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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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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