Riding a century (100+ miles) has been on our minds since Day 1. And with only 124 miles till the border, it was now or never. Both the weather and terrain looked favorable today, so we departed Silver City with the intention of finally crossing this goal off our list.
Riding south from Silver City we cruised up and over the last two major hills of our trip along paved Route 90. Near the small community of White Signal we left the relative ease of the pavement for our final segment of dirt road, the Separ Road. At some point along the road we crossed the Continental Divide for our 31st time. Despite a small headwind, we made good time along the generally downhill-sloping dirt/sand road for the next 25 miles to the I-10 truckstop known as Separ, NM. It was 12:45 and we had already covered 51 miles. Well on the way to accomplishing our goal we thought.
In Separ we stopped to have lunch at one of the “unique” Bowlin Travel Centers. Filled with an assortment of miscellaneous junk; wooden things, sewn objects, items resembling clothing, $600 fireworks packages and some food, Bowlin Travel Centers are difficult to pass up. However, having been exposed to this crap for the past 2,600 miles, we were able to resist and left with only a few extra snacks. From Separ, we paralled Interstate 10 (the 5th transcontinental interstate we’ve crossed – I-90, I-80, I-70 and I-40) along a rough, windy frontage road. The 8 miles took us about an hour to cover, setting us a bit behind schedule to complete our century.
Once on pavement again we said goodbye to the dirt roads for last time. From this point on we’ll be on New Mexico’s Route 81 for the reminder of the trip. The fast pavement also meant we could get back on schedule. Unfortunately, the GDR had plans of its own. Suffering from a flat tire and increasingly strong headwinds on the way into Hatchita, our hopes of completing 100 miles were quickly fading. It was nearly 5:00pm (it gets dark at 6:40) by the time we reached Hatchita, and we still needed to cover almost 25 miles if we wanted to complete our goal. After stopping to resupply our water we decided our 100-miler was out of grasp.
We left Hatchita and continued heading south along Route 81 toward the border-town of Antelope Wells, about 45 miles away. Without the pressure of reaching 100 miles, we rode for fun. The road being mostly vacant of automobiles, we used up both lanes, riding next to each other while reminiscing over our adventures from the past weeks – the places we stayed, people we met and general oddities we’ve encountered.
At some point we realized the winds had shifted direction, and had been pushing us along at a respectable rate for the past few miles. A quick check of our odometers showed we had just crossed 90 miles on the day. It was getting pretty dark but we decided to push on. As we crossed the hundred mile mark the sun dropped below the horizon and a mile later we pulled off of the road and set up our test behind some bushes to hide from border patrol and drug trafficers crossing the border illegally. We were tired but excited to be only 22 miles from Mexico!