FR 144 to Abiquiu

June 06, 2010

I woke up at 6:00 today, cooked breakfast, and dried my sleeping bag. Good thing my air mattress held air last night – the ground was very cold this morning.

I was the last to be ready – it took me longer than usual to get ready. Still, we were riding by 7:45.

The first 4 miles were on steep, rocky, rutted roads. I pushed the bike much of that distance.

Rough climb to 10,000 ft

At the top , we reached 10,400 ft. I could really feel the altitude’s affect on my body. Any extra effort while riding uphill made me breathe heavy. I had to control my pace and effort to keep from hyperventilating.

Rest after a climb

High altitude view

After the summit, we started downward for a while, only to climb above 10,000 feet 10 miles later. It was lunch time, but no one else was hungry, so I quickly ate trail mix and a granola bar. From here, we had a long, steep, rocky descent. It was so bad that at times I had to go under 5 mph. Any faster and I couldn’t control the bike and I feared the intense vibrations may crack the welds on my frame or racks.

To make matters worse, a storm was brewing behind us. The storm made me want to ride fast, but the rough terrain did not allow it. I am surprised to have made it down with my bike in one piece.

When we first started the descent, we agreed to meet 20 miles ahead at a critical turn. Looking back, this was not smart – especially with the terrain and coming storm. I knew I was very alone on the descent – the others went faster down the initial rough section. Being in back, if I fell I would be alone for quite some time before anyone realized.

I made it down fine, though – singing Iron Maiden and Epica songs to distract myself and alert bears of my presence (possibly I wasn’t even in bear territory…but I wanted to be on the safe side).

Every few minutes, I would look back to check the progress of the storm. The thunderheads kept getting bigger, but hardly closed distance on me.

Chased downhill by storms

Eventually, it blew close enough for me to hear rolling thunder. It was not very threatening (no visible lightening), so I continued riding. When it started raining, I took shelter under trees and ate some food. I though the storm would blow over, but it did not. It seemed not to move – only continuously threaten me. When I realized the storm would not pass, I continued riding.

I arrived at our meeting place, but no one was there. It was an exposed area – not a place to be during a thunderstorm, so I assumed they rode the last 8 miles to Abiquiu. Tire marks confirmed my assumption. Mathieu and Auke actually left a note on a sign at the intersection, but I did not see it.

The last miles to town were all downhill, but washboarded. I can not imagine doing this day backward. The Tour Divide rookies are in for a surprise!

I met the guys sitting outside a gas station. Mathieu jumped up and went inside the store to get me a Dr. Pepper. They had been waiting an hour.

We rested, drank sodas, and ate chips before riding another mile to the Abiquiu Inn. Its the only place in town to stay indoors, so it was very expensive. It was very fancy, also. Too upscale for us dirty bikers. I bet this place is the nicest hotel we stay in on the entire trip.

As I lay on the couch, writing this entry, I noticed the coffee maker is the same model as the one I used in school. Just for the memories, I had to make myself a cup. Mathieu also bought some Budweiser, so I drank one also. This is luxury…I cannot get used to this, otherwise I may not want to finish the trip.

Tomorrow, our supposed rest day, we may ride 20 miles to El Rito, NM. The hotel should be cheaper and there may be a computer I could use to post updates. I am very far behind.

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