pusher, but then alternated between short downhills and long steady uphills. We took lunch at an abandoned cabin next to a spring. It was wonderful being in the green of higher elevations. Aspen trees joined the Ponderosa trees, and sage and Pinon disappeared as elevation was gained.

Just before we crested, a thunderstorm rolled over. We took shelter in the trees for a little while. Then when the rain eased up, we carried on upward to an elevation of 10,020 feet, before descending to Hopewell Lake, where a camper gave us water so that we didn't have to filter.

Just as we left Hopewell lake, the rain started falling hard. We returned to the day use area and took shelter from the rain for thirty minutes. A southbound pseudo racer joined us. We exchanged info on trail to come. He has been out for about as long as us, yet he has covered 2000 miles to our 650 or so. Crazy man said he has been sleeping in ditches and outhouses.

After the rain died down, we pushed nine miles further to Cisneros Park, where we now reside. And amazingly, we have cell service, so I should be able to send this off tonight.

Our goal is Horca tomorrow. Summitville on Thursday and Del Norte on Friday.

Only 40.2 miles until Colorado. Woot woot!

Live life at a slower place.

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New Mexico is still trying to kill us.

Day 16 - June 22nd
34.8 miles
Total: 653.9 miles
Moving Avg: 4.6 mph
Overall Avg: 3.0 mph

The day can be summarized best by a direct quote from a Southbound Tour Divide racer. Less than nine miles into the state of New Mexico, he says, "I already hate New Mexico."

Well, we hoped to roll in to Horca today, but New Mexico isn't done trying to kill us. We had a climb to 10,950 feet to accomplish today, which we did. But my God was a difficult day.

Or at least the second half of the day. Our sunrise ride through Cisneros Park was beautiful. We then made some fairly easy climbs through dense Aspen groves. In fact, most of the climb up to 10,300 feet was fairly easy and pleasant. But once we hit that elevation, everything got harder.

We stopped for second lunch. While eating, Apricots said, "I wish there was a way for me to eat and nap at the same time." Good fun.

Then the trail became too bumpy to pedal up, and the thunderstorms came. And by the time we were cresting the mountain, it was raining and hailing on us. On the back side, on the way down, we encountered even steeper, even rockier terrain. We couldn't even ride down as it was too slick and dangerous.

We walked our bikes. When the rocks ended, we were excited to have gravel road to ride on, but that quickly turned to mud. My tires got so mucked up that I struggled to push the bike. Apricots and I pushed the bikes slowly in the grass beside the trail, gathering muck and grime on our feet and bikes, until we were too tired to move on.

We set up camp, and ate the remnants of food we had left. Our leg was supposed to end today, so our pickings are slim, and we still have twenty miles to go tomorrow before we get to Horca. This has been our most exhausting day yet, and we didn't even cover 35 miles.

I am forced to look back at the early morning breakfast where we sat at a crossroads, and debated whether to take the official route, or cycle 10 miles down hill to a highway. We could have been in Del Norte tomorrow, but now we probably won't arrive until Saturday. I have two postal packages there, I hope the post office is open on Saturday.

As I type this, Apricots is snoring her exhausted self away, while coyotes howl to the fading daylight.

On the bright side, barring severe mud and catastrophe, we should enter Colorado in the morning, and pass by the train station that has the highest elevation. That should be pretty cool.

Struggles aside, we are still mostly enjoying ourselves, but European Vacations make a little more sense to us.

Live life at a slower place.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The back and forth El Rito ride

Day 14 - June 20th
32.8 miles
Total: 572.1 miles
Moving Avg: 7.5 mph
Overall Avg: 4.0 mph

We slept in this morning. Not much, because the hot sun started beating on our tent, slow roasting us like supper for a giant. We packed up, and made the nine mile ride down to Abiquiu.

We arrived shortly after the post office opened. It was our plan to stay in Abiquiu until my REI care package arrived on Tueaday. But, fortune favors the bold, and my stuff was present early Monday morning. Yay! Now I have warm clothes for the high mountains in Colorado (only 90 miles away).

We enjoyed a small breakfast in Abiquiu, and pushed ourselves on, even though it wasn't in our plans. We intended to stay at a hotel in El Rito, so we could get some solid rest before our next leg. When we got to El Rito, we soon learned that the restaurant was closed on Mondays, and there was no lodging for us. This interrupted our flow of food supply and good camp locations.

We cycled back and forth along the highway in El Rito, looking for a convenience store to find food, an ATM to pay for the food, and a solid patch of shade to rest out the afternoon heat.

