Climbing: 1962 ft
Awoke and packed quickly in Chama, thankful for the quiet of the morning. I got some gas station provisions and headed down the highway toward Abiquiu. (Ok, originally I headed UP the highway away from Abiquiu, but I caught it almost immediately. No more turn-by-turn GPS since I’m off the ACA route.)
Pretty quickly I realized that unlike yesterday’s highway, I didn’t have a huge shoulder to give me space and security on this road, and it had me feeling nervous. One of the reasons I did the Great Divide is that it separated me from cars most of the time….as such, I hadn’t thought too much about being high-vis on the road when preparing—-the long sleeve Columbia shirt that I wear literally every day is a dull forest green. Perfect for blending in with forests, not being seen by cars. About 15 miles in I passed a Family Dollar and ran in, hoping for anything neon-bright. I was happy to even have OPTIONS—yellow OR pink neon t-shirts! I grabbed the pink one and was on my way, feeling more visible (but also kind of hurting my eyes when I looked at my shirt).
The ride down to Abiquiu was mostly downhill, through first some forests with cliffs and canyons in the background, then right through beautiful red and striped canyon walls. I hit some rain for an hour or so, but stopped at Echo Amphitheater to wait it out (and check out the awesome rock formations).
I got into Abiquiu in pretty good time (not hard when you’re used to tons of climbing on rough gravel roads).
Arriving though, I started feeling some feelings. The biggest feeling? Done. The second biggest? Dread for the coming 3-4 days. I wrote a few days ago about starting to feel finished with this trip. Not even necessarily in a bad way—I’m still even having a good time, but I’m just feeling ready to finish. Ready to be home and relax for a few days before school starts. And NOT feeling super into 4 more days of desert highway riding, being scared to death my rear wheel is going to fail and sitting crooked to avoid my awful saddle sore. Not into the daily monsoon downpours and never knowing when there won’t be any cover. Besides the saddle sore, my body/legs are doing great, but my brain is done. So, I made a decision: tomorrow, instead of heading to Cuba and then onto Grants, I’m riding south to Santa Fe, where I’ll fly home 2 days later. It cuts 2-3 days of riding, and 2 days spent in Albuquerque off my trip, getting me home almost 4 days early. I called and changed my flight, and booked a hostel in Santa Fe. After making this decision it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders—some regrets, maybe…….talking to Arthur about it, he said, “well, you’re a finisher”. And I don’t like quitting things, but honestly it’s 3 days of riding and 200-odd miles. I’ve already gone over 2000. I’ll survive. I’ll just have to come back and finish the New Mexico portion another time.
After making this Momentous Decision, I headed out to the riverside retreat that hosts cyclists. The lady who ran it was kinda kooky, but sweet. The spot was beautiful, with a tepee, adobe house, a sauna, a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen and shower, and camping spots. I had planned on camping (my LAST NIGHT), but when a huge storm began rolling in, the woman offered me a shed to sleep in. I was super thankful not to be sleeping in a wet tent. Again. The shed was kind of a storage area/kids’ playroom, but it had a roof, electric, and enough space for me to lay out my sleeping pad. I’m not picky.