GDMBR Day 52 | Hachita to Antelope Wells | 45 miles, 558 ft elevation | That Last Day

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Here’s how it all went down.

Although the Biology students left the Hachita Community Center after dinner for a little overnight camping trip they came back before midnight because of lightning (sans snakes). Soooo the last night alone was over. 😂

It was hot in the building and we weren’t used to that. Plus, Anne and John decided they’d push through and drive to Las Cruces so we could finish on Thursday which meant no zero in Hachita 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻. We were a bit restless because of the heat and concerned about their safety driving so long… and it turns out it would be our last night. All this contributed to a restless night.

We got up at our usual time at 6am, packed up for the last time and got to the Food Mart by 7am when it opened and we coffeed up.

The plan was that Anne and John would leave Las Cruces and meet us along the way and it worked beautifully.

We savored every mile, even enjoyed a little tailwind at the beginning and kept pinching ourselves to ensure we weren’t dreaming… that we really did this… rode our bikes southbound, border to border, 2,594 miles and climbed 153,610 feet of elevation, averaging 52 miles a day.

Just as planned, they came cruising up behind us with about 15 miles to the Mexican Border!

We, hugged, chatted a bit and then cruised that last 15 stretch of road to the finish with smiles as big as Texas.

At the border we gave that security fence a righteous slap, snapped some pics at the Antelope Wells sign and loaded the bikes on the Sube, but not before giving each other and our Cuttys a big ole kiss. We all performed and got the job done.

As with recalling our Northern Tier ride, we’ll do a summary post after we reflect, run some numbers and try to get our civilization brains working again. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. What a grand ride! We. Are. Grateful.

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GDMBR Day 51 | Silver City to Hachita | 77 miles, 2,096 ft elevation | Same and Different

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So long Silver City… you treated us well. After a 2.5 day logistical rest we said our goodbyes to Silver City. We’ve only taken two days off from riding since July 4th so we hardly knew what to do with the extra time.😂

However… we managed. We ate at our fave restaurant four times, did laundry, toured the local bike shop, walked the city, went to a lovely Mass at St Vincent de Paul, took a lot of naps and watched three movies which we never do at home. If you haven’t seen Rush, the true story about Formula 1 racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt, I highly recommend it. True story… with some good themes.

Two of our seven kids, John and Anne are pushing hard to get close to pick us up tomorrow instead of Friday at the border. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 It’s hard to coordinate the 23 hour drive with their work schedules and our cycling but that’s what we came up with.

You can do the ride to the border in a day from Silver City. It’s only 123 miles but it can be tough if the weather is sketchy (wind, rain, hail). Or the ride can be broken down into two days, even three if you really want to stretch it. John and Anne are safely “Formula One-ing” it to pick us up tomorrow. And we can’t wait to see them!!!

The ride today was spectacular, especially through the Chihuahuan desert. There were blue bird skies, pronghorn herds dashing by us and stout succulents stood like sentries along the dirt roads as we passed. We were just soaking it all in as this would be our last off-pavement stint. No more washboard, deep sand, babyhead rocks, badger holes, or peanut butter mud to contend with – kinda not mad about all that.

A little over three years ago we finished our bike tour across the country on Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier (NT) Route. Although the route was a lot different and longer than the Great Divide we often find ourselves comparing the two. They are kinda the same… kinda different.

NT was all paved, almost 4,200 miles long and we traveled east bound, coast to coast. The GDMBR is mostly off road, about 2,500 miles long we are traveling southbound, border to border. It typically starts in Banff but you know… COVID 🙄 #hateit

Every day on NT we each did 100 pushups and a four minute plank. That idea came out of the blue on the first day in Anacortes, WA and we this practice up everyday. Not so on the GDMBR. It’s kind of a total body workout in itself. 🤣 Especially the hike-a-bike sections. So in at least those aspects the two rides are different.