Several hours of resting and delaying later, we pushed onward toward Vallecitos. Since Apricots wasn't feeling full energy today, we only made a few miles in the evening before camp. But, as fate would have it, our timing was good. After setting  up camp, and eating dinner, we climbed into our tent.

A few minutes later the light rain started falling. And the thunder rolled. On an unfortunate side note, Apricots doesn't want to spend money on a new tent, so we have a tent which doesn't zip shut. All the flies, bugs, and mosquitos can get in through the door. So we are trapped in our tent with these pests.

I am buying a new tent without her permission. One that holds out rain better, and holds out bugs completely. Unfortunately, I can't turn off the thunder.

To be honest, thunder makes me uneasy. Bad weather makes me uneasy. Ever since our last day on the PCT where we were in white out conditions inclement weather stirs up some fear in my heart. Also I think the month long rain in Washington cracked me. I guess I am a fair weather camper.

I know it's a passing thunderstorm, and we will encounter them often. Nevertheless, it makes me uneasy. Also, thunder is so much louder in the mountains.

Tomorrow we shall go over Burned Mountain, at an elevation of 10,192 feet. Guess we finally get to learn what pedaling at altitude really means.

Live life at a slower place.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Highway to Abiquiu Reservoire

Day 13 - June 19th
51.8 miles
Total: 538.4 miles
Moving Avg: 9.5 mph
Overall Avg: 7.0 mph

Last night we sat on the patio with the two CDT section hikers, Jo and Cary. (Follow their adventures at postholer.com/jo) We had four beers but only wanted one a piece, so we invited them out for social hour. The conversation was so nice Cary set out for a fresh six pack.

The two of them have been section hiking the PCT and CDT for the last decade, 400 miles at a time. Unfortunately this trip was shadowed with the failing health of Cary's father. As we sat there enjoying our company, Cary received word of his father's passing.

Jo knocked on a door of a motel guest and requested a ride for the two of them to Albequerque in the morning. The guest kindly accepted the responsibility as a courtesy to Jo and Cary. The two of them will be flying out today (probably). Next year they will return to finish their CDT hike, from Cuba to the Mexican border.

We said goodbye in the morning and made our way toward Abiquiu. We opted for the paved route, as I was still feeling uneasy about Water availability. Also, the trail was going to take us above 10,000 feet, and I am still limited in my spare/ cold weather clothing.

No worries, the highway turned out to be a beautiful ride. The first half had a rolling climb through fairly green landscape. It was rather surreal how much green we were seeing. It was as if we had left New Mexico. Also, the river beds actually had some water in them. Up until now, I was fairly certain that New Mexico banned the presence of water in rivers, as it would obstruct the view of the riverbed.

After we topped out on our climb, we dropped to the eastern half of the divide and returned to the dry Pinon covered landscape we have come to love/hate about New Mexico. Fortunately, our descent was through some rich red canyons.

The views were abundant and amazing. But the temperature was beginning to skyrocket as we were dropping to lower elevations. We eventually arrived at Abiquiu reservoir where we will camp for the night.

We are sitting on our tyvek ground cloth, in the shade of a picnic pavilion, lamenting of the 99 degree heat, while listening to several people scream in delight while being zipped around behind boats on the lake. This particular campsite has the misfortune of no lake access.

It's so hot.

These temperatures are inhumane. I pity you deeply Mark. I just had my first experience of wanting a cold shower, and only having hot water. The water spigot outside was colder, so after the shower I stood under the water spigot to try to cool down more.

Live life at a slower place.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Zero in Cuba

Day 12 - June 18th
1.2 miles
Total: 487.3 miles
Moving Avg: 6.7 mph
Overall Avg: 2.5 mph

Little to say here.
We ate a large breakfast, then packed up and moved down the road to a much nicer motel. It has warm water, and so far no cockroaches.

We ran in to two CDT hikers that are section hiking the Continental Divide. They section hiked the entire PCT, and now they are working at the CDT about four hundred miles at a time.

After we finally were able to get a room at the motel (unstaffed motel until 4pm on weekends), we stumbled to El Bruno's for some of the "best Mexican cuisine on the entire length of the great divide". It did not disappoint. Just look at the smiling face on Apricots. I swear it wasn't just the Margarita that was bringing out her dimples.

Post lunch we planned for the next leg to Abiquiu. And then took a much needed nap.

Tomorrow we will start the next leg, which shall take us to an elevation of a little more than 10,000 feet. Time to see what biking at elevation really is. Hopefully it won't be too cold, as I am going in with a limited clothing selection, as my REI care package is in the next town.

Live life at a slower place.

