So, just 120 miles to go to the end of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route… Seeing as Jeff and Anna had ridden on ahead the day before (while I faffed around at the post office), I had a little catching up to do if we wanted to cross the border in convoy.
It’s always hard to drag yourself away from such warm hospitality as the Bike House in Silver City – especially when a snow storm is raging outside – so it wasn’t until 4.30pm that I took to the road.
When I left Silver City, Greta gave me this gold disc to add to my collection of mnemonics, and Andrew toasted me off with a shot of a tipple called Sotol, from a plant that grown in the wilds of Northern Mexico. Partly to say goodbye, and partly because, as he put it, he liked ceremony.
In fact, I'd left so late that I only made it 20 miles out of town. Just far enough to stay with Couchsurfers Rich and Mary, who kindly put me up and fed me at such short notice. New Mexico positively beams with sun much of the year, and they took advantage of recent government tax breaks to invest in solar panels around their house. The sun now provides enough energy to heat their water and all the electricity they need - and they sell a chunk back to the grid too.
After some initial pavement out of Silver City, it was back to dirt again.
The road descended gently along the Continental Divide, from 6000ft to 4500ft, across a desert dotted with colonies of yukas: squat, punk-style plans with spikey leaves.
Note to self: must avoid.
As seems to be the norm in New Mexico, there was absolutely no-one on the backroads.
After its trim, the beard is making a comeback, though it could well be that the scruffy look doesn't go down too well with the Mexicans. At this point, I was listening to the close harmony singing of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Great desert music.
Conveniently, a cargo train that seemed to stretch for at least a mile, had positioned itself right across the crossing - so I had to ride down a dirt track to skirt round it, before clambering over the rails. I did consider sliding underneath...
Separ. Not a lot going on here...
Or here. I caught up with the others in Hatchita, a bizarre, ex-mining ghost town. Not a lot more it seemed but a post office, a string of dilapidated houses and forgotten cars gathering dust.
Jason's cockpit. What more do you need but a map and a few Snickers bars?
We were a dirtbag chaingang again, with just a 45 mile ride to the border ahead.
We pulled over at dusk and found a spot to camp in the scrub. The night sky had never seemed so crammed full of stars and our soundtrack was the bizarre, almost warbling sound of howling coyotes - and later, Jason's resonant snoring. After a long day in the saddle, there's nothing quite like cooking dinner over a fire...
Or even breakfast, before the sun's fingers have crept across the valley floor.
... and sunrise. It was still below freezing at night, but as soon as the sun hit, it was T-shirt time.
The road was literally bolt straight and all but empty - nothing but the sheen of jet black pavement unravelling far, far into the distance, and endless yellow stripes guiding us ever onwards. Given the security concerns in Northern Mexico at the moment, Antelope Wells seemed the perfect place to cross. There was nothing on the road but border patrol guards, who occasionally raced up and down in their gleaming trucks, towing quads.
Just one mile to go! Almost the end of the epic Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. At this point, the boys stopped for a pee. Our last in the USA.
Beware the rattlesnake. They can take over the baton from the bears...