The alarm went off, just as it had every morning. My bivy spot had been a less-than-graceful flat spot on the side of the road and I stumbled around on the uneven ground gathering my belonging. As I put everything back in it's place, I had to laugh at my food hoarding tendencies as I felt like I had enough food to get me to Abiquiu, more than a day down the road, even though I had two resupply points in between. To save on the weight I had to carry up, I ate two apple pie pastries for breakfast instead of just one. The nearly 900 calories slid smoothly down my throat and I found myself digging around for something else to eat. I settled on what would become a standard mix in my Gastank: Sourpatch Kids and roasted almonds.
The climbing was steep but the road surface relatively smooth. I found myself fearing a poor road surface far more than a steep incline as the route went on and I took in the giant views of the San Juans, quite possibly the most dramatic mountain range in Colorado. Bluebird sky, golden sunrise light, high alpine riding, my spirits soared. Up through Summitville and the giant mine, I relished the additional climbing that I knew was past the hustle and bustle of machines extracting something from the ground. At the top, I let out a whoop, 'It's all down hill to Platoro from here!'
Except it wasn't. It was the Tour Divide, I should have known better after 2,000 miles, it's never all downhill to where you want to be for breakfast. First the road surface deteriorated into a legitimate jeep road, and then, after crossing the Alamosa River, the road went up. What?! In my 'it's all downhill from here' celebration, I had neglected to keep eating, and now that the road pointed in decidedly the wrong direction, I was out of sugar and out of energy. So I threw a fit. One of many. I sat on the side of the road eating angrily and looking at the cue sheets. 'Climb Stunner Pass'. It was right there all along, I just hadn't read it closely enough. The milage didn't look too terrible and I told myself I couldn't bivy here for the night, it was only 10 in the morning. Still slightly peeved with having to climb, I went up and over the pass, descending a rough road into the RV resort town of Platoro. 'Stupid Platoro, I'm going to spite you and not stop here. I'm going to resupply in Horca 26 miles down the road.' I was clearly in a good state of mind.
Now, I've ridden some miserable roads in my lifetime but I have never had one hurt me as bad as the 26 miles of 'downhill' from Platoro to Horca. Imagine a road surface made of hard clay with some soccerball sized, irregularly shaped boulders mixed in. Top that with a nice mixture of rocks ranging from babyhead sized down to cherry-sized and then make sure washboards stretch from wall to wall. Then tilt the road at a gradient where pedaling creates speeds too high to be able to sit on a saddle, but coasting brings you to a dead stop within five feet. Add some RV's and people driving erratically taking pictures and you have the Platoro descent.
New Mexico border. One state left.
I pulled into the Horca general store beaten and battered. And their restaurant wasn't open. If I'd have known about the outrageous breakfast I could have gotten in Platoro, I would have been even more disappointed, but I made due with some Chef Boyardee Beef something or other, a can of sardines, and some soda. I remember leaving thinking 'That sucked.' Having to climb straight up the steep La Manga pass didn't improve my spirits and I had to laugh at how the Tour Divide really brought out the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. I treated myself to some Sour Patch Kids as I turned off the highway and onto the dirt road leading to the New Mexican border and the famed Bronzi Ridge. Like they seemed to do everyday, the spirits rose as the sun lowered in the sky. 'Top of Bronzi ridge for sunset?' I challenged myself knowing that there was a half mile hike-a-bike up to the ridge which I was dreading, fearful of my ankle acting up again.
Maybe I'm just desensitized to hike-a-bike given that nearly every ride in CeeBee involves some, but I hoofed it up to the ridge wondering what all the fuss was about. And then, as the sun touched the horizon, I stopped to take some pictures, telling the glowing orb, 'Goodnight Sun, I'll see you again in the morning.' I waved to it, knowing I'd see it again in a matter of hours. I rolled along the top of the plateau for a while longer before starting the descent. Again, my lack of light and the sleepies got the best of me and sooner than I had hoped, I found myself pulling my bivy out and setting my alarm so I'd make an appearance long before the sun did.