This morning we had to have our luggage loaded on the trailer at 7:00am rather than the usual 9:00am. Because of the length of the route, the SAG van had to leave early to drop the trailer at our next hotel and then return to the route to provide support. We got our stuff organized last night and got our bags loaded early. We went ahead and ate breakfast and then hung out in our room for awhile until the temperature warmed up a bit.We hit the road about 9:30am. The route started out with 17 miles of climbing. The climbs weren’t extremely steep but there were a few sections of 7 and 8 percent grades. After 17 miles we were at the top and Chan arrived with the SAG van. We were happy to continue on the route, and on to the lunch stop about 10 more miles mostly downhill. She was on her way to pick up another rider who had gotten lost and was behind us on the route. She talked us into loading our bikes and riding with her to pick up the other rider. She then took us all back up the route and dropped us off at the lunch stop. We ate at a very tiny place called Victor’s Diner and then got back on the route. There was still a significant amount of climbing. It began to cloud up and the sky looked threatening. We were struggling up a particularly hard climb, almost to the top when it started sprinkling and lightening. We decided we’d better call for the SAG van, but had very poor cell phone reception. Deb finally got a call through to Chan and was only able to hear a few words. Chan told us to “take cover” and that she would come pick us up. We decided the top of a hill was a poor place to be and that we’d better descend back down to a small town we’d just passed through. We returned to the town of Las Trampas and stopped at a house that had a covered porch. There were two Hispanic men sitting on the porch and they invited us to take shelter there. They were using a wood rasp to remove dried corn from the cob. They said they stored it and ate it through the winter. They boil it in water and add meat to make a stew. They also had a bunch of small apples on a table that they had picked. They gave us some apples and also had us try some Navajo plums they had picked. The plums were about the size of a small grape and tasted slightly sweeter than a regular plum. The men were friendly and the younger one who had just retired spent a lot of time talking with us. There was a church next door to their house that was built in the 1700’s. He said he’d lived there all his life and had always attended church there. The church was built before they had saw mills and the planks for the floors were all handmade. He said he remembered sitting on a chair during church service and rocking back and forth because the chair legs were on uneven flooring. The rain moved out and the sun came back out. It was quite a bit cooler than before the storm moved through. The SAG van still hadn’t arrived, so after spending about an hour visiting with the men, we decided to start riding again. Of course we had to tackle that stupid hill again that we’d already done once. We managed to get in a few more miles before finally meeting up with Joe and Chan. Right before they picked us up Deb got chased by three dogs that ambushed her out of nowhere. I know this because I heard her scream…..she escaped unscathed. We ended up riding 26 miles and climbed 2,831 feet in elevation. I had a top speed of 37 mph on one of the downhills. Chan had already sagged several people back to the hotel. Most everyone got caught in the rain. We were the last to be picked up along with three other riders. We arrived at the hotel in Espanola about 5:40pm and were supposed to eat dinner together as a group at 6:00. By the time we got our bikes and luggage up to our room we had about 10 minutes to shower and get back downstairs. We were a little late, but made pretty good time. We were staying at the Santa Claran Hotel & Casino, so after dinner we played the slot machines. I lost money, but Deb won over $200 playing penny slots.
Santa Fe/Taos, New Mexico – September 25, 2012