FINAL Day 37: Silver City to Antelope Wells, 123.7 miles, 2,842 feet
I started riding from Silver City at 4:40am, with 4L of water and all 4 lights going. The first 18 miles on the paved road went fast, with a wide shoulder and little traffic. Morning’s first light started to emerge after I turned onto a dirt/sand road through a yucca desert, watching the sun bending around the horizon to peek through the mountains in the distance to the north.
The road was a little sandy at the beginning, but transitioned into hard packed dirt which allowed me to move quickly on a long gradual descent to I10 following a divide crossing. I texted Anna on my progress, hoping to calculate a time to connect at the border crossing without too much waiting for her and the kids.
I was relieved to reach the highway around 8am, with much distance behind me and smooth surfaces only ahead. The route continued along the frontage road before turning south toward Hachita and the end of the route (65 miles left – couldn’t tell whether that felt like a lot or a little!).
I soon passed the final Continental Divide crossing, only known by the sign along the road. On the way south to Hachita, the wind started to pick up from the west. I took a break a nice little shop in Hachita, 45 miles now to go.
From this point, the sidewinds became very strong and the riding monotonous and mentally draining. The Big Hatchet State Game Refugee loomed ahead on the left, something to look at and show some sort of reference to progress. Occasionally border control trucks would fly past me, but not much else.
I set goals for each 10 mile segment and pushed on as the winds became stronger and stronger. With 15 miles to go, Anna passed with the car and offered a cold gatorade, and I decided to lighten my bike and ditch my frame bag, helping a bit with the sidewinds for the final push. Thankfully the road took a slight bend to the east for the last few miles, giving me a boost until I could see the border two miles away! Finally, arrival!
At 123 miles, it was the longest day of the trip and the earliest start and arrival time for a ride fo that length. Thankfully the first half went fast, and I managed to average around 14mph for the day. I think the wind kept me around 10-11mph for the last 45 miles.
Antelope Wells isn’t really more than a border crossing, and a very relaxed one in that. Some of the border staff came out and offered me and Silas an ice cream cone and a bottle of water, and we posed for photos near the US/Mexico sign, hard to believe the route was done and it was time to go home. We were all excited to have arrived, sad to think of the trip coming to an end, but looking forward to getting back to Virginia.
We packed up the car, changed and headed east to El Paso (via Columbus, an alternate ending due east of Hachita). At one point in the day I considered switching to end there with a huge tailwind, but was happy to head farther south to the traditional route end. For people without a vehicle to pick them up, it’s basically the option of paying for an expensive shuttle from the border. Not an ideal place to end in that regard, but Antelope Wells sure does feel like the end of the road. It did cross my mind that there’s the option of only another 55 miles to Janos, Mexico…