One habit we’ve kept up each day on both rides is beginning our ride with prayer. Every. Single. Day. We take turns but we always ask God for mental and physical strength to complete the day, to keep drivers alert, keep our bikes mechanically sound and to give us the desire, wisdom, courage and perseverance to overcome obstacles we encounter. We also ask for blessings on and protection for our family and friends. Many times there is a person we have met, a local, a fellow cyclist, or a situation (i.e., rain for farmers) we think might benefit from a prayer. It’s the most important habit we’ve formed.

So it looks like tonight will be our last night on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. We are here in the Hachita Community Center in our tent. The Biology students that were here when we got here left with their snakes and went camping, so we have the place all to ourselves. Kinda nice since this is our last night.

Good night, Hachita. Antelope Wells… we can’t wait to meet you tomorrow.

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GDMBR Day 50 | Lake Roberts to Silver City | 31 miles, 2,720 ft elevation | Forever Young

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Great Divide riders know once you hit Silver City it’s pretty much a slam dunk to the end of the ride. All of the big climbs are finished and most of the rough terrain is in the rear view mirror. There’s still the possibility for mud, excessive heat, rattle snakes and scorpions but the finish line is in our sites! 🏁🏁🏁

The ride this morning out of Lake Roberts provided stunning views of forested land and mountains on such a clear morning. It was a ride to enjoy not just endure. It was so nice to let loose on the paved descents, something we haven’t done in a while.

We rolled into Silver City about noon, checked to see if our room at the historic Murray Hotel was ready and it wasn’t yet sooo… down to Little Toad we went for food and bevvies.

We returned to the Toad for a farewell feast with the posse. John, Steve, Tylor and Alex are all staying at the hostel in town and strolled in wearing borrowed hostel clothes (due to laundry logistics). We exchanged stories, a lotta laughs, discussed how much weight had been lost (there’s a scale at the hostel) and even the best way to apply chamois cream. I did not weigh in on this one. Everyone at the table had the brownie sundae! It was delish – thanks Tylor. They will all be finishing in the next day or two.

And… we learned that John is the same age as us! We are, and will be, Forever Young.

We will be in Silver City a couple days until the final push to Antelope Wells on Thursday and Friday. Until then… hugs!

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GDMBR Day 49 | Black Canyon to Lake Roberts | 29 miles, 2,175 ft elevation | A Short Ride!

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It takes way too much energy to be grumpy and it’s always best to live the present moment so today we put on our happy faces and started up the seven mile climb right out of the canyon. And you know what… it is wasn’t nearly as gnarly as anticipated. And it was so beautiful!

We are still processing what it’s going to be like once we finish. At times when I’m riding I have many, many flashbacks from the past weeks. No it’s not PTSD – they are all good flashbacks. Long term bike tours can be real perspective changers. #highlyrecommendthem

We’d planned a short ride to Lake Roberts today and are staying at a hobbit like cabin property just two miles out of Lake Roberts. Newest posse member Ethan was here when we rode up.

Tomorrow we will ride just another 30 miles or so for a three day stay in Silver City until our family uber comes to pick us up at Antelope Wells. Many thanks to Anne and John who are picking us up at the border! That’s a 23 hour drive for them. We’re planning on an August 27 finish. 🤙🏻

We appreciate all of the prayers, comments on FB and Insta and the blog. Means the world!

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GDMBR Day 48 | Y Canyon to Black Canyon | 60 miles, 3,556 ft elevation | Separation Anxiety?

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We awoke to sunny skies and a dew wet tent. It was chilly out with skies their typical blue bird color.

Per usual we packed up quickly and got to it. Only 3.75 miles of cycling and I had to make a wardrobe change as it was getting warmer fast. Really Deb? You couldn’t be cold for 3 miles?

