Sept 26  57 miles to Abiquiu, NM (Catholic Church)
It was a wonderful scenic ride from Chama to Abiquiu, NM, right from the picture books, with red and gold sculpted sedimentary rocks and formations.  Yesterday we were in the snow on top of the mountains and today, in the desert. 

We were having a good ride, so pushed all the way to Abiquiu.  We cycled up a steep hill and right into old Mexico.  I felt like I missed the rest of the US.  The buildings were all adobe, in a Spanish style and the roads were dirt.  Right in the middle of town were the library and a Catholic church.  We used the library and while there, checked on motels or campgrounds.  It's feast or famine.  Last night, the motel was $39.  Tonight, $140--Out of our budget.  As we were standing at the library debating what to do at 6 PM, a very nice young woman, Isabelle, came to our rescue and made arrangements with the Catholic Church (I'm sorry I don't know the name-it wasn't on the building) to stay at a small apartment they have there.  What a wonderful thing for her to do and the Priest to allow.  Just one of the many reasons that we enjoy traveling by bike and meeting America.  Thank you Isabelle and the Abiquiu church.  Isabelle also told us that Abiquiu is a Pueblo, built on the site of the original Pueblo of many years ago.  The church is over 100 years old.  I'd like to know more about the history of Abiquiu and the Pueblo, so if anyone from Abiquiu is checking in, please fill me in.  If not, I'll do some research when I get home. 

While in the church apartment that night, I realized my front tire was flat.  After checking, we found a "Texas tack" or "goat head".  It's a little hard thorn with two "horns" like a goat.  We've experienced them before, and they are murder on tires.  I must have picked it up right outside the church, as the dogs also got some in their feet later.  We'll have to be careful when we take our bikes off the pavement.

Sept 27  19 miles to dispersed camping site on Polvadera Mesa
We started an 80 mile trek from Abiquiu to Cuba on dirt roads.  There is a 26 mile climb up to about 10, 200 feet to start and then more miles of bouncing up and down.  This should be our last major climb over 8000 ft.  It was slow going.  I started the day with another flat- this time we found a slit in the tire but don't know what caused it. The road went from bad to worse.  Gravel and loose rocks on a steep climb made it tough.  Halfway, we came up on the Polvadera Mesa.  I'm not sure if a Mesa is a geologic formation or just a road name.  That section flattened out somewhat (I was able to ride as fast as 3 MPH).  It was all hard packed clay, with deep ruts on the edges of the road that I'm sure were made by cars sinking in fast when it was wet.  I'm sure it would be quite un-rideable with any moisture.  But today, we were able to ride high and dry on the middle ridge.  We rode till about 5:30 and just found a spot on the side of the road to camp.  We hadn't seen any vehicles since about noon, and saw none all night.  We did see bear tracks, so made sure we kept our camp clean and hung our food high.  There was no water all day, so we made sure we carried enough for the night and beginning of tomorrow.  Hopefully we can go far enough to get to a stream. The dogs ran most of the day.

Sept 28 27.5 miles to dispersed camping site somewhere along FR315.
Today was similar to yesterday.  We finished climbing the 23 mile hill, then bounced up and down all day until we could go no further and found a camping site in a little meadow.  Early this morning, we found bear tracks within 1/2 mile of where we had camped.  Luckily we had no encounters last night.  Within two miles, we saw three trucks coming towards us-quite a surprise since we hadn't seen another human in so long.  They were NM Fish and wildlife employees, going to do fish surveys.  They were fascinated by our trip, so we talked quite awhile.  They also replenished our water supply, so we don't have to worry about finding water tonight. 

It was interesting seeing the change in vegetation.  We started at about 8000 feet in semi arid, scrub, sagebrush country.  As we rode up, we moved into forests of small, bushy pinyon pine and juniper, with heavy understory.  Later, we came into more stately forests of ponderosa pine, with little understory (but great for hanging bear bags).  Towards 10,000 ft, the landscape opened into wide meadows, covered with thick, green grass that looks like it could have been planted (but wasn't).  These are surrounded by aspen, half green and gold.  Scattered around the meadows are boulders of all sizes and shapes, like a haphazard rock garden, that must have been left by ancient glaciers. Coming down the other side (tomorrow), we saw the same change, until we were back in arid desert country. 

We followed two sets of bike tracks most of the road--at least one with a BOB trailer.  We wondered if it was Spence, who we met before the Great Divide Basin or Matt and Steve, who we met before Breckenridge or the Belgian, who we never met, but heard was a little ahead of us, or maybe someone else.

Sept 29 31 miles to Cuba (motel)
Heard elk bugling last night, also coyotes, which we hear almost every night.  Finished the long haul over the mountains and into civilization again.  More bouncing up and down, till a nice, 5 miles downhill into town.  Just as we got back on pavement, we encountered a traffic jam of a different sort--a cattle drive right down the road.  The cowboys on horses were helped by herding dogs, keeping the cattle on the move.  We teased the dogs, as they were riding in the trailer, that some dogs have to work for a living.