Turning the Corner
Carl and Damie sent me off with a hearty breakfast of grains and bacon. Then I got to take on some hills.
Did I say some? Kidding! A lot of hills.
The day was going decently well until I turned off the paved road and headed up. Not only was the hill a doozy, but the poor road surface killed any momentum you could gain. I'd had the idea of overshooting my destination by 30 km or so, and by the halfway point of the day, I was starting to doubt if I'd make it to the intended destination by nightfall.
Once again, a long break in late afternoon made me feel like a new man. I probably should be eating more. Climbing out of the canyon immediately afterward was supposed to be the hardest climb of the day, and it didn't seem that bad!
The lat few miles were 6 km up, 6 km down, 2 km flat, repeat. I saw deer. Then I saw much larger, darker Brown deer. I would later learn those are called elk.
I made it to the forest service station just as it was beginning to get dark. I'd only heard a vague report that you could camp there, but I was fairly certain water was available. I tentatively approached a worker and asked if I could set up my tent. "Of course!" we're the first words out of his mouth.
The worker, who was a firefighter/medic, introduced himself as E. T. Collingsworth. That sounds like either an alias or a character from a Sherlock Holmes story. Or both. He pointed out the bathrooms, water, campsites, benches, and the best place for my tent.
Just as he was about done helping me get situated and informed, and about when it was difficult to see, another cyclist showed up, from the other direction. His bike had aerobars and no racks. He said he had missed the group start of the race and was heading south from Albuquerque to the border, then would race his way back north. So I guess he'll pass me again at some point!
Even though it looked like his bags can't hold much, he had a lot of stuff I don't carry, like a stove and a headlamp. He repeatedly asked me where he could buy food tomorrow, sometime before Silver City. Maybe that's what he doesn't carry much of. I gave him some of my oatmeal, and he returned the favor with dried mangos. I think I got the better end of the deal.
The station to Pie Town was supposed to be two short days, which is why I wanted to stretch the previous one, to try to make it in only one day. Much flatter terrain and a strong tailwind made it happen!
I had my first crash during the day - unclipped on the left, went down on the right. Stupid. Have the skinned knee to prove it.
Halfway to Pie Town, I saw a dot up ahead, orange on top, black on bottom. It looked like another cyclist! After a few minutes, it was closer, but still too far away to tell. Was this going to be one of those times I raced to catch up to a mailbox?
I eventually caught Lauren and Roger, a physical therapist and calculus teacher. They were on rigid bikes and moving a little slower than me.
Not much later, we met at a church in the middle of nowhere, the only spot around for water. It also looked like a good spot to camp! Lauren and Roger looked beat, and I think they had half a mind to do just that. I pressed on for Pie Town.
Aside from one long, slow hill, the rest of the ride went by rather painlessly. Six miles out from Pie Town, I met two Koreans, Rabbit and Turtle, hiking the CDT together. Their English was limited, but their positive attitude was not. I noticed they were covered head to toe. Worried about the sun, I suppose.
I didn't bother getting pie in Pie Town, because the my lodging for the night had plenty! The Toaster House is a donations welcome hostel, and in the fridge was beer, soda, frozen pizza and burritos, and a host of other items. I had one of each!
It was early evening when I arrived, and there were already two people there. Ville, from Finland, was riding the Great Divide like me. Will was hiking the Continental Divide and left shortly after I arrived. I took a shower, did laundry, ate, and cheerfully greeted the Koreans when they arrived. They seemed overjoyed at the place.
I cooked pancakes for the four of us in the morning (also left at the Toaster House) and Ville and I rode together to Grants. A short, flat, easy day. We made it to town and got the idea to ask churches if we could stay. Only one had anyone there, and we got to stay in the meeting room, which had a kitchen and a shower!
I've decided that in every state or province, I'm going to drink a float. and I'm going to try different unusual ones, like orange soda or Big Red. Ville had never heard of a root beer float, so I decided that New Mexico's requirement would be done now, and since it was his first, we'd do a traditional one. We both enjoyed it thoroughly.
Notably, my left knee has already stopped hurting, perhaps because I ditched the bag that was rubbing it. Also, I feel like I'm already getting stronger. Normally it's about a week before things turn around, if not two. It's only been five days, but I'm feeling better already. Here's hoping this trend continues.
from Great Divide