Once on our way we were in for a quick 35 mile mile ride to the Beaverhead Work Station for a water refill and lunch stop. We actually mighta had a tail wind for a bit of it. #shocker

Climbs came at the end of the day near Black Canyon. The second to the last, a six miler was 90% fluffy gravel and washboard and that’s hard. I was kinda ready to be done. It was just a grind but we got to it and found a perfect tent site right by a creek which made for the best night sounds and a quick “bath” before bedtime.

Both of us were in a bit of a funk today. Not sure if it’s Tom having to wait for me at the top of some of these climbs, if it’s cycling too close to one another up or down rocky roads (‘cause you need room to maneuver) or what, but we weren’t our perky selves and that’s rare.

It might be because we both realize the adventure we’d planned is almost over. It’s been life consuming for 48 days (less our two zeros) and soon it will be over.

We are both SO looking forward to seeing our family and friends, getting back to the garden and all but it’s that transition. And it’s dealing with the emotions. Sometimes emotions are hard to nail down and even harder to name and deal with. And sometimes they are difficult to communicate to each other. We’ve been each other’s constant companions this whole time. All day, every day, close quarters at night and that’s going to change. Well we will still be close companions at night but no more sleeping quilts and tenting for a while.

What in the world will it be like to be in a car again? How about planning and cooking a family meal for 19? Tom back to work? I think we are both beginning to separate from the trail as we are nearing the end point. Maybe it’s separation anxiety?

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GDMBR Day 47 | Pie Town to Y Canyon | 64 miles, 3,166 ft elevation | Pie Town!

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Tom was the first one up today. Jefferson at the Toaster House (we ❤️ him) put coffee on early so Tom snagged a cup and took the map out on the front porch with his headlamp since it was still dark and everyone was as still sleeping. He felt a critter (maybe a kitty?) snuggling up to his leg and was getting all friendly. He looked down with his headlamp on and his first thought was how pretty it was. Then he saw the tail and realized it was a skunk. Startled, they both jumped and went their separate ways. #ptl

We got a bit of a late start today because we wanted to get some pie at the Cafe in Pie Town. I mean ya don’t ride your bicycle over 2,000 miles without stopping for pie. And oh it did not disappoint. We also got a burrito to go for later.

We’d have left earlier but our riding buds started rolling in from the Toaster House and it again was like another reunion even though we’d just seen them.

That late start tho… and the strong head wind today… and that 70 miler the day before with part of it being mud. All of it wiped us out a bit. We didn’t set up our tent until about 8pm and it was almost dark. We always find the best of dispersed camping when we aren’t looking for them. When we’re desperate we can’t seem to find anywhere.

When the wind was about the strongest and we were feeling uber tired we came across this kind rancher who put water and snacks out for Great Divide riders. So kind and so appreciated!

We both agreed to plop down just short of another Continental Divide crossing. Tent up, quick dinner, brush teeth, hang food, route rap and done! We were asleep in no time.

Heading towards Black Canyon tomorrow about 60 miles away with most of the climbing the last 25 miles. Dang that’s tough on the legs at the end of the day. Food and water are scarce on the route however we have plenty of food including beaucoup oatmeal pies. 👌🏻

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GDMBR Day 46 | Grants to Pie Town | 70 miles, 3,356 ft elevation | Toasted

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We weren’t able to outrun the rain today and got caught in it at about the 50 mile mark. We were trying so hard to get to Pie Town to get our slice of pie by 5pm but the heavens opened up and made a giant peanut butter mud pie out of the dirt roads. At that point we knew we were toast.

We ditched into TLC ranch where they have a shelter for hikers and cyclists. The thunder, lightning and rain lasted only about 40 minutes and then the sun came out. Unfortunately the dirt roads were trashed with peanut butter type mud that sticks to everything and clogs the bike drivetrain. Instead of staying put we decided to give it a go pushing our bikes towards pie after we waited and hour or so.

At first we pushed. Then we’d manage a couple peddle strokes of riding. It was mount, dismount, scrape mud with tent pegs, peddle, repeat.