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Our First Century Ride (plus 19.5)

Day 11 - June 17th
119.5 miles
Total: 485.6 miles
Moving Avg: 10.9 mph
Overall Avg: 7.4 mph

What a long day. We were packed up and moving by 5am. We had 119.5 miles to cover, and opted for this long day due to limited water, and camping availability. Given the choice between the Great Divide route, and the Tour Divide alternate route, we favored the Tour Divide Chaco Alternate. We were guaranteed water on this route, and it was paved the entire way.

I had figured the ride would take us from 5am until 8pm. And that is what it took. From Google Earth, the landscape looked barren, and it was, but it was also beautiful. Most of the ride was through open grasslands and Pinon covered terrain, with next to zero opportunity for shade. We hit our last shade giving tree at mile 38 where we ate our second breakfast.

Even though the vegetation was sparse, most of the ride was along and through some incredibly beautiful rock mesas. The road wound up to and around Chaco Mesa, and several smaller rock mesas providing lots of opportunity for exploration. Unfortunately, with limited water and time it was not in our plans to hike the area. If I ever get back here with a car, I would be happy to spend more time out here, even though it is so painfully hot out here.

At mile 71 we stopped at a laundromat - convenience store - gas station. We sat outside in the shade drinking electrolytes and eating ice cream sandwiches. I asked the owner about the next store 20 miles down the road. He warned us of the dangerous area the store rested in. Apparently a man had been stabbed the day before down near the store.

Comforting thoughts and a hot sun pushed us 20 more miles forward to the store. We sat outside in the shade drinking more electrolytes and eating our lunch. Our plan was to wait out the meat of the afternoon heat. Just after we finished our meal, two drunk/high individuals started asking us for food and money. Then a third came around. They kept ogling our nice bikes, and drunkenly knocking them over.

Both Apricots and I felt a little uneasy, but I am certain the three of them meant us no harm. They kept talking about how there are a lot of bad people in the area, and that it wasn't safe. Apricots noted the excessive tagging that we had seen on all the road signs along the way. Apparantly, we were at the line which divided East Side from West Side on the reservation.

We decided that it would be best if we moved along quickly. The day was hot, and the warning signs seemed clear to us that we were outsiders in a distressed community. Even though Apricots' leg was toasted to a fine red plumb from the sun, we needed to get going before afternoon drinking affected the drivers on the road.

We thanked the drunken individual for his warnings and blessings for safe travels and made our way down the road.

The last thirty miles dragged slow, and both of us felt uneasy with the passing cars. Fortunately, most everyone waved and gave us wide clearance as they drove past. The uneasiness was probably unwarranted as most individuals are good people, but it was present, and it made our ride unpleasant (especially the time a truck slowed down when it passed us and turned a u turn to come up behind us... and pass us again). We never saw the truck again.

At eight pm we rolled into Cuba, NM. Exhausted, we grabbed the first motel we saw. The shower was cold (no hot water at all), and a cockroach scurried across the floor when we went in. On the bright side, the desk clerk accidently under charged us by about six dollars.

Tomorrow will be a rest and recoup day. We have no need to move fast, as my REI care package isn't due until Tuesday at the next town which is only a couple days away.

Live life at a slower place.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Zero in Grants

Day 10 - June 16th
0 miles
Total 366.3 miles
Day - Moving Avg 0 mph
Day - Overall Avg 0 mph

I promised Apricots a zero in Grants. But in truth, I needed it more than her. We both were happy to get it, as yesterday we rode 74 miles, and tomorrow we will take a shot at 120 miles. I say shot, because that is a long ride for a day that is supposed to be in the upper 90s. Also, we are passing through a long long stretch of shade free zone.

We are opting for the longer day due to limited camping opportunities, and limited water options. Check out the route on Google earth, to see the vast barreness we are planning on rolling through. Probably an early start too.

So today, for me  zero I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to time our trip, and direct our trip to a location where I could send a REI care package to. Aka, my repurchase of all the lost goods from the last leg.

Beyond that, a local Trail Angel Carol Mumm drove us to groceries and post office. Her and her husband have been helping trail angel for several years now and she was happy to offer any help she could. For sanity sake, we asked for her to drive us, rather than having us log 15 miles of bike riding across a very stretched out town. Thanks Carol.
As an aside, her husband and her make very nice high end bird cages, so if your interested I can give you the details.

As the day wore on, we sat in the shade at the RV park, and shared a watermelon with Dave, a fellow through biker. His route mostly follows ours, but he is doing a few side trips along the way. You can find his journal at crazyguyonabike.com, I believe he said his username is Mexico2Canada.

