Day 76 – Cuba

9.7.2012
Start: Cuba, NM
End: Cuba, NM
Today’s miles: 0
Total miles:
Splats: 0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife:

Lazy day today in Cuba. I had my hair cut, got a shave, resupplied and did laundry. Back at the motel I’ve been trying to eat as much as I can. Today’s major project was the addition of gel padding to my seat. I’ve duct taped gel shoe insoles to the seat which will be covered by my sheepskin cover.

This morning, Josh was greeted by a critter on our motel room door.

Day 75 – 4 wheelin on 1 wheel

9.6.2012
Start: Polvadera Mesa
End: Cuba, NM
Today’s miles: 56
Total miles: 2240.0
Splats: 0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife:

Wow. New Mexico is tough. Up and down all day today and some rough terrain. A stretch of four wheeling track stands out. It was slow going, but I somehow managed to ride the whole thing. Falling was not an option as it would easily have been a trip ender.

Towards the later part of today, I convinced myself that I had been transported about five miles ahead of where I thought I was. I rode pumped up on this delusion for a few miles until what was supposed to be a short uphill continued on and on. As I climbed and realized my mistake, I fought not to pass out. I made it to the top, chugged down some electrolytes, and started feeling better. The next 10 miles are a blur, but I have vague memories of sliding down loose rocks on the mountainside to retrieve my water bottle, and crawling back up on my stomach.

When I pulled into the town of Cuba, I immediately headed to El Bruno’s Mexican restaurant to meet Josh and Jenny for dinner. The spicy food shocked the senses after countless days of mashed potatoes, lentils, and oatmeal.

Over dinner we discussed logistics for the next few days. Josh and Jenny need to intercept a package in the next town of Grants, but our timing puts us in on the weekend when the post office is closed. I think the general consensus is to take a zero day tomorrow, but really I’m not sure what’s going on; I’m not sure any of us do.

Day 74 – Climbing

9.5.2012
Start: Old Abiquiu B&B
End: Polvadera Mesa
Today’s miles: 23.9
Total miles: 2183.1
Splats: 0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife:

Today we began our assault of what’s considered by some to be the toughest climb of the route. I found the road the road surface to make for interesting, but exhausting riding.

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As I approached our proposed meeting point, I saw Josh and Jenny sitting on some big boulders. They looked very comfortable and I found it easy to sway them into staying put for the rest of the day.

For entertainment we went to work creating some roadside artwork. It had been requested (as part of my scavenger hunt) that I make a ‘mini muni’ out of found materials to leave on the trail for others to find. Our construction turned out to be not so mini.

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Day 73 – Abiquiu

9.4.2012
Start: Old Abiquiu B&B
End: Old Abiquiu B&B
Today’s miles: 0
Total miles: 2159.2
Splats: 0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife:

Josh, Jenny and I are resting in Abiquiu today with our host, Wanda. Tre moved on this morning, but we hope to ride out of Silver City with him in several days.

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It’d be fun to take some time to explore the structures and art in Abiquiu. This was the home of Georgia O’Keefe and today is the home of many artists.

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For part of the afternoon we helped Wanda with a yard project. We moved a pile of stone up to the patio. The job came to an abrupt pause when we disturbed the home of a black widow. No casualties, and we finished the project with caution and prodding tools. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in Wanda’s sandy oasis along the river.

Day 72 – Snack Shack

9.3.2012
Start: Near Hopewell Lake
End: Old Abiquiu B&B
Today’s miles: 57.8
Total miles: 2159.2
Splats: 0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife:

My goal this morning was to get an early enough start to be ahead of the others by the time they got rolling. There was a colorful sunrise and rainbow as I began riding in a light rain. I soon passed Hopewell Lake where the others were camping. I was sure to leave a good tire track in the dirt for them to see when they headed out.

Several miles in, I heard Tre call out from behind me. We rode together for a little while until Josh and Jenny caught up. They all moved on, but I saw them soon after, Jenny with her bike flipped upside down to repair a flat.

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We all met up again at the Snack Shack where we enjoyed cold sugary drinks and salty snacks. Loaded up on sugar, I left to climb one of the day’s bigger ‘downhills’ (we call everything a downhill). From the top of the ‘downhill’ was a gloriously fast and fun descent into El Rito. Towards the bottom, the scenery, plants, and temperature changed quickly and completely. The last part of today’s ride to Abiquiu was paved, hot, sunny and windy.

Jenny, aka Queen Bee, had made arrangements for us to camp out at the Old Abiquiu B&B. As I neared the turn to the B&B I saw a note with my name taped to a street sign. It had directions to our sandy oasis that’d be our camp, and said they’d headed into town for dinner. I decided to pedal on to town to try to find them. Just as I came in sight of ‘town’, I saw Tre coming the other way. Josh and Jenny were close behind. I’d missed dinner, but they had packed out a burger, brownie and soda for me!

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Back at camp we spent the evening enjoying food and wine while sitting out along the river that passes through the B&B.

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Day 71 – Solo

9.2.2012
Start: Apache Creek
End: About a mile shy of the others
Today’s miles: 47.9
Total miles: 2101.4
Splats: 0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife: 7 turkeys and 3 coyotes and a bear

The riding today was some of the most demanding of the trip, I think. A few times I caught myself wondering if I’d been transported back to Canada. I impressed myself at the improvement in my technical ability compared to the start of the trip. There were quite a few times today where I held my breath, knowing that a fall would be bad news. I somehow managed to remain upright.

We’d been aiming to do about 50 miles today. We knew it’d be a difficult day and seeing how slowly I was moving through the morning, I came to the conclusion that there was little chance of me making it to the planned destination. Josh suffered multiple flats so he and Jenny were also making slow headway. We decided that we’d cut 10 miles off the day.

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As the afternoon wore on, I started wondering if continuing to the original destination might actually be doable. Part of my motivation was the realization that I was looking at almost a 70 mile day tomorrow. When I arrived at the camp 10 miles short of the original goal, I found a note that said there was no water at the creek so Josh and Jenny were moving on. I hopped back on the muni.

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There would be about 5 miles of mostly downhill and 5 miles of paved uphill to the area I expected to find the others. On the way down, something caught my eye at the bottom of the slope I was riding on. It was a bear. I stopped to pull out my camera and it started running my direction. I didn’t think it knew I was there, so I started yelling at it. It looked at me, unintimidated by my yelling. It ran around at the bottom of the slope for a bit before continuing up the slope towards the road. It looked at me periodically (usually when I made noise to try to scare it back down), but didn’t seem at all fearful of me and almost interested in coming to say hi. As it got up to the road and my level, I held up the uni in the air to make myself look bigger. The bear didn’t care though and just went about its business. I walked till I rounded a bend and was out of sight before riding on.

The shorter days are really hard to get used to. I remember when I started the sun wasn’t setting until after 10:00. In montana I was often riding until 9:00 or later. Now it’s dark before 8:00. As I rode up the last climb towards the lake where I expected to find the others, I began running out of daylight. Another half hour was all I needed. I was only about a mile or two from the top and our original planned destination when I came across a nice camping opportunity. I decided to take it. It was either camp now with enough light to set up the tent, get the bear line hung and start cooking, or ride to the probably full campground and search for the others just after sunset. I’m guessing it would have been hard to find them because they’d probably have to find a stealth site near the campground.