Cycling the Great Divide, Day Twenty-Three: Horca, Colorado to Platoro, Colorado

June 23rd, 2016: 26 miles. Total so far: 741 miles.

Our first full day in Colorado unfortunately ushered in a slightly dark period of three days or so, during which I became intermittently depressed, and actually talked about quitting several times (Joy, who handles adversity much better than me, has never talked about ending this trip prematurely.) This has happened to me at least once on every long bike tour, and every time I’ve ridden in Colorado. Maybe it’s the thin air at the higher elevations, maybe it’s the weight loss due to the lack of real meals. Maybe it’s a deep-rooted character flaw. Who knows. The riding was usually fun, and the scenery was often spectacular, but I sometimes felt homesick and exhausted at the end of the day.

We both slept well in the cabin, which had bunk beds, although there were enough bunks that neither of us had to sleep on top. I’d hate to fall out of bed and break my arm. That would be an embarrassing way to end this tour.

Before leaving, we spent some time in the campground office talking to the owner and his wife. They asked “How do you train for a trip like this?” and I just laughed, because I don’t believe in “training” for a bike tour.

After a few miles of pavement we got back on the route, where Joy adjusted my rear brake, which, after yesterday afternoon’s long descent, no longer had any stopping power. I should have practiced adjusting the disc brakes, which I’ve not used before this trip, at home months ago. Fortunately my partner is ultra-competent.

Today’s ride was on a gravel road to the small outpost of Platoro, and while the condition of the road was above New Mexico’s low standards, the first half of the day had heavier traffic than I prefer. I was in my “Colorado mood”, so I was perhaps unreasonably annoyed, since the drivers (especially the drivers of the handful of large trucks on the road for some reason) were reasonably well-behaved.

I rode ahead of Joy for a while, at the fastest pace I can muster on my heavy bike, in an attempt to ride off my bad mood. I arrived at Rocky Mountain Lodge, an old campground and cabin place, and talked to the nice lady at the campground store for a while until Joy arrived. We hung around for a while talking to people, and then I visited the campground bathroom (or “bath house” as it was labeled), which was primitive indeed, and was unique in my experience in that it featured an actual TUB, and not a shower. Strange.

After some nice riding and more beautiful Colorado scenery, we arrived at Platoro, which is basically a group of scattered cabins in various states of disrepair, along with a couple of restaurants. We went in the first place we saw, but I was almost too tired to eat, and mechanically chewed my burger and fries. I’d been dreaming of french fries for days, but they did not have the restorative effect I’d hoped for. (I was alert enough, however, that when I initially asked to add bacon to the burger, and the woman told me it would be $4 extra, I told her to forget it. Platoro is pretty far from everything, but really — $4 for a couple of strips of bacon!?)

There was a cabin adjacent to the restaurant, but it seemed too noisy there, so we arranged for a cabin about a mile outside of “town”, where it was much, much quieter. The cabin was old, and almost literally falling down, but it had a certain charm. It was a few feet from the Conejos river, which was nice. We had no neighbors, which was also nice. Joy arranged for one of the restaurants to deliver (via ATV) a large pizza to us, and upon consuming 3/4 of it, I felt much better.

There was no cell phone signal, no internet, and no television to distract us, so we went to bed before it was dark, as is our custom on this trip.

Marmots outside our cabin.