I didn’t have the energy to write a blog post last night. It may have had to do with either a) getting baked by the sun all day b) a 10-mile time trial effort down 550 to get us to Cuba (the faster we go, the sooner this is over) or c) the giant margarita we had a El Bruno in Cuba.
I’m guessing it was a combination of the three.
The day started warm. There’s nothing better than waking up to a warm morning bikepacking. Not having to stay curled up in a sleeping bag while rolling up sleeping pads, not having to warm hands in pockets while cooking, being able to have a dance party to music coming from the iPad while packing up…yeah, warm mornings are good.
The day started with 9 miles of dirt road along the mesa. The perfect warm up to a day that we’d hoped would be mostly singletrack. The CTD does a lot of road, but unlike the GDMBR, the roads are rough, remote, and definitely require both hands on the bars.
We soon hit trail, with a giant sign welcoming hikers, horsey people, AND mountain bikes! Win. The map had described the section as having trail through the wooded areas and cairns through the open sections. It turned out beautifully for us, swoopy, duffy trail in the trees, straight shots across the meadows.
And then the trail dropped. After spending the morning on the mesa, it was time to go into the lowlands. I was hoping for a smooth, fast loss of elevation…it was…not. I’d say, on average, 50% rideable, with a 30/70 split for Scott and I. A brake burner for sure. At least we lost the elevation quickly?
It was fun, in a challenging sort of way.
We filled up at the Ojo Frio spring. One tank had green water. One had a dead lizard. We went for the dead lizard water. Lunch was had under a tree – tortillas with guacamole, gouda, and salami. I knew it was worth hauling the weight!
We set out for the trail. No bikes. It was a wilderness study area – fair enough. We turned back onto the GDMBR route.
Why this section isn’t included in the race route is beyond me (besides it being impassable when wet), it’s the most beautiful section out there! Crime against humanity!
We veered off our route to check a trail crossing. Still no bikes. Back onto the GDMBR and then onto a shortcut road that would get us to the trail. Next crossing – no sign! Win!
We hopped on the trail, knowing that we’d be crossing the GDMBR again in a quarter mile. Upon spying the road, we saw a truck, hatch open, two women sitting on the tailgate with a cooler between them and a guy standing talking to them.
It was Mother Goose and Swan, and Bob was feeding them while waiting for his son who was also hiking the trail.
“Want some fresh water?”
“Yes! Ours have floaties!”
“How about a sandwich? I have beef brisket and chicken. French fries? Gatoraid?”
Trail magic! Woohooo!
It was cool to meet Mother Goose. A legend of the hiking community, she’s yo-yo’d the Appalachian Trail, hiked the AT 5 times, the PCT twice, the Colorado Trail a couple of times, etc, but this was her first time out on the CDT.
They took off eventually and we filled our bladders with fresh water and ice. ICE! Did I mention it was hot out? We thanked Bob profusely and headed down the trail. Trail magic and trail to ride! Winning at life!
And then over the first hump, the sign we didn’t want to see. No bikes. Wha? No NCA, no wilderness study, just BLM land that they’d closed to bikes. Boo hiss.
And so, GDMBR it would be. Scott was wicked bummed because apparently the trail we were missing was beautiful. I didn’t know what I was missing, but got bored of the long straight roads. But it was ok. We were on bikes. Doing something cool.
We checked each trail crossing, each was signed No Bikes. We resigned ourselves to the 10 mile pedal in on 550, complete with giant semi trucks and traffic. On the plus side, there was a big shoulder and I never felt that scared. I’ve ridden far sketchier roads in my life.
In town, we got a room at the Del Prado, the motel of choice of thru-hikers, The owner was excited to see us, letting us dig through the hiker box (oranges! apples! beer!), taking our picture, and putting us in the handicap accessible room so we’d have more space for bikes. There’s no door to the bathroom, but hey, we all make compromises.
Dinner was spicy. The margarita strong. The bed soft.
We may have gotten to town 24 hours before schedule and missed some cool trail, but hey, that’s all part of traveling, and Scott’s dead set on making a stink with the BLM over the trail closure.
The world needs more people like him.
Today – a route that involves a stop at some hot springs. Living the life of leisure.