Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 19- Cuba to El Malpais Ranger Station via Pueblo Pintado 134.7 miles

The scenery just out of Cuba

I slept in after the exertion of yesterday afternoon, and thinking that I would fly through what looked to be flat today. After the mountainous northern New Mexico had been passed, I knew that there were only 5-6 small climbs left before the finish. Reaching this morning was an important psychological boost, I saw the flats of today and the last 120 miles to be easy- this is probably why this day was so tiring. For, whilst the 230 miles from Cuba look flat in comparison to the several hundred previous miles, its actually quite rolly.

The first miles were good, cool and dry and enjoyable. I only had to ride 27 miles to reach the first grocery store, a surprisingly big store that probably serviced all the Indian reservations in the area. All the people I saw that in that area were Indians, the cop asked where I was headed and seemed a little surprised at my answer.

This section is pretty desolate and barren, scrub with most of the buildings being churches. I was feeling a little sick in the stomach under the hot miles into Pueblo Pintado, drinking from bottles that I had filled up in Cuba, and all the rollers didn’t help. Sitting in the shade, I got some food in, and replaced all my water with bottled stuff.

It was now well into the hottest part of the day and the 65 miles into Grants were boring (even though there was some impressive rock formations and scenery). What looked like a Joint Strike Fighter (it wasn’t a F-18 or F-14) made a pass along the road only 50 metres above me- my hearing came back a few hours later. I was feeling better after I crested the last hill and began the long 25 miles shallow descent in Grants.

After riding around and asking people for the location of a supermarket, I managed to find a massive one on the northern side of town. It was 70 miles to possible food in Pie Town (though I wasn’t betting on it, considering other riders stories about nothing being open), and another 155/175 miles on to Mimbres/Silver City, so I had to really stock up. Clif bars, peanut butter, and salami were on the menu. I dont know if I was getting looks from locals because of what was in my trolley or because I must have looked pretty filthy. Again the cashiers didn’t seem to know anything of the town they were living in, I had to ask four before I learnt of a restaurant nearby.

I sat at the bar in a busy restaurant, drinking a few beers waiting a long time for my order to be filled, and then left as the sun went behind the mountains.

By the time I had crossed the I-40 and started down a deserted road in the El Malpais Conservation Area, it was pitch black. I stopped several times and just stood there, wanting to get off and sleep, but continuing on after a little mental break (and there was no where to stop anyway). The nine miles from the I-40 to the ranger station seemed to take forever, but after having to slide my bike under the fence, I had a secluded camp and I had some salami and went to sleep.

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