Days 56-60: Wave the Checkered Flags

Listen - Days 56-60: Wave the Checkered Flags

We made it!

And I don’t just mean me and Apollo. I mean everyone. You, me, even Spunk.

I powered through big hills and unforgiving terrain and you powered through my stream-of-conscious writing. Hard work was done all the way around and everyone deserves a good pat on the back.

Without further ado, let’s not get hung up on meaningful metaphors or existential reflection. Let’s wrap this sucker up and get us all to the finish line.

Days 56 - 58: Silver City

Here’s what I know about Silver City: it was in the movie Rat Race and there’s a locker somewhere in the town that has millions of dollars in it. That’s about the furthest my Silver City knowledge extends to.

But, I figured if it’s big enough to be featured in a Hollywood film, there has to be things to do there.

To be clear, there are things to do — just not when it rains. And, it rained all day, every day while I was there. Needless to say, my options were limited.

So, I got Apollo fixed up at the local bike shop, went back to college and visited Western New Mexico University, bowled a not-so-impressive score at Silver City Lanes, and ate a steak dinner paid for by my Cousin Jason (thanks, Jason!).

After seeing pretty much every inch of the city over the course of three days, I was ready to set back out and complete the final leg of the trip. The cooked food, warm bed, and constant roof over my head were certainly a tease and it made setting up the tent the next night just that much more difficult. In the end, I would miss my tent, just not setting it up, drying it out, and breaking it down.

Day 59 - The Bike Ranch

Leaving Silver City, I took a left turn onto the last dirt road I would ride on this trail. It was a 30-mile stretch of downhill, well-maintained dirt that made for a cruising ending to this off-road saga.

As I approached Hachita, the last town before the border, I met another rider, Bruce, who was also nearing the end of his Great Divide journey. We spent the last 15 miles of the day swapping trail stories and congratulating each other on a job nearly well done.Hachita - New Mexico - Great Divide

As you might be guessing based on previous posts, this is the part where we take an expected, unexpected turn. Never a dull moment, Apollo got a flat in his front tire just one mile away from my last campsite. I actually laughed hysterically at this moment as it felt like the trail was giving me one more curveball on my way out the door.

Grateful for Bruce’s help, we temporarily patched the tire and made the final push to the Hachita Bike Ranch just before sundown.

The Bike Ranch is a small hostel hosted by Jeffrey Sharpe, a trail angel and Tour Divide race enthusiast. Jeffrey coordinates transportation and lodging for riders and hikers finishing their trips and supplies folks on the trail with water and resources on a daily basis. He also cooks a mean hot dog, onions, and peppers, and has a large cat named Cheddar. Needless to say, Jeffrey is the man around these parts.

Staying the night with Bruce and a few other riders, I set my tent up for the last time. I will definitely miss sleeping under the stars but I’ll be happy to wake up without lying in a puddle of water for a change.

Day 60 - Well, this is it.

The last ride was 45 miles of flat road. Not to complain, but it really is an anti-climatic ending to such a rigorous journey. You would think with all the hills that you climb you would end it with the “mother of all hills” or something. Again, not complaining but wanted to set the right expectations for you loyal readers.

The real prize at the end of this trip was that I was one of the few lucky riders with a ride out of Antelope Wells. My faithful support team (Mom, Dad, and older brother, Austin) were coming out to meet me at the border. It’s been months since I had seen them, and I was excited for the ride home — I mean, to see them in person.

As I approached the last two miles, I slowed to a stop on the road. Looking back, I could see a small silver dot on the horizon slowly coming toward me. Since I hadn’t seen a car for over an hour, I figured this had to be my ride. As it drew near, I could make out the smiles of my Mom and Dad sitting in the front seat. I still had two more miles to go, but I could have stopped there for an hour to catch up. Resisting a hug from Mom, I pushed forward to the final mile as they drove ahead.

Antelope Wells is a hilarious finish line. Not only is there nothing there except for a sign and a wall, but the crossing closes at 4, so when I arrived, I parked my bike at a locked gate — the furthest south that I could go (legally).Great DIvide finish - antelope wells

Now, I could finally embrace my support team because the journey was officially (slash unofficially, remember I still owe 75 miles) over. Apollo and I successfully traveled from Canada to Mexico via 2700 miles of riding. It was long, difficult, and a journey I would not soon forget. We had a lot of fun, made some very amusing mistakes, and did our best to take every adventure in stride as it came.

While I still got you here (before the epilogue, of course) I would like to thank a few folks in particular for their support throughout this entire process. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all of the help you provided before, during, and after this trip. Definitely couldn’t have done this without my “support team” keeping me going and making sure I got to Antelope Wells in one piece. Thank you, Sammi, for your endless support at home and the kick in the pants I needed in Butte. Thank you Austin and Trent, my brothers, for your constant backup and making the time to come visit me on this trip. These moments were huge in getting me going and keeping me motivated on the trail.

I would also like to thank everyone who reached out with positive messages. They did not go unheard and they were like a fuel shot injected directly into my legs. Lastly, thank you (yes, you!) to the readers who followed along and donated to Shelter Ugolyok. I hope my writing didn’t put you to sleep and if it did, at least you can sleep peacefully knowing you contributed something positive to the world — good job by you!

And that’s it! Keep an eye out for one more post as we complete the NH alternate, but I thank you again for all of the support throughout it all.

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