Day 11 - June 17th
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.