You can do one of two things! Spend some time viewing 30 great new photos from today and yesterday or read this blog. We’d prefer if you did both, but we’d understand if you only had time to do one or the other …not!
Today was supposed to be a rest day and it started off being just that; waking up at 9:30am in this lovely log cabin made even more lovely by the great hospitality of Doug and Ian, who manage/own the Lake Roberts Cabins, problem was something strange happened! Instead of pointing ourselves like automatons in the direction of the nearest Laundromat, our adventurous sides kicked in and we started getting dressed in our cycling gear. We soon found ourselves on Trusty and Steed moving along at a great rate of knots and hearing echoes of our Followers sympathetic voices screaming, “You guys are crazy, get back into bed and rest your tired little bodies”. Contrary to popular belief we were not crazy, but had decided to do the touristy thing today and visit the historical points of interest in and around the Gila Wilderness (the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the Gila Hot Springs). With Trusty and Steed free from their 60lbs handicap of rear panniers, we struggled to contain their twitchy performance as they sped along the tarmac like true thoroughbreds… all sounds great doesn’t it?
If your definition of ‘great’ is being pushed to the edge of near breakdown, quickly followed by experiences of pure ecstasy, you would have enjoyed our day today. With only 44 miles to complete on the round trip to the cliffs/springs and back again we thought today would be a breeze; and fresh from completing yesterday’s mammoth climb to a dizzy height of 8,227ft (just 656ft lower than the famous Col de la Bonette completed by a handful of Tour de France riders on bikes that weigh no more than 10lbs) we needed a ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ day! Unfortunately we didn’t check the elevation charts before leaving and after an over-rambunctious start, we soon began climbing up, up, up and up all the way to 7,500ft. As we crested the brow of the mountain pass we had only travelled and 10 miles and still had another 12 miles to go to our turn-around point, which was made worse by the super-fast long descent that stretched all the way (concentrate people…you can see what’s coming). The views were great and very brief as we tucked up into the foetus position to reduce drag and manage to reach a terminal velocity of …48.8mph, not even Miss Daisy drives that fast. We could have gone quicker if it wasn’t for the scary 1000ft drop-offs that greeted you at the end of each switch-back or the wild deer standing at the side of the road daring each other to jump out in front of you to test your reaction times.
Passing by the Hot Springs (to be visited on the way back) we eventually reached the Gila Cliff Dwellings, parked Trusty and Steed at the foot of the cliff and then walked the 1-mile trail up to the dwellings to take some arty shots. In essence, they’re caves hewn into the sheer rock and were inhabited by Indians 700 years ago. Making our way back down, we then mounted the bikes and set off on the return journey via the Hot Springs. On the way we encountered a wolf and managed to get a photo. It was a close call, as wolves in the area have been known to attack humans. Nonetheless, for your viewing pleasure we risked our lives to get the photo (check out the photo gallery - TMG hope you’re happy now).
With arms and legs still attached, we reached the hot springs, got semi-naked and jumped in. There’s something strangely rejuvenating about sitting in water heated by Mother Earth rather than Con Edison or British Gas. Despite the natural smell of sulphur (that’s what Anthony told Kat) it was very relaxing. We only spent 15 minutes in the bath that never goes cold and were soon back on the road …you guessed it going up, up, up and up to 7,500ft again. Once at the top the return descent was a little less ‘Chris Hoy’ as it was dark and ice was forming on the road. Speaking masochistically, today was utterly fantastic, despite clocking in a record breaking hill climb total of 4,582ft.
The sun set as we arrived back at the Log Cabin. Another roaring fire was lit and we ate Chez Katrina, which was very nice indeed!
Still no laundry …starting to smell now.