Friday, July 21, 2017

Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride: Grants to Antelope Wells

(Pictures in almost no particular order and not corresponding to the text.)

The weather doesn’t like us as much anymore.  After learning the hard way that the roads are not passable in the rain, we are paying more attention to the weather forecast for our route, and it is not great.  Afternoon rains, almost every day.

To deal with that, we set an alarm (for the first time this trip) and got up before dawn in Grants.  A short walk in the dark got us to Denny’s where we were served breakfast by what may have been a vampire, after which we were on the trail earlier than ever before.

Seventy surprisingly tiring miles got us to Pie Town, NM.  We stopped in a cafe for a late lunch and pie, then off to the local hostel.  The rain started as we parked the bikes.  It’s great when a plan works.

We slept in a bit in the hostel.  Easy to do as we were the only ones there; no noise.

But we were still up at 6:30, packed the bikes, and headed down the road to breakfast.  Good thing we did: it would be two and a half days to the next opportunity to sit down and eat.

At first the ride south from Pie Town didn’t seem that tough.  Rolling hills and trees and ranches.  But no towns or restaurants, and no gas stations to resupply at.

And eventually the rain caught up.  We made it to the edge of a national forest and set up tents.  Not quite the miles we’d hope to cover but it rained for a while and when it finally stopped, neither of us felt like riding more.  

Some of the passes felt like a real accomplishment.  

We spent the night there and hit the road in the morning with eyes on Silver City, NM.  Alas, it was a long way, with many ups and a several downs.  By the end of the day, we’d pedaled up over 5700 feet and made it to a campground just before sunset, about 40 miles short of town.  

That was yet another adventure.  We found the campground, picked a spot, and set up our tents in fading light.  After a small meal of the last of our dehydrated food mixed with instant potatoes, we collected all our trash and took a walk in the dark to a dumpster.

As we walked, a pickup pulling a fifth-wheel trailer motored in to the campground and after driving a full lap parked near where we’d set up tents.

Turns out it was very near, as in the same site.  When we got back to camp, I knocked on the door but no one was home.  It seemed to have been abandoned except for a dog that was checking out our tents while dragging a long piece of rope behind it.  We re-attached the dog to the truck and turned in, not knowing what else to do.  

Before long, there where headlights and the noise of a large truck maneuvering nearby.  I stuck my head out to see the owner of the truck had returned and was trying vainly to back his rig out of our campsite, hindered by the many trees and total darkness.   I approached and told him to not bother.  We didn’t mind sharing and it was too dangerous to back up in the darkness.  We’d be leaving early in the morning and he could have the spot alone after that.   It seemed like the best option.  

In the morning we headed off, riding paved roads all the way to Silver City.  It’s one of my favorite towns, and I would have spent a day off there, but the end of the ride was a mere 120 miles of nearly flat terrain.  And as much as we’d been enjoying our ride, it had been 6 weeks on the road for Paul and 3 months on the bicycle for me.  We were ready to be done, ready for more than one change of clothing.  Ready to not be in a tent at night, ready to eat real food.

An abandon cabin provided shelter during a heavy rain one afternoon.

So off we went, enjoying what might have been the easiest day of the ride.  After 76 miles of paved and dirt roads, we arrived in the town of Hachita.  We asked about a place to camp and where shown to the community center.  It was a big building with a bathroom and kitchen and a lot of empty space.  And though it was a bit stuffy, we slept on the floor and were happy for it.

The next morning we had a mere 45 miles to ride to the finish in Antelope Wells.  Don’t be fooled by the name of the town, because it is really just a border crossing at the end of a road.   There is absolutely nothing else there and no one lives there.  We sat on the ground in the meager bit of shade provided by the sign that says Antelope Wells and waited a short time for our ride.  

Fancy hotel, dirty bikes.

Trail Angels provided water in New Mexico.

Pouring rain outside.  

Another nice campsite.

Not far to go.

And that’s it.  A few hours later I was reunited with my van.  A couple days later I dropped Paul off at the airport.  And a couple days after that I’ll be hitting the road.  From here I’ll be heading north, not a real direct route, not a real specific destination.  Blog updates will go back to my normal sporadic rate, and the adventures will be a little less epic.  

End of the line.  

1 comment:

  1. Great finish! Congratulations on getting that done. Looking forward to your next adventure.