Cycling the Great Divide, Day Ten: Pie Town, New Mexico to Grants, New Mexico.
June 10th, 2016: 72 miles. Total so far: 387 miles.
I slept like a baby last night in my sleeping bag on top of a mattress in the Toaster House (the sleeping bag was mandatory for us because the Toaster House, like all hostels that cater to backpackers, was extremely grungy.)
Joy, however, didn’t sleep well at all, which she blamed on my snoring. I have no way to verify this, but I suppose I have to accept her word. Apparently she made multiple efforts to quiet me, including poking me, kicking me, ordering me explicitly to be quiet, and loudly unzipping and zipping various zippered bags. The effort of riding the Divide has made me so exhausted at the end of the day that none of these actions woke me, however.
There was a single bathroom in the Toaster House, but this morning I thought I’d visit the outhouse out back instead. My visit was brief indeed: I opened the door six inches, looked inside, and immediately walked away. I’ve seen some bad outhouses in my travels, but this one was truly deplorable.
It was an easy ride out of town. The soft sandy sections and loose gravel continued to annoy me, but I tried to heed the advice of Joy, who grew up riding bikes on Iowa gravel roads: Just keep pedaling.
After what Joy described as the Best Downhill of the Entire Trip we entered a long, mostly flat, wide open section. Despite the obvious minimal variance in the terrain as far as we could see, I continued to obsessively check the elevation profile on my map every few minutes. For some reason this amused my wife, but I feel it is important to Know What’s Ahead on the route. (Except, that is, when I Want to Be Surprised With What’s Ahead on the route.)
After about 32 miles we got on paved highway 117. This is an alternate to the main route’s longer, less scenic dirt road. It was about 40 miles to Grants (pop. 9,182), and we were much, much faster on the pavement. While the road was not especially busy, it was definitely a different experience than riding on the almost completely empty dirt roads of the last days. There was some stunning scenery — we road through the “Narrows”, where the curvy road wound between lava on our left, and high bluffs on our right. Pretty cool.
We stopped at a ranger station 15 miles from Grants to use a restroom with actual flush toilets (!) and fill up on cold water. While we hung out there for a half hour, the older man who was volunteering that day cut his thumb while fumbling with something sharp at his desk. Joy was disappointed that he declined her offer to tend to his wound using the first aid kit that she’s carrying on her bike. His loss!
We made it into Grants after 72 miles of riding, our most miles of any day so far, checked into a motel, had dinner at the above-average Subway next door, and then, after Joy procured some of the bitter beer she favors, at the Walgreen a few hundred feet from the motel, went to bed. But only after switching rooms because the air conditioner in our first room did not work. Which, as it turned out, was not the worst thing about the Red Lion Motel in Grants, New Mexico.