Yesterday and today our goal was to get to San Diego with bods and bikes in tact. Done and Done. ✅ ✅
Two on-time and comfortable flights on Southwest brought us to San Diego and we were even greeted by a rainbow.
As luck would have it, we scored one of Uber’s top 10 drivers in the nation. #NotEvenJoking
We met our first friend of the trip not on bikes but in an Uber. Since Porfirio has picked up well over 23,000 fares I considered asking him for his business card in case we need a lift up and over the Tecate Divide in a couple days. Instead he asked for our blog address card which we happily gave him.
Bikes came through travel without a hitch and in no time Tom had them reassembled and lubed up. We put bike bags on and decided we deserved a burrito for all of our efforts.
After Mass on Wednesday morning which happens to be Tom’s birthday 🥳 we took a stroll through Historic Old Town which took up most the morning until we did a little shake out bike ride to the start line where we will begin tomorrow at the Pacific Ocean, dip our rear tires in the water and then begin riding east.
There’s a bit of planning, a little luck and a lot of working together to get to the start of a 3,400 mile bike ride. And even more to reach the end. We’re ready to launch!
Click on the image below for more pics and videos.
Happy New Year all! In a little over a week we’re heading west to San Diego to begin our trip to Key West. Just the two of us. On our bikes.
It’s not our first cross country rodeo yet each one brings its doubts and questions. On our first ride in 2018, Northern Tier, we wondered, “Can we really even DO this?” Each day we pedaled further and our confidence grew to thinking in terms of WHEN we finish instead of IF we finish.
When we took on the Great Divide in 2021, border to border, we wondered if the elevation and the remote route itself would do us in. Taking it a day at a time we learned this old grandpa and grandma could still do some hard things.
So even though we’ve criss-crossed the continental US on bikes, we know Southern Tier won’t be a slam dunk. We haven’t had an opportunity to properly train outside (like, at all, no rides), loose dogs on the run are a “thing” in Louisiana and Mississippi (my biggest fret) and every day FOX and CNN report troublesome stories from our southern border in areas we will be riding through. And we’re riding our Salsa Cutthroat bikes which are better suited for gravel riding instead of road riding. None of those are show stoppers though so let’s go!
Why ride the Southern Tier route and why now? That’s what most of our pickleball buddies want to know. Check that out here.
Then, they want to know what we are going to take? Here’s Tom’s list and a photo of what he’s taking.
Here’s my list and a photo of what I’m taking. Oh and of course I’m taking my bike but it’s already boxed up and ready to go.
It’s overkill on the warm clothes but we think it’s going to be a little chilly when we start and hope to send a box of clothes home from New Orleans, along with the beads we score from Mardi Gras.
This is all we’ll need for about two months. Really gonna miss those pickleball paddles though!
Another FAQ. How are you and your bikes getting to San Diego? In the past we’ve taken our bikes with us on the Amtrak to the starting point. On our first cross country ride we took them to REI. They boxed up the bikes and sent them to Bellingham, WA where they reassembled them and we picked them up.
This time Tom did it all! He got used oversized e-bike boxes from a local bike shop. Then he took the bikes apart, secured them with leftover packing material and they are being shipped via BikeFlights to our hotel in San Diego where he will unbox and reassemble them. We’ve never done this before but lots of people have so let’s see how it goes. See the pics below for what they look like disassembled and what they look like loaded and ready to ride.
EVERYONE wants to know, what are we going to eat? We don’t take a stove and usually eat one meal a day in a restaurant so we just load up on snacks for a day (or two) until we find a convenience store. Below are the food items that should get us through the first few days. The route isn’t near as remote as others we’ve been on. And just so ya know, there’s four big ole Paydays in there (thanks Finn) and sorry kids, the Sno-Caps are already eaten. I really tried to wait. #NoWillPower
There is something about a long distance self-contained bike trip that recalibrates our gratitude meter. Right now we are especially grateful for our furnace, coffee that is ready when we roll out of bed at 4:30am every morning, the ability to go to the fridge for a cold bevvie, and an inside potty in the middle of the night. And let’s not forget about clean bed sheets. All soon gone but in exchange, we’ll find some new friends we’ve yet to meet, spend time outside on bikes every single day and maybe even see some stellar scenery. I’m sure we’ll get a couple of good stories out of the ride, too.
But beyond the conveniences of home, we know we are going to miss our family, friends and neighbors the most. There is nothing like the absence of loved ones that endear them to us even more.
