Wednesday, January 16, 2013

P4W2 Day 10 Gila Hills 78 miles Lordsburg-Gila National Forest, NM

Today was a very tough, hilly day going northeast to Silver City, then east over the pass into
the Rio Grande valley. 

When I woke this morning in Lordsburg I realized I had two very different choices.  One
was to ride the truck heavy I-10 due east to Las Cruces - a straight shot with tailwinds.
The other was to take a quieter, more scenic but more hilly route through Silver City and
into the national forest east of it.  And it was hilly  - mostly uphill.  In the morning
I crossed the continental divide, but that certainly did not not signal the end of the hills.
There were two nasty hills east of the continental divide getting into town.

Silver City is a pretty, medium sized town that is driven part by the mining and part by tourism.
I stopped at a nice coffee shop for something hot to drink, never having imagined that
coffee would be a better liquid than cold water after 45 miles of biking.  Today would mark the
third straight day where I never took my hat off, even going uphill.  It was cold
all day long.  All the shops are lined up in the historic street in town, and when I spied a bike shop, I passed a bagpiper enroute.  He was traveling the country and playing for folks.  He must have been cold in that traditional dress!  He played some really rousing tunes.  That kind of activity defined the flare of town.

On the way out of town I stopped at Gila Hike and Bike.  The nice folks there gave the bike a
quick look, and were very friendly.  We talked about everything under the sun.  When I left
I got a photo of an interesting bike outside their shop - not sure if it's been road tested! Perhaps
it was until the steer decided it didn't like bikes...and the two stopped dead in their tracks ever since.

Later in the day I started winding my way up and up into the Gila National Forest on a very very hilly
road towards Emory Pass.  It felt like my 2009 trip when I ascended the flank of Mount Rogers, VA
late in the day.  The traffic just peeled away, and all that seemed left was me, the bike, and a pretty
mountain road.  A herd of mule deer watched me from just above one of the many turns in the road.
I treated myself to stops about every half mile to enjoy the views and catch my breath.

I finally pulled into a national forest campground at dark, with temps seemingly around the donut
(that's Maine speak for 0F!).  Frozen water bottles and frozen biker.  Had I actually pedaled
past strawberry fields a week ago?!  The first order of business when I got into the campground
was to scour the dry creek bed for wood, and start a fire.  That warmed me up immensely.  I had
debated whether to check out the beautiful star show for a while, but the thought of swan-diving
into a sleeping bag rated for -20F turned out to be a better option.

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