The "Peloton" as we referred to ourselves formed in Del Norte, CO when John Fettis, Leighton White, and myself arrived at the Hotel to find Alan Goldsmith, Steve Wilkinson, Blaine Nestor, Cannon Shockley, and Eric Lobeck. We were as surprised to see them as they were surprised to see us. The next morning the Organic Peddler opened their doors at 5:30 to feed us an incredible breakfast before the 4,000 foot climb up Indiana Pass. We rolled out together stringing out and climbing at our own pace.
It was really quite comical that we ended up in such a large group. It was also quite slow in and out of the towns as we rode our way south. The group broke up in Abiqui, NM with Leighton and Alan riding into the evening while the rest of us rested in for the final 600 mile push. The next day the remaining 6 of us caught Alan in Cuba at the Cantina waiting out the mid-day sun and enjoying a rest.
Cuba was full of dirtbags headed for the Rainbow gathering north of town. The grocery was a mess and so the Peloton fragmented a bit more with Blaine heading off the front to chase Leighton. In Pie Town Alan and I caught Leighton at the Pie-O-Neer Cafe. They kept it open late for us by chance, this is some of that trail magic that racers talk about. Leighton used the remaining light to ride into the Gila while we decided to turn in and roll in the morning. Leighton caught Blaine in the Gila and they rode together from Silver City to the finish.
The Gila was beautiful and my legs were feeling great. Some of the remaining group of five (Lobeck contracted Giardia in Pie-Town) wanted to stop at the first campsite we reached in the dusk. I had visions of riding further, and at least wanted to get the climb out of the Gila done in the evening on warm legs. Steve Wilkinson joined me that evening. We rode an extra hour into the dark before I pierced my tire and a storm threatened us. At that point we set camp and hoped for no rain.
After the best night's sleep I had on the Divide, Steve and I rode to Silver City on nothing but nuts and Frito Lays. Leighton and Blaine's tracks in the mud were deep, Steve and I were happy we had stopped. After a long stop in Silver City for food and maintenance, Steve and I departed for Antelope Wells together. It wasn't our intention to break from the group, but we wanted to take advantage of trail and weather conditions, cool and dry.
Riding as eight was great on the trail, but slow in small towns. Ask any waiter/waitress how it is to serve a group of eight. Now ask any of them how it is to serve a group of eight ordering two entrees and food to go.
Did we ever form a pace line? Nope. Would have been a whole lot easier if we had sometimes. Did we enjoy and take advantage of the motivation of traveling together? Yes.
We camped, rode, laughed, ate, and pushed through the mud together. It was natural to ride for hours without saying a word and natural when the group fragmented.