Day 13, Post 12: Silver City is 45 miles NE of Lordsburg, NM. It's an attractive historic tourist town and ranching center that sits at the base of the Gila National Forest. The forest's terrain ranges from rugged mountains and deep canyons to mesas and semi-desert. Due to the extremely rugged terrain, the area is largely unspoiled. Lordsburg is at a lower elevation, and on the western side of the Continental Divide, while Silver City sits on the eastern side. Interestingly, parts of the Gila National Forest flow into the Gila River watershed that feeds the small towns and cotton fields of northeastern Arizona. On the other side of the divide (which meanders) it flows east. Maybe in a few days I'll understand better what the uses of the water are on that side of the watershed. Ranching for sure, and to feed the cities and industries of Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences, but I wonder what other agricultural uses it is put to. Did you know that 69% of the world's freshwater is committed to agriculture? Kind of makes one wonder about the "wisdom" of relaxing clean water standards. This is an economic as much as an environmental issue. If we reduce our supplies of usable fresh water, the livelihoods of people in rural areas become threatened.
I didn't sleep so well last night - I seem to be allergic to some kind of pollen that is ubiquitous right now in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico (something is blooming), and taking a benedryl at about 3 am didn't put me back to sleep; quite the contrary. So I was tired when I got out of bed. Well hell, I thought, 45 miles isn't so much. I knew I would be doing a lot of climbing but I didn't plan for the wind. It was coming out of west when I left Lordsburg and as the day progressed moved more to the north. It was strong - probably 20 miles an hour, and it was unrelenting. Mainly the road to Silver City heads northeast, with a few sections going straight east and more heading due north. The land is wide open, and there are few ways to find shelter from the elements, so wind, dust and sun are constant companions. Except for the long uphill climbs (maybe 15 miles straight out of the gate), I was fine heading east with a strong wind to my back. But going north the crosswind was almost unbearable. Many times I was blown off the road. I learned to lean into the wind but when I relaxed - even for a second - the wind would catch me and force me off the road again. Because it was unrelenting it was exhausting. Frankly, this was the hardest day of biking I can ever remember.
Although I am carrying camping equipment and have every intention of camping, I am finding it hard to time out my days so I can with set up camp before I lose light at 6:30 or so in the evening. Also, the combination of intense wind and cold desert nights dampens my enthusiasm. But the biggest factor is that the hotels are so cheap in this section of the south. Right now I'm sitting on a king bed in a warm room with a great shower for which I paid $42.47.
I may have figured out how to send pictures inside these posts. However, if the pics don't come through look for a second email.
Check out my road cycling activity on Garmin Connect.
More to come,