I left Grants around 9 am and headed for El Malpais National Monument. The riding was easy, the miles came almost effortlessly. I was happy for that, seeing as the miles behind me were so challenging and rough. I met a thru hiker hiking the CDT upon my arrival into the National Monument, we chatted for awhile and exchanged old thru hiking stories. I felt as though I was missing that part of my life, missing the slower pace of movement you find while thru hiking. Missing the direct connection from one’s body to the earth. Being on a bike is not the same. The pace is faster, the miles are forgotten easier and you are not directly touching the earth. It is different, neither good or bad, just different. But, I began to miss thru hiking, but, at the same time, I was so proud of myself for doing what I had done on my bike and for overcoming everything I had. We talked about the pie in Pie Town and how life is so wonderful when you are free and footloose. After a short time we said goodbye and I continued on. El Malpais was beautiful, it reminded me of the Canyon world back home, just as some of Northern New Mexico had. The riding remained easy, the perfect amount of wind brushed my face, it was one of the best days on the Divide. Perfect weather, good riding, easy riding. About 40 miles into the day, I took a left onto County rd 41 towards, Pie Town. I had planned on camping that night at Armijo Canyon 4 miles away. The road turned a bit rough, the washboards made the riding a tad irritating. When I got to the turn off of Armijo Canyon it was still early, I took a break to decide what to do and ultimately decided to ride another 28 miles into Pie Town for the night. The riding was pretty straight forward, some bad washboards, a few sections of up and downs, sand, dirt, everything fun for a bike. I passed a ton of ranches and saw very little traffic along the way. One man stopped and gave me some water, I really needed it, so it was a welcomed gesture. As I made the last big left turn towards Pie Town I rode off the road, into the sand and came to a complete stop, right before I gracefully, (not) ate it and fell of my bike. The final four miles into Pie Town were some of the worst washboards I had ever seen. Oh my goodness, they were terrible.
I finally made it into Pie Town about 20 minutes before dark. I stayed the night at the Toaster House, a place that welcomes hikers and bikers and provides showers, places to sleep and good memories for travelers. I met a few hikers there and we shared a night filled with good food, laughs, stories of our adventures and our lives. I appreciated that night so very much, since, I had spent most of the Divide alone, it was great to connect with other like minded people and share in one another’s adventures. I slept well that night. In the morning, we all made the short walk to the restaurant to eat pie. I filled up with pie and a huge breakfast. I struggled with what I should, should I stay the day and take a day off or should I get back on my bike and continue onwards. Around noon, I decided to pack up and head out. I filled up my water bladders, bought one more piece of pie, made sure my phone was charged, said goodbye to my new friends and climbed back onto the saddle of my bike.
I headed out of town on Double Bar Road, the scenery was beautiful, the road was alright, bumpy, dusty and washboarded. The short climbs were not too bad, the temperature was perfect, the riding was mostly enjoyable and I was looking forward to the final handful of days left out there. I was about 12 miles or so from town, I rode over this really bad washboarded section and a few giant bumps. All of a sudden a heard a loud thud, I thought for sure my rear tire had popped. I got off my bike to fix my tire and realized that my rear rack had ripped out of my frame and was now smashed into my tire. There was holes in my steel frame on both sides where the rack had attached. I was stranded in the sand and no way to carry my gear. I was so frustrated and upset. I called my parents crying, worried that I had worked so hard and overcome so much and now my trip was over. How was I going to weld my bike together, fix the rack, how was I ever going to finish the Divide now. My heart sank. I felt defeated. I was hundreds of miles from the nearest bike shop, I was in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. I sat there crying holding my bike in the middle of the road. I did not move my bike. I just cried and I am sure my tears were not all from my bike being broken, but rather from a culmination of everything that happened on the Divide and everything that had lead me to ride the Divide. I sat there, alone, crying, feeling so down and out. After about 45 minutes, a truck drove up and asked if I was okay. I explained what had happened to them, they kindly put my bike in the back of their truck and drove me down the road to their ranch. We deflated the tire and removed the remaining pieces of the rack, then we made a plan to get me back to town where I could hopefully find someone and some place to help me. I called the Toaster House, they had a number for a (trail angel) a man who helped bikers, he agreed to help me and within an hour or so he picked me up from that ranch. I remember sitting in this truck driving away from the Divide, feeling so incredibly sad, like a failure, like I was never returning and my time on the Divide was over. I cannot fully explain that gut wrenching feeling. This kind man drove me into Quemado, New Mexico to a motor welding shop. Jerry at the shop was so helpful and stayed late to weld my rack back onto my bike. I am so grateful for what they both did for me that day. I got a room at the motel across the street and figured out my plan to return to the Divide and finish. In the morning, I returned to the shop to have the welding double checked. Jerry was gone, but, Mike his friend was there and Isaiah, Jerry’s grandson. Mike offered to reweld it to make it a more solid weld. Mike, Isaiah and I went over to Mike’s shop and I watched as my bike was welded yet again. Who would have thought, a small town in the middle of nowhere New Mexico saved the day. After the welding was completed we drove into Pie Town and I treated them to lunch. We said our goodbyes and I headed out yet again to finish the Divide. I remember not wanting to re ride the 12 or so miles I had already done before my bike broke. I put my thumb out and a rancher came along after a short time and drove me back to where I had left the route the prior day. Getting back to that spot was an amazing feeling. All those kind people who had helped me when I needed it the most, all of those strangers who just showed up out of nowhere now permanently in my heart as friends and apart of this wild adventure. I was shown so much love, support, kindness and generosity. So many people were cheering for me and I am grateful for every single person who became part of my story on the Divide. After everything that had happened, I was heading for the Mexican border no matter what now. I knew at that very moment, my dream was really going to become a reality.