There was some trepidation about today’s ride. At the end, there would be a climb three times as long with three times the elevation gain of the hardest climb we’d done so far. What if we had headwind for that, too?
We left our themed rooms at Corona Motel. I had the Jungle Room, Connie and Dave had the Alien Room. ET was in a phone booth outside calling home.
It turned out that the Corral Cafe, the only breakfast place in town, didn’t open until 10, so I made do with corn nuts while Dave suffered a convenience store breakfast burrito to start the day’s nutrition.
We’d barely left Corona when a huge hill loomed ahead of us. Prepared to grind it out, we found that a tailwind was pushing us up it. Were we seriously being blessed with a tailwind after two solid days of headwind?
On one uphill, I coasted at 25 mph in my next to highest gear, one I rarely use on even the steepest downhills at home. On one downhill, I sped at nearly 40 mph. For stability at that speed, I squeezed my top tube with my knees, a technique some guys showed me a few years ago.
For nearly 50 miles, we had tailwind, downhills, and spacious vistas – dessert.
The dreaded climb began when we made our turn out of Carrizozo after lunch. A steep initial pitch carried us across a bridge over railroad tracks and that’s when we realized the wind would dare us to go forward. I tried aerobars. We tried drafting. We stopped every mile or so. A fire helicopter working the Three Rivers Forest Fire south of us was a momentary distraction. I kept giving Dave the countdown of how far we had to go. With about a mile left, we risked being pushed by the wind back down a steep pitch so we elected to walk a couple of hundred feet. When the pitch or the wind relented just enough, we got back on our bikes and ground out that first pedal stroke. I chose the tiniest of goals like the next crack in the road to see that I was making progress. This mountain pass was dinner, (maybe Brussel sprouts), after dessert.
Connie met our beat up selves at Indian Divide at the top of the climb. She enticed me toward the town of Capitan with a report of a veggie pizza available at Che Palle. Our server admitted with embarrassment that she knew the translation of the restaurant’s name from Italian.
As we coasted down from the divide, the snow coated Capitan Mountains appeared on our left.
Capitan is the town where the real Smokey the Bear was rescued after being orphaned in a nearby forest fire. He spent most of the 26 years of his life in the National Zoo in Washington DC, but he was sent home to Capitan to be buried.
Start: Corona NM
Destination: Capitan NM
Distance: 66.4 miles
Elevation gain: 2694 feet
© 2021 Lynnea C Salvo