Monday, July 16. Trinidad, CO to Cimarron, NM. 63 miles of riding in 5:23 hrs.
Sipped on some micro brews out of Ft. Collins last evening and this porter was just fantastic. I chilled the heck out of them and Umm Paa!! We had a nice time in Trinidad yesterday. But got to move on.
Got in a breakfast buffet this morning and then hit the road at 6:30 AM. Judy hung around and did a workout and run at the hotel for an hr or two while I was riding. Now I should have known I was in for a rough going when I saw the flag standing straight from the wind in the hotel parking lot. Just didn’t really make me think anything other than Id have a headwind to deal with today.
Rode out of the hotel area and onto a side road to either ride on adjacent gravel roads or I-25. Problem I found immediately with the gravel side roads was that they were really short lived. They would go for like a mile and then deadend to where I’d have to climb over barbed wire fences to get back on I-25 to continue south and then within several miles there would be another frontage gravel road for a bit. It just wasn’t worth the effort. So it was I-25 for the remainder.
But more than anything it was the headwind that was the killer. Yesterday was tame, was mellow, was a walk in the park compared with today. The wind seemed to be channeled through the mt pass and just hammering down though the valley where the interstate was located. It was a virtual windtunnel out of the south. I was climbing of course, and heading up for a good 14 miles to the top where Raton Pass was located, but with the vicious headwind I was down to 4-7 mph the whole time. It was just to strong that I would almost be blown backwards. What a painful sight it was as I was one hour into the ride and I’d gone just over 6 miles. I’d told Judy that I may be in Raton, NM by the time she caught up to me. What a joke that was . Hell, I’d be lucky to even make the top of the pass!
The scenery was spectacular as I painfully climbed mile after pathetic mile up towards the pass with the wind just gusting so hard that the trees on the side of the road looked like they were going to break in half. My only hope for the day was that this was a channeling effect of the canyon and that once over the pass I’d not have anywhere near the headwind on the south side that I was experiencing on the north side. Been through it enough to know that sometimes all it takes is to go over a pass and then it’s a totally different story. Now if it was the same on the south side of the pass – Katy bar the Door…it was going to be a super long day riding a luggage free bike at 6 mph for 8 hrs! An hour passed. Then 1.5 in and finally there was a sign for the pass – three miles ahead. That’s about the time Judy honked the horn while passing me.
Now prior to that I’d been riding in the middle ring for the whole climb, but those last 3 miles were about the steepest of the 14, forcing me to go down to little cookie territory for the remainder of the climb. After just over 2 hrs of climb and fighting the windtunnel I topped out on Raton Pass. Man, I felt exhausted from the effort. Kept it rolling because I knew that Judy would be on the side somewhere waiting for me. And sure enough, she was just about 2 miles down on the south side of the pass – where the wind had indeed died down significantly. Now it was still blowing out of the south, but nowhere near as bad as on the north side of the pass. I just stopped at the van and plopped my tired ass down on the shotgun seat and vegged for several minutes. Knocked down a coke, sandwich and icewater and relaxed.
Funny thing was that I wore my longsleeved jersey for the first time in the trip today when I exited Trinidad where the morning temp was like 58 degrees. Felt awesome save for the wind. So I continued to wear the jersey on the descent to Raton, NM. Matter of fact once I jumped out of the van to continue on the descent I was chilled big-time. My fingers were even cold. So I made up some time on the descent to where my average creeped up to a whopping 8 mph. Rode I-25 right through Raton and continued on south to our exit on Rt 64 for our second support stop.
Made 64 in good time, gradually building that pathetic mph average back up from 7. Grabbed a Powerade and on it was on 64 to the town of Cimarron. This was paved with zero in the way of any frontage or parallel roads. But the good thing was that it was damned near devoid of traffic and had a massive 8 foot wide berm. So once through Raton we were kind of out of the mts and back out on the plains, but tucked right up against the edge of the mts on my right hand side. The temp was way cooler than the plains riding in CO and the wind was out of the southwest. I could at least maintain a solid 12 mph, which was like riding on the Starship Enterprise for God’s sake compared to my start this morning. So I was totally good with the 34 mile ride up to Cimarron at 12 mph into a cross headwind – anything but that freaking windtunnel.
So I get to one of our two support stops on the ride to Cimarron and we sitting there in the car when all of a sudden I hear this loud hissing noise. Now at first I thought it was one of my van tires going flat, but then once I jumped out I found it was my rear mt bike tire. I mean the air just gushed out within several seconds and it was dead flat. Damn was I pissed. Just paid a hundred sixty bucks for all the fancy no-flat stuff and the rear is flat in two rides. Pulled the tire off and found that the stem of the tubs was leaking right where the stem junctions with the actual tube. Now could have been operator error on my part when I installed the tube, or it could have been a defective stem. Don’t know. Go it fixed and was on the road within 10 min.
Made Cimarron in just under 5.5 hrs of riding, so I’d really made up some time once I got over Raton Pass. Hell, back then I was contemplating an 8-hour day in the saddle just to make the 63-mile ride to Cimarron if the wind had remained the same all day. But damn was I tired. I fell asleep in the van as Judy was buying some groceries at this little grocery in town. Those two days of battling the wind really have taken some gas out of my tank.
And I’d have to say that I’d rank that wind this morning right up there with two other instances I’ve had with headwinds over the years. The all time worst, and I tell people this all the time, was when I cycled around Iceland and battled at 30-40 mph wind off the North Atlantic as I was rounding the west side of the island. That headwind in Iceland was so intense that I could only muster like 4-6 mph all day long. I was a physical and mental wreck when the day was over. The second worst wind was during my trip across the US when I battled a wind up in Montana for 68-70 miles all day long. That was probably like a 20 mph headwind with gust up into the 30 mph range for very short spells. But it was neverending, all day long. Today was pretty bad, but it was short and sweet – still nowhere as bad as the Iceland wind. That’s the Gold Medal Holder in my life for now and probably forever!
Now we are actually camping here in Cimarron. The temps is pleasant at about 85 degrees with thunder boomers all over the place up in the mts all around us. Thus far everything’s skirted around us so that Judy was able to cook outside on the grill with no rainout. Amazing to pay 20 bucks again to camp instead of 50-dollars plus for hotel/motel when the temps were always in the 90’s and 100’s out each and every day. Think we calculated that it had been about 3 weeks since we camped. The campground is nothing to crow about, just this little place right on the side of Rt 64. But it works out ok for us today for sure. So we’ll be bagging it on the early side for sure tonight and then up early for the ride to Taos tomorrow – about 56-60 miles through the mts. Again, probably zero gravel on this stretch, at least according to my NM gazetteer.Well, just about time to crack another Micro brew from Ft. Collins. Funny, I had a friend email me about my lack of discussing mirobrews as I had done on previous trips. And honestly I’d been so busy with all this planning and support and finding routes that I got real lazy about hunting microbrews. I’d usually just have Judy get me a lager of some while she was shopping for groceries. And Jim made me think a bit about trying out new micros. So yesterday while Jude was shopping I walked over to a beer store and got some different stuff. Picked up 2 6’s of great Porters. Anyway, time to crack a micro…and thanks Jim for getting me back on the “beer track.” Late……………Pete