Lava land

October 12, 2012 at 8:45 am

Two turns to three as we were ready to leave Abiquiu and sample some of those sandy New Mexican roads. Things looked good, the monsoonal rains were gone and the roads were probably dried out properly. I had renewed energy and looked forward to see what New Mexico had to offer… (click “Read More”)…

Back on route…

An anvil-shaped cloud. Looked pretty ominous to me.

The road undulated up-and-down, being very sandy in patches. I was able to cope fairly well with that, however, because of my fat tires. I also think the weight distribution on the bike matters a lot. Ben and I had a definite advantage over Mat, whose weight is almost entirely on the back of the bike. Still, there was a lot of tire-skidding going on.

There were some pushers, too. Nasty!

So far, New Mexico was just steep hill after steep hill, with very rocky and/or sandy roads, too. It was hard riding, much different from Colorado. But for the first time it felt properly “exotic”.For instance, the landscape was dotted with volcanic plugs.

Another view of the volcanic plug. I forgot the name of that peak, unfortunately.

I was riding in front, when suddenly Mat shouted from behind: “Maarten, look out to your left!!” I checked, and just one meter away, there it was: rattlesnake! It reared its head, made the characteristic loud rattling noise, tongue flicking back and forth… man that snake was pissed off! I veered to the right and got off my bike at a safe distance. Did I just have a brush with death? It hadn’t really sunk in, it happened all so fast.

Snake!

A tense moment. So now instead of being bearanoid, I had to be snake-a-noid as well. It was just crossing the road. Snakes aren’t out for people, but you have to stay away from them. After the encounter, it merely continued getting across the road. Wow.

The trail now was a mixture of slabs of ancient, solidified lava and sand. Three meters of stone, three meters of sand, bumps, ruts, stone again, sand, and so forth. It made for a highly technical and entertaining ride. We were so busy with picking our trail that we didn’t notice we were going up all the time.

Lava and sand.

Gatorade break.

Weathertop, New Mexico.

We camped at a Weathertop-like fire ring in the wilderness and had a big campfire. There is nothing like sitting around a fire, looking at the stars, sharing stories… the best nights out were those in no-name, no-service campsites. It was all very peaceful. We imagined what it would have been like for the American Natives. To call a place like that home. Gazing up, past the treebark, towards the billions of stars. Seeing the Milky Way… New Mexico truly is the “Land of Enchantment”.

The roads remained in bad shape. The country remained pristine. The rides remained awesome.

Tough riding on this one.

Crazy descent. We had to get off the bike many times.

And then we rode into Cuba and checked into the Frontier’s Hotel. It was time for another Girl’s Night Out, having bathtub-sized Margarita’s at El Bruno’s restaurant, one of the finest places we’d visited. New Mexico was proving itself to be a hard, but beautiful state to ride (and eat!!) in.

No playing in ditch, but feel free to drop your Cadillac in it.

 

Day 53 (September 29th): Abiquiu Inn, Abiquiu – Weathertop-like campsite, nowhere
Riding time: 4:00:13
Distance: 35,94 km (yes, tough going)
Amount climbed: 1178 m

Day 54 (September 30th): Weathertop-like campsite – Frontier’s Hotel, Cuba
Riding time: 5:56:47
Distance: 91,09 km
Amount climbed: 1242 m