We’d love to have you join us virtually from your hometown, your own winter escape or even as you begin to plan YOUR 2023 bike adventures. More to come from #TomNDeb
PS: You can subscribe to this blog by keying in your email. We’ll also post on Facebook and Instagram when we have updates.
As part of our Middle West Meander we headed south to the Flint Hills in Kansas. Although we mapped out a solid bikepacking route that would begin in Emporia and dip into parts of the Flint Hills Nature Trail and Prairie Spirit Trail and return to Emporia at the end of the day we opted out of bikepacking. Why?
Kansas was exceptionally hot the week before (highs in the low 100’s) and we thought it might be fun to do some loop riding instead of out and back rides since that’s what we just did on the Mickelson and Cowboy Trails.
So pivot we did to a car camping and cycling tour of the Flint Hills. Car camping opens up a LOT of options like finding drop-in pickleball games when it rains (we brought our paddles), seeing a movie, attending Mass, visiting local museums, and choosing restaurants and breweries based on preference instead of proximity.
We felt right at home in the town of Emporia. Did you know it is the founding city for Veterans Day? 🇺🇸 And it’s known for its robust glassblowing and engraving communities. Emporia is also considered the disc golf capital of the world and the main attraction for us? Her gravel roads. There is a cycling event held each year called Unbound Gravel and although we don’t race gravel bikes, we sure love to ride them. So we figured we’d download a couple of the routes from the Unbound event website.
Our plan worked well! There are SO many world class gravel roads to ride around Emporia it’s worth a return trip for us. Not to mention Radius Brewing. Their beer and scotch eggs are👌🏻
After a couple days in Emporia we moved on to towns along the Flint Hills Nature Trail including Osage City and Ottawa. I mean, we had a car so easy peasy.
As it turned out, it wasn’t the heat that was oppressive in Kansas. Instead we brought the farmers some much needed RAIN! And rain it did. Although it puts a crimp in riding at times, we were happy to oblige. ‘Cause like I said, when ya have your car, ya have lots of options.
By the end of our fling with the Flint Hills we’d ridden loops out of Emporia and Ottawa and long segments of the Flint Hills Nature Trail and Prairie Spirit Trail.
The last stop on our Middle West Meander was Stillwater, OK where the Mid South Gravel race is held each year. Again we snagged a 55 mile route from the event website to get our ride in for Oklahoma. The ride was a good mix of gravel, some red mud and even some swampy muck.
Our three week Middle West Meander couldn’t have gone any better. Plus on the way home we get to rendezvous with pickleball friends we met last March in Costa Rica and take in a Cardinals game in St. Louis.
Not gonna lie though… it’s not all rainbows and unicorns all the time. I have more skeeter bites on my body than I can count. Yesterday I drilled Tom in the face with my PB paddle because we both went for the same ball #ouch
And my sleeping pad popped a hole somewhere in New Mexico last summer and I forgot to replace/repair it before our ride so I had to blow it up again in the middle of the night every night 😂 And finally, the flies in cattle country. Dayum. I’ve never seen so many flies… they land on everything! Like my food- after they sit on 🐄 💩 All this and more comes with the territory and makes the easy days that much easier.
We’ve met some fellow bike travelers the past few weeks, most of them cycling across the country. It’s going to be a lot of fun keeping up with them when we get home. Pedal on friends, Mike and Steve aka the Ready Riders, Steve and Sissel from the UK, and Mike and Sue who are finishing up their last leg of pedaling the perimeter of the lower 48 states.
As for us, we have a couple of big bike tours in the hopper and we might try to squeeze in a five state bike tour of the North East before it’s time to start raking leaves in Indy.
Thanks so much for the follow everyone! 😊
Click on the image below for more pics and videos of our visit to the Flint Hills.
Oh Nebraska, how you surprised us with your bountiful landscapes and beautiful people. You can keep your headwinds but we’ll forever remember your kindness.
After finishing the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota we drove three hours to Valentine, did laundry, cleaned up a little and then set out the next day to ride 190 miles eastbound on The Cowboy Trail to Norfolk, Nebraska.
Day 1: Valentine to Bassett, NE | 67 miles, 440 feet of elevation climb
We first encountered Steve and Mike from Santa Barbara riding the Great Rail Trail. They actually diverted their westbound bike adventure and travelled through Indianapolis, our hometown!
