Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mon-Tues, May 29-30 – Days 10-11

Two sort of strange days. Yesterday we took a sort of half rest day, then headed out on what was supposed to be a 2000 foot climb. But we got up 1200 feet or so and the whole forest was closed – road closed, campsites closed, the works. We debated going around the barriers, but figured there would be no water and maybe surly rangers out there.

So, we headed back down. The map and GPS showed a shortcut over to the paved alternate, so we took that. Big mistake. The road was closed, but we hopped the gate. Then it turned to sand. Then it disappeared. The GPS said it went right through a fence, so that’s where we went (we were halfway and the way back was uphill). We jumped the fence and found it, but from there to the road it was all sand. We had to hike-a-bike 3 miles or so from there to the highway. It must have taken us 4-5 hours to get the 8 miles through the shortcut. Ugh.

Then, it was getting dark, and the spot marked as a campground on the map had no campground. There wasn’t even a spot to pull off – nothing but fences on both sides. So we went to the bar (there was a bar) to ask directions, and ended up talking to this Navajo fellow named John. He said we could camp at his place up the way. We threw the bikes in his truck, got going, and he ended up driving us something like 50 miles. I ended up a little crabby about the whole thing – our new buddy was a good bit drunk (although he drove steady as a rock), we ended up cutting off a bunch of the route, and we never got dinner. (Probably the lack of dinner is top of the list.)

But, it turned out the next day it was probably for the best. Tim’s derailleur, which has been giving him problems all along, must have gotten more wrecked as we hopped over those fences on the shortcut. (We think that the BOB is pushing on the derailleur when it gets at an acute enough angle, like when the whole thing is getting hauled over a fence.) So without the help from our intoxicated compadre we may not have made it.

Then today Tim broke a spoke. Ordinarily this isn’t too bad of a repair, but this was Tim’s bike, plus the spoke was on the rear wheel on the drive side. The whole thing was this tremendous exercise in frustration, partly because the back end of Tim’s bike is so out of whack and partly because we didn’t carry the (heavy) cassette tool you need to get at the drive side spokes. We pretty much had to take the whole back of the bike apart to get the BOB out of the way, and we never did get the new spoke in. Tim had to ride it into Cuba missing a spoke. He’s going to work on that tomorrow.

Budget bike is overnighting (except it’s actually two days) a new derailleur hanger for Tim. Tomorrow I’m taking off on the official route, and Tim will take the highway around. That should leave me with a much needed rest day in Abiquiu.

Two notes here – first, Tim was ready to quit today because of his equipment. He has mostly cheaper gear – used BOB, $400 bike, cheap commuter panniers – and it’s just sort of giving out here.

I don’t know what I’d do if Tim quit. Probably just keep going I guess – what else would I do – but maybe I’d put some slicks on the bike and try riding back to WI. This stuff is awfully rugged to try to do by yourself.

Also – we visited some ruins today that were on the route. The ruins are this outpost put together by the Chacos, who also made some much bigger, more famous ruins that were too far off the route for us. Anyway, I was wandering around, minding my own business, and I hear this rattling. Here’s this little rattlesnake (maybe 2 feet long) about 3 feet away from my foot. I got out of there immediately, and wrote “watch out for snakes!” in the little guest register they had at the entrance. That ought to make some people think. John (our Navajo buddy from the other day) says that the ruins are sacred, and that it’s bad mojo (my word, not his) to be hanging out there without undergoing the proper rituals. I wonder if there’s something to that now. Man I hate snakes.

Day 10 stats:

25 miles (plus 50 in the truck)
1500 feet climbing
5 hours

Day 11 stats:

70 miles (all pavement)
7 hours
2500 feet of climbing – mostly rollers

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