The routine was well set, starting by extracting oneself painfully from the sleeping bag, although I wasn't sticking to it anymore. By bonding the edges of two jumbo-sized bandages together I could cover the whole wound on my hip. Breakfast consisted of a sandwhich, a snickers bar and an Advil. Almost the hardest part of the morning for me was simply getting my right leg over the top tube. My right groin was a real mess, courtesy of the accident, and I seemingly managed to re-pull whatever tear I had several times a day. Once on the bike we'd be creeping. Half an hour or so later, usually as the first climb of the day is being knocked over (Carnero Pass), layers would be stripped. The first descent was usually done with eyes and stomach fixed on brunch in the next tow (La Garita). This descent was a fabulous trip through a rocky gorge, with spectacular cliffs rising on either side. The only problem was that being slightly off route, we somehow missed La Garita altogether. After a bit of a backtrack we decided it wasn't worth the effort and pushed on to the bigger town of Del Norte. To get there we passed through some fabulous mesas and cliff country along sandy and rocky double track. Many of the views might have been pulled right out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western.
Having filled stomachs and food caches at Del Norte we set off to climb Indiana Pass, the highest route of the entire tour. This was a toughy, with extended steep ramps down low, and effectively three summits over a 15 km stretch up high. Naturally some fantastic views were to be had before the plummet down the back, which was also notable as being one of the roughest on tour with loose stones strewn all over the shop punctuated with some incredible views. Craig and I were just happy to get down the other side with our tyres intact, marveling at how tough mountain bikes were given the punishment they soaked up, day after day.
We limped into the one-store-does-everything town of Platoro and ordered a few meals for dinner. The staff also kindly downloaded GPX files onto our Garmins covering the fire-related re-route through the northern part of New Mexico which we would tackle the following day. This was also another stage where we arrived before Peter, but not for long. Peter had the nouse to have already secured digs further down the mountain. Craig and I considered staying at Platoro but felt the urge to similarly press on before dark. After more shuddering gravelly descending we ended up at a nice campground at Rainbow Lake and settled in for another cold night. It was here that Peter got another jump on us in the morning, most likely cruising past our bivvys before we'd even stirred.
(189 km, 2796 m)