Friday, June 10, 2011

Tour Divide: Start in New Mexico

Tour Divide was my big adventure for 2011. I started June 10, 2011 in Antelope Wells and went all the way to Banff, Canada over 25 days. I had previously ridden some sections with Kathy's brother Bob, but this was the first (and probably only) time I was going to go the full distance in one go.

Here is my bike fully loaded at home. The full set of pics is here:

I got a ride with Niki Yoblonski and her friend Jason. We left from Santa Monica on June 8, stopped for night somewhere along the rode.  

The next morning in Lordsburg, NM. We picked up more people. From left: Franck Gimard (France) and Craig Dolwin (UK), Niki on the roof. We drove to Silver City, had a fancy dinner, and stayed there for the night. We got an early start the next morning and drove to the border.
 My bike at the border on June 10.
Squinting into the morning sun, a bit before 8 am
Ready to start. Unfortunately fewer than half made it to the finish. New Mexico is a tough place to start, some of the hardest days come right at the beginning. Another group started simultaneously in Banff, Canada, going the other way. Together, it was more than 80 riders starting.

It was a long and incredible hard first day. I drank more than 2 gallons and yet was extremely dehydrated. The distance to Silver City isn't that far, 125 miles, and much of it is paved. Yet it is brutal desert heat (over 100 degrees), climbing, and headwind. I tried to get out of the sun a bit, but there isn't any way to hide.
Quite a few people dropped out after the first day. I had the worst cramps I ever had in my life and was glad to make it to Silver City before night and have a long night. This was tough.

The next morning got us on some single track on the Continental Divide Trail and I enjoyed this stretch very much - after a full night, two breakfasts, and before it got hot. In contrast, Kurt Refsnider, who is a much stronger cyclist than me had an absolutely miserable time around here with little food and water. So much depends on food, water, time of day, and weather!

This was already much later, filtering water up on Brazos Ridge, just the last day before crossing into Colorado. Over 8000 feet, New Mexico isn't that bad.
Overall, however, I didn't like New Mexico. Far too much desert for me, too hot, so I'm glad I got it out of the way early and had the more enjoyable parts of the trip ahead of me instead having it looming at the end. I did like a few small sections, such as the single track CDT north of Silver City, the forest north of grants, and camping up on Brazos Ridge. 

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