For years I have wanted to make a bike tour out of the quiet backroads and
hidden corners of SW New Mexico where I live. But a whole litany of
excuses, both real and imagined conspired against it—didn’t have the right
bike, too hot, too windy, too little water, not enough time, not in good
enough shape, not safe to go alone, and on and on and on. This year I
became the new owner of a barely used Hunqapillar and resolved to make it
happen. About a month ago I sketched out a rough plan and started putting
touring equipment together. Last Thursday after spending way too much time
agonizing over the final details and packing for my fears instead of my
confidence, I locked the front door and soft pedaled through town headed
south towards the bootheel of New Mexico, destined for the Chiricahua
mountains just over the border in Arizona.
I figured I could do 50 miles per day, with a mix of dirt and
pavement—though I haven't had many rides over 15 miles in the last few
years. More worrying than my ability to go the distance was the
resupply—mostly of water, but also food. Water, like towns, are scarce
out here and I planned to pack enough supplies to ride straight through
each day without needing to count on uncertain water sources (cattle tanks)
or stores that might be out of business or closed for the day. I spent 4
days touring, camping in Forest Service campgrounds or just out in the wide
desert on BLM land.
Pictorial highlights here: Flickr photos
Route info here: Plotaroute <https://www.plotaroute.com/route/298220>
Other than the Chiricahua mountains which are justifiable famous among bird
watchers (Trogons!) and outdoorsy folk, it was wonderfully desolate out
there. Ranch trucks and the Border Patrol were about the only other
travelers on the roads. On one 20 mile stretch of dirt road, I spent
three hours spinning away in the small chainring, climbing in and out of
small drainages without a car passing me, or even having one in sight.
The bike did wonderfully—no mechanical failures or tire punctures. I had
converted the Racing Ralphs to tubeless about a month ago to make sure they
would be reliable. I still didn’t trust them completely and rode pretty
cautiously to prevent failure out in the boonies. The bike came with the
Albatross handlebar, and though I am more used to riding with drops, the
Albas were fine. I definitely missed the lack of *comfortable* hand
positions but they certainly didn’t prevent me from finishing the trip or
having a good time.
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