Time to hit bed, the long day is nine hours away.

Live life at a slower place.

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Psycho Photo's From Section 6


In no particular order.
Posting from a cell phone doesn't inspire proper structure.

"We'll clean it up in post..."

Big Cliffs. Big Miles.

Day 9 - June 15th
74 miles
Total 366.3 miles
Day - Moving Avg 11.8
Day - Overall Avg 6.9
Wowzers! Look at those numbers! I would like to say that we are getting into shape, but the truth is we had a very easy ride today, especially compared to other days. It was pretty much all a gradual downhill. The interspersed climbs were minimal and only 2700 feet of climbing. I don't recall this number for other days, but I suspect some of our harder days were easily three times that.
One new and exciting facet to our ride:
As I started rolling though the miles, we hit sand patches. Woah is me. If I was going too fast when I hit the sand patch, my back tire would slide around going all Tokyo Drift on me. It was like suddenly my bike turned into a bucking bull, or a flipping fish flying all willy nilly under my controls. So that's pretty exciting.
If I was moving too slow, the sand Sucked me in like a.... like a.... sandtrap?
Most of the morning was hard packed dirt, so we cruised at close to twenty mph. When we hit gravel and slowed to seven, it felt like I was riding a flat. I turned back to ask Apricots if I had a flat, she said my tire looked fine.
Thirty minutes later, Apricots was dragging. I asked her why she going slow. She blamed it on the 4 am rise, and the lack of will to push hard. I blamed it on her flat tire. Yup. Apricots wins the race to a flat tire.
We pulled into a shade patch, and assumed our God given patriarchal roles. I repaired her tire while she prepared second breakfast for us. I was shocked that I was able to fix the tire so quickly. We were rolling within a quarter of an hour, aiming for our 70 mile destination.
Whelp, it turns out I am not the best handyman. Twenty five miles later, she had a flat again. We pulled into a nice shade patch, and I got to work again. I surprised apricots with some soda that I managed to keep cold through the first 35 miles of our ride.
Fifteen minutes, and one soda later, I had a properly patched tube, and we were rolling down the highway.
Soon enough we hit the beautiful landscape of the El Malpais Narrows. At this area, a large sandstone Mesa interacted with a lava flow, creating a dynamic ribbon of landscape through which we rolled. To our right were towering sandstone cliffs, with arches, and beautiful sweeping curves. To our left was the lunar landscape of lava flows, jagged, irregular and hostile.
We had covered 55 miles by lunch, and made it to our destination by 3pm.
Tomorrow, we plan on taking a zero. The next stretch is considered the dryest stretch of the divide. We need to research water options, as well as figure out how to replace all of my lost clothing. We are a few days away from biking and camping at an elevation of 10,000 feet plus.
Live life at a slower place.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Alive in Pie Town

Day 8 - June 14th
31.8 miles 
Total 292.3 miles
Day - Moving Avg 8.2
Day - Overall Avg 6.5

We have now covered about 10 percent of the intended miles, which is pretty amazing for me to think of it that way. But also frightening to me. I suppose frighten isn't quite right, maybe anxious. If I am only ten percent done, that means at this pace I need to have ten weeks. I have about eight to work with. Time to pick up the pace fatty. Oh speaking of being a fatty, I have already lost seven pounds. That is a pound a day. I think it's all water weight, because I am sweating more than a fat man doing aerobics in a sauna in a bikram yoga studio located in the Sahara, on a record setting day. I exaggerate of course, but damn if that direct sunlight doesn't beat me down.

Anyway, we slept in until 5:30 today before packing up and rolling our way to Pie Town. We immediately hit up one of the three Pie Cafes in town, where we didn't eat pie. We ate burgers and made plans to return for Pie later in the day. I bought a commemorative t shirt to build my town clothes collection back up. After lunch, we found our way to the Toaster House. Nita bought this house back in 1981, and discovered a few years later that it was on the Continental Divide Trail. She started a trail angel life soon after. Now she has moved to a house a few miles away, but has kept the Toaster House as a safe haven for weary bike and hike travelers.

It has been nice to get a shower in, and laundry done. Afterwards Apricots and I went back for Pie and Ice Cream. Even after the burger, pie, and ice cream I was down seven pounds. Awesome sauce.

Our goal is to bike the seventy two miles to Grants, NM tomorrow. We must rise early and do some riding before sunrise to beat the heat. It looks to be largely free of shade along the way.

Goodnight.
Oh, I never ate seven pies. I am a bad monkey.


