Day 13: The luckiest number?Posted: October 6, 2007
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Day 13 Pagosa Springs, CO to Taos, New Mexico 141.5 miles
I’m not superstitious, but day number 13 lived up to its reputation as an unlucky day for most of us. Today was to be the longest and toughest day of the trip with expected riding times of 10 hours or longer depending on the weather. We were to pass into New Mexico and go over the continental divide. 60 miles into the ride was a 3000 foot climb over a mountain pass 10,500 feet high. After that, it was all down hill. Simply said but that was not how it occurred.
We all had a great breakfast at Victoria’s Parlor in Pagosa Springs, Colorado in the very early hours of the morning in order to get an early start on the ride. The weather was expected to get nasty in the afternoon and we wanted to get over the big pass before the weather got cold and rainy. By noon, we had our lunch at Chama, New Mexico and visited the Tourist Information Center at mile 46. They had an up to date weather forecast of a large front moving our way toward Taos. Our only chance of finishing today was to beat the front to Taos.
The ride up to the base of the mountain was not all that difficult and the weather looked surprising pleasant. However, after the ascent started, the wind picked up and so did the cloud cover. The farther we went up the hill, the colder, and windier it got. By the time we crested the pass, we knew we were in trouble. A mixture of bad weather, including high winds, rain, sleet, and a long painful climb forced most of the gang into the van for safety reasons. The majority of the van riders could have made it to Taos if it hadn’t been for the bad weather. Luck was not with them that day. Only few riders made it into Taos for the complete 141.5 mile ride braving the cold, rain, sleet, hail, wind, thin air, and long mountain climb. At one point some 30 miles away from Taos we got held up from the rain in Tres Piedras. We had a spectacular view of the valley into Taos and could watch the storm move over the city. And as the weather cleared from the Rio Grande Gorge, spectacular rainbows with the most brilliant colors stood out from the black ominous background. It was an awesome sight.
Tomorrow is a rest day and very well needed. The last three days have been in the mountains and wore us all down. That will give us time to lick our wounds and get ready for another 2 weeks of riding before our next rest day in Nashville, Tennessee.
-Perry Wilbur, XC Rider