Flatter than griddle cakes, this trail just about bucked us right off of it the first day. Yes it’s hot. Yes, it’s monotonously, yet beautifully flat. And yes we did get a late start but dang those goat heads! Right around Ainsworth we discovered narly little burrs in our tires, between 10-15 in each tire. These caused tiny punctures in our tires and when pulled out, air leaked before the hole sealed and repaired itself.
We figured if the entire trail was like that we’d have over 100 punctures on each tire by the time we got back to our car.
We cooked up a little din din and talked about bagging the rest of the ride. It was going to be stifling hot and the goat heads were waiting, not to mention a forecast calling for 20-30 mph headwinds.
We decided to wait until morning to literally see which way the winds were blowing. If it was a stiff headwind, we’d bag it and save ourselves some goat head grief.
Day 2: Bassett to Ewing, NE | 76 miles, 226 of elevation climb
We got up and rode to a nearby gas station for coffee then rode to the trail head in Bassett. Tom licked his finger, stuck it up into the already prevailing wind and… a side wind. Now what to do. Go forward or go back?
It was going to be 20-30 mile an hour wind day, temps of at least 100 degrees and would there be any more tire punctures?
Onward we went since we figured a side wind would feel the same whether we travelled east toward Norfolk or west back to our car. And we hadn’t picked up any more goat heads since Ainsworth.
We finished the day adding 12 more miles than we’d planned just to get to the town of Ewing that offered more services.
We found a city park adjacent to the baseball fields and pitched our tent near two other cross country cyclists. Anna and her son Tom are traveling eastbound and will finish their coast to coast ride in New York
Day 3: Ewing to Norfolk| 55 miles, 223 of elevation climb
We awoke to the sprinklers in the city park coming on at 5:11am. Since the forecast called for a warm, dry night we were sleeping with the tent fly off. Before the powerful water stream drenched the inside of our tent we scrambled out of it to get the fly on. Apparently we bed down near three sprinkler jets. Our UK neighbors got a morning surprise too.
Despite the day’s damp beginning, the rest of it was hot and dry and we reached the east end of the Cowboy Trail in Norfolk.
Day 4: Norfolk to Ewing, NE | 55 miles, 495 feet of elevation climb
The best part of the ride? No doubt it was the people! Whether it was chatting with early risers getting a coffee at the local gas station, or swapping stories at the local pub at the end of the day, we learned so much from everyone we met. Geri and Tim the kayakers, Don who had more stories to share than we had time to listen to, the octogenarians in Tilden and many more. Who knew about aquifers and that Nebraska sits on one of the largest in the world. Little wonder the corn looks gigantic. And why did cattlemen switch to raising Angus? And how do Nebraskans live so long, so well and so happy?
Day 5: Ewing to Bassett, NE | 70 miles, 535 feet of elevation climb
Finally a nice tail wind today! Other than that we enjoyed visiting the small towns we stopped in on the way out. Still flat. Still hot. Still riding in the right direction. And still finding humor in the way the cows looked at us when we rode by.
Day 6: Bassett to Valentine, NE | 64 miles, 869 feet of elevation climb
It was our last day of riding and we could smell the barn so to speak. I hadn’t climbed a top a hay roll since our cross country ride in 2018 soooo…
We were hot, hungry, thirsty, dusty and dirty but we were done. Once back to the car, we took the bags off the bikes, loaded the bikes on the car and took off for Emporia, Kansas via Kearney, Nebraska.
Note to cyclists: We’d heard the Cowboy Trail was a tough ride in the summer due to the open areas and exposure to sun, heat and wind. We’d also heard about the goat heads and the sandy surfaces that make riding a bike more difficult. There’s a little bit of the above but not enough to keep you from riding the trail.
The only part we encountered goat heads (sand spurs) was between Ainsworth and Johnstown. On our return ride to our car, we jumped on the road to avoid them. On another note, most all Nebraskans were uber courteous to cyclists and gave us plenty of room while passing. If you’re not cycling with tubeless tires, count on taking the highway between these two towns else you’ll undoubtedly get a flat tire (or two ore three).
Cycling with wider tires (we run Maxxis Ikons with a tubeless setup) will help you navigate the sandy parts of the trail which make up less than 5% of it. There are several stretches of exposed trail that when hot and windy make for challenging riding however there are towns almost every ten miles or so with water sources or c-stores. Not much you can do with a head wind except keep calm and pedal on.
Click on the image below to view more pics and videos of the Cowboy Trail.
We haven’t had our bikepacking bags on the Cuttys since we took them off in Antelope Wells last August. Needless to say, we were a bit rusty!
