UntitledWith the best intentions I tried to “knock off” the last of the Great Divide trail last week, from Abiquiu, New Mexico to the Mexican border at Antelope Wells.  Weather in Durango and northern New Mexico wasn’t looking too good. Good friends Mike and Judy were interested in seeing the southern parts of New Mexico, especially the two Wilderness Areas: Gila and Aldo Leopold which the route bisects, so they volunteered to drive me down to the southern terminus if I’d be interested in riding from south to north on this section.

Interestingly, it’s 560 miles from Durango to Antelope Wells via highways and this remaining section of the Great Divide is almost the same mileage, but doesn’t nearly reach Colorado riding south to north on Forest Service and back roads next to the Continental Divide.

I was determined to ride self-supported and Mike thought he might ride a few sections along the way so we endeavored to camp together for the first four days.  It kind-of resembled a White Rim, Utah ride, except that my Lefty was fully loaded, whereas on the White Rim you only carry water, a snack and some spares.

IMG_2194Paved roads on the first day helped me log 105 miles where desert wildflowers were surprisingly prevalent, and the second day was into the mountains and cold so I only got in 77 miles.  Waking up to snow and deep in the National Forest mountains took a toll, riding only 61 miles in 36° weather and headwinds on the third day.  I think I only saw one other vehicle that day, but did split up a herd of 20 Elk crossing the trail. Mileage got better on the fourth day when I put in 102 WxGD ridemiles, but the temps never got out of the 40’s and the winds were stronger still. Oh, and there was snow on the tent and bike that morning as well.  The high point that morning was waking to wild turkeys gobbling close to camp and a silver-appearing fox streaming across the road in front of me.


The fifth day it started raining right IMG_2191after I started, and between the rain and the winds it just wasn’t much fun at that point.  Mike and Judy were heading back to Durango from Grants and took my “pulse” at lunch-time so I bailed in Grants with only 66 miles that day. We checked the weather on the iPad and it was another day and a half before chance of precip dropped to 30% so rather than hole-up in a motel I loaded up the bike into the truck and was home before dinner.

Near as I can tell there’s just over 200 miles left of the Great Divide trail, so I’m still DNF until that’s completed.  At least now that 200 is close by and I should be able to find a couple days to knock IMG_2157that off and post a completion of the 2,745 mile mountain bike ride in proximity to the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico.

Just in case you doubt how cold it was, check out this coat I made out of my sleeping bag by opening the foot zipper.  It was just too early to go to bed, so after dinner I donned the bag for a hour in an effort to reduce the prone tent-time waiting until sunrise.

P1010325 (2)

And I did manage to make it to Pie Town just at closing time (4 PM) and get a piece to their famous pie a-la-mode as part of the “virtuous bingeing” that high-mileage cycling allows.  Amazing how easy it was to put in another 20+ miles after that late afternoon snack.



Fun to be Home

IMG_2137We really enjoy being home in our condo and back in Durango: so many things we like doing and the comfort level is much appreciated after asceticism.  One of the first treats we wanted to try was seeing if we could duplicate the Panang Curry we relished in Trang and Stanna “nailed it” when she wok’ed up a batch of Shrimp Panang Curry for our friends Kurt and Carol.

IMG_2149And since we’ve been home over a week, we tried Panang Mu (pork) just last night in the wok and while not quite as good as the Panang Gai (Chicken) Curry we supped on regularly at Mai Muang restaurant, it was finger-lickin’ good nonetheless. So now it’s only chicken left to try next week and we’ll use the local ingredients to make sure we can serve it up for our Durango dinner guests.


IMG_2144We often use the expression “If you don’t like the weather in the San Juan’s just wait 30 minutes” and this was the case last Saturday when we woke up to one inch of snow on the deck.  It only took 30 minutes once the sun came over the Continental Divide to turn the white frocking into a Durango Spring day.



One of the recreation items left-over on my To Do list is to finish the last 500 miles of the Great Divide ride.  So before it gets too hot in the New Mexico alto plano, I’m going down south to finish up that 500-mile segment.  Since it’s self-supported I needed to makeup 7 days’ worth of meals.  Shown left are my breakfast bags of home-made granola with strips of bacon.

I got my Lefty out of cold storage (the garage rather than the condo where it lives in the summer) and tricked it out with bikepacking gear for the jaunt.  New this season is a Sweetroll from Revalate Designs and I’m using the Terrapin seat bag system I took to Thailand.  Now I have an extra set of bikepacking bags for one of you to join me on a trip.



PurgatoryFlatsAcclimating and recovering from jet-lag are the two priorities, now that we’ve got our taxes filed.  The 14-hour time difference is never an easy adjustment but getting ourselves back into the Durango recreation and exercise routine helps us get up early and feel tired when the sun goes down.

The first couple days are spent going thru the mountain of mail and posting tax info, followed by provisioning the empty frig and larder. Now we can think about “how many summers we have left” and what we want to do in Durango and with friends we haven’t seen in many months.

IMG_2131Besides my regular spinning and yoga classes that leave me “guilt-free by 8 AM,’ I managed to get in a short backpacking trip in the San Juan’s.  Getting out the ultra-light backpacking gear and field testing it puts me in a position for some backcountry adventure and fun this spring and coming summer.  Fortunately, Mike and his dog Ryler were eager to get out for an overnight just below the snow line in the high country.
CastingIn Colorado you can get hiking Search and Rescue coverage with a fishing permit, so the last couple of years I’ve paid my one dollar and purchased the fishing permit.  So now I can practice losing flies and spooking fish with impunity, besides being eligible for rescue.  This last trip I learned a lot more just casting without the hook on the line.

