29th April 2016 Gallup, NM to Grants, NM 88.5 kms - 55.0 miles Up = 340m - Down = 398m
29th April 2016 - Gallup, NM to Grants, NM Despite being cold and wearing several layers (that I had also slept in) I was sad leaving Red Rock that we hadn't seen it at its best. I guess it is somewhere I would like to see in warmer times and do some of the walks through the beautiful red rock!! It was miserable and cold packing up the tent and having breakfast so we didn't muck around and got on the road as soon as we could. Light snow fell since we got up until about 10 kms into the ride.
We headed off on Route 66 where fortunately the road was very well maintained, and it ran alongside the I-40. The shoulder was great where we first moved onto the I-40, but after about 15 kms into the journey the shoulder deteriorated and basically disappeared - or what was there was like the worst unformed road ever. It made for a period of very slow progress on our narrow wheeled road bikes. Fortunately it didn't last for too long and we were away again - and then - signs saying Road Works ahead and that the left lane was closed. Obviously all traffic would be using the right hand lane - we just hoped "our shoulder" wouldn't be affected too much. We still did have room thankfully, but it did narrow and we had to take special care. The reason was a new overbridge being built right at the highest part of today's ride - the Continental Divide. It wasn't as high as our previous "high point" but at 7,246' is still pretty high!!
From there on - as per the elevation profile I posted - we had lovely long downhills. We could see it snowing in higher areas around us - and just hoped like hell it didn't come our way. There had been road-side signs for ages saying that there was food, fuel and many other goodies if we took Exit 72 - so we decided to do this. After heading right to some buildings we could see and discovering a Post Office among the rather dilapidated houses we were told to go back to the other side of the freeway, where we found the one shop that stocked everything that the millions of signs had said. I think it was a DQ (Dairy Queen) - but wasn't of a particularly high standard. However - it was now lunchtime and we needed some warming food.
While sitting eating lunch rain-spots appeared, and the wind that had started about 5 kms before we had stopped for lunch really picked up. We only had about 18 kms to go - so decided to brave the weather. It appeared we only had one more "uphill" part and thankfully it wasn't too bad at all - or are we getting fitter??
The good thing about staying in KOA campgrounds are that they are all well sign-posted from the freeway so we headed to off-ramp 81-a and followed the signs to Grants KOA campground.
Their tent area was nicely built with wooden fences around and clearly defined spots - but all on fine gravel. The camp is shut for 2 to 3 months of the year as it is often snowed in - and well - nobody holidays there at that time of the year!! While we lament at the lack of "grass sites" for tents - the reason is very logical - grass just doesn't really grow at high altitude in such stony areas!!
The camp owner does home-cooked meals so we placed our orders and enjoyed a hot meal in the campers area of the office and store. Again, it was freezing cold, wet, raining / semi-snowing weather outside that prevented us from looking around our surroundings more.