Undaunted and maybe even a little underprepared we set out to ride the George S. Mickelson trail from Edgemont, SD north, a little over 100 miles to Deadwood and then turn around and ride back to our car. Done and done!
On the drive out we stopped in Sioux City to check on a local brewery and so we’d also have time the next day to cruise around the Badlands and visit Custer State Park.
The scenery (even from the car) was spectacular. We chose some lesser travelled gravel roads once we got to Custer State Park and got to watch a lone bison for a while just doing what he does best, graze and grunt.
When we rejoined the Wildlife Loop, we found ourselves as others often do, surrounded by a huge herd of bison. They are magnificent! The herd was so close to our car if I rolled my window down I could have pet the critter.
Day 1: Edgemont to Hill City, 64 miles, 2677 feet of elevation climb
Super nice ride with a bit of a headwind at times. We did NOT expect that a nearly 40 mile climb at an average of 2% grade would have any effect at all on our legs. Whoops… like a headwind, it wears on ya. And since we were now hauling bags that made a difference.
There were three breweries close to our campsite in Hill City which happened to be a little off route but worth it. We camped at Firehouse Campground and had showers, wifi and electricity – all the necessities.
Day 2: Hill City to Deadwood, 51 miles, 2220 feet of elevation climb
We were looking forward to this part of the Mickelson as we’d run a marathon on it in 2015. It was even better than we remembered and we were shaking our heads in wonder about running uphill for the first 13 miles of the marathon. Cycling again on this day was stellar with bluebird skies and clear air.
At one of the trail heads we met Steve and Sissel who have come to the US from London to ride bikes from DC to Portland. Steve is FundRiding for Multiple Sclerosis. We exchanged notes on routes and gear as bike travelers often do and we were on our way.
Patrick and Janice, from Fort Collins, have been retired just one week and didn’t waste any time at all getting out in their RV and on their bikes.
Deadwood came early and we quickly found a campground at Whistler’s Gulch. Our camp host sent us to the “back 40” and straight up what seemed like Mt. Everest to tent site #10. Again it was gorgeous even if we did have to work for it. We unpacked bags, set up the tent, and took a dip in the pool (back down the hill) even though we had to improvise a little on bathing suits. 😬 Then into town we went, smelling more like chlorine than dust and sweat from the trail.
Day 3: Deadwood to Custer, 65 miles, 3050 feet of elevation climb
The days begin to melt into one another on bike tours. I’m always amazed that these old grandma and grandpa bodies of ours rise to the occasion without too much protest. The hardest part for me is getting up off the ground and out of the tent in the morning. 😂
We jumpstarted our 4 minute plank and 100 push ups a day routine. I mean I had to. Our grandson Archie squeezes my arms and tells me they’re “fluffy.” 😂
The coolest thing about the whole day was meeting Jerry Baldwin as he was out riding the Mickelson with his family. As a side note, Mr. Baldwin was a college roommate of former South Dakota governor George S. Mickelson for whom the trail is named. Gov. Mickelson’s life tragically ended early while he was still in office in a plane crash. Back to Jerry, now in his early eighties, he helped champion the creation and development of the Mickelson Trail. He explained that it wasn’t easy in the beginning. There was a lot of push back but he persevered. Not surprised and grateful for his vision, intelligence and persistence. #trailboss
Day 4: Custer to Edgemont, 45 miles, 515 feet of elevation climb.
Recall that first day coming out of Edgemont when we punched those pedals on a gradual uphill for about 40 miles? Well today we sailed down that grade for an easy cruise back to our car. And now it’s on to Nebraska for a spin on The Cowboy Trail.
Note to cyclists: The George S. Mickelson trail is the real deal! It’s a hallmark rail trail. It’s so well maintained with nary a rut or washboard to be found. There’s no litter and the edges of trail are well groomed. There are clean vault privies along the trail as well as shelters. Historical markers also highlight the trail’s past.
If you’re going to start in Edgemont as we did, the Edgemont campground will let you park there while you ride the trail. Their camping fee is just $15 and they provide bathrooms and showers. It’s a bit noisy however with the trains passing throughout the night hauling coal back and forth but that’s all part of the experience.
Click on the image below to view more pics and videos from our ride.
Tis the season for Great Divide Mountain Bike Riders (GDMBR). It’s been almost a year since we rode down our driveway to the train station in Indianapolis and travelled just under 40 hours by train to Whitefish, MT to embark on our most remote bike tour (so far). Sheesh what an adventure!
