I bought a bus ticket to Albuquerque but got off the bus in Gallup. I want these final four or five days of riding to be the roads home across New Mexico, until I roll down the rough dirt road to my home. This will form a final closure to the trip, and help me return to the pace and consciousness of my home state. The route will be interesting, too. After three days of peaceful rural roads with little traffic, once I reach Grants I’ll be on old Route 66, paralleling I-40, and even riding on its shoulder for some miles where there’s simply no alternative route.
After stocking up on provisions at La Montanita Natural Foods Co-op in Gallup, I headed south on Highway 603. The road passes through a patchwork of state land, Navajo tribal land, and private land. I had that morning called former business partner Mark Drummond, and when I told him where I was he encouraged me to contact his sister Vicky and her husband, as hey live in this area. Knowing how little sleep I had gotten on the bus, I did. I had met them at each of the last three years’ “24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest” bicycle race, so they knew who I was and offered their hospitality.
I climbed about 1,000′ in elevation in the 27 miles I rode yesterday to their home, and 51 miles today. I was surprised when I realized that I hadn’t felt the effects of elevation at all. While I live at 6,600′, I had essentially been at sea level for the last two months. The bus took me from about 1,500′ in Las Vegas to 6,500′ in Gallup, and I climbed from there. I had expected to have lost my acclimation to the higher elevations and to be more easily winded while climbing, but it never occurred.
Tonight I’m camping at a small, fairly primitive (meaning no hookups, no lights, and pit toilets) campground at El Morro National Monument. El Morro means the headlands, and is a location where a deep pool of water has historically been an oasis on a historic east-west travel route across what’s now New Mexico. It had that oasis feel for me, too – on a bicycle, i’m traveling at a similar pace to early travelers before automobiles increased our range. Water is scarce in this country, and distances are greater than along the coast.
I feel so good about being in my home state again. The energy is so different than where I just left. The land is more beautiful, the pace is slower, the people are friendlier.
i rode over the Continental Divide at around 7,890′ and had a lovely long coast past El Malpais and toward Grants, NM, the deadest town I have yet encountered. The next two days will be along the old Route 66 into Albuquerque, where I’ll see my older kids Nathaniel and Emma, both students at UNM. Then one more day from UNM to home.