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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GDMBR Day 41 | Abiquiu to Canone Creek | 35 miles, 5,187 ft elevation | Are We Hiking or Biking?

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Oh man… one of the toughest days. But still grateful! There is a stretch on the Great Divide between Abiquiu and Cuba that is known for its ratchet road and elevation. Most riders on tour take two days (which we did) but some ride that 77 miles in one day. #respect

We had such a delightful and unexpected respite at the Abiquiu Inn. It’s that juxtaposition that gets ya. It’s like BAM! Here you go… do this 25 mile climb on ratchet roads after being served homemade lemonade and ice cream on the patio in the shade.

I will say we are getting better about food procurement. Tom secured a breakfast burrito to go and we made it last until dinner.

We met a rider from Midland, TX while climbing up Indiana Pass. His name was Clif and he had a heart as big as Texas. He was also a southbounder but rode that section of the GDMBR before to scout it out. His comments were so helpful. He said the route would be ok for a while but would quickly deteriorate and it would repeat that scenario for a good while.

I won’t bore you with the details but Clif was absolutely spot on. We only rode 35 miles today but we (especially me) were spent. Lots of hike-a-bike and technical climbing.

Not sad we did it. We saw some beautiful sites but dang… so much respect for riders and racers who complete it in one day.

Riding to Cuba tomorrow on the hunt for Mexican food and tall boys. And maybe even a Catholic Mass because you know… it’s Sunday!

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GDMBR Day 40 | Hopewell Lake to Abiquiu | 55 miles, 2,582 ft elevation | Feast or Famine

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We packed up quickly this morning and got an early start feeling a little anxious about not having much food for a 55 mile ride with elevation. And if the road surface was anything like yesterday we would definitely bonk before an opportunity to resupply.

The roads were actually in better condition today and it seemed like New Mexico was starting to show us her sweeter side.

The first store was open but it was a little stand and no one was there to sell us anything. So we headed toward El Rito. There was a small local restaurant that was about to open and a convenience store but they only accept cash. Whoops! We hadn’t counted on that one. No banks, no ATM, cash only. We had $14. After purchasing some drinks and snacks we started toward Abiquiu.

We were starting to worry… really? No one takes cards? We should have thought about that. With a storm chasing us (again) we saw a Family Dollar about three miles out of Abiquiu. Problem solved. They take credit cards and do cash back. We’re back in biz!

We cruised into the Abiquiu Inn where they wanted to know if we’d like a couple glasses of homemade lemonade while they ensured our room was ready. What? Yes please!

It’s an oasis of comfort on the Great Divide. We ate at their restaurant… twice in the same day.

It’s feast or famine on our ride it seems with regard to food, water, road conditions and weather. And we’ve learned a lot about expectations. Maybe not to have any and then we will always be surprised. 💁‍♀️

And oh about the bike riding… more downhill than uphill today. Yay! Not what we expected.

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GDMBR Day 39 | FR 87 Summit to Hopewell Lake | 46 miles, 3,793 ft elevation | Rockfest As Expected

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From Tom;

What a wonderful night “wild camping” at 10,600 feet at the summit of a big climb. We awoke to a tremendous sunrise looking out over our feet in the tent.

As we packed up for our ride a huge herd of noisy sheep came over the hill heading our way directed by several sheep herding dogs. Off we went before we were trampled 😁👍.

During the first 15 miles New Mexico greeted us with some gnarly, steep, roads that involved some hike-a-bike. After that our day was spent as usual with some ups and downs and several climbs. Our day ended with a five mile climb to our campground.

PS from Deb:

We are working well together as a team and learning more as we go forward. There are a couple things that cross the line however: washing each other’s bike shorts out by hand and carrying anyone’s used TP but your own. 🤣

We’re learning we also need to be carrying a lot more food and water here in New Mexico. We’re about out of food now with a 55 miler ahead of us tomorrow before we resupply in Abiquiu. There might be a C-Store in 25 miles. Fingers crossed. 🤞🏻

Old grandpa and grandma are holding up well though, and so is our equipment. If you want to know more about our light weight, compact sleep system, see below. It’s not your standard sleeping bag. #alwaystheteacher

Headed to Abiquiu tomorrow for a hotel stay and resupply!

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GDMBR Day 38 | Platoro to FR 87 Summit | 42 miles, 3,490 ft elevation | So Far We’re Enchanted

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New Mexico is known as The Land of Enchantment. So far we’re enchanted! Maybe it’s because of the sweet camping spot we have at 10,600 feet. Such a beautiful view after a semi-easy day. Or maybe it was the stellar views you gave us on the way in during our twilight ride.

We started the day eating breakfast burritos with our cycling buds Jonathan and Lauren. We met them just after Boreas Pass while camping in Como. They are section cycling the Great Divide and finishing up in Abiquiu, NM. They are another example of interesting people to chat with. Lauren has completed several Ironman Triathlons (and podiumed some) and they are both training for the Pioneer 400 bikepacking race in Idaho in September. We’ve been leapfrogging with them ever since Como when we all camped in the pouring rain.

