Sunday May 25 – Electing not to use an alarm, Mary Ellen and I awoke about 6:20AM the next morning. Unfortunately, our pre-paid breakfast was 5 – 6:30AM at the high school, nearly a ½ mile walk from the hotel. We dressed in a flash and practically ran there, arriving about 1 minute late, then grinned and pleaded our case for service. I was happy to see cold cereal and milk, my favorite, and downed several bowls. They also served leftover chocolate cake, which Mary Ellen started with, then added 2 pancakes on top of that.
On our walk back we marveled at the calm winds and much warmer temperatures, already in the 50s at 7:30AM, and we looked forward to the day’s ride. After taking a while to pack up, and found ourselves the last two to get out on the course.
The route took us south-southwest out of Quemado on a rarely traveled road. We decided to count the cars passing us in either direction. Once on the road, we immediately noticed the direct headwind, only a few mph. In short order, Mary Ellen started feeling nauseous and slowed her cadence down. Hmm…maybe the chocolate cake. Normally a strong rider, I knew she was in trouble when she said, “I’m not sure I’m going to make it today.” We stopped several times to monitor her condition and Mary Ellen finally decided to try to ride through it. As further distraction, I was finding my lower back and seat surprisingly sore from yesterday’s ride.
Winds picked up quickly as the morning wore on, and we soon found ourselves battling a steady 18-20 mph headwind, and gusts well up over 30. As an insult, the route climbed steadily about 1500 feet in the first 20 miles. In places, we found ourselves grinding uphill in our lowest gear, seemingly clawing through a gale wind. By the time we reached SAG#1, Mary Ellen had mostly recovered from her bad stomach and I was really impressed at her strength in doing this.
Leaving SAG#1, our maps indicated a long slow downhill, but the wind practically negated the riding benefit of it. We stayed in middle gears and pedaled down most of the hills, and especially continued to fight on the flats. Around the 30-mile mark we caught up with 2 riders from Jerome, AZ and the four of us decided to form a mini-paceline into the wind. It provided a very nice benefit, increasing our speed from 13 to 17 mph, and offered individual rests while tucked into the line. We covered a good 5 miles in this fashion until we finally dispersed on a short climb.
SAG#2 came at the 42-mile mark and the food tasted wonderful. We ate and laid out in a grassy yard full of little red bugs that crawled all over us. I was really enjoying meeting all the different riders on this tour, some father-son pairs, a strange myopic guy from Ohio, several multi-year repeat riders of this tour, a goofy lady, some super-veterans of the road, and a handful of older (70+) riders. We especially enjoyed meeting back up with the Jerome couple and talked for a while about cycling, hiking, and diving. While heading out, Mary Ellen and I found an idyllic mountain stream and chatted with a couple of fisherman there.
The final 12 miles took us over a few short climbs and vectored us again directly into the headwind. This last segment was brutal. Winds stayed sustained at 20 mph and the gusts almost stopped us in our tracks. After a seemingly long chug, we finally made a short descent into the town of Reserve, New Mexico and stopped for photos at a beautiful bridge and stream entering the town.
Mary Ellen pointed out very correctly that the loud and constant noise of the wind in your ears fatigues you almost as much as the headwind resistance itself, and we felt pretty good to be through with today’s ride. The scenery along the way had been beautiful but I had not been able to fully enjoy it.
As we checked into the Reserve Rode Inn, we learned that the hotel maids were fighting with each other over who does towels and who does sheets. My eye wandered to a window and I spied a bottle of Fat Tire beer sitting next to a rider on the porch there. My eye fixated on the bottle and I actually could not move my gaze. Cold beer! I need one! Mary Ellen instantly agreed and we hoofed across the street into a general store for Pringles, then further into Uncle Bill’s Bar, which was functioning as a package store on Sunday.
Uncle Bill (or his surrogate) sold us a six-pack of Corona and a lime and offered us an opener, but he was very specific that we could only open them outside on the porch, or else he would face a $1500 fine. We opened two of the bottles outside, handed back the opener, and also sliced up the lime. Just as we tilted the bottles back, Uncle Bill jumped out of the bar and exclaimed, “You can’t drink them here!” Mary Ellen asked, “OK, where can we drink them?” Without answering, Uncle Bill shrugged and generally indicated that his parking lot was sort-of OK, so we took one backward step off the porch and then both took a long swig. Man did that taste good!
Twenty or so riders congregated on the porch in front of the Rode Inn because most of our rooms were not ready yet. It turned into a nice long happy hour as everyone downed beers, laughed, and told stories. Mary Ellen and I talked with one of the super-veteran riders named Bill, and we were fascinated to learn of his cycling tours in Tibet and around the base of the Himalayas.
We eventually entered our room even though it was not ready and each took a much-needed shower, borrowing clean towels from another room. Jim, the assistant ride leader, tried playing a practical joke on Mary Ellen by hiding her coveted Orbea Diva bike, but Mary Ellen saw through that ruse in a flash.
We headed to the Reserve Community Center for a good dinner of pasta with chicken and shrimp alfredo sauce, salad, and strawberry shortcake. There was plenty of talk about today’s wind and tomorrow’s lots-of-climbing ride. I was already worried about my back and saddle soreness and wondered how bad it would be in the morning.
Mary Ellen (an NBA fan) and I watched most of the Lakers-Spurs game before dropping off.
Total miles Day 2: 55.3
Total climbing Day 2: 2000 feet