2022 TD Update

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Friday, June 22. Thought I’d do a quick update on the trip so far for my followers. Today I rode from Cuba New Mexico to Abiquiu lake and I’m staying at the Army Corps of Engineers campground here. The beauty of the site is breathtaking, but the nearest food is 6 miles away, so I’ll be dining on the cache of snacks I bought at the Dollar General in Cuba, NM last night. 

Today was an easy day, maybe 55 miles, taking it easy after yesterday’s 130 from Grants, NM. I’m officially “touring” now, some heatstroke-related cramping while crossing the desert at 110F on day 2 knocked me out of the race and forced me to rebalance my water and electrolytes in Silver City for a couple of days. I’ve been riding well since then, and really enjoyed my stay there. Here are some pictures up to the re-departure in Silver City

Jeff Sharp of Hatchita, NM picked me up at El Paso along with two other riders. We unpacked the bikes at his Continental Divide Trail / Great Divide Mountain Bike Route / Tour Divide hostel, had dinner, and then loaded the bikes onto his trailer for the 50 mi ride to the border to start.

We arrived at the Mexico border station around sunset, took some quick pictures, and headed out.

Along the way, I sorted out a few mechanical items before it got dark. No cars for 50+ miles and the scenery was impressive—right down to a herd of Antelope. With no ground light, the Milky Way was visible before the near-full moon rose in the East. I was taking it easy, enjoying the scenery.

I arrived back at Jeff’s spot in Hatchita, slept for a few hours, and then set out by myself early the next morning.

It was a hot day with no opportunity for shade and around 4pm, I found myself writing checks my cold-and-wet-Indiana-spring-training body couldn’t cash. Around 15 miles from Silver City, I had some symptoms of heatstroke, involuntary cramping in my arms and legs, so bad I couldn’t ride, only push. I had a few liters of water left, and cell phone signal, so I gave myself a couple of hours to see if I could get my mojo back. 

Right around sunset, my legs were no better, and rather than stay out in the desert and hope it would be better in the morning, I called Joann M at Silver City Trail Concierge and one of her employees came to collect me. This wasn’t an SOS button event, more of a “just in case” since I hadn’t encountered that sort of cramping before.


I stayed at the swanky Art Deco Murray Hotel downtown and enjoyed getting to know Silver City while my body got back to normal. I’d be touring and not racing from this point forward since I had some (absolutely welcome and prompted) outside assistance. This distinction is worth noting since it’s a big deal in the adventure racing community. It also gives me a lot more flexibility to do fun stuff along the route.

After a couple of days recuperating, I left early in the morning and headed back out on the route.

Because of the active forest fires in Gila Natl. Park,  the route had been adjusted west and I slowly climbed away from Silver City and into the Gila Wilderness. I witnessed both a tarantula and a rattlesnake on this portion of the ride.

I rode as far as Mogollon, NM, where I had an awesome dinner and met Cresta T, the proprietor of the Old Kelly Store. Cresta is a dot watcher and was loving the fact that the race is coming through her part of the world.

The two guys I had started the race with had slept on the porch of her store the night before and seeing as it was raining cats and dogs at the moment, I took her up on the same offer! The trail angel thing is not a problem when you’re touring. Cresta, thanks!!

The next day climbed up to 9,200 feet in the forested Gila Wilderness, and then eventually descended into a vast basin that was both remarkable and uniquely defiant of any type of photographic documentation. 

 

 But perhaps most welcome was the trail angel water cache on the other side of the basin. I was running low and had already checked out some empty cattle basins (I have a filter!).

Somewhere out there, I came across a brand new down puffy jacket that had fallen off another rider’s bike. I rode with it for maybe 30 miles before I reunited it with its rightful owner—one of the two guys I started with in Antelope Wells. The three of us wild camped at dusk on national park land. It was a beautiful sunset.

I rode with them for a bit the next day, and we parted ways when they elected to stay at a ranch south of Pie Town. I pushed and made it to town before the restaurants closed—and got to enjoy some pie.

 
The “Pie-o-Neer” was closed but I was delighted to find the Ohana Cafe open and serving hot food and pie, both please!

it had been raining on and off all day, the skies were ominous and the next big stop, Grants, was maybe 80 miles away. The perfect opportunity to stay at a thru-hiking icon, the Toaster House.

The Toaster house is a big stop on the Continental divide hiking trail, the sort of spot where they hikers forward a new pair of shoes and leave their old ones to become part of the ambiance. It was quiet while I was there, just me and Jefferson, the caretaker. He helped me fix a problem I had been having on my phone—thanks!!

It rained all night, however, and this turned the surface of least 10 miles of the next day’s trail to the famed New Mexico “peanut butter” mud.   Had my putty knife ready and spent hours pushing and scraping. At one point I had to disconnect the front fender to minimize the blockage. I was ready but it was pretty bad. One positive—the waxed chain appears to defy NM mud!! And I think Park Tool needs to produce a PK-1 special tool for the GDMBR.

 

 The last stretch into Grants was on pavement and passed by some impressive cliffs. It was beautiful and I was able to retire the putty knife for awhile.

I raced a thunderstorm into Grants, where it had been raining for a whole week. Pooled water was everywhere. The big seasonal rains they collectively call the “monsoon” had made most of the backcountry route between Grants and the Colorado border impassible due to the mud and flash flooding. All of the racers were now struggling with alternate routes.

I headed out of Grants super early, knowing it was going to be 130 miles to the next town, Cuba, on the reroute. The first part of the ride was on historic Route 66, but a majority of this day was real Wichita Lineman stuff, an on-the-road ride with few cars, structures, shade, or distractions to break things up. Except the unmarked Uranium mine and two stores, one around mile 75 and the other at mile 100.

After that one, I was happy to arrive in Cuba! Well that sort of brings you up to date on the adventure so far. Bike and equipment have been flawless! Looking forward to the big climbs in Southern Colorado. 

 


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