March 19 - 23: New Mexico

3/19 - Buckhorn (81 miles 689 total)
81 mi from the days inn in safford, AZ, to the southwest christian camp in buckhorn, NM
the word was that this was one of the most challenging days of the tour; end-of-day estimates on feet of climb ranged from over 4000 ft to somewhere over 5000. we were glad, however, that the day dawned less windy & without rain. in fact, we could see the moon setting in the west.
the scenery today was breathtaking. early we rode along hwy 191 on some rollers that gave us a little practice at the climbs that were to come. here's marilyn boger at the end of a long gentle climb. we went up & over what seemed like a pass, then did a long downhill thru a construction zone, which meant sharing the road with lots of heavy trucks.
at mi 33 we'd reached the flatlands again; this was the beautiful vista we enjoyed. many of us gathered at this point, including the subaru & van with luggage trailer. before the van left, it had quite a few bikes on top of it. several chose not to do the 2nd & more arduous pass of the day....needle's eye pass, 6,295 elevation (i think i had that number wrong yesterday).
we turned here onto state highway 78 & began what our route sheets called a "gradual climb." as my friend dick harrison would say, HA! sure, the beginning of the climb was somewhat gradual, but soon we were into a series of switchbacks that took us up & over the pass.
here's a photo downward & backward from near the pass. (that little cow horn that you see in many photos is on my bike handlebars; my maiden name is holsteen (spelled slightly different than the cow's name). i like to get a biker--or at least a bike part--in most photos.)
(michelle told us at the map meeting last evening that SR 78 had no shoulders, but she pointed out that it also has no traffic, since no one but us would probably be going to buckhorn. indeed buckhorn is a very small post office, a general store constructed of rough-hewn logs, & a few houses scattered here & there....some with corrals of horses nearby.)
once past the pass at about mi 47, we rode thru the apache national forest & past some campgrounds. it was sunnier earlier, but now it was windy & cold. you can see that they'd had snow recently.
at mi 53 we came upon the new mexico welcome sign, then kept pedalling downward, ending up on 20 miles worth of rollers that finally brought us to the Southwest Christian Camp where we'd spend the night.
here's the camp after the womantours invasion; one of the 2 bunkhouses is there behind becky, & the kitchen/dining hall is the building in the background.
the womantours luggage trailer there on the right had a flat tire today. michelle & catherine had to drive in to silver city this afternoon & get the tire fixed, then they put it back on the trailer.
here's a photo taken a little later in the bunkroom where i slept. in front is carolyn, then from left are sandy (who's fighting a nasty bronchial/sinus malady), mary from boston, becky, marilyn boger, kathy grubb, bev, anne, & jane. (notice how well the reflective strips on our bikewear work!)
we had been told that there would be no heat in the bunkrooms, but there was some sort of heater, so we were plenty warm all night. & most had brought sleeping bags.
the camp director made a delicious dinner for us, then we turned in very early; lights were out in my bunkroom before 8. we were very happy to look forward to a 38-mi day tomorrow.
PS: you'll notice there aren't many photos taken later in the day, & that photos taken during the day don't have other riders in them. that's because i ended up riding most of the day by myself. at about mi 35 i started experiencing gastrointestinal events (GIEs--my own term) that brought me into an acquaintanceship with the backs of many of the bushes along the eastern edge of arizona & the western edge of new mexico. these recurring GIE's sapped the energy out of my lungs & legs, so i ended up walking 2-3 miles of the distance up to the needle's eye pass. then, because of the cold & winds & my own depleted condition, i just stayed on my bike & rode 'til i got to the camp. once there, i realized how disoriented i was.
fortunately, we have 5 nurses & 2 physicians in our group, so medical advice is always available. following directions, i ate a serving of rice & a crescent roll for dinner (& was sorry to miss the delicious dinner everyone else enjoyed....except jane, who was also under the weather). sandy advised me to drink some gatorade; she said the GIE's had probably wreaked havoc with my electrolytes. i didn't go to the map meeting, but straight to bed. as luck would have it, this was the night our bathroom facilities were in another building, so i enjoyed the lovely quiet countryside & full moon on 4-5 trips to the shower house during the night.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request. Stay tuned....

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