After an enjoyable day off in the charming town of Cuba, I opted to take the paved alternate into Grants out of respect due to the closure of the reservations because of Covid. The first few miles out Cuba along highway 197 were perfect- the riding was so easy and fast and I hoped that it would be that way for all of the 46.6 miles into Pueblo Pintado/Chaco Wash. The sky was clear, blue, the temperature was a bit cold, but, made for great riding. The wind was non existent and so was the traffic for the most part. I felt so free and light and happy, in fact, I was listening to music and singing along to it; I was in a state of pure bliss. I was riding my bike through beautiful country, the miles came easy and fast and that feeling of being on a bike and everything being just right is something I cannot explain, its like being a little kid again, no worries, just the bike and you, the speed, the air and the road. Awesome!!! Wonderful! Bliss!! I stopped for a short break to eat and drink some water I knew it would be a quick ride judging from how fast I was riding, so I thought 🙂 When I got back on my bike, my nemesis appeared. THE WIND!!! Oh my goodness, the wind had come back to haunt me and rip away any enjoyment I was having that day. The miles turned into a slog, I was pedaling, but, it seemed as though I wasn’t moving, the force of the wind against my bike and my body zapped my energy. At one point I got off my bike because I was so exhausted from fighting the headwind, walking my bike was more efficient. The mental struggle along with the physical struggle of fighting a strong headwind on a bike is something I really hated. It was so frustrating, exhausting and made me feel so defeated. I had started the day in such an up beat mood and the wind just destroyed that. It made miles so hard, so miserable. There is no respite from the wind out there, you can’t run away from it unless of course you go inside. There I was my bike and I being pushed back each time I attempted to go forward. The wind throbbing against my face and ears started to give me a headache and I was pissed. I won’t lie, I hate wind!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As the afternoon began, I knew the final miles of the day were going to test everything I had and I was tempted to stop a car and ask for a ride. But I didn’t. I would ride for awhile and when the wind pulled me off my bike, I would walk my bike, this dance went on for a few hours until I could finally see Chaco Wash off to my right. Chaco Wash is a laundry mat on the border of the reservation that has a small convenient store and allows bikers to camp on the property. I made it. I rode up to the front door, laid my bike down and went inside. I had to get out of the wind. I was about to lose my mind. I had a few snacks and talked to the employees to get the down low on where I was allowed to pitch my tent. The manager told me to setup up camp near the old box car and that at 9pm the gates closed and would lock me inside the property until 7 am the next day. He explained to me the gates are a necessity to prevent exposure from the reservation and the known wild and dangerous happenings that sometimes occur. I spent the rest of the afternoon inside the laundry mat, talking to people, charging my phone, writing and occasionally going outside to check the status of the wind and say hi and love on my rez dog friends.
Watching the day come to an end I noticed the vibe at the Chaco Wash change, it became quieter, people started going home but it had un indescribable tone to it. Something I still can’t put my finger on. I waited until the wind let up to setup my tent. I bought a pizza at the store for dinner and stayed inside until close. It was cold, I crawled inside my sleeping bag and laid under the stars. I thought about so much that night. I was starting to feel a tad sacred, being locked inside this gate at this place and I started to freak myself out with my thoughts. Around 10 pm the caretaker, came over to my tent. We started talking and eventually went inside his trailer to continue our conversation because it was so cold outside. It was nice to have company and friendly conversation, but, I was tired and knew that I needed to sleep. After an hour, I went back to my tent to try and get some sleep. I didn’t sleep well that night, in fact, I barely slept, maybe 30 mins total. I couldn’t calm my mind enough to actually sleep. Around 630 am I got out of my bag, packed up and went over to the store for a morning hot chocolate and to wait for the gate to open. I was so wiped. My eyes were heavy, my head was foggy and my body was not up for riding the 68 miles into Grants. But, you know me and my stubbornness, I got on my bike and headed out of the gate and towards Grants.