Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 18- 8,278’ to Cuba 106 miles

It is interesting how the terrain influences your mood. I flew down the 30 miles to El Rito, the high speed lifting me. I stopped to call in and learn of JP and ML finishing (I was in third and still had 590 miles to go) and then continued down to Abiquiu. Though it was early, it was quite hot, and stopping for breakfast again took time out of my cool riding period. I stopped at the grocery store, and then again at the next one to get some more water and to confirm the location of the 189 road. I expected to find no water over the next 80 miles so I filled up with 9 litres. As for the directions, no one seemed to know even though the turnoff was a few hundred metres down the road (I have noticed a pattern- Americans travel all over the country to work, and often know less about the area than you do. I think this is why they have the home town/state on their name badges- so you don’t ask them for directions).

It was beginning to heat up as I climbed the more than 4,000 feet to an unnamed ridge, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. I remember hearing 90-100 degrees mentioned in Abiquiu, I equated that to less than blood temperature, so I was going to be sweet. I much prefer hot weather and so long as I had enough water I would be fine. It cooled as I climbed, the slight breeze was delightful, and the 27 miles of climbing was quite enjoyable. The last few miles were quite rocky, but it just seemed to make the next section of rolling ridgeline hardpack even more enjoyable.

I spent the next 25 miles cruising along, making good time but constantly worrying about my arrival time in Cuba. As I lost time throughout the day, the importance of the speed on last 10 miles of sealed, steep downhill became more and more important. I was using this speed as a buffer in order to get to Cuba before I figured the restaurants would close (9pm). The last sections of trail were great, but the rollers began to shit me, and I spent a bit of time out of the saddle, trying to keep the speed up. I realised I would pay for my extra effort later but I became a little obsessed with my finishing time. I almost ran over a few turkeys as I came around a sharp corner, they took off in my direction and covered me with shit.

I descended at times very quickly (45-50 mph) as the sun was going down. After riding past Cuba it seems, I finally made it into town just after 8.30. Stopping at the first restaurant I saw, I went in and was told by the owner that they were closing for the night due to lack of business. I didn’t stay to ask her how she expected business is she was closed, but she told me of another restaurant a few miles down the road that may have been open (apparently the best Mexican along the whole trail). I didn’t want to ride further for “may” so I stopped at a bottle-o and picked up some Gatorade and a 64 ounce bottle of Budwiser as she wouldn’t let me take singles. The McDonalds/servo was open till 11 so it became my dinner. I went to the Subway to get a footlong on the way to find a motel, but they were closed, so I went back for more expensive McDonalds and some bread. I stayed in a run down motel, the door looked like it had been kicked in several times before, and I had a restless sleep even though I had drunk two litres of beer.

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