Heating up and heading up to the Horizon

Fort Davis – Van Horn – Fort Hancock – San Elizario – Radium Springs – Truth or Consequences – Hillsboro – Silver City – Duncan

Edwards with the lovely James

Another long post!  With perhaps a paucity of photos….check out facebook for something of an epic photo album, there’s too much good stuff to fit in here! Anyway….

Some cyclists have to cycle every inch of their journey, that is a rule and it’s a great thing. Here at team letsgoanddofunstuff though we’re operating more on guidelines, and so it was with much enthusiasm we accepted a lift from our new friend James out of the depths of South West Texas, along the Rio Grande River Road to Presidio and out to Fort Davis.  James and his partner Charlie are rebuilding a lovely home in the town and we stayed the night, ate great burgers, and saw the mysterious Marfa lights.  The next morning James dropped us close to the McDonald observatory for a great downhill towards Varn Horn, which is essentially a huge truck stop.  So it has a kind of American charm. We had some big, straight, fast roads over the next few days, sometimes on interstate and sometimes on Frontage Roads, which are kind of access roads alongside the highways, with zero traffic.  Neat, as they say.  We ride through several ranges of mountains and the plains in betweeen, often 20-30 miles wide. Stopping for a night in Fort Hancock we bumped into an ACA ground coming the other way, well-kitted out and supplied with a support vehicle too – and coffee, obs. It was great to meet this large group and Matt did his best to impress them with his Schnozzle.

From Fort Hancock we hit San Elizario just before El Paso, and stayed with the wonderful host David, who’s turned his backyard into a cycling Mecca.  We also met Tracey, riding for Veteran charities, and the Lorenzo Sandoval.  Lorenzo’s son was killed in Iraq in 2006, and since then he has devoted much time to fundraising to provide educational scholarships.  It was great to meet such a friendly family, doing what they could to make something positive from their horrific loss.

Bit of a celebration of Tracey’s journey, with David, the Sandoval family and friends

After a stressful ride through El Paso and a motel night literally across the street from New Mexico, it was time to change states.  We’d been in Texas about a month so were feeling nearly like locals, however, we were leaving Texas in high spirits and high (head) winds. We weren’t worried that we wouldn’t like New Mexico, we were just worried we wouldn’t like it as much as Texas…!

Stepping up to the challenge (unknowingly!) enter: Monty and Mims in Truth or Consequences. Now, you know Edwards and I are slightly spontaneous in nature and so yes, we decided to venture off the Southern Tier just to go somewhere because it had a cool name. We did then do a bit of research (check out @whileoutriding on insta) and found that it was previously named Hot Springs, yep, because of it’s hot springs. SOLD. We were due a day off anyway.

We rolled into TorC after a lovely long day in the saddle – through the chilli growing capital of Hatch – and an overnighter at Leasburg Dam state park where we had the primitive camp and a big old starry sky to ourselves (of course the obligatory train line was 20 metres away but I’m sure we’d miss that now). After meeting M&M and the dogs we settled in for dinner and a chat and a promise from Monty to take us to the locals’ spa the next morning :-).

Aaaaaaannnnndddd relaaaaaaax.

The rest of the day consisted of a bit of sightseeing, a shop, a dog walk, making ourselves useful in the garden/on the computer and relaxing. M&M’s house was beautiful and backed straight on to the Rio Grande so was v peaceful. A lovely lovely place and lovely lovely people!

Mims, Huey (dog), Monty and Matt on the reservoir trails, Elephant Butte

Back on the bikes after a day off is always hard and we’d convinced ourselves that it was going to be a bit of a slog uphill all the way to Hillsboro but were pleasantly surprised, or maybe well rested! And so arrived in Hillsboro pretty refreshed but certainly looking forward to the wine and cheese bar that we’d heard about from a few cyclists we’d met along the way – said wine and cheese place was actually the only thing open in Hillsboro, it being a Thursday and all… so we also thought we were in for a quiet time of it. Nope! It’s so hot in the afternoons (we’re in the desert!) that we’re having to wait for it to cool down before we can put the tent up and so a welcome distraction came along in the form of Billie and Cliff who stopped for a chat when they saw our bikes and invited us to their house.

What a couple of amazing loons! They were very sweet, maybe having had many a mind-altering experience back in the day, they’re now well into their 80’s and still enjoying life and the funny little people passing through. I don’t think any of us knew where conversation was heading at any point and it was often punctuated by the growling, snarling, darling chihuahua on Billie’s lap and so the direction changed many, many times. After an agreement from us to return once we’d put the tent up and checked out the wine place, and from them to clear the kitchen table, we promised to get our tarot cards read.

When the only place open in ‘town’ (Hillsboro population: 70) is the wine bar it seems like the logical place to head. There we met a few fabulous locals and tourists and so a few glasses, tips and giggles later headed back to Billie and Cliff’s. Love them. Conversation carried on much as it had but eventually Matt had his cards read (a squirrel, swan and mountain lion in case you’re wondering) as I was left fending off the tiny, terrifying dog and Billie’s dazzling smile.

Back at the tent we found a couple of beers left by the lovely Right Rev. Jeff from the wine bar and trailer a few doors up, Edwards set to cooking whilst I got chatting to the lovely Kristen (vintage trailer collector/park owner/teacher) who insisted I try out her hot tub, YES! Warmed through and food in hand we then headed to Jeff’s trailer where we found out more about him and what brings him to ‘town’ (ex-marine, poet, Tennessee escapee) and put the world to rights, over a few more beers obvs.

The cafe/store opens on a Friday and we’d made a few promises to meet people for breakfast and so the chatter went on and offers of lifts over ‘the big heel’ (Emory Pass, 8,228ft) were declined. We eventually set off on our merry way, shaking our heads in disbelief at such a funny, unexpected, not-so-quiet little place. See, just scratch the surface and who knows what’s beneath!

Emory Pass was actually glorious. Don’t tell Edwards I said that. It was a looooong hot climb but never too hot or too climb-y. And we got a loooooong cool descent through the forest as a reward. We were ready for the campsite at San Lorenzo though, and the clean towels they gave us on reception – they really liked cyclists!

Zoe hooning down the wooded, canyon road from Emory Pass to San Lorenzo, NM

A v hilly day from SL to Silver City was in store and we rocked up at the Bike Haus looking eager and non-threatening (and probably sweaty) in the hope that we could stay. It’s actually just Jamie’s house which he’s generously opened up to passing cyclists (I don’t think he’s even that picky!) in need of some floor space. He was an interesting chap — we’re finding everyone in the US has many sides/talents — he’s a biologist, rebel trail-maker, puppet-designer/maker, bike-racer with a great smile and enthusiasm to match.

We left pretty early the next morning as we knew we had a long day to Duncan with no water/food available for nearly 80 miles. It was a goodie though, all the climbing in the morning and the second half was an easy, pretty downhill. Unfortunately it being Easter Sunday there wasn’t much open (again!) so we made dinner from our purchases at the gas station and set up camp in the park straight after the Easter egg hunt was declared over (the kids did a good job, Edwards only found one…).

And on to Safford. But that’s another day, another story…



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