Given the GDMBR season is upon us (and the Tour Divide started last Friday – you can watch riders’ progress here), Adventure Cycling sought riders from most all walks of bike life, varied cycling experience, abilities and goals who’ve ridden the GDMBR. Tom and I were asked to be be contributors to the article. What a blast it was to reminisce about the ride.
For cyclists preparing for the ride (not the race), if we had just one piece of advice to offer, it would be this. It’s not the bike, bike bags or water filter you choose. It’s not whether you ride toward Mexico or Canada, and it’s not whether you bring the kitchen or not. It’s this:
Understand that it’s YOUR ride and don’t compare your ride to that of others. Comparison is the thief of joy. For many of us, we’ll ride the Great Divide only once and then move on to other adventures. So ride your own ride and allow the Great Divide to teach you what it intends for you to learn. It will be different for every rider.
It’s been a minute since we’ve checked in and we have some updates:
Tom retired in April!
We celebrate being a one car family on June 22nd. Given gas prices are well over $5 per gallon in Indy now, we don’t see taking up the second side of our garage anytime soon with anything other than bikes, golf clubs or wood working tools.
Tom and I wrapped up our southbound border to border Great Divide ride just a little over a week ago and have some data, final thoughts and finally one last video we’d like to share. Thanks so much to family, friends, neighbors and followers for the love and encouragement along the way. It means the world!
Tailwinds, Tom and Deb
Transitioning home this time as opposed to when we returned from our coast-to-coast Northern Tier ride has been easier since I knew what to expect. 😊
Extended bike tours have a way of changing a person (if they are open to change) and some of the changes that came naturally during NT stayed with me so again, that transition home went more smoothly. For example, I learned to be more resourceful, waste less, live more simply, presume the best in people and not to sweat the small stuff. Time spent riding the Great Divide provided nothing new in these areas and instead confirmed what I’d learned riding NT. However, I’m still overwhelmed when I enter my closet and see more than five shirts from which to choose. It’s just too much to decide what to wear. #firstworldprobs
What I am most surprised about and learned about myself was that I could do hard things that I was super anxious about trying, which on this ride, was getting up and over all of the elevation. I mean, I’m an awful climber. But I did it! The fact that right out of the gate we averaged over 50 miles a day on ratchet roads and over 3,000 feet of climbing everyday was a huge surprise to me. And I never got sore. And there was never a day I wanted to quit and go home. And we only took two official rest days. And I’m 62 years old. That gives me so much confidence in other areas. What the heck? What else might I choose to do?
Couple other random thoughts:
Wish I would I have cut my toothbrush in half like Tom did not to cut weight but because the darn thing is awkwardly shaped and it was hard to pack in my small ziplock bathroom bag and subsequently stow in my sweetroll or fork bag.
The only things I lost were my buff (which I didn’t really need anyway as my bandana worked equally as well and was more versatile) and my Oofos sandal off the back of my seat bag. I lost it twice. The first time Tom recovered it and the second time it was lost for good.
I shouldn’t have sent my headlamp home with Dan and Christie from Salida. Ya just always need one, even though they are rather bulky to pack.
We live in an amazing country! It’s not without its warts, scrapes and scars. It’s not perfect but my hope is that it’s constantly improving. We have setbacks but I still love our country and proudly, yet humbly flew our flag on the back of my bike. Every. Single. Mile.
What state did I like the best? It’s like trying to pick your favorite child. Each are unique and their qualities bring out the best in me, when I choose that approach. And again, it’s a choice right?
What did I miss the most? Concretely loving all of our bigs, littles and making dinner for them. And I missed my buds. I also missed inside potties at night. Kinda missed those a lot.
I wouldn’t change my packing list and I’m super happy we didn’t bring a stove, fuel and all that goes with it.
As always, I’m so grateful for God’s remarkable creation… both the people he puts in our path and the trails he leads us down (and up on this ride😆). Having time on the bike to continue conversations with Him was the most important part of my day.
Tom and I always like to have adventures in the hopper, especially me. We keep a list, lol, and it’s frequently updated and added to. As far as solo travel, I could do it, but I sure wouldn’t want to. Planning, executing and reflecting on riding the Great Divide with Tom is something that we’ll savor together for the rest of our lives. We work, ride and worship exceptionally well together. I’m just so grateful we were able to share this lifetime “smilestone” (not milestone) with one another.
