Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 9 - Hopewell Lake to Questa

Matt really enjoyed his night at the pretty Hopewell Lake campground. After he picked his site, he found out that the campground was fairly crowded, but he had his area almost to himself, which was nice.

It was very cozy under that spruce tree

Matt met up with another touring cyclist from Arizona today. He was an older man who owns some property in Show Low, but for all intents and purposes is homeless at the moment. They talked for a while over lunch, and then Matt headed over the Rio Grande. The lunch maybe went a little long, because an afternoon storm was brewing. Matt sought shelter and waited for about a half an hour before continuing.

After struggling over more brutal rollers (his least favorite kind of cycling terrain, if you haven't picked up on that), Matt finally had the Questa Q in his sights! He stopped off at the market for some beer, of course, and then slogged up one more big hill to Jack's house. Irish Stew was on the menu tonight, but with a green chile New Mexican twist. He'll enjoy some Gleeson hospitality this evening until tomorrow afternoon when he'll hit the road again.

Day 9 – 70 miles, 4:47, 14.2 AVG

A great morning at the mountain meadow campsite. I rolled down hill for a while until the road hit a very large level valley that I had to climb out of. More up than I was expecting. I ran into Neil, a touring cyclist from Tucson, who was resting on the climb with a beer he had just found on the side of the road! Neil was “reinventing” himself after a divorce and was heading to Taos to see what he could stir up.

Neil and his free beer

After the peak it was a long slow downhill all the way to the Rio Grande and the beautiful bridge that spans the deep gorge there. It was a great place for lunch and I had the best view around. Not surprisingly, Neil caught up to me, so we had some lunch together. We watched as a huge cell of storm clouds moved in from the south. I decided to take off and try to get in front of it, while Neil told me he usually pitches his tent and jumps inside at the first sign of rain. I was hoping it would push me right into Questa. Not long after I left I knew this wasn’t going to happen as I pedaled real hard into the fierce headwind it was generating. I tried riding on the narrow sidewalk going across the bridge to take a photo over the edge, but the wind nearly blew me into traffic. It was still scary just standing up against the railing! The storm was looking pretty mean and had started to produce lightning, so I waited it out inside a warehouse along the highway.

My bike likes to pose, Rio Grande Gorge

It doesn't look windy, does it?

I made it up to the junction with Hwy 522, where it looked like a massive downpour had just occurred, and then had a glorious tailwind on my way north. I was making great time until I hit the huge rollers. These were no fun, especially the giant of Garrapata Canyon. I finally rolled into Questa thoroughly destroyed, loaded up a six-pack for the evening and found Jack and Heidi’s place just past the one stoplight in town.

The Gleeson family, Questa, NM

It was a great time meeting Jack’s family, shooting hoops with the Sangre de Cristos as a backdrop and eating a fine Irish/New Mexican stew prepared by Jack.

Spotted Owl - House Finch

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains and a whole bunch of sage brush

Avery is ready for a career in sports!

Today's route:

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