After our 11 hour day yesterday we knew we had a shortish mileage day but a big climb day. We did not know how our legs would feel after the battling headwinds. The forecast was for increasing wind during the day with strong gusts – not against us but a strong side gust can be very tricky – so we knew if we were going to set off we needed to do it early. There was very little to keep us in Lordsburg, which was just an extended pit stop from the Interstate, so we had determined to get to Silver City somehow, even if we had to hitch a lift.
So it was that the alarm dragged us out of sleep at 6am. While I was brewing our morning coffee on our campstove outside our motel room I couldn’t work out why it was still pitch black. It should have been dawn. I checked my phone again – no, we had the right time. I checked that we hadn’t crossed another time zone – we hadn’t. However the clock had changed to summertime and gone forward an hour – 2 weeks before it does in the UK! We packed up but it meant we had time for a second brew while we waited for it to get light enough to leave!
I had also had a tumble yesterday. With the strong headwind David was brilliant at leading – I was only a few centimeters from his back wheel so he had to keep a very steady pace and I had to concentrate hard on matching my leg rhythm to his and spent hours looking at his back wheel. I got so excited when I saw the turn to Lordsburg ahead that my concentration wavered momentarily and I hit his back pannier and tumbled over. No harm done other than to pride, although I did feel very wobbly for the last few miles to the motel. When we got there it transpired it wasn’t me who was wobbly but my back pannier, as I had damaged one of the clips and it was hanging on by one clip rather than two. Luckily we have extra straps for just such an eventuality and David had my pannier firmly strapped to the rack before we set off.
The other thing we have learnt it that the desert is very cold at night in March, even more so at 4000ft. We set off wrapped up in all our layers, thick gloves, overshoes, buffs under our helmets. As the bike computer temperature adjusted to the outside air the figures started to tumble, down to 21F or minus 6C! It felt sharp but as the air is so dry it didn’t feel too bad and as the sun appeared over the mountain it soon started to warm up. We also started climbing almost immediately which helped stop our hands freezing to the handlebars!
The yellow morning light was gorgeous as we started to gradually climb out of the flat plain we were on the day before. As we gained height the vegetation began to change – greener, more diverse, even some trees. Our legs felt surprisingly good after our previous long days – we must be getting a lot fitter.
As with most sports, how you feel is mostly in the head. We were pushing harder and going slower than when we were in the headwind yesterday but it felt so much easier. For a start your whole body was not being buffeted by the wind and the scenery was constantly changing. With a long climb you get a feel of making progress, which really helps you keep going.
We topped out at about 6335 ft at the ‘continental divide’. After that the area was more populated with scattered dwellings – and was mostly down hill. That’s the other thing that keeps you going on a climb – the prospect of a glorious descent on the other side!
A few more ups and downs, legs now definitely tiring. A stiff climb up past the Tyrone Mine (the 3rd largest open cast copper mine in the world) but we rolled into Silver City just after 1pm. Here we were going to have a rest day – and our early start extended this to a day and a half.
Silver City was badged as a quirky, cultural town and the downtown area was very quaint. Built on silver mining, this folded by the end of the 19th century and mining now is for copper, as it was at Gobe. We checked out the Palace Hotel – a building dating from about the 1880s so pretty old for the US. The garrulous owner showed us a number of rooms to choose from – we chose the one where the window did not need to be propped open with a block of wood! The whole place had some character, a change after our budget motels.
It was blissful to rest for the afternoon and then stroll round the town. Everything was shut (Sunday) but every second shop seemed to be an art gallery of some sort. We will check them out tomorrow but will have to resist buying!
We were hungry so we checked out the Little Toad Creek Brewery across the road from the hotel. At 5.30 it was heaving – we forget that they eat so early in the US. It was a good thing we did go then as soon after they were turning people away as they had been so busy they had run out of food in the kitchen! We had standard American fare but it was tasty and filled the hole in our stomachs. We reflected on how far we had come in the last 2 weeks cycling and concluded that we still enjoyed it and could still get fit enough without our bodies falling apart. A day off tomorrow will be part of that recuperation.