I am sitting here in my kitchen thinking about this past couple months of riding the Great Divide and reviewing my notes from our Northern Tier from three years ago. It all kind of seems like a dream, an experience of a lifetime and hard to put into words. Here’s a list of my thoughts:
NT – It took about two weeks to peel away the layers of a lifetime of work and not think about work, emails, projects, etc.
GD – No layers to peel this time around. I hit the ground riding with little sense of thinking about work.
NT – Going to bed at night thinking about the upcoming weather, wind direction and knowing it is totally out of our control
GD – Same sort of feelings with this ride. Added thoughts of grizzlies as we rode through grizzly habitation for the first few weeks. Making noise during the rides was essential to our daily riding as was singing jodies, making up songs, reviewing states capitals as we rode through huckleberry patches on single track
NT – Looking at the maps and planning out our next weeks of riding with a goal of averaging 70 miles a day.
GD – same at daily looking at the maps and planning our next days of riding. This time shorter mileage and checking out our climbs/mountain passes for each day’s ride
NT – Looking at the next day’s ride and planning out our second breakfast about 20 miles down the road
GD – Much the same here, but much less opportunities for second breakfast with the remoteness of our rides. More looking for water sources to filter for our day’s rides
NT – Walking into the saloon in our spandex and every cowboy’s head turned at the same time to give us the eye as we walked through the front door
GD – Total different bikepacking set up for bikes and attire. More relaxed attire when it comes to our bikepacking as we walked into breweries when we arrived to larger towns
NT – Pulling out of our campground the third day and going the wrong way, about 8 miles the wrong direction down a big descent. Turning around and now going back up in the right direction. Learning to never start a ride without turning on my Garmin and finding the course first
GD – No issues of getting lost this time around. We both had Garmins and much more experience using them 😊
NT – Getting our morning camping routine down: 1)Tom pack up the sleeping bags, thermarests, tent, 2)Deb fire up the stove and cook up coffee, and oatmeal with craisins and walnuts, 3) 100 pushups and 4 minute plank, 4) Prayers of gratitude for yesterday’s ride and prayers for today’s ride.
GD – Same routine, but no stove/pushups/planks this trip. Get packed, do our prayers and get on the road.
NT – Eating Paydays and peanut M&Ms which are not on the post riding diet
GD – This trip was more cliff bars, protein bars, but also Twizzlers, and Sour Patch Kids
NT – My 15 mile chats with God, praying for so, so many things that were absolutely answered
GD – Always wanted/needed my 15 mile chats with God which has continued daily since our NT three years ago. Can’t start my day without them.
NT – Waking up each morning for the first few weeks with a little uneasiness of riding on the busy roads with little shoulder with semis/logging trucks. By the end of the ride, having no fear, and 100% faith that God is sheltering us from drivers, mechanical issues, and providing us with mental/physical strength to finish each day.
GD – The good news with this ride was the lack of traffic. Some days we would ride with only seeing maybe one car. We would see more side by sides/ATVs than cars this trip
NT – Applying layers and layers of sunscreen
GD – Got to wear the sun sleeves
NT – Getting the blog done at the end of each day (hoping we had phone connection)
GD – Same with daily blogs, but more remote ride and less cell service. Deb did a great job getting them ready daily so she could upload once we had cell service
NT – The comfort of getting into the tent while camping and being so comfortable and the wonderful satisfaction of a good day of riding.
GD – The tent was our comfort quarters at the end of a successful day of riding.
NT – Making the decision to get Deb a front rack and having her front bags shipped to us in West Glacier. Also getting her new touring tires: A no brainer after the fact.
GD – Our bikes were perfectly setup from day one. Of course we have had over two years of practice rides to prepare.
NT – Looking back at our daily videos and seeing our happy, happy faces totally enjoying our journey
GD – Super happy faces/smiles 😊
NT – Doing a Fred Flintstone down the final short hill to our finish line, brakes fully engaged, but having to stop myself with my shoes. Perfect timing for my brake pads to expire with over 5000 miles on brake pads and tires
GD – only one Fred Flintstone moment getting ready for a large descent over Gore Pass. I am a much more knowledgeable bike mechanic this time around and know how to adjust my brakes
NT – The greatest memory will be all the wonderful, kind people we met along the way!!!!
GD – Don’t watch the media telling us how screwed up things are. Meeting the wonderful people and knowing how great things are in our country.
NT – It was an experience of a lifetime seeing God’s creation at 12 miles an hour with my true love.
GD – It was an experience of a lifetime seeing God’s creation at 8 miles an hour (with all the climbs/gravel roads) with my true love.
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.
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.
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.
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!