Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 21- Plains of San Agustin to Antelope Wells 228 miles

Gila National Forest

Waking up, I was really unmotivated and ended up going back to sleep, waking for the second time as the sun came up. I set off pretty quickly, pissed at myself for missing an hour or two, but realized I was missing the motivation. It didn’t take me long to get into a good rhythm and I was feeling good that there was only 200 miles and 3 or 4 shorter climbs to go.

One of the easier Divide crossings

It was before 12 when I rolled in Beaverhead Work Centre, called in, grabbed a Sprite and talked to my parents- I was feeling pretty good. It got better throughout the day, those 3 or 4 climbs were fantastic- climbing through rocky, forested mountains then steep rocky descents (some of my most favourite terrain of the whole trail).

It was beginning to get dark as I came flying the down the paved stretch into Mimbres. Again nothing was open and I had run out of food and water again. I knocked on a door and got some water from a nice guy- even though it was now dark, I needed to drink something in the 20 miles to Silver City.

I was not sure of the correct road out of Mimbres- I followed a guys, and the maps, directions- but there was a split in the road that wasn’t listed. This caused a great deal of worry as I climbed, but I wasn’t willing to ride back down to check and then back up again. Thankfully, I joined onto the right road and motored along the paved to Silver City.

I was starving and it was late. I stopped at the first servo, but they took some trouble to explain to me that they were closed. I continued on and saw a sign for McDonalds and thinking that would be the only place still open, I increased speed. I came across a Wendys? and decicded to stop. The interior was closed but the drive through still open. I got in line and had trouble explaning to the guy in the car behind me that he had to move forward to set off the intercom. I ordered a couple of meals and what I thought was a chocolate thickshake, but turned out to be this fantastic whipped ice-cream-in-a-cup stuff.

I pulled into a Walmart parking lot, a massive warehouse building for a town of 10,000. Inside, there was a amazing amount of everything and I walked out with more than enough Powerbars, Gatorade and food to last me the 125 miles to the border (I bought a gallon of Gatorade- not in several bottles, but 3.8 litres in a single one!).

It was after midnight as I made my way over the rollers out of Silver City. The road wasn’t busy at all and I stopped under a tree a few miles before the turnoff onto the dirt trail. I ate some stuff and dozed off, feeling a little unmotivated even though there was only 100 miles to go. Some simple calculations given my late start on the previous two mornings, and information from checking-in and from my parents led me to believe that Steve Wilkinson and the other two Englishmen could be only a short distance behind me (or even in front). I think I only slept for less than an hour, but it wasn’t complete sleep due to me wanting to keep on going and that it was cold as I was just lying on the ground in my cycling clothes.

After some time on the dirt trail to Separ, the sun began to rise and not surprisingly I felt better (it being downhill helped). Through Separ and the road beside the highway was terrible, and at the end of it before the turn onto paved (and second last road of the whole trail) a Police cruiser pulled up and asked what I was doing. I presume they were either after illegals or smugglers, or just bored.

That was a Divide crossing?!

The road to the border was almost flat but, considering the day, the 100 feet changes in elevation over long distances were tough. Those 65 paved miles seemed to last forever. I hardly ever stopped, it was heating up by the time I got to Hachita, and luckily got a Sprite from the post office lady when picked up a bag that I had sent from Eureka MT. I wasn’t really excited to be almost finished jut glad, not stopping to eat for the last 60 miles or so. As I got closer and closer to the border I spent more and more time out of the saddle- pushing for 5 strokes and then coasting, checking over my shoulder every 5 minutes to see if someone had caught up. I pulled part of my gastrocnemius after Hachita and ignored the pain over the last 65 miles. After an endless time on the paved road I saw the Windmill 6 miles before the border and I tried to ride out of the saddle for the rest of the time.

The border post was a lot smaller than I expected. I said “Hi” to an officer lounging on a chair and we talked- surprisingly he seemed to know a lot about the race, having been stationed at the post for the previous few years and meeting MLee especially. Tim, my new friend, offered me the use of the posts phone and I called in. I had tried to stop and talk to some of the shuttle buses I had seen on the road when I realized that they may be my only way out from the border, but the only Spanish I knew wasYo quiero taco bell” so there wasn’t much communication. Talking to Tim, it seemed that the shuttles ran only in the morning and at midday- I had just missed the last one and it seemed that I was stuck at the border with no facilities for the night. Tim offered to drive me the 65 miles to the I-10, but that’s quite a drive, so then he offered me the use of his second house and I could get on the shuttle the next morning. I waited a few hours until the three guards closed the border at 4 then helped Tim carry some meat from his place, over the border to the Mexican guards post. Tim, two Mexican guards that spoke only a little English and I talked and drank shitty Bud Light whilst a Mexican mama cooked up the meat and some corn. After trying some of the hottest chilli sauce that I have ever come across (and spending 20 mins trying to cool my mouth down with meat fat), we drank even more and played dominoes until the wee hours.

I had a shower and an awesome sleep, free from the need to get up and go riding again, and hobbled over to the post just before the morning shuttle left. I thanked Tim and got the bike on and greeted the others on the shuttle, but I am not sure they understood me- they seemed to all be Mexicans visiting friends/family in Arizona. We passed someone (Retro-it was SWilko but I didn’t realize it at the time) and I ate a ton of food every time we stopped on the way to Arizona.

1 comment:

Matthew Lee said...

tim at the border is an outstanding guy. he has been so generous to divide racers. i am envious of your overnighter with him. i partied down with him in 05 for several hours and luckily we had pretty good mexican beer (modelo especiale). do you have any pics from your finish? w/ tim? etc.?
send him fan mail at:
tim balderston
po box 69
hachita, NM