-- 



--

Alive in Pie Town

Day 8 - June 14th
31.8 miles 
Total 292.3 miles
Day - Moving Avg 8.2
Day - Overall Avg 6.5

We have now covered about 10 percent of the intended miles, which is pretty amazing for me to think of it that way. But also frightening to me. I suppose frighten isn't quite right, maybe anxious. If I am only ten percent done, that means at this pace I need to have ten weeks. I have about eight to work with. Time to pick up the pace fatty. Oh speaking of being a fatty, I have already lost seven pounds. That is a pound a day. I think it's all water weight, because I am sweating more than a fat man doing aerobics in a sauna in a bikram yoga studio located in the Sahara, on a record setting day. I exaggerate of course, but damn if that direct sunlight doesn't beat me down.

Anyway, we slept in until 5:30 today before packing up and rolling our way to Pie Town. We immediately hit up one of the three Pie Cafes in town, where we didn't eat pie. We ate burgers and made plans to return for Pie later in the day. I bought a commemorative t shirt to build my town clothes collection back up. After lunch, we found our way to the Toaster House. Nita bought this house back in 1981, and discovered a few years later that it was on the Continental Divide Trail. She started a trail angel life soon after. Now she has moved to a house a few miles away, but has kept the Toaster House as a safe haven for weary bike and hike travelers.

It has been nice to get a shower in, and laundry done. Afterwards Apricots and I went back for Pie and Ice Cream. Even after the burger, pie, and ice cream I was down seven pounds. Awesome sauce.

Our goal is to bike the seventy two miles to Grants, NM tomorrow. We must rise early and do some riding before sunrise to beat the heat. It looks to be largely free of shade along the way.

Goodnight.
Oh, I never ate seven pies. I am a bad monkey.


-- 



--

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lost Gear

Day 7 - June 13th
55.5 miles 
Total 260.6 miles
Day - Moving Avg 7.5
Day - Overall Avg 4.4

Today was a first for us. It is a new record for daily mileage. In fact we had covered 46 miles by lunch. It should have been 42, but I lost my clothes.

Seriously, we were cruising down these gravel roads, going upwards of 15-20mph which was a nice change. I looked down at my fork, and noticed I only had one gear bag instead of two. All of my clothes fell off somewhere along the bumpy way. We backtracked about two miles, but never found it. Sad sad loss for me. We would have gone further, but we were on a limited water supply on a hot day. We could not.

I lost: thermal leggings, town shorts, town shirt, my 2008 Portland marathon long sleeve, one pair of under armor underwear, one pair of cycling socks, one pair of warm socks, and a waterproof gear bag. It probably was equivalent to letting 150 dollars fall on the ground. Sad face.

After no luck finding the bag, we hightailed it down the road. The first half of the morning was beautiful through scenic areas of Gila National Forest, but we soon emerged on the wide open Plains of San Agustin. The roads were extremely bumpy, and the sun beat ferociously at us. We pushed hard, and made it to the church to resupply our water. 

We ran into another cyclist like us. He is trying to do as much as he can in the limited time he has. You see, he is also a Calculus teacher out biking for the summer. Us calculus teachers like a good challenge. And I can say, this has been a serious challenge. Fortunately, other repeat riders have informed us that the Gila Wilderness is known for being very difficult.

After refilling our water, we laid on our ground cover in the gravel, and tried to rest before pushing the final ten miles up to camp. Tomorrow we will descend to Pie Town, NM.

I will eat seven pies.




Live life at a slower place.
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hard Day: Redux


Day 6 - June 12th

45.2 miles
Total 205.1 miles
Day - Moving Avg 5.8 mph
Day - Overall Avg 3.4 mph

Today was supposed to be easier. And, in truth it sort of felt easier, but seeing our avg paces, it would seem otherwise. Short post because I am exhausted, and we have to go forty miles to water in the morning.

Today we combatted three solid climbs of about 5 percent grade. Apricots was able to bike all three of them, albeit at a walking pace. I am still proud of her accomplishments today. I can't seem to motivate myself to bike up the steep grades, if I can push my bike at the same pace. It feels less fatiguing to push the bike, but I suspect that will change as we get stronger legs.

After the second big climb and drop, we stopped in at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch to resupply on water, and have an early lunch. The property was beautiful with scattered cabins and at least 25 horses. 

One climb later we were at the Beavercreek Work Center, enjoying fresh cold water, and two sodas from a vending machine. We chatted with two other tour divide racers, before they took off to cover another sixty miles.