Jonathan let us know there was a place nearby with wifi and smoothies – less than two blocks away. Actually there aren’t any paved streets in Platoro, only dirt roads. Good thing too. They get over 30 feet of snow a year (not at one time) and most everyone leaves town in September and does not return until May. The cute little cabin we slept in gets covered up with snow. 😳

We stopped in for a rare second breakfast and met some more folks from Kansas, Rachael and her family and also enjoyed chatting it up with Joe and his son Jake who happened to be in the cabin next to us the previous night. All great peeps to visit with.

Next we got on the road toward Horca. We’d heard it was a lovely 20 mile ride down through the valley along the Conejo River with spectacular views. And that it was! Sometimes ya don’t put the GoPro on or take pics. Instead ya just enjoy the ride.

Once in Horca we stopped again for another long break. The Red Bear Welcome Center is particularly welcoming to Great Divide riders so we took advantage of a nearby Amish pie vender and the welcome center’s robust bandwidth to get caught up on the blog. The days begin to run into each other while on extended bike tours so if we didn’t blog we’d not have some of the details of our ride to look back on.

LaManga Pass started right after Horca and once that was complete we started looking for the New Mexico state line. It was a simple welcome.

With plenty of much needed downtime in Platoro and Horca we finished our shorter ride with a climb to our camping spot.

Below is a 180 degree look. The view is wicked awesome and at times we even get one bar of cell service! 😂

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Happy to have made it to the last state line on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route!

GDMBR Day 37 | Cow Camp to Platoro | 37 miles, 4,715 ft elevation | Birthday on Indiana Pass

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We couldn’t have planned it but it turned out that I’d spend my birthday climbing Indiana Pass, the highest pass on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

Yep it was kinda hard. We had a 10 mile jump start since we began the ride from Cow Camp but it was still challenging. And then throw in Schintzel Flats and Stunner Pass for good measure and it was a full day although our mileage wasn’t high. The views were some of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. And it was a stellar day to view them weather wise.

Stomping on pedals all day in the mountains gave us a lot of time to think about how we got this far and who helped us along the way. So many times when we got a weather break we would say “Thanks Mamaw” (Tom’s mom who is probably still worrying about our bike travels even though she’s in heaven). And for my dad, Fred, who’s always been a fellow adventurer and lifelong learner, thinking about what he would take from this ride. Gosh both of us are so grateful for our parents who have been (and continue to be) positive influencers in our lives. Hats off to Morris, Mamaw, Fred and Carol. We’d never gotten this far on Indiana Pass or in life without you.

We are staying in a cute retro cabin in Platoro with a stream running right off our back porch. Although there is no cell service or wifi but they happily share their staff laundry with divide riders (no charge) and sold tortillas and peanut butter from their kitchen since we’re out. The comfty bed, shower, freshly laundered clothes, and tasty town food topped off the day. Thanks to Tom for making it one of the most memorable birthdays ever.

Tomorrow we cross into New Mexico, the last state on the Divide. The outlook for the next 700 miles or so is very rocky and very remote and probably really hot. ✌🏻

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GDMBR Day 36 | Storm King to Cow Camp | 50 miles, 2,438 ft elevation | A Little Bit of Everything

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Ya just never know what you’re gonna get on the Great Divide. The places, the people, the route, road surface and weather are most always unpredictable.

We woke up in our tent at Storm King Campground and it was so, so cold. However the tent seemed dry so we quickly packed up, including retrieving our food bag on top of the privy.

It was a beautiful ride into La Garita. Bummer the cafe wasn’t open though. We could have used some hot coffee.

Prior to hitting Del Norte there was a double track segment that was fast and flowy. Tom had the GoPro on and mighta had a little crash – take a look at the video. He’s all good although we had to mute the vid.🤣

Once in Del Norte we decided since it was Sunday Funday we’d stop at Three Barrel Brewery and take a mid day break with a couple local IPAs, salad and pizza. We could have eaten twice the amount.

Sometimes those midday bevvies and pizza work out and sometimes it’s a little rough. We decided to go another 10 miles or so to shelter at Cow Camp. That would also give us a 10 mile head start on Indiana Pass the following day.

Cow Camp was so out of the ordinary from any place we’d seen. The owner’s great grandfather homesteaded the property years ago. We had a lot of questions but there was a party going on so we went on our way to the shelter, but not before Tom picked up a golf club and whacked the golf ball almost into New Mexico. Apparently the owner built a 7 hole golf course and he wanted Tom to take a swing. So he did!

We slept so soundly… ready for Indiana Pass tomorrow – the highest pass on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and it’s my birthday.

