Silver City, NM to Caballo, NM
6800 ft of climbing
I can't believe I forgot to mention we crossed the Continental Divide Monday on our way to Silver City. Yahoo!!
We woke this morning to weather predictions of 25-30 MPH winds gusting to 50. It was however supposed to be coming out of the Southwest and that would have it at our backs most of the day. It was much cooler, by almost twenty degrees, this morning and the sky was brilliantly clear and blue.
Today's ride was some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever ridden through.
It began by heading East to Santa Rita. Santa Rita used to be a mining town but now it is just a huge open pit copper mine one mile across and sixteen hundred feet deep. The town was razed in the fifties so they could mine under it. It is an awesome sight. We stopped for pictures and headed down the road.
The stretch between Silver City and San Lorenzo (about eight miles East of Santa Rita) is special for me. It is a route Deidre and I rode when we came to Faywood Hot Springs with Chris's parents, Thom and Gitti. Deidre rode with me today, like every day, but with a little extra magic today.
Chris and I stopped again a couple of miles further down when nature called and we came across a bar all by itself in the trees. It appeared the proprietor lived on the property and when Chris tried the door to find it locked a women in the yard of the house came over and said they were closed but asked what we needed. Chris asked if he could use the restroom and she put down what she was doing and said she'd be around in a minute.
While Chris used the facilities I sat at the bar with the woman and we talked. It was a really lovely place and I told her so. I asked if she had a cold Coke (two birds with one stone-sugar and caffeine). She said she had a cool Coke and got up and got me a can. Chris joined us and she got him a Sprite. We talked about the weather where we had come from. She told us about what she had heard about weather in the direction we were heading. When we told her we were aiming for Hatch, she said, "you'll probably be fine to Caballo Lake but then you'll turn South for the last twenty miles and the wind will get you". She couldn't have been more right. We got up to go and I asked what we owed her. She said, "the information you gave me was all the payment I needed". What a very nice and tuned in lady she was.
We knew we were in the mountains the first forty five miles of the day and in my experience you usually enjoy some protection from the wind in the mountains. Today provided another example of my limited experience. Even though I enjoy riding in the mountains, one of my favorites being the ride to Santa Fe Ski Basin (3200 ft or so of climbing in 13 miles from 7000 to 10200 ft), when I thought about it today on the bike I realized I don't ride high mountain passes. Today was Emory Pass at 8228'.
The wind was howling and I think it must accelerate through the passes. I am sure a couple of the gusts were close to 70 MPH. It was kind of exciting and wild actually. Incredible scenery but because the wind was so unpredictable in the canyon as we climbed, the technical aspect of the ride required all of our attention. We present a pretty big aspect to the wind from all sides with the panniers.
After Emory Pass came a three thousand foot descent in seventeen miles. Don't tell our moms but we hit fifty on the way down. After seventeen miles more fun and exhilarating than any ride at Six Flags we arrived in a lovely little town called Hillsboro. We stepped inside a quaint and comfortable general store and soda fountain. The lady working the front told us they closed in ten minutes but they would be happy to cook us whatever we would like. We had a great lunch in a wonderful atmosphere and watered up before we hit the road again.
Next came another sixteen miles and eight hundred feet of descent. This stretch was much more exposed and the wind was coming from four o'clock or so and it was blowing every bit the forecasted thirty miles per hour and the gusts were every bit of fifty miles per hour.
We got to Caballo and the road turned directly into the wind. With El Paso about one hundred miles down the road, and a gradual descent all the way, we opted for discretion and checked in at the local campsite general store to find they had a cabin available. Just what I'd hoped.
Wind permitting, tomorrow El Paso.
If anyone reading this finds themselves in this part of the country looking for something to do, I highly recommend a drive between Caballo Lake and Silver City.
More to come.