We only made it another twenty or so. Slowly climbing a bumpy gradual climb in a treeless landscape, the sun stated us in the eyes. The wind tried to push us downhill. And our lack of energy told us that we should not go as far as we wanted.

In the end, our mileage wasn't too bad. But everything we do takes unbelievable amounts of energy. Two sloths swimming through molasses in January move faster than us.

On the bright side, everything was beautiful today, even if New Mexico is trying to kill us.






Live life at a slower place.
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--
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Saturday, June 11, 2016

There are hikers that move faster.

Day 5 - June 11th
47.5 miles
159.9 total
Moving Avg. 6.0 Mph
Overall Avg. 3.8 Mph

Today was a day divided.

We were rained on in the night, but managed to pull it together and leave camp by 6am, for an early climb followed by a long steep descent. The fresh rain turned the mountain into an aromatic symphony. The smell if Pinyon Pines was so present and strong, we kept finding ourselves marveling at the sweet aroma.

After our descent, we arrived at Lake Roberts at the very early hours of Pre coffee for the small general store. They kindly brewed us some for our appreciative consumption. This powered us along through a beautiful valley where crickets sang to us in passing. The highway was so untraveled that most of the ride passed with nothing more than the company of the crickets and birds, which sang unfamiliar songs.

I told Apricots that if the ride was like this the entire time, I would never want to do anything but ride along with her for all of time. We were even gaining elevation, but the temperature was right, the views were elegant, pastoral, and calm. By 10:30am, we covered our first 25 miles.

This is when things turned around. We hit gravel road for the first time, which was exciting. But the grade which greeted us was so steep, that even in our lowest gears, we were too slow to maintain balance (and energy) on the bike. We pushed our bikes up a mile of gravel road, before remounting, and enjoying a slow steady climb along the continental divide.

The rest of the day was too exhausting to adequately capture. The sun came out and cooked us as we made climbs and drops between 5 and 10 percent grade. I was too weak to pedal some of the climbs, and Apricots was too uneasy on the roads to handle the steep downhills. We are still getting our bike legs, arms, and mindset into shape for this ride. And this trip through the Gila Wilderness is wickedly difficult. All in all, I probably pushed my bike eight to ten miles uphill today. For the most part, Apricots was able to pedal up the hills, but she did need to push some of the time.

Towards day's end, I started getting super fearful that the next water source was going to be dry. This only made me want to be more conservative with my water, which In turn made me far more fatigued and dizzy. Eventually I flagged a passing car to ask if there was water at lower black canyon campground. They said there was, then gave us a Powerade and a gallon of water. Sweet sweet glorious happiness.

As the remainder of the afternoon progressed, I could see Apricots get more comfortable with the downhills on her bike. I unfortunately never had enough energy to handle the up hills. Many grunts and panting was had by me, as I feared the long term choices I have made for this summer. I am taking comfort in the fact that a biker ahead of us has told me that first 100 miles out of Silver City were the hardest she has experienced thus far on her journey. She is about 250 miles ahead of us.

When we finally made it to camp, a fellow camper was enjoying a beer with his dog. He offered us a beer, and we introduced ourselves. Jake, and his dog Chelsea provided great conversation over dinner and a beer. And to top it off, he didn't want to see us laboring over our water pump, so he insisted we top off all our water bottles with his water supply. (Thank you very much Jake)

Also, two Northbound Tour Divide racers blazed past us today. We talked for a bit, but they had miles to make.



Live life at a slower place.
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Live life at a slower place.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Trees. Sweet sweet trees, and a Nero.

Day 4 - June 10
13.9 miles 
Total 105.8
Day - Moving Avg 5.7
Day - Overall Avg 2.1

Today was a near zero for us. We had several errands to run in Silver City for the next leg and decided that we should allow ourselves some acclimation time.

We slept in until 6:30, waking to clear skies. Last nights downpour passed over us, and it looked to be another warm day. Fortunately, as we ran errands for most of the morning, the temperature was a comfortable seventy five degrees. Grabbing food for the next four day leg, was enjoyable as everyone that helped was super friendly. Apricots was pleased to find a food co-op in historic downtown, a block from our breakfast, and a couple blocks from Gila Hike and Bike.

Groceries purchased, we stopped in at the bike shop and bought some chain lube for Apricots. Unfortunately, somewhere in transit, her oil opened up and spilled into her handlebar bag. 

As the day was getting hotter, we grabbed some cold beverages to fuel us with electrolytes for the impending 1000 foot climb. We sat drinking our coconut water and Gatorade, deeply questioning whether we wanted to take a full zero in the lovely Silver City. In the end, I convinced Apricots that it was going to be a short leg to lunch in Pinos Altos, so we set off.