Good news is the sun was out and it was windy. This helped dry the dirt roads out somewhat. Within an hour we were peddling without stopping. However, it was impossible to clip in as our shoes and clips were caked with mud which was turning to what seemed like rock hard cement.

We got to Pie Town an hour after the Cafe closed but found the Toaster House hiker/biker hostel and quickly cruised in. Philly Steve, John and Alex were there, showered, and bikes cleaned. Steve was in the kitchen cooking a meal! With vegetables! And there was salad! #miraclefood Soon Tylor rolled in and the posse was once again together.

Jefferson, the host of the Toaster House explained how it all worked. There was a shower with hot water, a meal would be served and there was coffee in the morning. Donations welcome. Jefferson heard we were coming so he saved the bedroom on the ground floor for us. So nice! After hugs and thanks yous were exchanged I hopped in the shower and Tom got to giving the bikes a good cleaning.

Toaster House is another oasis on the GDMBR and is not to be missed if you’re biking or hiking by. There’s such a peaceful and joyful vibe there.

Verdict is still out whether or not we stay until 9am when the Cafe opens. Pie for breakfast sounds AOK to me!

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GDMBR Day 44 | Chaco Trading Post to Grants | 73 miles, 2,310 ft elevation | Ambassadors

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Oreo, the Trading Post mascot, was waiting for us when we rolled out of our tent at the Trading Post. Since the security gates and the store didn’t open until 7am, Tom hung up the tent on Ditch Witch to dry out from the rain the previous night.

We had another all-pavement riding day today as we were on the Chaco Alternate Route and although we were on pavement, traffic was sparse nearly all the way to Grants until we got to historic Route 66 when it picked up just a bit. We were also able to once again avert a threatening thunderstorm.

Once in Grants we decided to make a quick stop at a local brewery before checking into our motel.

Henry, the owner of Junkyard on 66 Brewery, was kind enough to let us in early and we learned more about how he started the business. As an Air Force veteran we were especially happy to support his endeavor. 🇺🇸

While there we mapped out the next few days of cycling and discussed taking a zero day the following day. Grants is a historic little town and we had some extra time banked so why not? Plus we had a few items to take care of before the final push to Antelope Wells. We will start our last map when we leave Grants!

After checking into the Super 8 Motel we scooted over to Taco Bell (we never eat like this at home) for some dinner and then ambled over to Elkins Brewery which was also close. I mean why not? Zero day tomorrow! 🤙🏻

There we met Joe, a local who grew up in Grants, left and then returned and also Steve, a native Pueblo who spent the day canvassing for ancient artifacts in cooperation with a historical organization. We could have listened to these two all night. There’s so much to learn about our country’s heritage. My life is not long enough to learn everything I want to learn.

We said our goodbyes to Joe and Steve and realized we were still hungry. We have insatiable appetites these days so we ordered Pizza Hut and had it delivered to the room. Again… we just don’t do this at home.

We feel so welcomed and well taken care of. The folks at Chaco Trading Post were uber amenable to us hanging out during the thunderstorm yesterday and treated us to coffee in the morning. While cycling, several locals stopped to see if we needed water, food or a place to charge devices. The crew at the Super 8 Motel could not be more welcoming and helpful. We appreciate all of these people who take care of us. They are true ambassadors of human kindness.

Happy to sleep in the following day we quickly called it a night but not before making our to-do list for our day off. That included: laundry, haircut for Tom, grocery shopping at Walmart, drying the tent out, and not one but two visits to Denny’s (breakfast and lunch). We got it all done too. That and other visit to Taco Bell.

The next 3-4 days we will likely be remote with little access to services. As we’re starting the last map, we feel like we’re beginning the final push to the finish line in Antelope Wells with about 400 miles to go.

And oh most importantly… Happy Birthday to our daughter Missy who celebrates her birthday tomorrow. 🎉 Can’t wait to give you a big hug and your birthday spanks when we get home!

