USA: Del Norte to Cuba

Staying at the cyclist-only places marked on our map has become something we look forward to, particularly since Del Norte. Our 2nd day (1st full day) in Del Norte left us mostly sorted from a bike point of view and feeling very warm and fuzzy inside from sheer human kindness and company.

We had most of the day rock climbing with Christina and Nat at the Penitente Canyon near town. I managed to lead a 5.9, a 5.10a and a 5.10c (about F6b or 19 in other languages). Maybe bike touring weight loss is a good thing!

A happy climbing pair (photo Nat)

That evening Gary and Patti invited a few people over for a ‘bring a plate’ meal and our cups flowed over. What an amazing night – much warmth and fuzziness all round. Meanwhile I’d cleaned and overhauled the bikes, discovering a crack in my rear wheel in the process, Gary had tried manfully to find Sarah a better saddle and bike-fit and we’d ordered a few parts and spares that we would need further south to pick up in Grants.

The next few days took us from southern Colorado with conifers and autumnal aspen to New Mexico with cacti and mesa-land (pretty much overnight). We also got some snow and the dreaded Caliche (mud so sticky that it stops your wheels turning and makes you feel you’re walking on stilts of sold mud). Despite this, the ‘mud day’ took us through some of our favourite country of the trip.

Colorado autumn colours - Horca from the road to La Manga pass
melting snow and climbing hills
Caliche - 3km in 3 hours with much cursing

After a night camped on the river-bank at Abiquiu we head up (and up, and up and even further up) on the route to Cuba (a town, not the country). This gave us some of the most technically sustained up-hill we’ve done. We also thanked our lucky stars it wasn’t wet as the dreaded caliche would strike again. In fact water wasn’t in evidence at all. We had some donations (unprompted) from the elk hunters swarming over the Mesa. It was while bumping along a down-hill that Sarah’s trailer link-pin sheared and all came to a grinding halt. Just as we were puzzling how to jury rig this one, some hunters who’d only 20 minutes before stopped and spontaneously given us water and taken our trash turned up. Ron, Nate and Phil then proceeded to take us and our bike down into Cuba, wait while we got a new rod (and a spare) fixed up and then drop us off at our over-night camp spot in the hills short of Cuba. Kindness and relaxed generosity helped us through – and saved us 25km of riding.

Now we’re sorting our route to Grants – we have a choice between two to Grants and also pondering an off-road route in northern mexico Gary (Del Norte) found for us in the Adventure Cycling Association magazine. This would mean we leave the USA in around 2 weeks.

Our guardian angels

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