The Final Hurdles

After conquering Great Divide Route’s highest point,  Indiana Pass at 11,910 feet, you’d think riders could let out a sigh of relief.  The tough stuff as over.  They’d glide across New Mexico and sail across the Mexcian border with ease.


New Mexico: the toughest section on the GDMBR

Here’s what riders are confronted with on the New Mexico section of the GDMBR:

  • The Divide Ride’s roughest roads complete with bone-jarring surfaces and sandy tracks that slow progress to a snail’s pace.
  • Dry, desert conditions with very limited water sources.
  • Some of the steepest and most brutal climbs of the entire Great Divide Route.
  • Is this the right way? Pretty sure the correct answer is ‘NO’.


Beware–there are goatheads lurking everywhere.


Once we dropped down to lower elevations, things started heating us again. Definitely would not want to ride New Mexico during the height of summer.

Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention the sinister goatheads.  Haven’t heard of them?  Goatheads are sometimes referred to as nature’s tire spikes (another proof that everything from nature is not always nice).  Goatheads are evil, multi-headed prickly plants that litter the route and launch successful attacks on even the most robust tires.  Goatheads are indiscriminate.  Your trusty Therm-a-rest, not to mention the bottom of your tent, are as likely a victim as your poorly shod foot.

If you’re driving through the southwest and come across a distressed cyclist throwing a toddler-sized hissy fit, you can bet he’s been a serial victim of the goathead’s wrath.

Goathead survival techniques

This being our second time biking through the southwest, we were duly armed for goathead combat.  Self-sealing tubes (Slime makes good ones) were our armor of choice.  Prayer is another often-invoked method, although the effectiveness of intervention by higher powers has yet to be scientifically proven.

Now, you’ve never read on this blog any boasts of cycling six months without a flat.  Never happened, probably never will.  The World Biking team is what you’d call puncture prone.

The bane of a cyclist’s existence. (Photo courtesy of Google)

Luck at Last

If there’s one spot along the entire Great Divide route where cyclists congregate, it’s the Toaster House in Pie Town, New Mexico.  Pie Town is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  It’s the last stop before the demanding ride to Silver City and a great spot to rest up from the rigors of the road.  Pie Town’s raison d’être is to provide a pit-stop and pies to weary motorists and hungry cyclists

The Toaster House is a sort of donation-based biker hostel run by a kind-hearted road angel called Nida.  She’s been welcoming riders for decades and has received national honors for her service to the long-distance cycling and hiking communities.

As we lounged on the wide Toaster House porch, our fellow cyclists pumped and cursed and repaired the pin-pricks punctures caused by the wicked goatheads.

pie town collage

cyclists at toaster house
We met these cyclists at the Toaster House and everybody was having trouble with punctures and worn-out tires.Goatheads didn’t get us but that doesn’t mean we were spared. My rim cracked making it impossible to continue all the way directly to Silver City on the rough trails of the GDMBR. We rode and hitched to Las Cruces where we got everything sorted out and had a lovely rest at the home of super Warm Showers hosts Jeff and Liz.

Eric carefully examined our tires.   Surely they, too, were riddled with goatheads.  Because the thing is, goatheads are a silent enemy.   They latch on to your tire and it’s often not until you yank them out that the damage is done.  A pop followed by the hiss of air escaping and then a furious WTF escapes even the most pious and polite cyclist’s lips

But it appeared a miracle had taken place (even without the requisite prayers): our Schwalbe Mondial’s had valiantly fought off the goatheads!

Now, if we could just say the same for our much-loved Thermarests.

Keep your distance.
Keep your distance.  Nature is not always nice.


What, no dirt? The thing about the GDMBR is that there are often official alternative routes outlined in the guidebook. This one, a ribbon of smooth tarmac through Malapais Reserve, was highly scenic.


Also in the Malpais Reserve is one of the absolute best FREE campgrounds ever. Just one significant drawback, NO water.
Just peadaling away trying to knock out the kilometers on the way to Mexico.



Now that we’re back in the desert, we’re treated to spectacular sunsets like this one.


Check out RidewithGps for the full route including free downloadable GPS tracks of the entire Great Divide Mountain Biking Route (GDMBR).

GDMBR New Mexico: Battling Mother Nature

2 thoughts on “GDMBR New Mexico: Battling Mother Nature

  • November 3, 2016 at 10:32 PM

    Great post Amaya – we have encountered the evil goatheads! Our tubeless set up combatting them for now – but not so our friend Anna who has joined us for a couple of weeks…
    Looking forward to the rest of New Mexico.

  • December 30, 2017 at 6:54 PM

    With tubeless tire systems and sealants, goatheads and other sharp things are a problem of the past.


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