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GDMBR Day 43 | Cuba to Chaco Trading Post | 50 miles, 1,604 ft elevation | Just A Taste

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From Tom:

We must of really got lost to end up in Cuba last night. Just kidding, Cuba, NM. I had the opportunity to talk to a couple guys riding their off-road motorcycles northbound from the border on the Great Divide (opposite direction of us) so they are just getting started.

I also ran into a motorcyclist this morning as I was walking to Speedway to get us a couple of coffees. He was limping and had a box of Advil in his hand. He and three other buddies also started in Antelope Wells (our destination) and were headed northbound to Canada. Two of the four bikes broke riding in the mud and sand and had to drop out. The third went down in the mud and the rider broke his foot. A farmer let them borrow a car to drive him to hospital. That left just the one who went down in the mud yesterday and hurt his leg although he is still planning to head north solo.

There is an alternate route out of Cuba that is all asphalt for 120 miles to Grants, NM. After hearing these stories and others on our ride and checking the forecast, Deb and I opted to ride the alternate route today which is all pavement.

There are stories of riders just leaving their bikes in the mud and hiking out. Not the way we want to risk our ride since we have heard from other riders ahead of about all the rain 😁👍🚴‍♂️🚴‍♀️.

We enjoyed our 50 miler to the Chaco Trading Post with Convenience Store, laundry, and a place to camp. Soon after we arrived a late afternoon thunderstorm blew in. We threw in a load of laundry, grabbed a bite to eat and hung around under the front awning until they they shut down at 8 and we had to go out back and set up our tent for the night.

The rain stopped just in time and all we had to do is deal with a little mud on the shoes walking to the tent site. This mud in NM is clay that sticks to everything and hardens quickly as we got just a taste of it walking our bikes 100 yards to our campsite and having mud clumped on our tires and shoes. Now we understand how those motorcycles went down and broke.

We look forward to our 70 miler into Grants tomorrow and a bike ride on Route 66 for a couple of miles. Also looks like Junkyard on 66 Brewery in Grants will be within walking distance. 😁👍

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GDMBR Day 42 | Canone Creek to Cuba | 43 miles, 2,661 ft elevation | So Long 10,000 Feet!

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Hard to believe we said goodbye to 10,000 feet for the remainder of our ride. It seems like we have been hovering right around that elevation for weeks. No more! And not mad about it.

Let’s start with last night. We found a sweet campsite on one of the summits of the day. Dinner eaten, food stowed, teeth brushed and we crawled into the tent. We do our usual, blow up sleeping pad, layout sleeping quilt, route rap, elevation preview and exchange pics routine. Then lights out.

Cloudy skies made for a night that was black as coal. Not long after lights out we heard a sound we didn’t recognize. It was if something, an animal, was going to stomp on our tent. And maybe more than one. 😳 We figured elk and soon it (they) bounded off. It’s a heavy sound. They’re big. Then came a few cows. They did their business and then left. With the company gone we finally went to sleep.

It was a gorgeous Saturday morning and we knew we had a relatively short ride with the last 10 miles on pavement and downhill. However we met with more rocky roads and I just didn’t have the mental capacity to navigate (for me) the technical riding or the explosive strength in my legs to power peddle over them. I was just spent – and it was in the morning.

Tom felt good and was riding well. He patiently waited until my body decided it was time to go to work and then we rode, when we didn’t have to wrestle the bikes down the rocks.😂

Once in Cuba we landed at Bruno’s where we again sat on the patio and thoroughly enjoyed food and bevvies while rehashing the day.

A word about the Frontier Motel – we love our little local motels and like to support them. I mean $67 a night – what a bargain. And there’s no late night company tromping through your bedroom (recall the elk and cows the previous night). They satisfy our every need. One funny thing tho… we need to step into the shower in order to open the door to get to the toilet. Kinda funny.

Thanks for following along… we are grateful for every moment. Even the tough ones. ❤️ #characterbuilders #relationshipbuilders

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