Day 2 (cont.)
When I left you last, I was at a burrito stand in Cimarron, NM about to head out to the backcountry scout camp at Whiteman Vega. The directions to get there include nearly 30 miles of gravel road as well as “park next to my truck, head down the fence, make sure you shut the gate behind you, and look for the big white yurt.” I’m happy to report that I was able to do all of these things without getting lost.
When I arrived, Eric was there. He showed me where to set my tent up and helped me get a few more things from my car (camp is about a mile from the parking area). I got settled and met the other guys that were staying there- Peter (who reminds me of Kenneth from 30 Rock), Waters, and Casey (a cat 2 roadie/ginger kid). After a little while, I kitted up & headed out to ride the singlespeed on the 3.5 mile loop of singletrack that they’d built. That was fun, but I wanted to get some more miles, so I headed out on the forest road from the direction that I came in on- I figured it’d be a good workout, because it steadily gains elevation as you head towards camp, so it was easier on the way out & harder on the way back.
My legs felt alright- camp is at about 7800 ft elevation, and I think that the heat/humidity acclimatization from Memphis prepared me a bit for the altitude. I ended up with 30 miles for the day.
When I woke up, I felt a little more fatigued than I expected and had a slight headache. Nevertheless, I ate breakfast, had some coffee, and planned my ride for the morning. I asked the guys about where the forest road went if you headed the other way from the paring area. Waters’ eyes got huge as he described to me the horrendous climb that I’d face up Windy Gap if I ventured out that way. Looking at a topo map, it did look pretty tough- from camp, the road pitched up to 9600 ft. in about 9 miles.
I decided I’d head out on the Jet9 so I could use my gears. Turns out, aside from a few steep spots and the absolute length of the climb itself, it wasn’t nearly as hard as the guys had made it sound. Unlike the climbs I’ve seen in the past that seem to go for brevity at the expense of grade, this one was generally mellow. I made it up in 1hr and 8 minutes (including a couple of photo stops). The descent took about 20 minutes, and was a hairy because of some ridges in the ground as well as unpredicably deep gravel in places.
When I arrived back, I was starved. I ate, and while I was sitting at the table, started to feel massively fatigued. So, I headed back to my tent after lunch and napped for about an hour. When I woke up, my headache was gone, and I generally felt a bit better. I ate a snack, and sat around enjoying everyone’s company until we were ready to get out & ride some more.
In the meantime, Waters announced that he was going to go try the Windy Gap climb. I was surprised- he’d been the first to warn me of its difficulty earlier, so it was great to see him get inspired to give it a shot (he ended up making it up about 5 of the 9 miles and vowed to keep after it the remainder of the summer).
Soon after, we got ready to ride again. This time, I rode with Casey. I’m not ashamed to say, between his cat 2 fitness, the altitude, and my earlier ride, he flat kicked my butt. It didn’t help that he set a new PR time for the loop with me chasing after him. The next two loops were slightly slower. It was still a really good, hard hour of training, giving me another 3hoursÃ‚ for the day.
When I woke up this morning, I had all intentions of riding my One9 up Windy Gap. However, after breakfast, I started to feel run down. I’ve also been feeling insatiably hungry all morning. I decided I’d come down here to Cimarron and hit up the Laundromat and Grocery store to give myself a break at slightly lower elevation (6400 ft). I’ll ride this afternoon, though I’m not sure if I’ll take on the 9 mile climb on my singlespeed. It’ll depend on how I’m feeling when I get back.
Of course, I’ve taken some awesome photos of the scenery and wildlife. However, the Mifi signal here is really slow, so you’ll have to wait until Monday or Tuesday for me to get them uploaded. Looks like my laundry is done… time to get back to camp!
Photos! Random scenery…