Hachita to Antelope Wells (Our Final Day)
Start 7:20 to 11:56
Weather: Overcast warm to rain to cool
Final odometer with training: 3346.0
We woke up early ready to go. This was our final morning to pack up our sleeping bags. Our final morning to pack our panniers. Our final morning to get into dirty workout clothes, and get on the road. We realized this was our final day, the journey was ending, and we were ready.
The weather was overcast, which was such a blessing. It was actually cool, instead of brutally hot, which was the case the day before. It was right in between warm enough, to slightly cool. The mountains were dominate, which was a pleasant surprise, as we had a beauty to look at as we made our way to the border.
About five miles into the ride I began to cry. The emotion of completing this journey was profound. I tried to hold back the tears, as I had never cried on this trip. Our friend Billy had bet our friends that I would cry early on and he bet against us finishing. But I started to think, screw that, I am going to cry if I want to. My husband had been my rock the entire ride. Encouraging me, motivating me, and supporting me. I pulled over on my bike, to hug him and tell him how much I loved him, and to my surprise, he was crying too. We were is in sync that the emotions of finishing had touched us at the exact time. In his arms I just let all the emotion out, physically crying, telling him how much I loved him, and how I was forever grateful that he encouraged me to take this trip, to clear my work schedule, to dare to finish what is touted the toughest route in North America. When the hugs and tears stopped rolling, we talked about the future, about other trips and other adventures. This was not the end…this was just the beginning.
It was time to get back on the road, and finish what we set out to accomplish: to become Great Divide Ride Finishers. With no hills, the miles ticked off quickly today. We did a mile countdown for each mile as we passed each. That became hard to watch, so we looked for other things, like tarantulas and bunnies and cows. A group of horses decided to run with us and at mile 13 (to go) I took a photo for Michelle and Nate to let them know we were so excited about their engagement. #13 is their lucky number and happens to be my birthday!
Just 10 miles out it started to really rain hard. John decided to tough it out, while I got in my rain gear, as I was cold. We reached the border patrol and decided to bike through to Mexico. It was odd, as there were no cars, and there were really no directions on what to do. The Mexican border patrol asked us where we were going, and we said just a loop. They must have thought we were nuts. As we crossed back into the US – 50 yards from where we were, I asked the American Border Patrol about stamping our passports (which we had carried across the US for seven weeks). He laughed and said that is only for airports. We were welcome to enter the US from Mexico.
There is a covered porch at the US border patrol in Antelope Wells. We took turns changing out of our wet biking clothes, into our one outfit that we had worn for the past 46 days. I found that the emotion of the journey had left me exhausted and I rolled out my sleeping bag and took a nap. We became friends with the dog on the porch and later enjoyed conversation with the head of border patrol, who owned the dog, along with eight others. He brought us a soda and then an ice cream sandwich to celebrate our accomplishment.
Shortly after, John and Tashia arrived. The car was decorated with signs, Tashia had fresh, homemade gazpacho, plenty of ice and Gatorade for us. The three hour van ride to El Paso flew by as we shared stories of our journey. John and Tashia have biked across the country, twice! It was fun to compare stories with them. Our trip brought back fond memories for them. We talked about re-entering normal life, what to say to people, and what data people might want to hear. They explained when people ask, “how was the trip” they don’t want to hear seven weeks of stories. More like, they want to hear some data, and some quick points, like we never got a flat tire, or we traveled 2,800 miles in 46 days of riding!
As we reached El Paso, my first time, it was odd to see Mexico on the other side of the fence that lined the highway. Yep, that was Mexico; standing on Interstate 10, our hotel is on our left and Mexico on our right. We checked into the hotel, and yes, took a warm shower. John was ready to shave his beard off, but that would have to wait until tomorrow when we were back in Denver. It had not sunk in what we had just accomplished, and that we were done. Our bodies were tanned in weird places, fingers, face and calves. Our muscles were sore, and our emotions were tapped out. Being in the woods, and on the trail, for seven weeks was enough time to immerse ourselves in the journey and check out of normal life. We realized this couldn’t go on forever and we would have to slowly check back in.