I'm sitting at a table in the "Bike Haus" in Silver City NM. It's crazy what can happen when you're open to change and willing to put a little faith in humanity. I was headed to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, about 50 miles north of my intended route, when I met Steve. Well, I met a lot of people that day, including a guy named Kim who was cycling the Continental Divide trail. Hardcore! It just so happened that when I returned from the monument, Steve and another guy named Bo were chatting on the front porch of the only small store in the area.
We all got along well. I really wanted to check out the hot springs I had heard about in Gila, and Bo was a local. He showed Steve and I the location of the hot springs, which was next door to his place. After taking a soak and setting up camp, Bo picked us up at the end of his driveway in his 4x4 campervan. He invited us in for a Santa Fe pale ale, football, and conversation.
The next morning Bo had us over for Breakfast. 5 star! He then gave us a tour of his place, which was beautifully tucked into the woods of the Gila wilderness. Bo shared stories of his involvement in the bike races that are conducted in Gila, and showed us pictures of him manning the motorcycle beside Lance Armstrong. I have to emphasize, Bo is a cyclist and motorcyclist because of an event that I'll talk about a little later.
After leaving Bo's, Steve and I set out to ride the 42 miles out of the valley. There was about 8-9 miles of climbing. It was about 4,000 vertical feet of elevation gain. It was nice having some company from Steve for the push up those hills. He also, being a long time cyclist, helped me out with some pointers relative to biking. It's really fun to zip down the big hills, but you end up missing a lot of the scenery. When you're going 2-4 mph, you can actually catch the views as you go. In our case, the Gila Wilderness and Sappio Valley were exquisite.
About 4:30, and 4 miles away from Pinos Altos, I hear Steve say, "Car Back!," and I heard a motorcycle approaching. The bike passed us, but this wasn't a normal pass. As the red MotoGussi zoomed by, we noticed the driver was standing up on the pegs, hands in the air. A delicate and calculated dance commenced to ensue as the by sped away, progressing to a "feet on the seat, but shaking" move. Watch out Red-Bull athletes.
Steve and I looked at each other and just started laughing in amazement and both thought, "That's gotta be Bo." Sure enough, about 300 feet later, we find Bo with his helmet off, leaning against his precious Italian motorcycle. After some conversation, Bo said, " I'll save us a table at the Buckhorn."
The Buckhorn Saloon, in the town of Pinos Altos, was super cool. There's hardly anything in this town except for a few extremely old buildings. The saloon on the outside was just what you would expect from the early settling days. Stone with white mortar made up the walls, with rough cut, hand hewn lumber making up the deck, hitching post/ handrail, and second story support logs sticking out. Beside the Saloon is the old Opera House.
When you walk in to the Saloon, it's dimly lit. You immediately get an old, burlesque-style, outlaw vibe as your shoes cobble across the worn oiled oak floors. The first thing we looked at was a plaque that was on the wall, between a risque nude painting and a mounted elk, just above the fireplace. It said something along the lines of " for my father, you good for nothin' son of a bitch." I'm not really sure what that was all about, but the petina in the plaques finish told me that this grudge remained from a time long ago.
After some great food and conversation we headed back to Silver City in the dark, lights flashing. We made it the 7.5 miles in record time; 20 minutes. After finding that Steve's warm shower host wasn't home, I rode back another 2 miles to town and approached a small house in town that had bicycles strewn among the yard and fence. It looked a little run down in the dark, but I had heard good things from everyone I talked to about this place, so I muscled up the courage to knock on the door. When I entered, an odd fellow greeted me with a pink trucker hat with a feather sticking straight up on both sides, like that of a great horned owl. He also sported gold-glittered suspenders and continued playing solitaire on the computer with glazed eyes as he welcomed me in.
I was given the tour of the place and shown my simple room. The house has a definite hostel-type vibe. Upstairs, I was shown the puppets. Yes, puppets. Huge ones. Jamie, a resident of the house works with local theater and makes them himself. Interesting. I got to stash my gear in their greenhouse/ bike garage in the back.
I slept great. After having coffee and chillaxing in the morning sunshine, I'm about to go get a shower and get prepped to meet Steve at the local bike Co-op. I think we'll leave for El Paso around noon. Ok I need to get off here and make it happen. Hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures!