U.S. Continental Divide

June 5

We broke camp and drove into Abiquiu to have breakfast and meet up with Susan who had been tied up with a radio broadcast and missed the feast.

Rainey, Susan, Elizabeth and Jonathon Thornton see us off

By coincidence, the manager of the store where we had breakfast (Bode's General Store) had completed the Continental Divide ride the year before on a motorcycle.  He forewarned us of what was to come.  As it turns out, his name is Dennis Liddy, a graduate of Gilmore and has his 50th reunion next year.

We left the Thorntons and headed up into the mountains for what was to be a rather harrowing experience.  It was raining slightly and snowing ever so slightly high in the mountains.  We reached a final altitude of 11,000 feet and traveled several passes over 10,000 feet.  There were three challenges that presented themselves throughout the day.  The first was a deep snow drift covering the road on the most difficult pass.  We had run into small patches of snow along the way that presented no barrier but this time we had to go around.  We ended up riding through Alpine meadows which are not as smooth as they look – they were sprinkled with rocks up to eight inches in diameter.  Thank goodness for skid plates and high clearance.

The second challenge was the mud.  It had been raining along the New Mexico-Colorado border for several days and there were deep mud puddles.  It was very slippery with virtually no traction and most of us found ourselves on the ground several times. Gerry, who has off road experience, explained that finding a path through the mud was crucial and provided a quick seminar on the correct approach.

The third challenge was the rutted roads.  In many places that was only about a foot of area that you needed to keep your tire on – with deep ditches on either side.  The key was not to be timid and to stand up so that you could shift the bike easily. The disadvantage of these big bikes is that they are hard to pick up – the advantage is, if they're going fast enough they can go through almost anything!

We are far behind our set schedule so we decided to detour around the next section to get a wireless connection and a warm bed. When we arrived at the hotel we were all exhausted, covered with black and blues but feeling extremely exhilarated about the terrific ride we had.

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