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

Riding Stats

Accommodations

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!

Riding Stats

Accommodations

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

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Accommodations

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

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Accommodations

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

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Accommodations

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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Accommodations

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

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Accommodations

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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Accommodations

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 31 | Como to Hartsel | 30 miles, 1,155 ft elevation | In the Nick of Time

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We all know timing is everything. Weather, stock market, wedding proposals. Whatevs. Timing is huge. And so is luck.

In our case this morning it was… when should we break camp and dash to Hartsel from Como. The rain forecast told us we needed to be strategic. There was a window. We’d already decided to layup in Hartsel to ride into Salida on Wednesday. So it would be an easy day for us. Just 30 miles to Hartsel.

After quickly packing up we rode a quick 30 to Hartsel (with some rain and mud but no big deal). Once there we pretty much hung out in the small town supporting the local economy with purchases of beer and food while we watched our cycling buds roll in one after the other.

We also met this cute family riding the Transamerica Trail. What a beautiful family with such an immense spirit and love for each other and God. Ya just knew it!

We’re camping in the back yard of the saloon. It’s been raining off and on all day but we found a window to set up the tent and just in the nick of time.

Tomorrow, Salida!

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