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When last I wrote, we were weighing the options for how to proceed from Grants, NM to the border. The weather had turned sour and we had genuine concern about the condition of the dirt-road route we had been following up till then. According to Michael McCoy, the author of our guidebook, The Great Divide, the roads in this area, when wet, can get so muddy that riders have been forced to abandon their bicycles mired in the mud.

The solution we worked out was one where we paralleled the mountain bike route on a series of paved roads. We rented a small U-Haul van which Mary drove and I rode my bicycle. To me, it is important that when I say I rode the Great Divide, I don’t have to qualify that statement with “all except the last 300 miles.” Mary says 90% is good enough for her.

The threat of severe thunderstorms was no idle threat. Just before setting out from Grants we watched a deluge from our hotel room which flooded the parking lot several inches deep within fifteen minutes. Water was shooting out the bottom of the gutter downspouts like a water canon. The gutters couldn’t begin to handle all the runoff so the excess was cascading over the gutters as a veritable waterfall while the wind blew the waterfall against our hotel room window like we were in a carwash.

So it was with a certain unease that we left Grants on Monday morning and headed south. All through the day we watched the sky. Distant curtains of rain draping from black clouds could be seen in several directions. Whenever the road steered us into one, Mary would stop the van and I would dive into the cab where I would wait out the downpour. The rain was intense but sporadic. I usually had to wait no more than fifteen minutes before I could hop on my bike and start riding again – often in brilliant sunshine.

This weather pattern has continued through today and will probably be with us tomorrow when I ride the final 35 miles to the border. The TV weather this morning predicted thundershowers with possible tornados for New Mexico. (We haven’t come across any tornados.)

We were grateful to have the van on Monday night as we got some heavy rain:

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Last night we were near Glenwood, NM parked in a campground next to a creek. The rain was coming down hard. Mary and I looked at each other and said “Flash flood?” We decided to move to higher ground. We passed an inconspicuous little sign that read “Los Olmos Cabins.” Not expecting much, we were delighted to find a row of cute little stone cabins. Ours was very small but clean as a whistle and beautifully maintained. Quite a find.

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I have really enjoyed riding these last three days. My bike is so light and responsive without the B.O.B. trailer. I can’t get over how fast I can ride without all that weight! I’ve covered over 250 miles in three days.

I was zooming along approaching Silver City this morning when I felt my back tire squishing around in a squirrelly fashion. Remarkably, neither of us has had a flat tire on this entire ride up to now but this was, indeed, a flat. I had just passed a little service station with a tire shop, coincidentally, so I backtracked there to patch my tire. I have a small tire pump attached to the bike’s frame. When I tried to use it, I discovered that the business end of the pump was missing! It had somehow rattled off somewhere along the trail. All this time, we’ve been riding thinking we had the means to fix a flat tire but we really hadn’t. Without that pump, there is no way to re-inflate the tire. I tried using the station’s compressed air but our tubes have the Presta valve which doesn’t accept the Schraeder valve system used on automobile tires. The guys at the station had never even heard of a Presta valve so they couldn’t help me. Had we been up in the mountains, as we have so often been on this trip, I would have been up the creek without a paddle. As it was, I had only to wait for Mary to notice that I hadn’t arrived at our pre-determined checkpoint; at which time she came back and got me.

I had no option but to accept a ride to Silver City in the van but I felt a little uneasy about “cheating” until Mary pointed out that we had already ridden this part of the ride on 2012 when we did the Southern Tier! Whew!

Now, with this ride “in the bag,” I feel like Lance Armstrong must have felt on the last day of the Tour de France. He had such a big lead over his competitors that his victory was a foregone conclusion. He had only to ride around the Champs Élysées on a victory lap. Tomorrow, my 35 miles to the border will be a mere victory lap.

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