Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Good Samaritan

From the title of this blog, you will probably already guess the outcome of today’s ride. But let us tell you our story.

We squinted out of the window this morning, blinking into the light, to find snow falling. Although we were looking for any excuse to turn over and go back to sleep again in our cosy little cabin, a cursory glance at the ground outside and the presence of the sun in the sky made this rather difficult to justify. The snow was light, and was not settling on the ground. So, up we jumped, flicked on the coffee machine, scrambled a few eggs, and got ourselves decked out in our cold weather gear. Schweet…

As we set off, we were actually thinking that we might have overdone it with the cold weather gear, as the sun was in the sky, and it was quite warm. We had a short, but hilly ride ahead: 29 miles, climbing (again) to 7,500 ft on the way, and then descending steeply through the historic village of Pinos Altos, and into the cute little town of Silver City, NM.

We took our new approach to the climb…slow and steady wins the race. We figured that we would need to take it easy on the descent as well, but had images of ourselves arriving early into Silver City, and possibly taking a detour to sit in one of the many coffee shops in town, or even perhaps an excursion to the Santa Rita Open Copper Mine, around 10 miles down the road from our hotel. But unfortunately, the weather was not playing ball. When we reached around 6,000ft, the snow started to fall, increasing rapidly to that point when the wet-weather gear just had to make an appearance. By the time we had donned the gear, the snow had indeed started to thin out again (typical, we thought), but of course, that was only the start.

By the time we reached 6,500 ft, we were a little concerned to see that, although still relatively light, the snow had started to settle on the road. There were very few cars passing, so little chance of it being dissipated before we rode through it. But, hey, we could just take our time, and it would be fine. Perhaps the copper mine was out, but surely our afternoon lattes were still safe?

At 7,000ft, things started to get a bit more serious. The snow was no longer just settling, but was at least an inch thick; and it was now coming down thick and fast, with a bitter wind-chill to compound the issue. We ploughed on, taking our time, and being cautious, but actually marvelling at the fact that we could cycle through the snow and make our own tracks as we rode along. And of course the trees and plants around us looked magical all covered in white, together with that stillness that only a snowstorm can bring.

Between 7,000 ft and 7,500 ft, along the top of the mountain, we seemed to be taking part in our own slow-motion version of that event in the Winter Olympics when skiers race against each other all at the same time over large humps of snow, up and down, up and down. The snow was several inches thick, and it started to get difficult to control the bikes. With breaking about as effective as your granny gums clamped on an ice-lolly, we were reliant on finding the thickest snow on the road to act as a natural brake, of course without falling off the side of the road, which we couldn’t really see. And when ascending the jack-rabbit hills, we had to work really hard to push through the snow, and if we had a little wobble at any point and had to stop, it was pretty hard to get started again.

As we started the descent from the top of the mountain, things started to go from bad to worse. The snow was even thicker but had started to pack down in a way that broke away in blocks from the wheels of the bikes and made it almost impossible to stay upright. After we had both taken a tumble, we decided enough was enough, and started to walk. We knew we only had around 3 miles to go to get into Pinos Altos, and to be honest, we were as quick walking as we were riding, and at least it was slightly warmer and a little safer.

By that point numerous cars, trucks etc had gone past us in the opposite direction, almost always too fast, and none stopped to ask if we were OK. And then Bob and Susie came past in their Jeep. They looked really concerned about us, told us to keep going to the museum in Pinos Altos and that they would go back to Bob’s place, get his pick-up and then drive us down to Silver City.

The last mile or so into Pinos Altos seemed like the longest of our lives but we eventually made it, and were more relieved that we can possibly express to be in the warm standing in front of the wood burner in the museum shop, and chatting to George, who runs the museum, and his dog, Sally (a 16 year old rat terrier, and cute as a button). We couldn’t believe that we were still shivering after 30 minutes of being inside, and it started to dawn on us how cold we had been outside.

And then Bob and Susie, our Good Samaritans arrived, gave us a big hug, packed us inside in the back seats of Bob’s Ford F-250 pick up, and Trusty and Steed and the panniers right in the back. We’re still not sure that we were really with it during that 7-mile drive down to our hotel in Silver City, but we cannot find words to describe how grateful we are to them for saving us.

To emphasise their selflessness, we should also mention that Bob is the owner of some cabins in Pinos Altos, which look absolutely lovely (we have checked them out online tonight). Yet, without a second thought, he picked us up, drove past his cabins, and dropped us off at our hotel in Silver City. What a good man.

So, you see, our adventure today was really very similar to the story of the Good Samaritan, and we feel lucky to be here to tell the tale!

Us x


  1. What an incredible day that needs a comment. How kind of Bob and Susie to take pity on you and we know you will have shown them your heartfelt gratitude as indeed do we. Thought the last few blogs have been exemplary - keep up the good writing - a quality read every morning!!

  2. Well I have been wondering how you made out getting to Silver City! Now I know.

    After doing that same section of road, before the new snow, and waking up in Sliver City on Sun morning & driving home through all the unplowed snow over Emory Pass (about 4 + inches of unplowed snow up there on Sun morning) I was curious how the two of you would make out.

    Anyway, glad to read it all worked out. Ha, sometimes big pickup trucks and their owners are nice.

    Anyway, Welcome to the real western US, snow & sun get all mixed up with wind and elevation, pretty much all year round. It’s great fun with the right attitude and gear, enjoy!

    PS: If you haven’t already found it, Sliver City has a fun little artsy section of town just off Collage Ave