After packing up my bike and filling up on water I left the campsite. I wish I could have said goodbye and thanked the hunters again, but, they were long gone and I needed to get going. I had 57 miles to ride. I remember getting on my bike and feeling a sense of strength and pride that morning. I felt proud I had made it that far a, I felt strong because I had overcome so many obstacles both emotionally and physically to get to that point. I felt excited to see my friend, Hallie, in Cuba and somehow just knowing I was going to see someone I knew gave me an immense amount of peace. Of relief. It gets lonely out there, it’s hard to be alone while embarking on something like the Great Divide, it’s hard to face what’s in the innermost corners of your mind and heart, it’s hard to look grief in the face and not allow it to consume you. Being in your own head is both extremely difficult and beautiful. It’s a roller coaster. It’s dark and light and messy. But what a wonderful chance it was for me to be able to walk through my own mind while being among so much beauty, challenge and adventure on the Divide. The riding was pretty easy that day, though the section descending Polvadera Mesa on FR 144 had rocks as big as microwaves and the going was pretty darn slow and rough. I had to walk my bike down parts of it because it was so rocky and I was positive I was going to get a flat. Oh man the rocks!! The damn rocks! Ugh! There was many turns that day, definitely had to pay attention so I didn’t take the wrong road. Right, left, stay straight, left, right again- lots of small ups and downs and winding sections. Once I rode onto FR 70 I could see the rim of Valle Grande Caldera and in the distance mountains rose into the sky. It was a beautiful and refreshing view after being in the trees and on rocky terrain for most of the day. I continued on FR 70 past some campsites and trailheads and eventually turned onto highway 126. Pavement was very welcoming after that section. I was happy to be able to ride fast and on smooth terrain for a bit. As I rode downhill on the pavement and out of Santa Fe National Forest I became super excited to get into Cuba and eat some good Mexican food. I was always hungry and always excited to eat 🙂 in fact, many nights, I laid in my tent and had food fantasies. As I pasted a few houses I had a dog run out and chase me, he almost bit me and it scared me to death. It’s hard to defend yourself while riding a bike especially on the side of a highway. But both the dog and I were okay, finally the dog ran back home.
I continued on highway 126 and then finally turned onto highway 550 into CUBA. I rode straight to McDonald’s and rode my bike through the drive thru. After I ate my chicken nuggets, I rode a mile out of town to Juicy Jitters, my friends place, we spent some time laughing and talking. We reminisced about the our days thru hiking the Arizona Trail and the friends we had made along that trail. What wonderful memories those were. As it got dark I returned to town and got a motel room and then rode my bike to the nearby Mexican restaurant and had another meal topped off with a pint of ice cream 🙂 yes, the amount of food I consumed out there was disgusting 🙂 but it was necessary! I slept very well that night and took the next day off to spend more time with my friend, to write and to just enjoy the part of the adventure off my bike. The divide wasn’t just about the time I spent on my bike, the adventure also included the time I spent off my bike in the small communities along the route. Those times are just as important to my story on the divide as the time on my bike was.