Continental Divide Trail - Page 11
It was a nice downhill on a full stomach out of Platoro. The views were great as I
descended along a pretty little river. The road was badly washboarded, which made the
ride a little bumpy, but there wasn't much traffic. I climbed a steep pass on pavement and
turned back onto gravel where I crossed a narrow gauge railroad that still operates a steam
engine as a tourist attraction. I found a smashed quarter by the tracks. I climbed a few
more miles on a bumpy rutted road before reaching New Mexico. There's 696 miles of
route in New Mexico, so I'm not exactly done, but it's the last state of the ride.
The road in New Mexico started out steep and rocky and got worse the farther I went. At
about 20 miles in, it went straight up the side of a mountain at nearly a 45 degree angle. I
had to push the bike for nearly half a mile on loose rocks and boulders to get to the top.
Once there, I had 10 more miles of rocky washed out roads with some of the best views on
the whole ride before I hit good, but washboarded, gravel.
About 10 miles before tonight's campsite, a guy in a truck stopped me. He was looking for
his lost dog. It was sad because the chances of him finding his dog are virtually
nonexistent. I'd look, too, if I were him. It made me think about my poor old dog, Sam. I
had to put her to sleep this summer after having her 15 years. She was hurting and it
needed to be done, but I still lost the best friend I ever had. Life goes on.
I had a very pleasant night's sleep up on a high ridge and set out on a mostly downhill route
to Cañon City. I knew I was in New Mexico because the N in Cañon City had a little squiggly
thing over it. As I came down the hill into town, I saw garbage dumped into the ravines all
along the road. I figured I'd be coming into a dumpy little town, and a dumpy little town was
exactly what I found. All the houses were run down and the yards filled with trash, junk
vehicles and appliances. It was another four miles to the slightly bigger village of
Vallecitos. Never in my life have I seen as much trash in the ditch as I did in those four
Vallecitos was filled with trash. More than half the houses were boarded up and covered in
spray painted graffiti. Those that weren't looked like they should be condemned. The
church had a junk washer and stove in the yard. I was chased by a pack of dogs on my way
out of town and had to hit a particularly nasty brown one with a board I picked up from the
roadside trash. The beer cans and trash slowly thinned out as I pedaled uphill on gravel
out of town. I was glad to have Vallecitos behind me.
A forest service truck stopped me when I was about 1,000 feet into my 2,000 foot climb.
The driver offered me an ice cold water, which I gladly accepted. It was much better than
the slightly brown luke warm water I had with me.
I stopped in the much nicer town of Abiquiu near the end of today's ride for a pint of Ben and
Jerry's and a rotisserie chicken. Abiquiu is at 7,000 feet and it was hot. I'm really worried
about how hot the rest of my ride is going to be. I upped the water I'm carrying from two to
four liters since I'm really in the desert now. It was a steep climb out of town, and I can
definitely notice the weight of the water, but I know I don't perform well in the heat, and
running out of water would be a huge problem. I'm planning on carrying too much for the
rest of the trip just to be safe.
My guidebook said today's ride would be the toughest climb on the great divide. It started
out steep and rocky, but I've seen worse. I even kind of enjoyed picking my way through the
cracks and boulders. After a few hours, the fun started to wear off. Then the road got
steeper and more washed out. There were more and more boulders. I pushed the bike for
miles past false summit after false summit. When I finally did reach the top it wasn't a nice
easy downhill, but a series of short steep ups and downs. I've covered 70 miles today. I
feel like I've gone 170. It was the toughest climb on the divide.
I passed a few nice forest service campsites before I hit pavement, but it's Friday night and I
didn't want to deal with the idiots, so I turned onto highway 126 and started the big downhill
into the town of Cuba. I ran into a sobriety checkpoint just after I made my turn. It turns out
it's OK to drink and ride in New Mexico, so they didn't even check me.
I need to pick up mail in Cuba, so I'd hoped to find a nice place to camp along the way.
There wasn't one, so I ended up lifting the bike over a fence about a mile out of town. I've
got a nice place behind some bushes where nobody will see me.
The mosquitoes are awful tonight! They haven't really been bad the whole trip. Now here
they are in the desert. Oh well. I get breakfast in town in the morning.