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GDMBR Day 35 | Sergeant to Storm King | 78 miles, 5,052 ft elevation | Rising Up

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For a “no news” blog day, it ended up a bit newsy for us. There was considerable forest fire smoke so the views and the ride were a bit off.

Early in the morning I was riding along, uphill, listening to Garth Brooks singing Rodeo (and singing aloud), when I got bucked off my bike. Actually I downshifted to climb and the chain popped off. No chain. No power. Going uphill forward motion stops. Couldn’t get my foot out of the clip so down I went. Onto the gravel road. Not on the derailleur side though so all good there. But ouch! Nothing hurt but my pride. 😂

Right before Cochetopa Pass we met Apple who has been a trail Angel for 18 years. He posts up with shade, food and water and waits for hikers on the Continental Divide Trail, and riders on the Great Divide and Colorado Trails. Again, the man is a patron saint of bikepackers. He lives in Cincinnati but comes out to stay in Gunnison for two weeks every year to support riders and hikers.

We finished Cochetopa Pass at 10,067 feet and arrived to Luders Campground but it was too early to quit cycling. The plan was to press on to another campground at the base of the next pass which was was Carnero Pass at 10,166 feet and tackle it first thing the next morning.

Just before entering Rio Grande National Forest and about five miles from our planned campsite two ladies in a car stopped us and informed us there was a bear ahead. Just one they said, but it looked hungry and it didn’t appear to be scared of people. She showed me the pic they took while sitting in their car. Yep, it looked skinny. And I didn’t want to meet Mr. Friendly Skinny Bear so up we peddled.

We’d seen a grizzly bear our third day out near Swan Lake Wildlife Refuge. That bear, however was not skinny and very big. He was as afraid of us as we were him. No we didn’t get a pic… we pedaled on putting distance between us.

Once again we continued riding as we wanted to put as much distance between the bear and us. We peddled up and over Canero Pass and cruised into Storm King campground. We like to call it our twilight ride.

The campsite was sweet! We were pretty tired and had to dry the tent and fly out from the night before because it was dew wet. Simple dinner, stow food, set up tent, tuck in the Cuttys and we said good night.

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GDMBR Day 34 | Salida to Sergeant | 43 miles, 3,724 ft elevation | Magnificent Marshall!

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We left Salida with full bellies, quenched thirsts and hearts that were overflowing as we were so well taken of care by our friends. Christie even brought her Indiana home grown Brandywine tomatoes. Yum!

Ahead of us was our longest climb ever – 20 miles up to Marshall Pass – and it was magnificent! That was easier than the first five miles on the highway, uphill and in a fierce headwind. Ouch!

Marshall Pass Road is also used by motorcycles riders and ATVs so we didn’t have the road all to ourselves as many times we do, but we kept a steady pace and before we knew it we were at the top of the Pass celebrating with a snack – one of Christie’s delicious bars made with spent grains, oatmeal etc.

Once again rain clouds rolled in as we bombed down the Pass. They didn’t catch us this time though.

Once in Sergeant, our destination for the night was Tomichi Creek Trading Post and we were hoping they had a camp site and maybe a hot meal.

We hit the mother lode. Campsite by a creek with a view of the mountains (and a picnic table), a bathroom/shower (exceptionally clean), a store, cafe, a saloon, wifi, electricity. I mean it doesn’t get any better than this and it was right on route.

If y’all are sending positive vibes our way or praying for us, it’s working. Doesn’t mean obstacles won’t occur, but we are finding the wisdom, courage and perseverance to handle them. So thanks for that my friends.

As far as near future, we have a mountain pass a day on the route for the next three days with the biggest pass to climb on Monday, Indiana Pass (go figure). 😂

We are averaging 52 miles a day, have about 900 miles to go and have pedaled up over 102,000 feet of elevation. Love this route, love the people, looking forward to what the next few weeks bring.

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GDMBR Day 32 | Hartsel to Salida | 47 miles, 2,480 ft elevation | Rendezvous on the Mountain

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This is going to be a quickly post ‘cause we have friend bidness to tend to but what a stellar day! Descending into Salida in anticipation of meeting our friends, Dan and Christie, was unforgettable.

The rain moved out of the area last night leaving clear blue skies, green grass, white clouds and cows with horns (yes big horns) which all made for a peaceful, memorable ride.

Everyone said the ride into Salida was a treat and we were looking forward to it. Not only for the scenic descent but also we knew our buds were on their way up to meet us.

Tom was filming an overlook having no idea Christie was riding around the corner. That girl rode eleven miles ⬆️ to meet us. All the way up. Impressive! And we were so surprised to see her at the top.

Dan rode over halfway up and then selected the perfect place to take pics and vids of us coming down. Not only that, he had a celebratory ice cold beer selected for us. These two… they could not have made it more special.

Down into Salida we rode with Dan leading the way to a comfty condo with a 360 rooftop view of the town and mountains.

Today is our first zero day. Cheers!

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