Home Again

IMG_2123Several folks have written to see if we made it home yet, probably since there hasn’t been a posting about a departure or an arrival in Durango.  

A number of well-wishers from the Trang Cycling Club came to the local airport to see us off, and load us up with sweet pastries for the flight home.

We’ve now decided that the best day to fly is on a Tuesday, because the Bangkok to Tokyo flight wasn’t crowded and the Tokyo to Denver flight was only 2/3’s full, leaving the center seat in almost every row of three seats empty.

Wassana guesthouse now has a red plastic storage box of those items we buy each year to make our room living more comfortable: such as tableware, food storage containers, a yoga mat and exercise ball.  The bikes are back at out friend’s house and should be available next year, which we currently think will be 3 months – Jan thru March.

We managed to come home with less than we took over, even though we brought home a little more Thai textiles and some Panang Curry ingredients. We just can’t imagine what’s in those large roller bags most travelers lug around, although truth be told, Stanna did check a backpack on the trip home.

2 Drone Week

IMG_2097Yet another bicycle parade and this one was flanked by vintage motorcycles, restored volkswagens and the town’s Tuk-tuks.  Most of southern Thailand’s economy is founded on harvesting rubber from it’s rubber tree plantations, not to mention rice and palm oil, but rubber trees grow best in this region of Thailand primarily due to it’s latitude and associated climate.  There doesn’t appear to be Agri-Business managing and producing all these tens of thousands of hectares of patch-work, mostly small family-owned groves of trees planted on old flat rice fields as well as on the hilly inclines.

parade2In 1899 a provincial governor who had travelled “abroad” brought the first rubber trees back to stimulate Thai agriculture, and planted them just down the road from Trang in Kantang.  This parade and celebration was for Rubber Tree Day and constituted the biggest parade we’ve seen, or been a part of, since visiting Thailand.  All the various parading constituents met at different locales around town and coalesced at Trang’s largest stadium fairgrounds, where gigantic gymnasium-sized tents covered agricultural displays, food stands and fair attractions.

One massive display on the fairgrounds we only saw the end of, as we cycled in thru the center of the grounds, was an elephant pulling a giant stone roller that was used to build the roads over the mountain passed between the peninsula’s coastal regions.  Sorry no photos, as the elephant was discharged while all 250 bicycles were herded to the forefront of a concert stage.  SunSern explained that before the use of dynamite they would “fire” (heat) the boulders in the way of a roadbed and then pour water on them to crack the rock. Then the labors would “cut and fill” and the elephants would “roll” these Flintstone-sized rollers (almost the size of those VW bugs in the parade) to smooth out the roadbed.

IMG_2105Besides the transport-mode participants in the parade, there were quite a number of flatbed truck-mounted floats depicting the various stages of Rubber Tree development including taping the rubber water and pressing the liquid into the door-mat-sized product we see drying adjacent the plantation’s family mangle-looking presses throughout this region. Now-a-days, the rubber water is more often collected daily from plastic 20-liter containers into 50-gallon drums and then later in the day pumped into pick-up-mounted 300 gallon tanks and finally taken to a wholesaler who fills a 20-wheeled tanker truck. Mat production only occurs in areas where access to daily trucking is limited, like the islands and deep in the hill country.

Mat rubber is used for the heavy rubber production of items like tires, whereas the liquid rubber can be used to form “finer” items like gloves and gaskets.  Thailand ranks 1st in world natural rubber production, however synthetic rubber production has outgrown the demand for natural rubber.  Between synthetic rubber and competition in neighboring countries the price of rubber has just recently dropped from 180 Baht a kilo to 30 Baht.

IMG_2101This was the second time in three days that we were filmed by a drone-mounted GoPro.  I guess this is the norm for ariel photography and works well with parades and large gatherings.




IMG_2108We didn’t stay for the food fair provided to the participants.  SunSern and his wife took us to a favorite Thail restaurant where we gorged on delicious dishes, some familiar and other new, like the pounded catfish that explodes into a light puffy bird’s nest of taste when poured into a wok of palm oil.  It’s topped at the table with grated mango in fish sauce.  A Roi.



“What time are you finished riding with Fashung?  Are you available for a ride at 7 AM?” was the call after I’d gone to bed Tuesday night.  “They want riders to make a ‘Live’ movie about Trang for TV.”  “Sure, I’ll be there” I volunteered.  What I didn’t realize was Trang is having it’s Centennial on April 14th and they want to have 1,000 cyclists come and cycle around Trang, so they are making a “Promo” for TV Channel 22 showing the Trang highlights.

Film 2Extras evidently spend a lot of idle time waiting around for the film crew to arrive and then set-up their various cameras, and “shots.” Never-the-less we still got in about 20 km of cycling, sometimes just going round and round a park or monument.

It was fun, and seeing them deploy a camera drone above our group was fascinating.  Curious to see how that footage turns out, however they weren’t showing our riding “live” and don’t plan to broadcast the film until the 8th, one day after we fly home. So we’ll never really know.

Since I couldn’t really photograph my participation in the filming I’ll have to post several photos posted on local Club members’ FaceBook pages.

Film 1film4All told, we were filmed cycling at five attractions within the city limits of Trang. There were 20+ riders on a variety of bikes, most of whom wore one of two Club jerseys. They did feed us twice and it’s wasn’t a box lunch, rather a 5-course family style lunch at a well-known local restaurant.