Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 20- El Malpais Ranger Station to Plains of St. Agustin 110 miles

Just out of the Narrows

I was a little slow to rise, just from the accumulation of tiredness I think. I had previously thought that once I was in New Mexico or that once I only had 500 miles to go, it would all be downhill- I could increase the pace and it would be easy. But, the false finish of the New Mexican border just depressed me, and I think this affected me this morning (I still had 360 miles to go). I lacked a little motivation and was a little bored. The Narrows and rest of Cebolla Wilderness was impressive but I was in a bad mood and it took me a little longer to warm up than normal.

Natural Arch, Cebolla Wilderness

I wasn’t much more happier turning off the paved road and onto a pretty sandy washboarded road. I battled with the road conditions as the gradient was easy for the next hundred or so miles. I exchanged waves with some motorbike tourists and rode away jealous.

The temperature was not a problem and as I rolled into Pie Town, dark clouds appeared. I didn’t anticipate anything being open, but was hoping I could find some food (preferably hot) as I wanted to be sure I had enough food into Silver City. Everything appeared closed, I pulled my bike up onto the verandah of the PIE-O-NEER café as it began to rain and after walking around the back to see if anyone was home, I pulled my food out to have a picnic on the outside tables. I was just about to open a can when I saw movement inside. I knocked on the door again and was greeted by Kathy. She explained that the café was closed but offered me sandwiches, the left over pie (that was still good) , and a couple cans of Sprite. I again struggled to think of something to write in her visitors book (worthwhile reads) as I ate, and again spent much too long chatting. It had stopped raining when I left but was still overcast, disguising the real time, but I ended up making good time. I did stop at the Toaster House, but no one was home. I found the box and did write something and left something that I cant remember what was.

Though navigation through this section was harder than in previous days, it was great riding terrain. The ascent and descent of Contenintal Divide crossing 23 was great and it was dark as I started into the Plains of San Agustin. It wasn’t long before I got a headache, riding washboard with enough light to see the way but with dark peripheries (that means you cant tell what gradient you are riding so there is this confusion between your balance, your brain and your eyes). And like most of the dark periods I have ridden previously, I would stop quite often, to check the odometer and the map, with disbelief at my progress and willingness to stop and sleep. But, I would continue on, planning to stop at the “Nice campsites” after the enterance to Gila National Forest, but eventually stopping a couple of miles short. I walked off the road a few hundred metres to try and be a little out of sight, had the rest of the salami for dinner and slept. I was a little disappointed that I missed the “Very Large Array” of radio telescopes whilst riding through the dark.

Sunrise on the the Plains

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