Finally, the end of the Great Divide mountain Biking trail is in sight; I now only have 500 miles or so left to the Mexican border. Although there are a few high passes left, most have now been ticked off as I edge to safer territory for the approaching winter months.
I left Del Norte (CO) in high spirits having been very well looked after by Gary and Pat; two cycle touring enthusiasts that have a strong emphasis on mountain biking and lightweight travel. I hoped that perhaps I could take a leaf out of their book and learn to travel in a more minimalist fashion. For the next next 23 miles out of Del Norte up Indiana Pass it was an appealing concept, as I struggled up the long steep gravel road and an elevation change of 4000 feet with four days of food on over-laden bicycle.
Indiana Pass: it was a good feeling to reach the top since it is the highest point on the whole trip at 11910 feet. Fortunately, there was no snow at the time.
Half the day gone during the climb, I ended up pushing myself to get to a recognised campspot (Lake Fork) just after Platoro only to find it closed as I am so late in the season. Since I was tired I sneaked in anyway and set my camp up in the dark having the whole campground to myself.
Day two from Del Norte: entering New Mexico; the final state on the Great Divide trail. A good feeling.
Day three: Brazos Ridge (in the evening then just before sunrise). The effort to get up there was worth it.
But don’t go there when it’s raining; the road becomes impassable…
Day four: I reached Abiquiu in the afternoon and headed up another huge ascent, camping just shy of the top. The road was rocky and sandy and proved to be extremely hard work after a long day; it was also surprisingly hot.
Packing up before day break, well below freezing; the shortening days mean having to make the most of every minute of daylight.
After camping in a beautiful setting overlooking Cerro Perdernal mountain, I endured a roller coaster of a ride down to Cuba over excessively rocky terrain. There was an unexpected 46 mile stretch of no water that mildly concerned me as I was losing a lot and every creek I came to was covered in grass (from mile 149 to 195). I expect to have similar experiences for the rest of my time in New Mexico.
Empty cattle tank; highly disappointing
After arriving in Cuba, I decided to wait out a couple of days whilst a nasty looking storm approached. I left my bike at the Cuban Motel and headed into Santa Fe for some beers and to stay with my cousin Steve. It was a thoroughly enjoyable break from the bike.
I’m now enjoying a rare night in a motel. I would highly recommend a visit to the Cuban; Flora and Marcos went beyond the call of duty for me. They fed me, looked after my kit and drove 50 miles to the train station at Sandoval County so I could get the slick new Rail Runner train system to Santa Fe ($8). The other option is to get a bus to the train station but timings can be awkward with the transfer.
I’m told the next 119 miles to Grants are supposed to be some of the most incredible on the whole Great Divide route. An impressive claim indeed on a trail of such beauty and diversity.
I’m now minus a beard; hopefully it doesn’t get too cold before Mexico…