Saturday May 24 – We arose to temperatures in the low 30s and spitting skies. Riders met in the Safeway parking lot, tossed luggage into a truck, and we were basically ready to go. I took observation of riders’ cold-and-rain clothing, which ranged from full head-body-and-shoe rain gear to poncho and jeans tucked inside knee socks. I wore all of my new purchases, with several layers inside the rain jacket.
The route headed due east on US60, with temps in the low 30s, and skies heavily overcast. Mary Ellen and I made two small climbs to reach the New Mexico border and stopped for a photo there. Winds were steady about 8 mph out of the south or southwest, and gusted occasionally up over 20mph – mostly a crosswind with a small tailwind help, but those gusts pushed us unpredictably sideways at times.
We then completed about 800 feet of good climbing up onto a plateau. We managed to elude the rain, and I found my raincoat warm but a significant vapor barrier to my own sweating. I unzipped the pit and front vents but even then found the jacket “raining” from the inside, dripping constantly from inside the sleeves. Maybe too many inner layers.
We stopped at SAG#1 at the 22 mile mark, topped up on liquids and snacks (the fresh berries were awesome) and continued east. Winds were picking up as we completed another 500 foot climb up to SAG#2 (at the 42 mile mark). A more complete lunch was offered here, including lunch meats, breads, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
Leaving SAG#2, the route descends on a fabulous 8 mile drop into Quemado, NM, losing about 700 feet in the process. Mary Ellen is a very fast downhill rider and bolted away from me easily. I expended more energy on this downhill than I had all day, pedaling full cadence in my highest gear attempting unsuccessfully to catch her.
We found our place, the Allison Motel, and our bags were simply waiting at the check-in for us. Sweet. It is the least amount I’ve spent for a motel room ($43) in a very long time. Clean rooms, satellite TV, and very soft springy beds with good pillows.
We spent the afternoon cleaning up, then cracked open a bottle of cabernet Mary Ellen brought along, and finally started up a good game of cribbage on the deck outside our room. Another rider soon wandered over so we abandoned our game to discuss many interesting details of the copper mining business with a friendly guy named Paul.
Dinner at Quemado High school, prepared and served by the girls volleyball team. A passable lasagne (meat or veg options), salad, and breadsticks, with chocolate or carrot cake for dessert. Large amounts were available so it was all-you-could-eat.
After some obligatory TV, sleep came quickly for us both. I found the soft bed quite comfortable although it required lots of shifting around to keep the spine straight.
Total miles Day 1: 50.1
Total climbing Day 1: 3000 feet