Cycling the Great Divide, Day Nine: Horse Springs Bible Church, New Mexico to Pie Town, New Mexico.
June 9th, 2016: 41 miles. Total so far: 315 miles.
I slept well on the church porch, better than Joy, who was disturbed by various sounds in the night, especially my snoring. I blame that on the absence of my buckwheat pillow.
Because we didn’t have to pack up the tent, we were out at 6:15, our earliest departure yet. It was a perfect morning for riding — clear and not too chilly. Most of the morning we climbed up the Mangas Mountain. This was relatively easy (compared to what we were doing three or four days ago, anyway), and eventually we reached a very nice pine forest. We saw a single birch tree (or was it an aspen?) which seemed out of place. I thought I saw a wild turkey walking through the trees, but Joy scoffed at that.
Near the top we stopped for a break at a campground, occupied only by a family in an RV. So far on this trip, the campgrounds in the national forests have been very lightly used.
Mid-morning, around the time we left the public lands, it started getting hot (hardly a surprise, since it has happened every day so far), and once again we entered open range. Joy was ahead of me and came upon a calf sleeping in the road, which indicates just how empty of motor vehicles these dirt roads in New Mexico have been. She woke up the calf and it tottered off.
After a while we made a turn onto an even quieter dirt road, which wound its way among abandoned ranches. Along with the decaying old buildings, we saw a cattle guard that had completely filled in with dirt — first time we’ve seen that, and I suppose it indicates how long it’s been since this area saw active ranching.
We stopped for lunch around 11:00, which has been our custom on this trip. Joy has been making sandwiches using flour tortillas and various fillings (cheese, pepperoni, Nutella, etc.), and we eat those while sitting in the shade on our camp stools. This has been a major improvement over what I usually do when I’m touring by myself, which is to stand over the bike and quickly stuff my face with honey buns.
The rest of the afternoon went more quickly than usual. I had to walk my bike through some soft dirt, which was annoying, especially since Joy never seems to have to do that, but otherwise both of us were faster than we’d been on the trip so far. Joy, especially, was stronger today. She likes the “rollers” we had during the last few hours of today’s ride.
Lately when I stop during the day I’ve been folding and refolding the heavy, water-proof Adventure Cycling map that I store on top of my handlebar bag. My initial careful folding has devolved into basically wadding up the map and jamming it in the map case. Usually this is accompanied by annoyed grunting and re-folding / re-wadding. Today Joy gave me my new name: “Map Wrassler.” Harrumph.
We reached Pie Town (population 286) earlier than expected, and immediately rode over to the Pie-O-Neer Cafe, famous for its many homemade pies, where we ordered six pieces of pie, ice cream, and lemonade, and I blanched at the bill: $45! Oh well: The pie was very good, and how often are we going to be in Pie Town, anyway?
The place was surprisingly busy, although half the people who came in while we were there were tourists, not locals. One of the tourists was a German man who was VERY excited to be there, and even requested a photo with us.
We met a friendly older couple who own a ranch 15 miles outside of town, and talked to them for a while. They give water to hikers and cyclists, and we told them we’d stop by tomorrow on our way out of Pie Town.
Later we rode over to the “Toaster House”, a hostel that caters primarily to Continental Divide Trail hikers, and, to a lesser extent, Great Divide riders. The owner of the place, Nita Larronde, allows hikers and cyclists to stay there, use the kitchen and shower, eat snacks, etc. in exchange for a small donation.
The Toaster House was empty tonight except for a couple of Continental Divide Trail volunteers, Radar and his girlfriend Lisa. The evening passed pleasantly enough, and we went to bed around dusk. As I learned the next morning, however, Joy did not sleep well AT ALL.