Sent: Tuesday, 9/09/03
To: Friends and Family
Subject: Abiquiu to Albuquerque
September 7 - Abiquiu to Polvadera Mesa (38 miles, 6160 feet)
After spending a few days on their own to get reacquainted, Evan and Janeen met up with us this morning. Janeen will be with Evan for the rest of the trip carrying his gear in their camper, which is good news and bad news for me. The good news is that we are delighted to have her along and to get to know her; the bad news is that without that BOB to slow Evan down, I'll lag even further behind.
Norm and The Brothers have also reappeared. They've been one day behind us since we separated in northern Wyoming. It will be nice to have some more riding partners.
Jim waited for my parents in Youngsville, who will be driving for us for the rest of the trip. Not only will it be great to have them along, but I'm also looking forward to riding with Jim on a regular basis. Seeing my parents at the top of Polvadera Mesa was the best ending to today's ride.
The guidebook said today's ride would be the hardest climb. We made the ride even harder by tacking on some of tomorrow's miles to accommodate the motorhome. It was a big climb (30 miles uphill), but not as hard on me as the day out of Rawlins. Just the thought of that day makes me whimper.
Evan had gotten a few miles ahead of me on a remote dirt road when a truck came toward me with two men in it. The driver let out a chilling "Woohoo!" He slowed down and said, "You're a long way out here by yourself, and he's a long way ahead of you!" Something in the way he said that gave me the creeps, and I'm not one to be easily spooked by something like that. I sped up and found Evan in just a few minutes. I told him what had happened, and it must have concerned him too. For the next hour or so, he stayed within sight of me -- not close enough to prevent a violent act, but close enough to get to me when my body was still warm if something did happen. Fortunately, I'd seen the last of those two.
Here's our tent atop Polvadera Mesa. When we have drivers for the motorhome, Jim and I sleep in the tent and turn the motorhome over to them. Since my parents will be with us for the rest of the trip, this is our new home. We are quite pleased with our backyard.
September 8 - Polvadera Mesa to Cuba (42 miles, 2460 feet)
The reward for yesterday's climb was some awesome downhill. The first four miles was steep and rocky -- tons of fun! There was plenty of climbing after the initial downhill to keep it interesting. The last seven miles to Cuba was all downhill and paved; except for one short hill, I was on the brakes more than I pedaled.
The weather today and yesterday was good. The temperature was moderate. A few storm clouds threatened at a distance but never made good on their threats. All in all, we just finished two excellent days of riding.
Rather than stay in the town of Cuba, we took the motorhome back up the hill to a nice informal campsite. As we were getting settled in, Bob, one of The Brothers, rode by and stopped to report that his brother, Greg, had broken his frame on today's ride for the second time. The weld from the first break several days ago didn't hold. The frame is under warranty, but it's hard to get a replacement in the middle of nowhere. Jim loaned Bob some tools that may help them rebuild Greg's bike once he gets a new frame, but we may not see them for a few days. Bummer!
September 9 - Cuba to Albuquerque (7 miles, 360 feet)
This was not a good day. In fact, it was the worst day of the entire trip.
It started out well enough. When we woke up at 6:30, the sky was clear after a night of rain. While I made breakfast, it started to rain again. We broke camp about 8:30. It was then that we had a nasty encounter with the infamous New Mexico mud, the stuff the guidebook says has caused some bicyclists to temporarily abandon their bikes. The heavy rain on some road construction made the dirt road impassable in a motorhome. We got stuck twice in mud so slick the construction workers were having a hard time walking on it. My dad got out of the motorhome once to take a picture and came back two inches taller due to the mud on his shoes. Jim was able to back up and take a run at the hill to get us unstuck the first time. He very nearly made it to the top of the hill and to the safety of pavement when he had to slow down for a truck coming the other way. With every attempt to go forward we slid dangerously toward the edge of the steep mountain road. We were stuck, blocking traffic in both directions. The pilot car tried to bring some trucks through and every single one of them slid every which way while building up several inches of mud on each of their tires. A couple of them came within inches of sliding into us. Finally, the foreman went to get a bulldozer to blade a path in back of and in front of us. Even the dozer was sliding! The bladed path didn't help us. The foreman hooked a chain to the motorhome and pulled us out. Three hours after we broke camp, we were on our way.
So, the weather is crappy. Where do we ride? Forget the main route; it's a mud bog. The book suggests an alternate paved route in the event that you are lucky enough to hit this section during the monsoon. The alternate route goes through an Indian reservation for most of the 124 miles, and there's no place to camp. Jim and I decided to take a short ride on the dirt road into Chaco Canyon. We found out from other motorists that there is a serious mud bog on that road and the other entrance is washed out. We could see a nasty storm on the horizon moving our way. That's when I threw in the towel and suggested we drive to my parents' house in Albuquerque for the night. We needed to go there tomorrow anyway to pick up Jim's brother, Mark, who will ride with us for a few days.
Albuquerque has been in a drought and in desperate need of rain. Not more than two hours after we arrived here, there was a vicious downpour. Jim and I are considering a new business. If you need rain, for a fee we will come and ride our bikes on your street. If that doesn't work, we can set up our tent. That seems to guarantee rain.
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