Since I started the trip I mostly enjoyed every day without suffering much compared to Simon (and Ollie for the time he spent with us). But New-Mexico is something different! I left Simon who wanted to make a shorter day for his calf muscle after Platoro and I biked all the way up to La Manga Pass, arriving at the top before 9pm. I spent the night with a family camping a mile out of the road who offered me beers, chicken, hot-dogs… A dream night before what I can call my hardest days!
The day afte started with a turn I missed and ended up doing a few extra miles and climbs for “free”… Then I had to push my bike a few hundred meters for the first time.. grrr I was upset! And then, with the rough road my bike computer reset itself twice in the middle of check points on the map. It was such a bad day… I was so angry! And for the happening of the day, I biked hard to make it to El Rito for the night, but there wasn’t any campground, the grocery store closed 2 hours earlier, and the restaurant was exeptionnaly closed for 4 days… You should have seen my face when I was in front of the restaurant door! For my dinner, well, let’s have a dry meal. But before I had to find some water somewhere and went to ask the locals to get some.
I kept on biking a few miles to find a camp spot for the night in the desert out of the road, and spent a bivi night watching the stars for a few minutes before falling asleep. Breakfast for the morning, tea and one cereal bar, all I had! And 20 miles to bike to Abiquiu to get something else to eat…
You could think it was it, one hard day to get into New-Mexico… but
no! The maps I ordered for the 2 last sections of the Great Divide
didn’t arrived at the Motel Abiqui Inn, and since we were a saturday, no
chance for me to get them (I wouldn’t wait until Monday). After some
shopping, time to leave this little little town to get to Cuba where I
will wait for Simon again since there was nothing to do here. It was
around 1pm, the sun was shinning as much as it could and I had to
climb… climb out of Abiquiu for 800 meters in altitude, and for 30-40
miles… 45 degrees Celcius was the hotest I got in the climb, and it
felt terrible to bike. I was trying to bike in the shade of the trees as
much as I could. Moreover the road was very poor and not easy at all to
ride, making the progress on my bike computer looking like I was
walking… What a hell is wrong with New-Mexico? Is it suppose to be a
test, just to see if you can make it to the border or if you prefer to
quit before the last State?
I was getting very thirsty and demotivated to get anywhere for the night. And I didn’t see anyone on this terrible road, no car, nothing except cows of course… But a miracle happened! One car came from the opposite direction and we started to talk, and I asked for something to drink if they had any drinks left over. I got a bottle of water and one of orange juice. I drank half of it straight when I got it. It gave me some energy to finish the climb for the day since there was no way I could make it to Cuba for the night (by the way, there wasn’t either any campground there so… and for sure all the restaurants would be closed by the time I would get there…).
Getting down to Cuba the next day was easy and Simon found me at the grocery store, laying down diggesting my big lunch I had, and getting dizzy with the heat… And then… then comes the desert! The real heat! The next day, we tried to bike to Grants, but with the road full of sand for the first couple of miles, and a missing indication on the map who led us to make anohter couple of miles “for free” in the sand, we hit the desert between those 2 towns right in the middle of the day. Another bike ride under 43 degrees Celcius without much water. All the water sources on the map didn’t exist or were dry until we found a solar water pump in a enclosure. It’s like Disneyland in the middle of the desert! We drank, and drank and drank all we could! We were back to life! And more important the sun went behind the clouds, so we could ride the last miles before our camp spot with a kind of normal heat.
All of these days in New-Mexico have been a real challenge, and I hope now it will get a bit easier, just to make the end of the trip as nice as it started ;-)
One more thing… we aren’t seeing many other bikers doing the trip, but a lot of motorbikers. And it’s f@#\$% hard to see them going on so easily when you’re struggling on your bike because of the road or the heat, or both, to get somewhere. And you know what they will have a good and cold beer in the evening…