|Beautiful scenery, but no 360 degree summit view atop Polvadera Mesa.|
The reward rests within.
Everyone asks questions about the extremes on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The most mileage. The highest elevation. The longest day. The heaviest rain. The strongest wind. The coldest night. The hottest day. The worst road. The biggest. The baddest. The craziest. The coolest.
Well, alright. Here's the toughest climb, among many hard climbs on the Great Divide. For example, Montana basically is riding up and down one pass just to reach another. Right off the bat is the Whitefish Divide and Red Meadow Divide, then Stemple Pass, Lava Mountain, Fleecer Ridge, Union Pass, and others each deliver some version of nastiness. In Colorado, the climbs generally are longer, more gradual, and better surfaced, but throw down different challenges of higher elevation with more exposure to thunderstorms. There are plenty of tough climbs of all kinds on this route.
However, for me, hands down, the toughest climb on the entire route is the 27 miles from Abiquiu up Polvadera Mesa in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. All others can leg wrestle for second place.
|Nice gravel gradually climbing from Abiquiu, at least at the beginning.|
|Turning upward into Sante Fe National Forest, the road immediately deteriorates.|
|In Santa Fe National Forest, the road gets rougher, although a short drop lies ahead.|
To the west is 9,852' Cerro Pedernal, an ancient volcano.
|Clearing the hard rock and sand, the final pitch shifts to loose rocks and ruts.|
|After topping the climb, I turn onto USFS 144 in search of water and a campsite.|
I camp in the trees just beyond the clearing on the left.
|This is early the next day, looking back on the descent off Polvadera Mesa.|
It's full on mountain bike territory that I'm glad to ride when fresh.
Tuff Enuff, Foo Fighters with Jimmie Vaughan, live on Austin City Limits (2015).