The STCR crew got on the road in Safford just as the sun was cracking the horizon this morning. We had a tough 114 mile ride with an estimated 9,332 feet of vertical climbing ahead of us and knew it would be a long day. We all made it up the first pass of 1,800 vertical feet and at the bottom of a very steep descent found ourselves at a crossroad called Three Way at mile 33. This is where the best laid plans diverged!
Allen and I were out in front a ways and took a left for 5 miles before realizing we should have gone straight. As we turned around to correct our mistake Allen flew away on the downhill run before Bob realized he had a flat. By the time Allen hitched a pickup ride back up the hill with our new friend Travis, Bob had the flat fixed and threw his bike on the pickup too. Travis took us back to the route to save us time in what was becoming a race against the sun. It wasn’t until later in our climb that we met our driver Joe on the road and found out the other four riders had taken a right at Three Way. They were trying to avoid the steep climbs by going around the mountain range. They have a whole story of there own to share, which Roger has promised to post.
So now Allen and I knew we were out there riding on our own. Lucky for us, Joe stayed on the road and supported us several times as there were no towns or services on our route. For about 14 miles we climbed 5-6% grade switchbacks with some 8.5-9% thrown in for good measure. We crossed into New Mexico with 60 miles on the Garmins and 60 miles to go to reach Silver City, NM. Sunset would be at 7:20pm and it was 2:15 pm. We had just over 5 hours to ride 60 miles up and over the Continental Divide. It was going to be tight. With 29 miles to go, we refilled water bottles and sent Joe to rescue the other four riders on their route. Silver City is at about 5,600 ft and it seemed like we rarely quit climbing to get there. But get there we did. With taillights and headlights flashing we got to the motel at 7:50pm just as the rest of the crew were piling out of the van and unloading the trailer. We ended up with 120 miles and 8,890 feet of vertical climbing. Allen says it was harder than any of the five Triple Bypass rides he has done.
Everyone was so beat, that we just ordered Pizza Hut pizza delivered for supper. — Bob
. Today’s elevation chart
Here is Roger’s update:
The other four of us (Phil, Ron, Brian & Roger), made a right at Three Way, as Bob has mentioned. We had stopped at a little, primitive convenience store to get some energy & fluids for the next pass. A couple locals said it was like “Everest” and suggested an alternative route around the mountain. We looked at the maps, looked at each other, looked at the mountain we were supposed to climb and decided to go around it. We considered two factors in our decision- time & distance. It was going to be 15 or so miles farther going around and due to time, we knew we’d be lucky to get to Silver City, our next overnight, before dark.
We pedaled through Duncan, Az,, and found we still had 75 miles to go at 11:30 am. We soldiered on in to New Mexico. A fifteen mile long 1-3% grade and a steadily growing headwind made our modified route difficult. As the afternoon wore on, we made steady progress on the sunny and warm afternoon. With time our main concern, a new obstacle emerged – having enough tubes to keep Ron going. Ron must have run over a thorn bush because he had not one but four flats in a matter of about 150 feet. He ran Phil and I out of spare tubes. Of, course our patient compadre, Brian, had kept riding thinking Phil & I could get Ron going again.
Long story,short- we had our driver, Joe, pick us up in Lordsville, we picked Brian up on the way to Silver City.
Joe, our driver, had an exciting day, too. He was in New Mexico twice and Arizona twice and crossed the Continental Divide four times while giving us excellent support. –Roger