Climbing out of the desert, we started finding more regular tree coverage, and enjoyed the climb far more than any previous mile. We even marveled at how the "harder" portion actually felt a little easier. It was a well designed road alternating climbs and level portions which helped us catch our breath. Additionally, we both feel that we are getting better Acclimated to the elevation, around 7000ft.

Arriving at Pinos Altos, we looked for a lunch place, only to find out the only place in town was an old saloon and bordello. The saloon still operates, but the ladies have taken permanent leave from the business. A local informed us that Butch Cassidy use to hang out at the bar back in the 1800s. I am not sure of the validity of this, but it was interesting, and all the paintings, photographs and artwork would seem to indicate the truth of this statement.

Unfortunately, we arrived two hours before the bar opened, and three hours before they started serving food. Fortunately, we arrived just as a afternoon thunderstorm decided to drop rain and hail on us. We took shelter on the porch until the bar opened. Once inside, we enjoyed the atmosphere while drinking water and beer. Apricots is a sucker for beer. (She insists at it is her duty to sample the local microbrews wherever we travel).

After the meals were had, we enjoyed a beautiful cool calm ride down a winding road, free of traffic, free of scorching sun. There was a seeming explosion of trees on the west side of the continental divide. When we hit the low point at Cherry Creek (not flowing), we were both blown away by the sudden aroma of greenery that is more likely to be found the northwest than in the New Mexico high desert.

A few miles later, we set up camp at McMillan Campground.

Back to early mornings and long days tomorrow.

...As an aside, the Tour Divide Northbound race started today. We anticipate seeing extreme cyclists blazing past tomorrow, as most of them probably made it to Silver City today. We may have even seen one pass us today. He was moving too fast to say anything more than hi. (Apricots even mistook him for a car at first.... Seriously, you can't make this shit up.)





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History Afoot

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid drank at this bar with the Wild Bunch Gang between their train/bank roberies, until they fled to Argentina and Bolivia before dying in a shootout.
We plan to raise some hell ourselves.
Live life at a slower place.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sweet glorious cloud cover


Day 3 - June 9
40.5 miles 
Total 98.5
Day - Moving Avg 7.6
Day - Overall Avg 3.4

It is a strange feeling to look down a long long long straight highway through the desert. The distant hills seem to never get closer, and as the parallel lines of the road vanish far off in the distance, there is a subtly illusion that you are biking downhill. 

So, if the road is slightly graded downhill, how come I feel so tired?

Oh yes, I biked fifty miles yesterday. I should be. Oh, and I probably only got four hours of good sleep. But if the road is going downhill, how come I feel the need to always be pedaling?

Well, it turns we weren't going downhill. It was a long slow steady climb. So slow, that the road looked flat. But we definitely felt it. Especially when the headwinds kicked in. Then it really dawned on me. We were suddenly close to six thousand feet. We are still acclimating from the near zero elevation of Portland.

It was a perfect storm of things that beat you down. Heat, climbing, elevation acclimation, head winds, and lack of sleep. To be fair, Apricots was definitely rocking it while I was whimpering and asking for breaks. Then, finally my bike developed a squeak. I used this as a ploy to convince her that we could walk our bikes for a mile or two, so we still made progress.

Eventually we made it to Bayard, where I demanded hoards of red meat to up my iron levels and help me acclimate better. After tasty burgers, we moved another two miles down the road and took a long nap in a gazebo while thunderclouds started forming overhead. As soon as the clouds hid the sun, we put our gear back on, and pushed the final six miles to Silver City. Stopping for electrolytes, a driver warned us of heavy hail coming our way.

The rain caught up with us as we entered Silver City. We took shelter in Gila Hike and Bike and had the friendly staff help us repair our bikes. The gears were acting a little off, likely due to the disassembly and reassembly after shipping. While tweaking my gears, the mechanic found some other minor things that needed tweaking (a crooked wheel), and some unnecessary rubbing between the front derailleur and the rear fender. He fixed things up for us, as the rain poured heavily on the streets outside. Residents were claiming that the weather was super irregular lately, and this storm was on par with being completely crazy.

We are now huddled in our tent as rain pours heavily on us, and lightening crashes overhead.

We are taking a smaller day tomorrow, as we have errands to run in the morning. Then a 4.5 day leg to Pie Town. Also, we finally move off the paved surfaces and hit the real trail riding. Exciting and terrifying.


--
at a slower place.

