Sunday, 30 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Day 19

20 miles north of Pie Town, NM to Gila National Forest, NM
Mileage: 220.8 km (137.2 mi)
Riding Time: 18 h 52 m
Standing: 14th place 

Day 19 Map

I woke up in good spirits and looking forward to breakfast in Pie Town.  I willed my creaky, sore legs down the road.  I was getting stiffer and stiffer first thing in the morning.  I got to the intersection to Pie Town and wondered which way to go.  I discovered the restaurants are to the left up the hill.  I headed to the Pie-O-Neer CafĂ© because Kristin said they would open at 6am.  Nope – closed.

Closed - sad morning

I rode up and down the road looking for an open restaurant, but to no avail.  I saw that the Gatherin’ Place opened in about an hour so I decided to wait outside.  The owner showed up early and let me in early to have some coffee while they got the kitchen ready.  I took the time to get the bike ready to go so I could dash off after breakfast.  As I was waiting some northbounders showed up.   They were going at a touring pace and looked really clean.  One German rider skyped with someone from back home and got really worked up.  I think it had to do with work.  Angry, harsh German language for breakfast ambience. I ordered a couple of breakfasts and they were awesome!  Best food I had in a long time.  I dilly dallied too long at the restaurant, but was having a great time.  I got my pie cap out when I learned they were good at any restaurant in town.  I picked up an apricot pie for supper and was on my way out.  I stopped at the toaster house to take a look around, but didn’t stay too long. 

Outside the Toaster House

Inside the Toaster House

I took a look around inside, exchanged greetings with a surly guy and was on my way down the road.  I passed farms and ranches and enjoyed the morning.  The jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains were a memory and I marvelled at the way the terrain had changed.  The hills out here were so smooth and covered with what I think was sage brush.

Smooth sage brush covered hills

I passed one farm (or ranch) that had a cooler on the side of the road offering drinks to riders.   I was topped up with supplies and didn’t want to stop… so I didn’t.  What nice people offering to help.  I am sure it would be take advantage by other riders.

Later on in the day, I came upon a pond.  It was a welcome sight.  Pretty much all of the little blue lines on the map that were supposed to indicate a stream or creek were dry, dusty depressions in the ground.  I debated stopping to filter some water, but I saw a cow skull sitting nearby.  I thought maybe that was a sign so decided to refrain.  I kept riding past more wide open spaces and desert cows.

Desert cows

I remembered one of the northbound riders said there was water at a church on highway 12.  I got to the highway and saw the place, but nobody was there.  I looked around and marvelled at how wide open this area was.  There were just these few buildings consisting of a church and farmhouse in the huge expanse of open space.  I knocked on the doors of the church and no one answered.  I took some water and left a note on a $5 bill thanking them for the water and was on my way.  I hoped stopping and helping myself to the garden hose was okay.
I rode off into the wide open space and met another touring north bound cyclist.  We chatted a bit about the weather and parted ways.  The weather was good and I rode along.  There were some stretches I could see dried tire tracks in the hardened dirt.  When this gets wet, it looked like it turned into the sticky mud I heard about.  Thunderstorm-like clouds started to form in the distance all around me and I started to get worried.  I rode fast along the dried mud hoping the rain would not fall.  I was blessed again as I made it through the dried mud without getting rained on.

The terrain started to get more rocky and hilly.  I saw some cool rock formations with the desert cows staring at me as I rode by.

Rocks and desert cows

As I rode I looked at the two things my kids Evan and Mia gave me before the trip.  Mia made a tire out of Rainbow Loom rubber bands and Evan made a Lego heart and drew an ‘E’ on it.  I put them on my aerobars by my light and they were a constant companion the whole trip. 

More cool rocks with the rubber
band wheel and Lego heart

I rounded a corner and saw another new sight.  Wild pigs!  How awesome is that!  They were some of the ugliest creatures I had ever seen.  As I rode by they scattered and ran off into the trees.  I kept riding looking forward to the Beaverhead Work Station.  The road meandered into the forest.  I approached a Beaverhead Ranch and I thought that was the place.  As I started up the driveway I realized I was mistaken.  It was a ranch, not the work station.  I kept going down the road and there it was.  There was no mistaking it.  I thought it was a forestry work camp, but it was actually a military outfit.  I am not sure what they do there, but there were lots of soldiers.  I saw a couple of young tourers and sat with them while I had my pie.  I didn’t have quarters for the pop machine and they said I could ask one of the military guys for change.  They had some change so I got a couple of pops.  I don’t drink pop very often, but these tasted great!  The tourers had made their way up from the border with a lot of gear.  They were filming their whole experience and had all their camera gear with them.  Over the last few days, the heat was pretty bad and one of them got sick.  They were taking it easy so he could recover. 

I finished my pie for supper and was on my way into the Gila as it was starting to get dark.  The tourers thought I was a bit crazy for heading out in the middle of the night.  The climbing was steep outside of the work station so I walked for quite a while.  As I was walking I started to see some more interesting bugs.  There were big millipedes the size of felt pens, big beetles, and jumping spiders.  The spiders were about the size of a nickel and would jump about 8 inches at a time.  I considered pushing through the night to go all the way to the border, but decided a few hours of sleep would be faster than stumbling along slowly the next day.  I stopped under a big tree at the top of a climb and made camp at about 12:30am.  I wanted to get up at about 4 so that would give me about 3.5 hours of sleep.  Good enough for the last push.  Tomorrow would be my last long day on the divide.  Finishing in less than 20 days was a goal within reach.  

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