I set off just as it was getting light, planning to get to the store/café for breakfast in Horca. But, it was Sunday, so of course it didn’t open till later. I sat a liitle despondent trying to work out what to do- I was running out of food (again) but the only way to finish this thing was to get to Mexico.
I was a little sick of riding, and the climb up to La Manga Pass didn’t help. 5 miles long and paved, but a liitle steeper than I expected, added to the fact that my mind and body had not warmed up meant that it took me and hour and a half to climb the thing. I was feeling better after stretching out in the sun at the top, knowing that I could get some food at a restaurant a few miles away. As I descended, I noticed how southern Colorado is a lot greener than more northern areas I had passed through. I pulled into the restaurant/bar, but Hey! Sunday, so it didn’t open until late afternoon. I ate from my dwindling supply of foodstock and managed to get some water from the nearby snowmobile rental place and set out not sure about where I could get food from over the next 95 miles. Waiting for the place to open did enter my mind, and I may have considered it if I had had only a few hours sleep the night before, but I had slept 7-8 hours so I had to continue on.
I lost 20 minutes on the dirt trail just before the border, dropping my map and walking back uphill to find it. I didn’t think my day could get any worse, food was probably out of reach 90 miles away in El Rito. I was wrong. The first 10 miles to the top of Brazos Ridge is a lot of the time unrideable: the trail is edge to edge covered in fist sized rocks, with large ruts and steep inclines and declines. With the realisation that this would put me way behind schedule, I got pretty pissed off: I needed to vent, so I threw the bike down. I felt a little better and continued to trudge up. Over the summit, the trail improved, and I stopped to give directions to a woman in a ute. Apparently, I didn’t know where I was, but after driving in the opposite direction to my instructions, she passed me (going the right way) 20 minutes later.
Several hours on and I was moving well, the sealed climb on I-64 proved harder (longer) than I anticipated (hoped for), but I rewarded myself with a feed at Hopewell Lake. Resting against the toilet block, I noticed a number of campers. So far, New Mexico seemed to be a lot more popular with campers than southern Colorado- there were numerous people along what I considered remote, difficult to reach places.
After an easy short climb over Burned Mountain there was a long descent with some short climbs through some amazing country. Coming down Canada del Oso into Canon Plaza was especially spectactular, and I saw my third bear (or his arse as he was running away) for the trip. I didn’t see the mother, and didn’t want to stop on the road, potentially between them, so I continued on. I stopped at a little white shack on the edge of Canon Plaza, one that is familiar with most GD racers and riders. I was planning to get into El Rito late and plead for something to eat from a motel manager, but this little shack saved me. I waited as Paula? came over, she opened up the shack, gave me a book with comments from previous racers and riders (including M.Lee and JP several days previously) and went off to get me some soup. I sat and talked with her, trying to think of something to write before buying supplies and heading off in the dark. I lost an hour and a half, but I got a feed so making El Rito was now not essential. After rediscovering how much night riding sucked, I pushed up and over 8,278’ so that the next day would begin with 30 miles of descending. I pulled off the road after I was sure I had passed the summit (nothing worse than waking up in the morning to still have to climb), found a flat patch, ate some chocolate and other gear I picked up at Paula’s shack and had a half descent sleep.