Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Silver City NM to Glenwood NM April 11

69.1 miles in 6:58. Today's trip actually dropped about 1200 ft in elevation, but I still climbed 3300 ft, I just descended 4500 ft. This trip is no longer about how many miles I put in a day, but the elevation changes have taken center stage. When riding hills at home, which is about 600 ft above sea level, I can push out of my comfort zone on some uphill s and recover rather quickly. At these elevations, I cannot push out of my comfort zone at all, without serious repercussions. My lungs don't burn like I thought they would, but my quads burn to the point of pain, not just a pleasant burn from exercise, and they don't recover. The pain stays for a while, and I really have to slow down. I'm hoping that acclimatization doesn't take real long, but I think the next few weeks are going to be a matter of survival, not pounding playfully through the hills.
The climb out of Silver City was a great start to the day. Uphill for about three miles, and then across the continental divide.

 As soon as I got over the big mountain (with a side trip to check out Western New Mexico University's track and facilities ), a gradual descent began that was easier riding, but into a headwind. There were lots of rolling hills, but the descent was inevitable, down to the Gila River, which actually had water flowing in it.

Finally!  Water in a river bed!

 I took a six mile side trip to see the town of Gila, and to ride along it for a few miles.

A house in Gila - the "stuff" in the front is driftwood made into animals!

 New Mexico's landscape looks the same as it did in the flats closer to Mexico, only it is now mountainous. There are a few types of trees and cactus, but not much else. I think the hills make the drab landscape look better, however. I knew I was getting close to the river when I could see a green strip of trees about a mile wide. They turned out to be huge cottonwoods and sycamores, and they hid green fields where livestock was grazing. This was a welcome change to the drought conditions we have been seeing for quite a while.
During the entire trip today, I was accompanied by snowcaps on my right, in the Mogollon Mountains. They are huge, and I just couldn't get past them. Mogollon Baldy is 10,778 ft, Whitewater Baldy is 10,900, and Grouse Mountain is 10,135.

Mogollon Mountains

Really glad I'm not going up over these mountains!!

 I did not have to pedal up them, but the further away I got from the Gila River, and the closer I got to them, the climb I was making became painfully apparent, so I just took my time, and pedaled at an effort I could sustain. I must learn the patience that these mountain climbs are going to require. US 180 was becoming worse as I got further away from Silver City. Chip seal (though not as rough as Texas), had me bouncing along, and the shoulders had more and more grass growing out of the numerous cracks.
Suddenly I came to an overlook, and a quick descent into the Gila River Valley again. I hit 37 mph down the hill without pedaling, and once again I was along the river. It was a nice finish into the town of Glenwood, which, despite its desolate location had quite a few nice mom and pop restaurants, motels, and cabins. It turns out that this is about the halfway point for foreign tourists traveling from the Grand Canyon to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Pam had found an RV site right along the road for $18 with full hookups. A free perk to the site, was the mule deer that wandered off the mountain behind us, right onto the site. Also the donkey on the adjacent hillside that could really get your attention with his braying. At dusk, we walked right down the middle of US180, with no traffic, to check out the town a little closer.  Also at the campsite, our Jeep discovered her great grandfather!!!

I also met a bicyclist riding in the opposite direction ( with the wind of course). He was twenty something, from California, and never stopped smiling. He seemed genuinely happy to be traversing the country. His final destination was St. Augustine, just like all the other southern tier adventure cyclists I have met. When I told him I had been to the Keys in Florida, he seemed interested in that, and I wouldn't doubt that he might check them out also.

A common sign now

Wesley on his way to St. Augustine

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