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Sweet glorious cloud cover


Day 3 - June 9
40.5 miles 
Total 98.5
Day - Moving Avg 7.6
Day - Overall Avg 3.4

It is a strange feeling to look down a long long long straight highway through the desert. The distant hills seem to never get closer, and as the parallel lines of the road vanish far off in the distance, there is a subtly illusion that you are biking downhill.

So, if the road is slightly graded downhill, how come I feel so tired?

Oh yes, I biked fifty miles yesterday. I should be. Oh, and I probably only got four hours of good sleep. But if the road is going downhill, how come I feel the need to always be pedaling?

Well, it turns we weren't going downhill. It was a long slow steady climb. So slow, that the road looked flat. But we definitely felt it. Especially when the headwinds kicked in. Then it really dawned on me. We were suddenly close to six thousand feet. We are still acclimating from the near zero elevation of Portland.

It was a perfect storm of things that beat you down. Heat, climbing, elevation acclimation, head winds, and lack of sleep. To be fair, Apricots was definitely rocking it while I was whimpering and asking for breaks. Then, finally my bike developed a squeak. I used this as a ploy to convince her that we could walk our bikes for a mile or two, so we still made progress.

Eventually we made it to Bayard, where I demanded hoards of red meat to up my iron levels and help me acclimate better. After tasty burgers, we moved another two miles down the road and took a long nap in a gazebo while thunderclouds started forming overhead. As soon as the clouds hid the sun, we put our gear back on, and pushed the final six miles to Silver City. Stopping for electrolytes, a driver warned us of heavy hail coming our way.

The rain caught up with us as we entered Silver City. We took shelter in Gila Hike and Bike and had the friendly staff help us repair our bikes. The gears were acting a little off, likely due to the disassembly and reassembly after shipping. While tweaking my gears, the mechanic found some other minor things that needed tweaking (a crooked wheel), and some unnecessary rubbing between the front derailleur and the rear fender. He fixed things up for us, as the rain poured heavily on the streets outside. Residents were claiming that the weather was super irregular lately, and this storm was on par with being completely crazy.

We are now huddled in our tent as rain pours heavily on us, and lightening crashes overhead.

We are taking a smaller day tomorrow, as we have errands to run in the morning. Then a 4.5 day leg to Pie Town. Also, we finally move off the paved surfaces and hit the real trail riding. Exciting and terrifying.





Live life at a slower place.
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--
Live life at a slower place.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The heat that beat us.

Day 2 - June 8th
51.4 miles 
Total 58
Day - Moving Avg 9.3
Day - Overall Avg 4.2

Well the day was so damn hot. We fell short of our goal by about ten miles. We started very early to beat the heat, but we spent too much time in Deming after our first 32 miles.

We needed to go another 31 miles to get to City of Rocks Arch. All of this paved asphalt riding is nice but the heat sure does reflect back at you. We tried to push ourselves, but the heat finally won. We decided to rest and go eight mile chunks to our destination.

Four miles later we gave up. We took weak shelter under a small shrubbery and whined for hours at the ants, sticky thorns, very hot drinking water, and passing cars which seemed to be oblivious to the fact that I said "ice cold pop please" to every passing car. There was even a water delivery van who blasted past us, as we pleaded silently from the roadside.

On the bright side, we were able to work on our sun burns. My arms have not seen such atrocious burns since the first time I hiked the PCT. I don't think Apricots sunscreen worked too well.

After close to three hours of waiting out the heat, we finally decided that we would make our destination in six mile legs. Slowly, begrudgingly, we packed up to hit the road. Only this time, we had the heat, and a headwind to battle. Three miles later, we saw a giant dumpster in the sun. We opted to sit in its stinky shade while trying to find out if the Bar S Ranch RV park was open. There was an antique road sign directing us two miles off route to the RV park. We were afraid to sidetrack and find the RV park long closed.

As the stench of the giant baking trash receptacle started to seep into our clothing a truck drove past. I ran over and asked if the park was open. He said it probably was. I asked if it had water, and he said very likely. Then he looked at our sad pathetic state and gave us his large Gatorade and cup of ice.

OMG it was heaven drinking a strangers Gatorade in the shadow of a dumpster.

We biked the final two miles to the RV park. They have been kind and accepted us, even letting us crash in the Club house to limit our interactions with the rattlesnakes which tend to cover the entire property at night.

We used our time to give ourselves a gear shakedown. A lovely shower, and grip loads of iced beverage.

Lesson learned.... Don't bike between noon and four in this atrocious heat.

Tomorrow, on to silver city and beyond. We are a little over a day away from the Gila Cliff dwellings, if we opt for the 37 mile detour.








--
at a slower place.

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