I sat on the picnic table overlooking Lake Caballo trying to figure out what to do. It was 3:45 and I had a little more than two hours of light left. I could stay and pay $8 for a primitive site, nothing more than apatch of dirt in a field, or I could move on.
The day started at 4:00 out of fear if high winds and tough going. Instead I found light tail winds and strong legs. A small Mexican cafe provided me with two huge egg and cheese burrito plus a cup of coffee, which combined really fueled the day. I had easily pounded out close to 50 miles already,cranking the pedals and rocking out to the Zac Brown band.
The result of my efforts was good distance but also a tired body. I knew that if I headed out I had close to 20 miles of road and over 1000 ft of elevation to go before reaching Hillsboro. Hillsboro is nestled at the base of the 8,228 ft Emory pass making it a strategic destination. An added benefit was my maps listed it has having a town camp, sweet, a free site in the middle of town. What better place to take a rest day at.
I opted to go for it and it was as painful as I expected. Legs spent, the first series of climbs were slow and agonizing. Rewarded with a long plateau I was unable to capitalize on because my legs would not crank,instead I had to spin, going no more that 7mph. Earlier in the day these same flats yielded 14 - 15 mph speeds without any real effort.
The sun was getting lower and the real elevation gain started. Now I was climbing and climbing with the little voice in my head just saying stop,camp, no rush. I ignore this voice often because it generally just wants to take the easy route.
A quick glance at the clock and i knew i had 30 minutes of daylight and maybe another 30 minutes of dusk and yet more than 4 miles to go. It was not looking good for making it before dark. I found myself cursing the gods for constantly ending each days ride with a head wind and a climb.
Three miles to go and i reached a sort of plateaus with a sharp curve sign ahead. Were the gods listening, was this the end of the climb? I rested a bit, then mustered the energy to move my now lifeless legs. Heavy as they were i pushed forward and rounded the bend. The sun had now dipped below the distant peaks, but there before me lay the valley floor.
Yes, a sweeping, winding road worked its way down the hard earned elevation i had just gained. I smiled, thanked them for listening and pushed off. The air had turned chilly and as i approached speeds of 30 mph i was getting cold, but I did not care as the downhill road covered the remaining 3 miles in a matter of minutes. The only effort on my part was steering and braking, a real necessity on the fast, winding descent.
I arrived at dark to the town of Hillsboro NM and a lovely little town park with restrooms. What a treat those will be in the morning. It was a long day but well worth the effort. Now for a much needed day of rest.
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