With 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.
Paved 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 miles, 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 after 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 that 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.
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.