Skip to content

the great divide

We leave Pie Town and head for the mountains with snow and storms predicted for the next three days.

The road seems innocuous, certainly no rougher than many of the gravel tracks I have followed since I left the coast, but within an hour of leaving I find myself sprawled on the ground, tangled up with my bike,  panniers strewn untidily about after coming around a corner at speed and hitting a patch of deep sand. It takes me a while to pick myself and the bike up and get back in order. The front pannier rack is seriously bent, the front brakes a mess, my left knee grazed and my right leg is clearly going to be black and blue in a day or so. Cass and Jeff are far ahead and there is nothing much to be done but keep going so that is what I do.

The force of my crash bent my front rack quite seriously but nothing a few zip ties can't fix - at least tem

The force of my crash bent my front rack quite seriously but nothing a few zip ties can't fix - at least temporarily.

Bruises - after a few days have passed.

And the other damage - my bruises after a few days have passed. Photo: Jeff Volk.

The rest of the day passes uneventfully enough. We ride until after dark, trying to cover some ground, before setting up camp beside the road. The next morning we wake to showers of freezing rain.

Leaving Pie Town the clouds are heavy. We pass old ranch buildings.

Leaving Pie Town the clouds are heavy. We pass old ranch buildings.

Cass and Jeff study their maps.

Cass and Jeff stop for a photo break.

Before too long the predicted snow arrives.

Before too long the predicted snow arrives.

The first flurry of snow. Our friends in Pie Town told us that we would only get a dusting but this looks like it might get serious.

Storm clouds brewing.

Storm clouds brewing.

There

It's cold out here...

As the sun goes down there are still more storms in store for us.

...and the sky is looking more and more ominous.

The snow is nothing, however – mud is what really slows us down.

Jeff and I have to take our mud guards off. Even so the only option is to push the bikes on the grass parallel to the road.

Jeff and I have to take our mud guards off and even after this procedure, the only option is to push the bikes on the grass parallel to the road. Photo: Jeff Volk

Jeff repairs.

Jeff's chain snaps under the press and so we take a break for mechanical repairs.

Jeff'

My bike starts to disappear under snow.

My brand new drive chain is already taking a beating.

My brand new drive chain is already taking a beating.

Snow, overall, is a surface that allows us to make more progress than the mud.

A snowy road is better than a muddy road.

A snowy road is better than a muddy road.

Anna and Cass cycling over the plain.

Anna and Cass cycling over the plain. Photo: Jeff Volk.

It is very cold and finding a sheltered place for a lunch break is something of a challenge.

Cass trying to find somewhere a little sheltered to take a lunch break.

Cass trying to find somewhere a little sheltered to take a lunch break.

Packing up after lunch to set off again.

Packing up after lunch to set off again.

Cass cycling across the icy plain.

Cass cycling across the icy plain.

It is slow going, though, and we only make about 30 miles before the sun set and we make camp in a small snowy canyon to the side of the road, building a huge fire to warm us and melt snow to supplement our meagre water supplies. Having company changes the experience of an evening out in the wilderness – there is far more potential for campfire philosophising on topics from the sublime to the banal.

Cold but beautiful. Dawn at camp.

Cold but beautiful. Dawn at camp.

Tents in the snow.

Tents in the snow.

I am still excited by snow - despite any discomfort or inconvience it causes.

I am still excited by snow and how beautiful it is - despite any discomfort or inconvenience it causes.

Cycling across the snowly field from our canyon campsite.

Jeff cycling across the snowy field from our canyon campsite.

The next day the road get seriously mountainous. We have three major climbs over mud, snow and ice. Towards the end of the day a man in a pick-up truck passes an hour or two before sunset and warns that a blizzard is heading our way with up to two feet of snow predicted. We try to reach the tarmac but the terrain is difficult and after a few spills in the dark on icy descents with precipitous drops to the side we decide to make camp and leave the matter in the hands of fate. The night is cold but we wake to clear sunny skies. We have a long descent to a tarmac road which leads to the Gila Hot Springs.

Cycling in the forest.

Cycling in the forest. Photo: Jeff Volk

Down the hill.

Down the hill. Photo: Jeff Volk

An alligator juniper. In between the storms the sun shines and the mountains are a beautiful place to be.

An alligator juniper. In between the storms the sun shines and the mountains are a beautiful place to be.

There is no place I'd rather be.

There is no place I'd rather be. Photo: Jeff Volk.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *